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Mission and Mandate
The mission of the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team is:
“To ensure Nova Scotians have the utmost trust and confidence
in the investigation of serious incidents involving police.”
SiRT’s mandate is to investigate all matters that involve death, serious injury, sexual assault and domestic violence or other matters of significant public interest that may have arisen from the actions of any police officer in Nova Scotia.
A serious injury includes:
- fractures to limbs, ribs, head or spine;
- burns, cuts, or lacerations which are serious or affect a major portion of the body;
- loss of any portion of the body;
- serious internal injuries;
- any injury caused by gunshot;
- admission to hospital as a result of the injury (not including outpatient care followed by release).
At the conclusion of every investigation, SiRT will determine whether or not criminal charges should result from the actions of the police officer. The Director will issue a public summary of the investigation which will outline the reasons for that decision.
SiRT is independent of government and police. The Director of SiRT is a civilian, and is responsible for the general direction of all investigations. This ensures a more transparent and independent way to investigate serious incidents involving police.
How the SiRT receives cases
The Chiefs of all police, and the head of the RCMP, in Nova Scotia, are required by law to refer all serious incidents to the SiRT. The Minister of Justice can also make referrals, as can members of the public by contacting the SiRT directly toll free at 1-855-450-2010 or 424-2010. SiRT can also launch or take over an investigation on its own. In every case, it is up to SiRT to determine whether the matter meets the mandate of the Team and should be investigated. Cases can meet the mandate even though there is no allegation of wrongdoing on behalf of the police.
The Serious Incident Response Team includes:
- Director (Civilian). The first and current Director of SiRT is Ron MacDonald, Q.C.
- Ron MacDonald, Q.C., has been a lawyer since 1985.He has spent his career working within the criminal justice system. He started his career as defence counsel for six years. He then spent 17 years as a Crown Attorney, before becoming a criminal law policy advisor at Nova Scotia’s Department of Justice for the three years prior to taking on this role. Ron has also been president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’Society (2005-06) and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (2010-11).
- Two civilian investigators, each with over 33 years of criminal investigation experience with the RCMP.
- Two full-time seconded police officers who answer only to the Director while seconded, one from the Halifax Regional Police and one from the RCMP.
- Other police resources as required.
- Administrative support.
The team operates independently of law enforcement agencies, with decision-making authority residing with the civilian team Director.
The combination of civilian and seconded police officers is required to achieve a balance between independence and operational effectiveness.
Under the sections of the Police Act which created SiRT, a current or former police officer cannot be the Director.
The budget of the Team is about $600,000 annually. The province covers all administrative and overhead costs associated with the Director, provincial investigators and administrative support. Seconded police resources are provided by the relevant police agency.