Halifax’s police chief says a theft involving a 17-year veteran of the force has resulted in changes to how officers will be able to store their service weapons when no longer on duty.
Dan Kinsella told media that as of Thursday, Halifax Regional Police officers will no longer be permitted to bring their service weapons home with them.
“My experience has been that the safest way for everyone involved is having accountability of those firearms and as far as I’m concerned, there is no need for an officer to have their gun with them outside regular duties,” said Kinsella.
Kinsella, who assumed the post in July, said he had been working towards implementing the policy but was forced to speed up the timeline after charges were laid against Const. Jennifer McPhee in connection with a theft that occurred in Halifax on Sept. 13.
Kinsella refused to disclose the location of the robbery but documents filed in Halifax Provincial Court indicate that it was an Atlantic Superstore. There is no address included in the documents.
The charges against McPhee include careless use of a firearm, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, unauthorized possession of a restricted firearm, contravention of storage regulations, theft under $5,000 and disguise with intent.
Kinsella confirmed that the firearm McPhee was carrying in her purse was her service revolver, a Sig Sauer 9 mm pistol.
“Anytime firearms come up in any type of investigation its cause for concern and alarm we certainly have to take those seriously and we do. In this particular instance, I can tell you that the firearm involved was, in fact, a service issued firearm so it even becomes more alarming,” he said.
McPhee, whose name was not released until the charges had been sworn, has been suspended with pay in accordance with the Nova Scotia Police Act.
Last week, Kinsella addressed the arrests of three officers, including McPhee, within the last month, saying criminal charges would be pursued in all three cases.
Nova Scotia’s independent police watchdog is now investigating the two other cases.
The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) is examining the case of Det. Const. Joseph Farrow, who was charged with unlawfully entering a home and sexual assault. Farrow was off duty when he was arrested and has been suspended.
It is also handling the case of a third officer who was arrested and released without charges after an Oct. 7 domestic incident in Eastern Passage.
With files from Alicia Draus and The Canadian Press