Security guards from the Canadian Corp of Commissionaires are taking over the job of guarding detainees at Saint John's police headquarters.
The change comes after the Department of Justice and the solicitor general withdrew sheriff's officers who had been handling the job for police since the new police headquarters building opened two years ago.
In an email, Justice Department spokeswoman Anne Bull offered little explanation. "The Department of Justice informed the city of Saint John in March that we would not be staffing the city's detention centre after Sept. 30," she said.
No reason is given for the change.
Tender documents on the city's website reveal the police department is looking for two guards to staff the detention centre 24 hours per day, seven days a week — one male and one female — for a total of ten positions.
It is clear from the documents the police department does not wish to staff the detention centre with uniformed officers. It states that security companies bidding on the contract must use employees who have been with them for a "minimum of two years."
The department's concern is that high turnover in the security field has led to people not showing up for work. "We have experienced this in the past, which resulted in us having to place sworn officers in detention as the security company had no one available," says a note in one of the documents.
Acting Saint John Police Chief Glenn McCloskey has not responded to a request for comment.
It is not known if the change will result in layoffs of sheriffs officers.