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Bridgewater Chief of Police sexual assault charge warrants closer look at Department’s operations

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – There is cause to be concerned about the approach to sexual assaults within the Bridgewater Police Department.

This morning the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) announced that as a result of its investigation it will lay one charge of sexual assault and two charges of sexual exploitation against Bridgewater Chief of Police John Willam Collyer.    

Earlier this year Globe and Mail reporters found that of all cases in the country, 12% of sexual assault cases were cleared as unfounded from 2010 to 2014. In Nova Scotia, in contrast, 25% of sexual assault cases were cleared as unfounded.

Bridgewater, with 48%, had one of the higher averages in terms of unfounded cases.

Bridgewater Chief of Police John Collyer. Photo Bridgewater Police

The Unfounded classification means that police determined that the reported violation did not happen.

At the time the Nova Scotia Advocate’s Rebecca Hussman wrote two follow-up articles to take a closer look at the Nova Scotia situation. Truro, Amherst and Bridgewater were three jurisdictions where the number of unfounded cases was particularly high, and Hussman approached these police departments for an explanation.

In Truro, where the unfounded rate was at 55%, the Chief of Police expressed surprise and concern, promised to investigate and told Hussman he intended to work closely with the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre.

In Amherst, another jurisdiction with a very high rate of unfounded  cases, the Chief of Police told us there would be a thorough review.

In Bridgewater Scott Feener, the Bridgewater Deputy Chief of Police, had a very different take on the issue.

“I do not have concerns in the manner of which our investigations are conducted and scored,” he told the Nova Scotia Advocate. There was no need to take a closer look, he added.

Maybe it is time for a body such as SIRT to investigate and find out what is really going on in Bridgewater.  Maybe all is well, but given this morning’s events people have a right to know for sure.

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