Many people are commenting in relation to the CBC article about the actions of two of our officers on October 31, 2008 and asking for a police response. I feel compelled to let our citizens know that there is a formal and robust police complaints process in place in Nova Scotia and that we and the two officers involved have respected and upheld this process. In fact, this matter was ruled upon by an outside independent body more than 2 ½ years ago.
I want to speak to the specifics of this file as much as I can given that this is now a civil matter before the courts.
- Halifax Regional Police (HRP) received a public complaint in relation to this matter on November 12, 2008. An HRP Staff Sergeant investigated the file which was then ruled on by the Disciplinary Authority, who in this case was an officer at the Superintendent rank. This analysis found no disciplinary default for either officer in this file.
- The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) investigates complaints by citizens alleging misconduct by municipal police officers. The Office provides support to the Police Review Board which is empowered to hear and rule on public complainant appeals. In this case, the complainants appealed the decision of HRP to the OPCC which determined the complaint had merit and referred it to the Police Review Board for a hearing.
- While information contained in the decision is not all-encompassing of the evidence presented, the results of the October 4, 2011 decision are public. In total, four appeals were submitted in relation to the actions of two of our officers. As part of Police Review Board’s decision, one appeal was upheld against one officer while the other three were dismissed, thereby finding no disciplinary default with one of the officers involved.
- A subsequent hearing was held for one officer to determine sanction, with all parties playing an active role through their legal counsel in this process and being given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the penalty. A decision was rendered on March 23, 2012 which included a combination of penalties: suspension without pay for two weeks, an order for a one-year period of close supervision and an order to be assessed for anger management and coping skills and that, if needed, counselling and/or training be provided at HRP’s expense. As the employer, it is our duty to ensure the conditions of the penalty are served, which we have done. In this case, it is also our responsibility to ensure we support the officer in obtaining the skill set necessary to effectively manage his role as a police officer, which we have also done. Similarly, our officer met all conditions of the penalty.
There are numerous measures in place in Nova Scotia to ensure police accountability to our citizens, including public complaints, internal investigations, civilian oversight and independent investigations and adjudications. We respect the OPCC and the Police Review Board and support them in doing their job, as they have done in this case.
I take very seriously the importance of police professionalism in all that we do. Policing is an inherently risky profession that relies on the trust of the public we serve. We’re committed to transparency and openness which is why I felt it necessary to explain this process.
Chief Jean-Michel (JM) Blais
Halifax Regional Police