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N.S. and N.B. reach agreement to share SIRT's services when investigating incidents involving police

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The Nova Scotia and New Brunswick governments have reached an agreement that allows Nova Scotia's police watchdog to provide oversight for serious incidents involving police in both provinces.

A joint statement from both provinces says the agreement ensures both provinces will benefit from the Nova Scotia Serious Incident Response Team's (SIRT) expertise and independent police oversight.

SIRT is an independent civilian-led agency that investigates all serious incidents, such as death, serious injury, domestic violence, and sexual assault, involving police, whether or not there is an allegation of wrongdoing.

"Citizens of both our provinces must have confidence that serious incidents involving police are thoroughly and independently investigated," said Nova Scotia Attorney General and Minister of Justice Brad Johns.

"Expanding SIRT's services enhances regional co-operation, promotes public safety and increases public confidence that investigations involving alleged police misconduct are done efficiently and professionally."

New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Kris Austin says he's pleased both provinces have reached an agreement.

"Residents want to know there are checks and balances to police powers, along with accountability. We acknowledge that police officers risk their lives every day they go to work, and that their professions are incredibly difficult," he said.

"The agreement guarantees impartiality and fairness in any investigations involving a New Brunswick police officer.”

Since 2017-2018, SIRT has provided assistance on at least 21 investigations in Atlantic Canadian jurisdictions outside Nova Scotia through ad hoc agreements under Nova Scotia's Police Act.

An agreement in principle for a Nova Scotia-New Brunswick SIRT was announced in September 2021.

Since then, the provinces say they have worked together to ensure the appropriate legislative and policy frameworks are in place.

The joint statement says both provinces will share the costs, resources and benefits of the collaboration.

Other resources will also be added, including a new bilingual office in New Brunswick, as well as a new assistant director, three investigators and one administrative professional, who will all be based in New Brunswick.

The director of SIRT remains responsible for the organization's operations in both provinces and has sole authority to decide whether a charge is laid.

Investigations under the agreement will begin once the new premises are leased, new positions are filled and the New Brunswick investigators are trained.

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