Bathurst-based police intelligence unit dismantled

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Bathurst police chase armed driver along Highway 11

The Northeast Integrated Intelligence Unit, one of five police units in New Brunswick dedicated to fighting organized crime, is being disbanded because of a loss of provincial funding.

Municipal officers involved in the unit are no longer being funded by the government, and it was up to each municipal force to decide whether to continue with the unit.

The northeast unit in Bathurst was made up of six officers: one from the Miramichi Police Force, one from the Beresford, Nigadoo, Petit Rocher and Pointe Verte service, one RCMP officer, and three Bathurst officers.

The units across the province work with Canada Border Services agency and other enforcement partners in gathering and analyzing information.

"They worked on projects involving outlaw motorcycle gangs and other issues like that," said Bathurst Const. Jeff Chiasson. "They were doing a lot of investigations in drugs and trafficking."

He said the northeast unit was set up in 2009 for four years. The contract was renewed in 2013 but not this year.

Two of the officers working for the unit were Mathieu Boudreau and Patrick Bulger, the Bathurst officers implicated in the shooting death of Michel Vienneau during an attempted arrest.

They were charged with manslaughter, but charges were dropped after a preliminary hearing.

"The two members we had from the drug section are going to be reassigned," Chiasson said. "We're not certain at this point what they will be reassigned to.

"I imagine it will still be in the drug department."

Police chiefs have been discussing the funding issue for more than a year, according to Elaine Bell, a spokesperson from the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

"Government funding of criminal intelligence activities will still exceed $1.8 million next year," she said in an email. "Government is not withdrawing from funding the gathering, sharing and analysis of criminal intelligence."

The department and the Bathurst Police Service have not made a link between the Vienneau controversy and the dismantling of the unit.