Nova Scotia·Updated

Director of police misconduct investigations named for N.S.

A former provincial Crown attorney has been appointed to lead an agency that will investigate allegations of police misconduct in Nova Scotia.

A former provincial Crown attorney has been appointed to lead an agency that will investigate allegations of serious police misconduct in Nova Scotia.

Justice Minister Ross Landry named Ron MacDonald the first director of the province's Serious Incident Response Team.

He became a Crown lawyer in 1991 and has been president of the Canadian Federation of Law Societies and the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.

"Ron MacDonald's extensive background, along with his personal integrity, will make him an excellent first director of the Serious Incident Response Team," Landry said Tuesday.

"The director is a key piece as we create an independent unit that will give Nova Scotians utmost confidence in the investigation of serious incidents involving police."

MacDonald will be able to lay charges, if warranted.

Landry first announced plans for the agency almost two years ago, saying it would bring a level of accountability to the justice system demanded by the public.

It is expected to be operational early next year, he said. Until then, police will continue to investigate themselves. That creates situations like when three years ago an RCMP officer shot and killed John Simon in Wagmatcook.

Halifax police investigated and laid no charges. Simon's family and community are critical of how that investigation was handled.

'New phase' of policing

MacDonald said the creation of the agency is "a new phase in policing in Nova Scotia, and I am very pleased to be a part of it."

He said the agency will "earn the trust of Nova Scotians with its thorough, transparent and independent investigations of police."

The team will investigate matters such as death, serious injury, sexual assault or other public-interest concerns involving police.

It can independently launch an investigation or begin an investigation after a referral from a chief of police, the head of the RCMP in Nova Scotia or the Minister of Justice.

The team will have a director, two civilian provincial investigators, seconded police officers as required and administrative support. Decision-making authority will reside with the civilian director.

MacDonald will serve a five-year term.