Off duty Nain RCMP Officer James Woodrow has been charged with one count of Assault and one count of Forcible Confinement and he will be appearing in court at 1:30 pm this afternoon in Nain.
On our AtjiKangitut show this afternoon we will be speaking with Wayne Newell who is the Media Relations Officer with the RCMP in St. John’s about this case.
He says at 2:00 am on May 26th RCMP members responded to a disturbance in Nain involving an off-duty RCMP member and a Nain woman.
A team of investigators was flown to Nain to continue the investigation and the RCMP officer was arrested yesterday and was held overnight in custody.
OKâlaKatiget Radio is in court as we speak to find out how Woodrow pleas and to get more details on the case.
Here is the transcript of our interview with Newell today:
Wayne Newell: Yes, on May 26th at around 2:00 in the morning the RCMP officers who were on duty in Nain responded to a disturbance involving an off-duty RCMP officer and a Nain woman. That disturbance had started inside the residents and had escalated to the outside and the off duty RCMP officer took it upon himself to arrest this woman, she was placed in the cells. That obviously caused much concern. The RCMP officer’s commenced an investigation. A team of investigators was flown in from outside. They have conducted an arm’s length investigation and yesterday arrested the off duty RCMP officer and he is now facing charges of assault, section 266 of the criminal code and one count of forcible confinement, 279 of the criminal code. These are very serious allegations obviously and we take them very seriously. Any type of domestic violence is a problem in our society and when it’s one of our own it’s particularly troubling.
Karen Prentice: Okay, so can you let us know who this officer is now Wayne?
Wayne: Yes, the charges are laid right now against Constable James Woodrow, he’s 41 years old.
K: So just to get a better picture of what happened, so the assault happened, and then the victim was arrested and brought to the cell?
W: Yes, the assault took place, obviously there was an argument taking place, which ended up outside the residents and the officer who was off duty felt that there were reasons that dictated an arrest. And he arrested her for what he saw as a disturbance, and placed her in a cell. Hence what the investigative team has come to the conclusion was an unlawful arrest and the forcible confinement charges.
K: So coming from that are the forcible confinement charges, but there’s no different charges for unlawful arrest by an RCMP officer?
W: Well, the matter is still very much under review. This just occurred of course and there is the potential for further charges. I haven’t reviewed all the potential charges but those are the two that are obvious at this time. If there’s others that come to mind that are applicable they would be laid too. And we have to remember that there is a separate and parallel internal investigation taking place as well and there are obviously sanctions that could be placed on the officer for breach of the RCMP Act for conduct unbecoming of an Officer.
K: Now you mentioned that the person was locked up, now how did these other RCMP get involved, how did they know about the incident?
W: Well, the other RCMP officers saw what was going on, and they saw the disturbance, so the exact circumstances is something that is before the courts, we can’t go into the full details of things but obviously it will all come out in court.
K: So, with this woman, did she have to go to the clinic, or what are the injuries?
W: The injuries were minor in nature. There was no medical attention sot immediately, I don’t know if she’s gone since or not. But the injuries involved bruising and scratches and that type of thing.
K: So, he’ll be entering a plea at 1:30 pm today?
W: Yes, his initial appearance is at 1:30.
K: This isn’t the first time that charges or alleged charges have been brought forward with officers in Nain. There was another one that we heard of that was under investigation just recently as well, I believe that one, you mentioned is finished now?
W: Yes, there was a previous allegation which we spoke about earlier which is now over and the results did not result in charges and that matter is concluded.
K: And the investigations are done by officers out of St. John’s?
W: The previous investigation was done by investigators out of St. John’s, the investigation done on the recent assaults was done by officers from Labrador, from the Happy Valley Goose Bay area.
K: So I guess what it comes down to it Wayne, if the RCMP officers in Nain can’t even follow the law, how are they supposed to be enforcing upon Nain residents?
W: Well, it’s obviously a major concern for us. The perception of our members committing criminal offences on their own is certainly troubling. The RCMP has taken appropriate action. We don’t tolerate any failure to meet the high standards set for our members. We won’t do it in Nain, we won’t do it in St. John’s or in any community in this Province. There are very high standards set. Our members are expected to obey the law and to be seen to be obeying the law and when cases like this come into play then it’s certainly troubling, there’s no question about it. But we have to be seen to do things right as well, and in this case we made an arrest and the charges are applied. Domestic Violence is a problem in our society and we won’t tolerate it, especially by our own members. In this case there is a separate internal investigation I don’t want to pre-judge the investigation yet, but the consequences could include up to dismissal. So these are serious things that have taken place. But they are isolated incidents. Our members in Nain and in all communities in this province go about their duties in protecting people every day, they do an excellent job. Unfortunately, we’re made up of human beings who sometimes make mistakes and that’s the case here I believe, a mistake was made and the important thing is that we take appropriate remedial action and we work with the communities and try to do the job before us. The actions of one or two don’t represent the values of everybody in the organization this is just an isolated incident and we hope that it is not seen as a blanket thing that everybody acts this way.
K: But there has been a bit of a pattern here in Nain, will the investigation or the internal one anyway be looking into that at all? About this continuing to happen in Nain?
W: Well, we can only deal with what we have. We can’t deal with the actions of everybody based on the actions on one or two. Actions have been taken internally on the previous matter. There’s a test that’s required in any case, as was in a previous allegation of impaired driving. There has to be an investigation that satisfies the crown that there’s reasonable likelihood of a conviction, and that test wasn’t met in the previous case. In this case it was and we’ll continue to do whatever needs to be done to insure the integrity of our investigations and if it means that the actions of one taint the perceptions of others than appropriate actions will be taken obviously.
K: So Wayne do you know if this will leave us short on RCMP officers here in Nain?
W: I don’t know. I do know that the previous officer that was under investigation is no longer there and that position hasn’t yet been filled. I don’t know the status of the others. From time to time our officers are away on leave or away for court or whatever, but to the best of my knowledge the officers are short one position and if there are any others they will be filled in short order.
K: Thanks so much for this Wayne
W: Okay, Thank you, bye.
Stay tuned to AtjiKangitut today to find out how Woodrow plead.