Province announces effort to transform police services

Policing review a positive step, top RCMP, RNC officials say

TARA BRADBURY THE TELEGRAM tara.bradbury @tara_bradbury



SaltWire Network


Newfoundland and Labrador’s justice department has announced a plan for an extensive review of policing services in the province. It’s called the Policing Transformation Initiative and Justice Minister John Hogan says its goal is to shape the future of police services in Newfoundland and Labrador, to ensure they meet the needs of the province’s diverse communities. There’s no timeline yet for the review, which will see a team of four high-level government and policing officials examine issues such as the relationship between police and marginalized communities; the role of police in addressing gender-based and intimate-partner violence; officer training; diversity and inclusion within the police forces; response times; recruitment and retention; and the evolving crime profile, among many others. The team will provide short- and long-term recommendations to transition from the current police service model to potential alternative ones. The Policing Transformation Working Group members will work with a newly established 10-person policing and crime prevention team within the Justice department. Hogan says members of the public and community organizations will be part of the consultation process. “Throughout this work, our diverse communities, groups and individuals will have the opportunity to inform and guide our working group and play a role in advancing its work,” he told reporters at a media conference Monday afternoon to announce the review. “(Group members) will be talking to individuals throughout the province who need to, and should, have input into how policing works (here). … I think it is certainly worthwhile looking at civilian oversight and what it looks like in this province.” The RCMP has jurisdiction over most areas in the province, with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary servicing St. John’s and the Northeast Avalon, Corner Brook, Labrador City and Churchill Falls regions. Over the next year, the RNC will also assume jurisdiction from the RCMP in areas of Humber Valley and the Bay of Islands. The two forces have several joint units focused on issues like internet child exploitation, drug trafficking and organized crime. RCMP-NL Chief Superintendent Pat Cahill and RNC Chief Pat Roche say their forces welcome the review. “The complexities of policing have changed,” Cahill told reporters. “At the end of the day, the goal (of the review) is to find the most efficient and effective police model. It’s for the citizens, to get the best bang for your buck, your tax dollars.” Roche says some of his members were nervous upon hearing of the initiative, and he has advised them not to panic. He points to the benefits of last year’s RNC workplace review — commissioned by the province and completed by lawyer Harriet Lewis in the wake of allegations of sexual assault committed by certain members of the force and a general discontent with its leadership at that time. “We went through the Harriet Lewis report … and that had very positive recommendations to help advance our organization in the right direction. I think that’s what our membership needs to be aware of,” Roche said. “It’s not something to be afraid of, for anybody; for the public or for our membership. It’s about policing in the future and how do we evolve and become better at what we do in the service we provide to the public.”