The chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is weighing in on a recent CBC story about an officer under investigation for an alleged domestic abuse incident — despite previously turning down requests for an interview.
The incident, which allegedly occurred a month ago, saw RNC officers respond to a domestic abuse complaint at the St. John's home of a veteran member of the force, a source told CBC.
When those officers arrived, according to the source, they found a woman whose face had been bloodied. The alleged abuser was not taken into custody.
"The RNC has an aggressive charge policy for intimate partner violence which is only applicable in circumstances where the investigating officer has reasonable grounds to believe an offence has occurred," writes RNC Chief Joe Boland in a media release issued Thursday afternoon.
"It is contrary to law and contrary to the RNC's intimate partner violence policy to arrest or charge an individual for an alleged intimate partner violence offence when the investigating officer does not have reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence has occurred."
He said "it is inappropriate for me to speak about the specifics of any ongoing RNC internal investigation."
CBC requested an interview with Boland ahead of publishing the story, but was declined.
Instead, in an email, an RNC spokesperson said, "As chief, he has the final say in any discipline that could result from the findings of any internal investigation and must remain unbiased."
Chief says number of factors to weigh
Boland said Thursday that "the presence of injuries to one or more individuals does not, in and of itself, mean sufficient evidence exists for an officer to formulate reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has occurred."
"The investigating officer must look at all of the existing evidence, or lack of, in its totality, before determining whether he or she has reasonable grounds to believe an offence has occurred," he added.
Boland reiterated his support for a Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) in Newfoundland and Labrador, similar to other provinces. The director of that unit will determine which cases will be investigated.
But until then, Boland gets to decide.
"I have, as chief of police, the responsibility to determine, on a case by case basis, who or what agency will conduct investigations of RNC officers," his statement reads.
"There is currently no requirement in law or in RNC policy that every incident which involves a criminal allegation against an RNC officer be assigned to SIRT for investigation."
SIRT investigations underway
Currently, two current and one former RNC officers are being investigated by SIRT from outside the province.
Two of those cases are being investigated by the Nova Scotia unit, and one by the Alberta team.
Both teams have said they have not been asked to investigate this allegation of domestic abuse.