New Brunswick

Steve Roberge out as head of police watchdog

New Brunswick Police Commission executive director Steve Roberge "is no longer employed by the Province of New Brunswick," the commission said Wednesday.

New Brunswick Police Commission declines comment, calling Roberge's departure a 'human resources matter'

Steve Roberge is no longer executive director of the New Brunswick Police Commission as of Wednesday, the commission confirmed. (CBC)

The province's independent police watchdog has had a change at the top.

New Brunswick Police Commission executive director Steve Roberge "is no longer employed by the Province of New Brunswick" as of Wednesday, the commission confirmed.

"The commission will not comment any further as this is a human resources matter," acting executive director Jill Whalen wrote in an emailed statement.

Roberge's departure comes less than a week after the association representing municipal police officers called for his removal, calling him a "dictator" who is "anti-police officer."

The New Brunswick Police Association has been critical of the way the commission, under Roberge's leadership, handled investigations into police officers.

That includes a Police Act investigation into former Saint John deputy police chief Glen McCloskey's conduct during the first Dennis Oland trial.

"The issue here, it's the mentality of this person who has an abusive, authoritarian way of trying to operate up there," association executive director Bob Davidson said.

He described McCloskey as a "casualty of this mentality."

"We do not want any more officers into this situation where he can destroy them," Davidson said.

CBC News was not able to reach Roberge last week to respond to the association's comments. Attempts to reach him on Wednesday have also been unsuccessful.

Commission breached privacy

The commission has asked Public Safety Minister Carl Urquhart "to appoint an independent third party" to look into the association's allegations "on the commission's processes and procedures," the commission said in a statement. 

"The commission will fully co-operate with this process and is committed to continually reviewing the way it provides quality services to citizens and the police community and meets its mandate with integrity and impartiality."

It's not clear whether that review will look at a privacy breach involving McCloskey.

Glen McCloskey, former deputy police chief in Saint John, speaks at a news conference held last week by the New Brunswick Police Association. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

The commission was found to have "breached [McCloskey's] privacy on two instances by disclosing his personal information to the [Oland trial] Crown Prosecutors and the Defence Team on July 4 and 12, 2017," according to a December report from Integrity Commissioner Alexandre Deschênes.

McCloskey's personal information was contained in the New Brunswick Police Commission file in relation to the Police Act complaint against McCloskey, the report says.

 The report doesn't specify what kind of personal information was disclosed. McCloskey filed a complaint, which prompted Deschênes's investigation.

"As with any case of a violation of privacy, we, unfortunately, cannot turn back the clock to prevent the breach from occurring," Deschênes wrote in his decision.

He did not make any recommendations arising out of his findings.

Roberge hired in 2014

Last week wasn't the first time the association has called for Roberge's removal.

The association threatened legal action against the commission in 2016 over comments Roberge made about the association.

The association and the watchdog group also clashed over high-profile Police Act investigations that ultimately led to Fredericton police officers losing their jobs.

The commission, an "independent civilian oversight body," is responsible for managing the "public complaints process into the conduct" of municipal and regional police officers in the province.

Roberge, a former RCMP officer, reported to a government-appointed commission in his role as executive director.

He'd been in the job since 2014.

About the Author

Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC's Atlantic investigative unit. Do you have a story you want us to investigate? Send your tips to NBInvestigates@CBC.ca.