January 2, 2019 3:52 pm
Updated: January 2, 2019 4:22 pm

New Brunswick Police Commission asks for independent review in wake of complaints over Richard Oland murder probe

Bob Davidson of the New Brunswick Police Association is accusing the independent police oversight body of "disregard and contempt" of the province's Police Act.

Silas Brown / Global News
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The New Brunswick Police Commission is taking further action to beat back criticism of their probe into a senior police officer’s conduct following Richard Oland‘s murder, announcing on Monday that they’ve asked the province to appoint a third party that would review the organization’s policies and procedures.

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“The Police Commission has asked the Minister of Public Safety to appoint an independent third party to review the allegations made by the [New Brunswick Police Association] on the Commission’s processes and procedures,” read a statement posted on the commission’s website on Monday.

“The Commission will fully co-operate with this process and is committed to continually reviewing the way it provides quality services to citizens and the police community and meets its mandate with integrity and impartiality.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety confirmed that they have received the request and that they will be holding “holding further discussions with the Commission to discuss proposed terms of reference and other details of such a review.”

The New Brunswick Police Commission — which serves as the province’s independent civilian oversight body into the conduct of police officers — had already announced on Dec. 30 that they’d be reviewing how they conduct investigations, the commission’s investigators’ manual and operational procedures.

That announcement came a day after harsh criticism from the New Brunswick Police Association, which accused the police oversight body of being “out of control,” and alleged the commission is being run in an “abusive, authoritarian fashion.”

Bob Davidson, executive director of the organization, told media on Dec. 29 that the case of Glen McCloskey – a former deputy chief of the Saint John Police Force who came under scrutiny during the first murder trial of Dennis Oland – is “one more example of the commission completely ignoring legislative rights.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick Police Commission launches review into how it conducts investigations

Allegations against Glen McCloskey

McCloskey, who retired from the Saint John Police Force in 2018, was at the centre of an alleged series of missteps by Saint John police as they investigated the death of Dennis Oland in 2015.

During the trial, one of the police officers at the scene of the murder, retired Staff Sgt. Mike King, suggested that McCloskey asked him not to testify the deputy police chief had been at the crime scene.

McCloskey, who had no active role in the investigation, took the stand and denied King’s allegations.

However, King’s testimony prompted police Chief John Bates to ask the New Brunswick Police Commission to investigate the matter under the Police Act.

The commission eventually put the Police Act investigation on hold and turned the investigation over to Halifax Regional Police after it was determined the inquiry warranted a criminal investigation and an investigation by an independent organization.

McCloskey was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by Halifax police in October 2016.

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s top news stories of 2018: January to June

The commission, which had appointed former Fredericton police chief Barry MacKnight to lead its investigation into McCloskey’s conduct, resumed its investigation in the fall of 2016.

Davidson told media on Dec. 29 that he obtained documents that show MacKnight disregarded the findings by the Halifax police and “expressed his opinion that there were grounds for criminal charges.”

Although McCloskey retired before a hearing by the provincial police commission was held – the commission only investigates officers on active duty – it still gathered information on the matter.

Davidson alleged the police commission violated McCloskey’s privacy by giving its entire file on McCloskey to lawyers involved in the second Oland trial, prompting a complaint to the province’s Office of the Integrity Commissioner.

He said a decision earlier this month found the police commission did not have authority to disclose the information to Crown prosecutors or the defence team, and had breached McCloskey’s privacy in two instances by disclosing his personal information.

“Our officers are now living in a state of fear of this police commission as it’s being administered and we’re not going to tolerate it,” Davidson said, calling the situation “untenable.”

“We’re going to take whatever action necessary to bring back an oversight body that is professional and credible and administers the legislation with respect.”

He added: “It’s incumbent on the legislature to realize there is a police commission here that’s out of control and is causing nothing but fear among our officers.”

WATCH: New Brunswick police commission ‘out of control,’ says police association

The new Oland trial

Oland was convicted of the second-degree murder of his father at the conclusion of the 2015 trial, serving 10 months in jail before the decision was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

Oland has always maintained his innocence.

A mistrial was declared after it was discovered that during jury selection for the second trial, a Saint John police officer had used a police database to track all interactions between would-be jurors and police.

The trial later continued in front of Justice Terrence Morrison alone.

The trial has previously learned that Richard Oland was bludgeoned to death with an unknown weapon or weapons.

The 45 wounds on his hands and head were mostly from a sharp-edged implement, such as an axe of some sort, and there were a few round wounds that appeared to be from a hammer, the court heard in previous testimony.

The second trial remains adjourned until Jan. 7, 2019. It is expected to last until March.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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