The New Brunswick police commissioner (NBPC) has released its final review into Saint John police conduct in the Richard Oland investigation.
Multimillionaire Richard Oland was found dead in July, 2011 in Saint John, N.B.
In November 2013, his son Dennis Oland was arrested. Nearly two year later, his first murder trial began.
Dennis Oland was found guilty of second-degree murder in Dec. 2015, and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2016, a N.B. appeals court overturned the conviction, ruling the jury was not properly instructed. Dennis Oland was released on bail the next day.
In his 2018 retrials, Oland pleaded not guilty. Two months into the trial, Justice Terrence Morrison declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury.
Oland was then found not guilty in July 2019.
During the first 2015 trials, Saint John police was under scrutiny for an alleged series of missteps, including the failure to properly secure a crime scene and the conduct of its deputy chief, Glen McCloskey.
The police department was accused, by the judge at the time, of failing to prevent people from accessing the crime scene, and to keep people from using nearby rooms before completing the investigation. One police officer suggested McCloskey asked him not testify he was at the crime scene.
The police chief John Bates then asked the NBPC to investigate the matter, as well as Saint John police’s major case management practices, to determine if procedures to adequately investigate a homicide were in place.
According to the Friday press release, in 2019 the NBPC requested documentation from Saint John police outlining its efforts and updates to policies since the Oland homicide, and conducted an on-site review.
The NBPC concluded the efforts were satisfactory.
“This type of process is not an easy one, but at times necessary,” said Saint John police chief Steph Drolet in the press release. “I am pleased to read in the report the NBPC is satisfied that significant and permanent changes have been made by the SJPF in the investigation of major crime incidents.”
The commission has also left several recommendations, including the establishment of a provincial major case management policy to the Minister of Public Safety.
Two other recommendations are already in the process of being implemented, according to Saint John police.
They include establishing standard operating procedures for investigating major crimes and for police to utilize a “sudden death checklist,” for sudden death incidents deemed as non-criminal.