Single Atlantic police watchdog proposed, though questions raised on mandate

The Canadian Press
July 10, 2017
By The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Plans are in the works to create a single, civilian-led agency to police the police in Atlantic Canada.

Senior government officials in the four provinces have confirmed the plan is to expand Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team into a region-wide investigator.

However, some observers say the four provinces should take the opportunity to create a regional watchdog that can go beyond simply assessing whether officers have broken a law.

John Sewell, a former mayor of Toronto and expert on police issues, says if the Atlantic provinces want to expand the agency, they should also give it the power to make recommendations on how police can improve their performance.

Four deputy ministers of justice met in early June and came to an agreement in principle to establish a regional team.

Michael Comeau, deputy minister of justice in New Brunswick, says there are details to be worked out on funding and other issues, but he says the deputies agreed a single agency could be recommended to their respective cabinet ministers.

The existing watchdog in Nova Scotia, led by former prosecutor Ron MacDonald, has a mandate to investigate cases that involve death, serious injury, sexual assault, domestic violence or other matters of “significant public interest” that may have resulted from the actions of a police officer, and to decide if charges should be laid.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017

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