Nova Scotia's police oversight agency will now oversee police in New Brunswick

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FREDERICTON — Nova Scotia's police watchdog agency has a new mandate to oversee police in New Brunswick, according to a joint statement issued Monday from both governments.

Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team will act as the police oversight body for both provinces, investigating matters such as death, serious injury or sexual assault involving police officers, the statement said.

"The collaboration ensures both provinces will benefit from SIRT expertise and independent oversight in the interest of public safety," the statement read.

New Brunswick does not have an independent police watchdog agency. Instead, SIRT and other provincial agencies have been tasked with investigating serious incidents involving police in that province.

SIRT's 2020-2019 annual report shows the agency investigated two police shootings involving New Brunswick RCMP officers, one of which was fatal. Quebec's watchdog, Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, known as BEI, investigated the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Chantel Moore by an Edmundston, N.B., police officer during a wellness check in June 2020.

Nova Scotia's watchdog is one of just two police oversight agencies in Canada explicitly mandated to investigate allegations of domestic violence committed by police officers.

In an interview Monday, the agency's director said he hopes that will continue.

"The mandate should be the same," Felix Cacchione said, adding that there are still many details to be worked out. For example, in Nova Scotia, the SIRT director lays charges if an investigation determines charges are warranted; whereas in New Brunswick, Crown prosecutors must first approve any charges, Cacchione said.

It's also unclear, he added, if SIRT will have a satellite office in New Brunswick.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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