'Serious allegations' against 3 RNC officers being investigated by OPP

Joe Boland said he's required to request an independent investigation when the circumstances or allegations are serious

Chief Joe Boland refuses to discuss allegations, confirms all 3 placed on administrative duty

Joe Boland is chief of police with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. (Gary Locke/CBC)

RNC Chief Joe Boland has confirmed that three officers with the force have been placed on restricted duty following "serious allegations" that are the subject of an outside investigation.

Boland refused to disclose any details of the allegation, directing those questions to the Department of Justice and to the Ontario Provincial Police, which is leading the investigation.

"All I'll say … is that the allegations are serious and that when it was brought to my attention I reached out to the Department of Justice to bring in an outside agency to look at it," Boland said.

Revelation overshadows upbeat news conference

A spokesperson with the department said officials cannot comment until the investigation is complete.

CBC News has also requested comment from the OPP.

The revelation overshadowed an upbeat news conference Thursday as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary released its 2018-2021 corporate plan.

Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons (left) and RNC Chief Joe Boland chat prior to the release of the force's three-year corporate plan in St. John's on Thursday. (Gary Locke/CBC)

The plan gave details on the force's three key priorities, including partnerships and engagement, organizational development and crime reduction.

The OPP investigation is in addition to a review by the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team of an April 13 motor vehicle collision that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old female passenger, and serious injuries to the 17-year-old female driver.

The driver is facing charges, including dangerous driving causing death.

"It's not about whether I think there was wrongdoing by an officer," Boland said of the fatal incident.

"The fact of that case was there was an officer present when that accident occurred. And because there was a fatality, the seriousness of it, I had an obligation on my part to reach out for an outside investigation, an impartial investigation."

Boland also confirmed that another investigation into an officer's conduct that was carried out by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team relating to an incident in 2017 is concluded.

He would not reveal the outcome of the investigation, and again directed reporters to the Department of Justice.

A spokesperson, however, said the department has not yet received the report.

Chief requests live interview

Boland seemed uncomfortable answering questions by a group of reporters, and suggested he would prefer to "come into your studio and do a live on-camera interview around these investigation."

When invited to do that on CBC Television's Here and Now, Boland said he had another commitment Thursday, but was available Friday.

As for why he wanted to do a live interview, Boland replied: "It gives me an opportunity to better inform the public as to exactly why I can't say certain things because I think when you sit here and do interviews like this ... the perception can be in the public that I've got something to hide, when the reality is legally I can't speak."

This hangs over the organization. It hangs over people that are involved.- RNC Chief Joe Boland

Boland said he's required to request an independent investigation when the circumstances or allegations are serious, and he wants the reviews completed as thoroughly and quickly as possible.

"This hangs over the organization. It hangs over people that are involved. So we like to see these files done in an expedited way so that we don't have this cloud hanging over the organization. The members that are involved. Or the persons that came forward with the allegation," he said.

Province still working on own SIRT

"Right now they are allegations, we have to go through that process," Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said Thursday.

"So at this point I always suggest that we let the investigation take its time and we'll deal with the reports when they come to us and we can figure out the next course of action then."

The justice minister says both the public and the police force demand independent oversight. (CBC)

Parsons said the province would prefer an Atlantic SIRT but if that can't happen, it is prepared to go ahead with a standalone model.

"The main point is that we do need independent oversight. The public demands it, our police force demands it, they want it too. So hopefully we will see it during this year."

About the Author

Terry Roberts

CBC News

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.