New Brunswick

4 RCMP officers in Woodstock suspended for alleged discreditable conduct

Four RCMP officers from the Woodstock area have been suspended with pay for alleged discreditable conduct, the latest in a string of "black eyes" to policing across New Brunswick in recent months.

Criminal and code of conduct investigations into 'several' instances of alleged problem behaviour underway

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown says when the conduct of any members comes into question, it undermines the entire force. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Four RCMP officers from the Woodstock area have been suspended with pay for alleged discreditable conduct, the latest in a string of "black eyes" to policing across New Brunswick in recent months.

A criminal investigation and code of conduct investigation are underway, said Assistant Commissioner Roger Brown, Commanding Officer of the RCMP in New Brunswick.

You don't make these decisions based on rumours and innuendo, you make them based on fact.- Roger Brown, RCMP assistant commissioner

The nature of the allegations has not been revealed, but Brown said it is not drug related and there are no public safety issues.

The alleged problem behaviour came to light in early November through another investigation, not a complaint, Brown told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday.

There are "several" instances alleged, but all of them involve the same issue, he said.

"Members have to be held at very high standards when it comes to the execution of their duties, how they behave, how they carry themselves both on and off duty, and that's about as far as I'll go with that until I get the facts of the investigation."

All four of the Woodstock-area Mounties are currently suspended with pay, but suspension without pay is being pursued in some of the cases. (Ed Hunter/CBC)
Three members were suspended with pay in early November and a fourth on Tuesday morning.

Woodstock has a total of 20 officers.

"You don't make these decisions based on rumours and innuendo, you make them based on fact. And right now, with the facts that I have before me today, the facts support me in suspending four," said Brown.

"When the information came to our, in our possession, we then looked into it a little further to then find out, you know what, there is more to this than what meets the eye," he said..

"And then I launched a full internal investigation into this, and once I got into the internal investigation, there were clear indications there needed to be a criminal investigation, a parallel criminal investigation into the same matter. Which we then launched."

Independent oversight of investigation

An RCMP major crime unit is looking into whether anything criminal took place. The Kennebecasis Regional Police Force's Deputy Chief Stephen Palmer is providing independent oversight of that investigation.

It's unclear how long the investigation will take.

"These suspensions are troubling but I can assure the public we are taking these matters very seriously," Brown said in a statement.

"Our members go to work every day to protect the communities we serve and they do a great job. When the conduct of our members comes into question, it undermines the entire Force."

All four officers are still getting paid, but suspension without pay is being pursued for two of them, said Brown.

The provincial Police Act does not allow suspensions of officers without pay, but Mounties fall under federal legislation, which does allow suspensions without pay in certain cases.

'We don't let this stuff go'

"Recently within the province of New Brunswick, for whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of black eyes, if you will," said Brown.

"I've talked to the other chiefs of police on this matter and I think we're all on the same page" of holding officers to a higher level of conduct, he said.

Public "confidence is gained from the fact that we don't let this stuff go, and not be dealt with."

Brown said he appreciates the public support and trust.

Fredericton Police Force Const. Cherie Campbell is in the midst of an arbitration hearing for allegedly stealing $20 worth of cosmetics from Marden's in Houlton, Maine, using her position as police officer to obtain favourable treatment from store security officers and trying to keep news of the incident from the chief.

Just last week, an arbitrator ordered fellow Const. Jeff Smiley be dismissed from the Fredericton Police Force over four counts of breaching professional conduct standards, including committing domestic violence.

Last month, Bathurst police constables Patrick Bulger and Mathieu Boudreau were charged with manslaughter and weapons offences in connection with the shooting death of Michel Vienneau outside the city's train station in January.

And in October, Saint John Police Chief John Bates asked the New Brunswick Police Commission to investigate allegations that Deputy Chief Glen McCloskey suggested retired sergeant Mike King lie in court about his presence at the 2011 Richard Oland murder scene.

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