4 investigations underway of N.L. police by serious-incident response teams

After the second report in a week about an officer being investigated by a serious-incident response team from outside the province, CBC has learned there are four investigations currently underway.

3 investigations involve the RNC, while a fourth involves the RCMP

A RNC officer is under investigation following a sexual assault complaint from a woman. (CBC)

CBC has learned that there are currently four serious incident response investigations involving police in Newfoundland and Labrador.

After it was confirmed Wednesday that a male Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault, CBC asked the Department of Justice and Public Safety to confirm a third incident.

A spokeswoman said there are in fact four.

"Three of the investigations are being completed by the Nova Scotia SIRT, the other is with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. Three of the investigations involve the RNC and one involves the RCMP," reads the email from the spokesperson, who added that because the investigations are ongoing, the department won't be providing any further details.

As to the sexual assault investigation confirmed Wednesday, the interim director for SIRT Nova Scotia, John Scott, says the alleged incident is said to have happened several years ago.

Scott says the complainant is a woman.

He says officers from the Halifax Regional Police force came to Newfoundland in September and conducted interviews, adding that the investigation is ongoing, but should be concluded by Christmas.

Province needs own SIRT: Justice Minister 

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, RNC Chief Joe Boland said the complaint was received over the summer and that was when he contacted the justice department to ask for an independent investigation.

"Criminal conduct should not be assumed because SIRT is conducting an investigation," Boland wrote in the statement.

"I await the findings of SIRT and assure the public that inappropriate or unprofessional behaviour has no place at the RNC."

It's the second time this week there's been confirmation of an RNC officer being investigated. 

On Monday, the RNC told CBC that a member of the force is being looked into by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team.

CBC News confirmed that officer is Const. Joe Smyth, who fatally shot Donald Dunphy in his Mitchells Brook home in April 2015. 

The investigation followed a complaint about how Smyth handled a traffic stop in May. 

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons says these two investigations highlight the need for Newfoundland and Labrador to have its own serious-incident response team. (Bruce Tilley/CBC News)

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons said — after the department confirmed the sexual assault investigation — that incidents being investigated at the same time emphasizes why the province needs its own serious-incident response team.

"One of the issue we are facing is that it is getting harder and harder to have this kind of work done by going to outside sources," said Parsons.

The justice minister added that he doesn't want the province to be in a situation where it needs an investigation done but all the other teams are busy.

"We've been lucky so far, but that will run out at some point," he said.

About the Author

Glenn Payette


A veteran journalist with more than 30 years' experience, Glenn Payette is a videojournalist with CBC News in St. John's.

With files from Mark Quinn