The Amherst Board of Police Commissioners is the civilian body to which the Amherst Police Department is accountable. The Commission is a statutory body created by the Police Act of Nova Scotia and the Town of Amherst Bylaw to Establish the Amherst Board of Police Commissioners to oversee policing in the Town. Amherst Town Council appoints six members of the Police Commission, three council members and three civilian appointees. The Nova Scotia Minister of Justice appoints one representative to the Amherst Board of Police Commissioners.
The Police Commission is a link between the community and the police with a mandate to balance the requirements of public accountability with those of police independence. The Commission acts as a conduit between the police and elected officials. The Commission’s authority for the general accountability of the Amherst Police Department derives from the Police Act of Nova Scotia and the Town of Amherst Bylaw to Establish the Amherst Board of Police Commissioners. The members of the Police Commission make decisions and issue instructions as a statutory body, in writing, through the Chair.
Under the Police Act, Amherst Town Council is responsible to appoint the Chief of Police. The Commission establishes policing priorities and policies, and annually recommends a capital and operational budget to Town Council. The Police Commission issues directions to the Police Service through the Chief of Police and those instructions must be consistent with the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Chief of Police under the Police Act. The Chief of Police is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Police Service.
The Police Act preserves the Chief’s independence to: uphold the law; provide police service to the community; and to manage the police service. The Act makes the Chief accountable to the Commission for the operation of the police service, the manner in which the Chief’s responsibilities are carried out and the administration of finances.