Two prominent St. John's defence lawyers are applauding the province's decision to name Supt. Joe Boland as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's new chief of police.

Lynn Moore says she believes Boland, a 34-year veteran of the RNC, is up to the task of leading the organization.

"I think Joe Boland's going to be a very good chief of police," she said.

"He's a very effective communicator. He's a diplomat. He understands the different roles that are involved, and he's a hard worker."

Bob Simmonds agrees with Moore's assessment.

He said Boland is well-suited to help the RNC move forward after several high-profile incidents have garnered criticism of the force, including the 2015 shooting death of Don Dunphy and controversy over a sexual assault case involving RNC Const. Carl Douglas Snelgrove.

"These have been difficult years," said Simmonds.

"Joe Boland now has a job to re-establish some levels of trust and things like that, and I think he's highly qualified to do it."

Joe Boland Andrew Parsons

New RNC Chief Joe Boland, left, and Justice Minister Andrew Parsons at Tuesday's announcement. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Simmonds cited a recent de-escalation by Boland at a protest at FFAW headquarters as a good example of why he's ready for the job.

"Some disgruntled workers were going to tear the door down and, I believe it was Superintendent Boland at the time, [who] went up there, had a discussion with them, and at least from what I can see and saw, was able to deal with it in a very appropriate and professional manner," he said. 

Drugs, mental health key challenges

In Boland's first interview as police chief, he said mental health and addictions are the biggest issues facing policing today, and both Moore and Simmonds agree more needs to be done on that front.

Moore believes that mental health problems need to be treated as a health issue, not a police issue.

"We have to stop using the criminal health system as a dumping ground for people with mental health and addictions, and I think there needs to be a vast overhaul of the law in regards to how we treat people who are drug addicts," she said. 

Lynn Moore

Lynn Moore says that the Joe Boland will need to work closely with community groups and support workers to help address mental health and addiction needs. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

While Moore acknowledged that Boland must uphold the law, she believes it will be beneficial if the RNC continues to partner with community-based organizations to meet the needs of the mentally ill and those suffering from drug addictions.

For Simmonds, drug addiction and the ongoing fentanyl crisis are critical. 

"Those are very real concerns for everyone involved in the system," he said.

"Mental health and the issues of drug addiction and the problems that are rampant from that are issues that are right front and centre at this time."