The chief of the Bridgewater Police Service has confirmed to CTV News he is the officer being investigated for alleged sexual assault by Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT).
“I can confirm I am the BPS member currently under investigation by the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT),” Collyer confirmed in an email to CTV’s Kayla Hounsell.
The director of the SIRT said earlier this month the alleged offence involved a teenage girl.
“It is significant when a chief of police is being investigated, particularly for such a serious allegation as sexual assault,” Collyer told CTV News in an email Monday. “I have been placed on administrative leave until these allegations can be fully investigated. I await the results of SIRT’s investigation. At this time, I will not be making any further comment on the advice of my lawyer.”
The Bridgewater Police Commission is also awaiting SIRT’s report after placing Collyer on administrative leave.
“Try to ensure that the police service will continue to operate in a high level of efficiency and do as little harm as possible to the police service, while at the same time of course protecting the public,” said Pat Cappello, chair of the Bridgewater Police Commission.
SIRT was first informed of the allegations by another police agency on Aug. 4.
In addition to sexual assault, SIRT is also investigating Collyer for obstruction of justice, in connection with possible issues surrounding evidence relevant to the case.
Bridgewater Mayor David Walker says there has been a great deal of speculation in the community since the investigation was announced.
“It was a really shocked to hear the allegations,” said Walker. “But until the SIRT investigation is over, until then, I guess I reserve judgement or comments.”
Walker says the fact that Collyer has come forward to identify himself will help his fellow members and the community.
“Credit to Chief Collyer in clearing the air that way,” said Walker. “I think he wanted to make sure that people in the town of Bridgewater realize it’s not a member who is currently out policing them.”
Meanwhile, residents in the area are offering mixed reactions.
“I mean, he’s a person of power and you know, should be a person we can trust,” said area resident Lyn Fleck.
“Always innocent until proven guilty, but it’s sort of worrisome when you have people of that stature,” said resident Robert Todd.
Police commissioners placed Collyer on administrative leave after an emergency in-camera meeting Aug. 18. Collyer will be required to stay home with pay for an indeterminate amount of time, but he is not suspended.
No charges have been laid at this time.
The deputy chief has assumed command of the force and says his officers are trying to conduct business as usual.
“Obviously the chief is of more leadership, expecting him to show a good example, so it’s more serious in that regard,” said Walker. “But I think these allegations are serious no matter which member they were made against.”
Collyer has been chief of police in Bridgewater for five years. He is a long-serving officer with 26 years on the force.