SYDNEY — Mayor Cecil Clarke has ordered Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac to request RCMP emergency assistance as a precaution after 48 police officers withdrew “specialized services” on Monday.
CBRM police action
The decision, which came in a late afternoon news conference at council chambers, is the result of a regional police officer being convicted on charges of breach of trust and obstruction of justice last Thursday.
The police officers, who are members of Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union Local 1995, will not participate as members of the emergency response team, the public safety unit, the training unit, and the dive team and marine unit.
McIsaac said officers on duty would be compelled to take on these important services or face disciplinary action.
However, he raised the concern it may be difficult to round up enough of the specially trained officers if they should be off-duty at the time an emergency were to arise.
“If we have to scramble together people quickly and we’re having difficulty getting a hold of them, the fact that the RCMP is willing to help us with those services if we need them on any type of situation is essential,” the police chief said.
“Because of the stand the union has taken, we’re just doing our due diligence here and asking for assistance in the event we do need them.”
The union argues the CBRM does not provide legal services for its officers and does not continue an officer’s pay indefinitely through the legal process.
The mayor said the municipality does in fact provide legal protection for its officers. Although the case of regional police Const. Ron Williams, 39, was different in nature.
“But the charges in this case were not as a result of action in accordance with the officer’s duties,” Clarke said in a prepared statement.
During a scrum with reporters, Clarke said he regretted this happened due to the trial’s outcome.
“The judiciary is a separate, independent entity in our province. (The courts) made a decision, they rendered a conviction. I’m not here to debate what goes on in the courts. I’m here to respect the decisions of the courts through due process, that’s what we also ask officers to do.
“As police officers, questioning those decisions in my mind is inappropriate and not respectful of a system that they’re here to uphold the law, and no one’s above the law and that includes police officers.”
Williams, an 11-year veteran of the force, is still a police officer pending an internal review. He has been on an unpaid suspension from the force since August 2011.
The charges stem from an incident in May 2011 in which regional police received a complaint from a provincial liquor inspector concerning an impaired driver leaving the Royal Canadian Legion in Whitney Pier. Williams was instructed by his staff sergeant to investigate.
The judge concluded that Williams asked the on-duty jailer, Todd MacKay, to call the suspected driver and advise that police would be coming to his home and not to answer the door.
The judge also ruled Williams changed an occurrence report dealing with the incident from a drinking and driving complaint to a general citizen assistance call.
It was the Crown's position that Williams deliberately disobeyed an order from his staff sergeant, prepared a false occurrence report, asked MacKay to place the call to the suspect, and gave an inaccurate statement to investigators.
His sentencing hearing is schedule for June 9.
McIsaac said in the history of the regional force any officer charged with a criminal offence has had his salary discontinued after a 60-day period.
The municipality has the legal right to suspend pay, Clarke said.
In Williams’ case, the union did contest his suspension without pay to the Nova Scotia Police Review Board and he was granted another 60 days of pay before it was cut off again.
He now faces internal discipline from McIsaac, who can impose a range of discipline from a reprimand to dismissal.
The review is conducted under the provisions of the Nova Scotia Police Act.