Provincial justice officials confirmed on Friday that the RM of Whitehead police officer whose personal revolver was stolen last month is no longer on the job.
All policing in the RM will now be handled by the RCMP.
"The Souris RCMP detachment is covering all of those calls," RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said on Friday afternoon. "The RCMP has taken over duties in that area because we received a request from the province."
The move was made under the Police Services Act to ensure adequate and effective policing, a Manitoba Justice spokesperson stated in a news release issued Friday afternoon.
The Whitehead police board had advised the province that it had suspended Chief Const. Doug Gormley, the only member of its police service.
The province then asked RCMP to assume all policing duties in the RM. Local residents have been advised to call the Mounties if they need police.
The release didn’t specify why Gormley had been suspended or whether that suspension was with or without pay.
The RM itself continues to refuse comment and Gormley couldn’t immediately be reached Friday afternoon.
Gormley previously told the Brandon Sun that he had a .22-calibre revolver locked up in a case that was inside a police truck when that vehicle was stolen overnight between Jan. 1112.
The revolver, Gormley said, was his personal gun and not an official police firearm, albeit one that he said he used for occasional police-related duties that called for lesser amounts of firepower, like putting down injured animals that had been hit on the highways.
The stolen truck was quickly found abandoned, but the gun was only recovered about a week ago, after it was used in a bizarre accidental shooting that sent a woman to hospital with a bullet lodged in her buttocks. The gun had apparently discharged accidentally and fired through a wall before hitting the woman.
The Whitehead police service has been suspended until further notice, and the RCMP has stepped in to police the municipality in the meantime.
They were already handling criminal matters and enforcing federal laws in that area; this will add bylaw and traffic infractions to their load.
The Brandon Police Service says the investigation isn’t complete, but no charges have been laid in connection with the storage of the gun.
The Manitoba Department of Justice will review the circumstances and advise whether charges should be laid, BPS Sgt. Mike Pelechaty said.
Gormley told the Brandon Sun that although the gun was in a locked case, it didn’t have a trigger lock on it, and that ammunition for the gun was kept in a jar, which was also in the police truck when it was stolen.
Police have laid charges against the man believed responsible for the accidental shooting.
In that case, Justin Marshall Lockyer, 29, has been charged with assault, careless use of a firearm, possession of a weapon obtained by crime, possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition and two counts of unauthorized possession of a firearm.
He’s also charged with breach of undertaking by failing to abstain from alcohol, intoxicants or drugs. He has not been charged in relation to the theft of the police truck.