Creating a Serious Incident Response Team
This week, Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons introduced legislation that will establish a Serious Incident Response Team in Newfoundland and Labrador.
What is a Serious Incident?
The Act defines a serious incident as a death, a serious injury, a sexual offence, domestic violence, or any matter of significant public interest that arises from the actions of a police officer in the province. The level of severity of an incident will be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, as violence is disproportionately felt by women and members of the Indigenous communities, determination will include liaisons with external offices, such as the Women’s Policy Office and the Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs Secretariat.
Composition of the SIRT
SIRT will apply to both the RCMP and RNC, with the ability to investigate on and off duty conduct. The Director of SIRT will be a civilian, who has never served as a police officer. Both provincial police forces will be required to notify SIRT of incidences that fall within its mandate. However, SIRT does have the power to initiate its own investigations into matters, to take referrals from the public, or from the Minister of Justice and Public Safety.
The Need for SIRT in NL
Alberta, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia both have their own civilian oversight agencies, which are called in for investigations of police forces. NL has approached these provinces numerous times to investigate incidences in the province. Some notable examples of this include the recent inquiry into the death of Don Dunphy, and a recent examination of the RNC by Nova Scotia’s SIRT. This legislation will allow NL to conduct our own investigations, in a timely and more cost-effective manner.
SIRT will help ensure public confidence in the police force and their work in the community.