RCMP, province, police watchdog disagree over who can release Dieppe shooting report
Reports by Serious Incident Response Team posted publicly in Nova Scotia but not in New Brunswick
A police watchdog's investigation of RCMP actions during a shooting in Dieppe earlier this year has been completed, but the force is keeping the results secret.
Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team and the RCMP each says the other is responsible for releasing the report. The provincial government says it's up to the RCMP.
The Mounties requested the team investigate police actions when a Codiac Regional RCMP member shot and injured a woman during an arrest attempt Jan. 5 near the Moncton airport.
The independent team investigates serious incidents arising from police actions in Nova Scotia and decides whether charges are warranted against an officer. SIRT has been contracted by police forces to carry out investigations because New Brunswick lacks a similar organization.
Can't discuss report
Felix Cacchione, the director of SIRT, said its investigation is complete and a report was provided to RCMP on June 28. Cacchione said he couldn't discuss the results of the investigation or whether the officer was cleared of wrongdoing.
"It's not our information," said Cacchione. He said a memorandum of understanding signed when the agency is called in leaves releasing information up to the police force.
"The RCMP does not release the reports of independent police review agencies anywhere in the country — that is the responsibility of the independent agency," Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said in an email.
When asked why SIRT said it was up to police, Rogers-Marsh said there's no legislation in the province to allow the release of the reports.
"SIRT investigative reports pertaining to incidents involving the RCMP rest with the RCMP to determine any level of disclosure and as such should be addressed with the RCMP," Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Department Safety, said in an email.
Nova Scotia requires public release
SIRT's mandate in Nova Scotia requires it to publicly release a report summarizing its findings. SIRT will still release a report — though with less detail — if the person affected by police actions is facing criminal charges, Cacchione said.
But in New Brunswick it defers to the police force that asked it to investigate.
RCMP would not provide an interview on the report or say what it found.
Michael Boudreau, a St. Thomas University criminology professor, said he was perplexed by the situation.
"It's a clear conflict of interest for the RCMP to first ask for this investigation, and then not to release the findings," Boudreau said.
He said it reinforces the need for New Brunswick to have its own version of SIRT that would require public release of investigations.
Boudreau said such a team would be different from the New Brunswick Police Commission as it would investigate police-involved shootings and tends to be led by civilians instead of former police officers.
"If it's OK to release information in another province, then we should have the same ability here in New Brunswick," Charles Léger, chair of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority board, said in an interview. The board provides civilian oversight of Codiac RCMP.
SIRT has been called to investigate police actions in New Brunswick four times since March 2018. It was most recently called to investigate a fatal shooting by a Mountie in Moncton.
CBC News was told it would need to file an access to information request to the RCMP for the Dieppe report. Such requests, which cost $5 to file, can take months to complete and do not guarantee information will be released.
The federal access to information law requires public bodies to respond to requests with 30 days. RCMP reported 52 per cent of the 2,967 access to information requests it received took more than two months to complete in 2017-18.
Police previously committed to provide a public update.
"We understand the desire to know more and that's what we're working on to determine," Codiac RCMP Supt. Tom Critchlow told the policing authority board meeting in January. "When new information is available, we will certainly provide an update publicly."
The Jan. 5 shooting happened after a single-vehicle crash near the Moncton airport. Police allege a woman fired an airsoft gun at Dieppe firefighters and paramedics who responded to the crash.
Police allege the woman fired again at police when they tried to arrest her. A Mountie shot and injured the woman. She faces 13 charges and is expected to stand trial in fall 2020.
Rogers-Marsh said the details of what happened that day would come out as part of the court process.
Province considers local SIRT
Léger said the RCMP decision not to release the report strengthens the case for establishing a New Brunswick version of SIRT. Earlier this year, the Department of Public Safety said it is investigating that possibility.
A local team is something the New Brunswick Association of Chiefs of Police supports.
"It's very important for the public perception," said Alain Lang, vice-president of the organization and chief of the Edmundston Police Force.
He said independent investigations can help ensure public confidence in police forces is maintained.
With files from Radio-Canada