Chief Jonathan Bergen said he asked for independent oversight of the investigation from the minister of corrections, policing and public safety.
“I asked for an observer to be appointed because I felt it was in the public interest and this case was sensitive in nature,” Bergen said during a press briefing via Zoom on Friday.
“Municipal police agencies like ours regularly work with the RCMP … given that the accused is a well-known member of our local community, I know that it is important to have public oversight on this file.”
Bergen said the ministry appointed two independent observers who are not RCMP members and have never worked with Prince Albert police.
“They are experienced members who have retired from other municipal police agencies and so they have extensive backgrounds in investigating serious and major incidents,” he said.
“They’ll be able to see the full details of the investigation and just to have that independent look to ensure that it’s as thorough and complete as we’re committed to providing.”
Bernie Herman, 52, has been charged with first-degree murder. Saskatchewan RCMP said Herman was a corporal serving with the Prince Albert RCMP traffic services unit when the arrest occurred.
The chief of Prince Albert Police Service said he does know the accused but not well.
“I know who Bernie Herman is and many, many, many years ago, I know that I worked in traffic for a very short time while he was in traffic and we interacted briefly then but that’s about 20 years ago,” Bergen said.
“If I felt like there was any conflict or concern with our ability to investigate this homicide, we would not be investigating it. I have complete confidence in our criminal investigative division and their ability to provide a complete package to the courts for their consideration in hearing this charge.
“We recognize that the accused here, being an RCMP member, spending much of his time in this area is somebody that is known to us but … I have the full confidence in our staff and our team to do a thorough, complete, independent, impartial investigation.”
Saskatchewan Mountie makes court appearance on first-degree murder charge
Bergen said he feels strong community support as it relates to Prince Albert police.
“I feel strong community support. I believe that the community trusts us to do our jobs and to do them professionally and we strive to perform at our absolute best all the time,” Bergen said.
“I understand that there’s going to be questions and how this could involve somebody who’s served and protected the community for so many years to actually be responsible for such a tragic incident. But again, we’re a professional police service and we will continue to provide professional services to our community.
“On behalf of the police service, I extend my most sincere condolences to the family of Braden Herman. The loss of a loved one is its own tragedy, and I extend my sympathies to his family and friends.”
Bergen said officers were called out to a wooded area close to Little Red River Park within city limits on Tuesday evening for a report of a deceased man.
“We know that we had the information of a homicide within a short time,” Bergen said.
“Bernie Herman indirectly provided the details that we needed to lead us to the victim and lead us to his arrest.
“The victim was located … through the police investigation which by a police officer.”
According to Bergen, the accused was taken into custody with reasonable cooperation on Tuesday evening.
“The accused has been fairly cooperative in that it was because of the accused that we were led to his arrest shortly after the incident and we were led to the deceased victim shortly after the incident,” Bergen said.
“Our investigation has told us that, no, he was not on duty at the time of the incident.”
Police said the deceased, 26-year-old Braden Herman, and the accused are known to each other but are not related.
Bernie Herman made his first appearance in Prince Albert provincial court on Thursday. Bergan said the accused is not in custody locally.
The inspector overseeing the homicide investigation is expected to provide more details about the homicide next week.
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