4 of 7 Codiac RCMP holding cells closed due to 'serious failures in security'
Letters outlining problems given to councillors ahead of vote on new police station
Four of the seven Codiac Regional RCMP holding cells in Moncton can't be used after a September review found "serious failures in security," a recently released letter says.
No information about the nature of the security failure has been released, but it led to rapid changes to the Codiac RCMP's capacity to hold people at its Main Street building.
The letter was part of an exchange of correspondence last month between the RCMP and Codiac Regional Policing Authority, the civilian board overseeing the Mounties policing Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.
"The security issues highlighted in the cell review report attached have led to the immediate closure of 4 cells along with extra security measures and liability mitigation for the remaining 3 jail cells," Charles Léger, the policing authority board chair, wrote in an Oct. 15 letter to the then-commanding officer of the New Brunswick RCMP.
Copies of the letters between the RCMP and the board chair were handed to Moncton councillors shortly before a vote on whether to go ahead with plans for a new $57.2 million police station. Those letters shed more light on what councillors knew about the building's condition.
Léger's letter goes on to say an exhibit storage area failed to meet RCMP security standards, "nor human rights requirements" and required immediate correction. It wasn't clear what the human rights issue was with the exhibits area.
Léger provided copies of the letters to CBC. The cell review report has not been released.
Cpl. Hans Ouellette, a spokesperson for the RCMP in New Brunswick, wasn't able to offer specifics about the security failure with the cells.
Ouellette said in an interview the four cells will remain closed, though renovations may allow them to reopen sometime in the future.
The 2022 policing authority budget includes $1.5 million in additional spending for "cell mitigation" described as additional security and janitorial services for the cell areas because of the review.
Ouellette said the closure shouldn't affect the ability to hold people since there are other RCMP stations nearby like the Caledonia Region detachment in Riverview.
Léger's letter was in response to an Oct. 6 letter by Assistant Commissioner Larry Tremblay about the cell review report and demanding the existing building be upgraded if a new facility isn't approved.
"If a new building does not proceed, a building condition assessment will be conducted and any outstanding deficiencies identified from the MHPM study and any additional deficiencies noted would also need to be corrected within two years of the assessment," Tremblay's letter states, referring to a 2014 report by MHPM Project Managers Inc.
Under a contract between the policing authority and RCMP, the authority is responsible for providing a suitable building at no cost to the RCMP under section 12. That includes maintenance costs.
Tremblay's letter notes that problems with the Main Street building constructed in the 1970s were identified with the policing authority and Moncton, which owns the building, in 2007 and 2010.
"The deficiencies have not been corrected and the building still fails to comply with subsection 12.2 of the Codiac Regional Police Service Agreement, and thus a second notice is now being provided."
The letter said the issues previously identified, which the letter doesn't explicitly outline, must be fixed within two years.
During the Moncton council discussion about whether to go ahead with a new building, city staff indicated the municipality had avoided major spending on the old building while anticipating a new facility.
"We were only doing repairs as requested," Sherry Trenholm, the city's director of municipal facilities, said that night. "Usually it's a failure that occurs [that leads to] doing a repair. We haven't had a preventative maintenance program in that building, which you can see the end result of that."
Trenholm said an estimated $4.6 million in repairs could be required in the next four years, including repairs to the building exterior and replacing an underground oil tank, its boilers, emergency generator, fire protection and electrical systems and roof.
Councillors that night described the state of the existing building as unacceptable and said a new building is required.
Council voted 7-4 that night to move ahead with issuing a construction tender, signing a 30-year lease for the building and seeking authority to borrow more money for the project.
A separate motion introduced that night by Coun. Daniel Bourgeois calls for a halt to work on the new building pending a review of whether the city will retain the RCMP as the local police force. That motion is expected to be debated Monday evening.