Independent Investigative Unit Legislation Introduced
Police will no longer lead investigations into serious incidents that involve police, through amendments to the Police Act introduced today, Oct. 28, by Justice Minister Ross Landry. The amendments will allow the province to create an investigative team independent of law enforcement agencies. The team would investigate serious matters such as death, serious injury, sexual assault, or public-interest concerns, which have either resulted from, or allegedly resulted from, serious incidents involving the police. “Creating this arms-length investigative team is about modernizing the system and maintaining public confidence,” said Mr. Landry. “This independent unit will provide transparency, impartiality and integrity to any investigations and their outcomes.” The model was developed through consultation with key policing partners, the Public Prosecution Service and academics, then shared with a broader group for feedback. The feedback was incorporated in the bill. The team will be made up of a director, two civilian provincial investigators, seconded police officers as required and administrative support. Decision-making authority will reside solely with the civilian director. “We are very pleased to see the creation of this team become a reality,” said Mr. David Walker, president of the Nova Scotia Police Board. “As the body that provides civilian oversight and governance to municipal police boards, I believe this unit reflects the accountability and transparency that is vital.” The legislation follows an international trend of civilian involvement from these types of investigations. The team should be operational by the end of 2011. “The creation of this independent unit in no way indicates that the police, in their investigations of such matters to date, have been anything but professional and objective,” Mr. Landry said.