Friday, June 8, 2007

Should there be an inquiry into the RCMP

This article lists quite a good number of the specific instances where the RCMP seems to have been involved in wrongdoing. I doubt that Day will call another investigation though unless the pressure is much stronger. He will ride out the storm. I have always been irritated that nothing was done about the wrongdoing in the Arar case. In fact some people involved in the "mistakes" have been promoted. Imagine how much dirt is happening in the CSIS where nothing can be revealed most of the time because of national security.

Thu, June 7, 2007

Sex, lies and booze

It's time for the feds to call an inquiry into the sad state of the RCMP.

What will it take for the Conservative government to order a public inquiry into the RCMP?

Apparently, it wasn't enough that senior Mounties were caught with their fingers in the pension pot, or that the brass approved secret bank accounts stashed with cash from the sponsorship scandal -- money used for scandalous expenditures.

One might have thought the trail of RCMP negligence and lies in the Maher Arar affair would have led directly to a public probe of rot and incompetence.

Instead, the first reaction of Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was to give a big cheer to then-commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli for doing such a great job, aside from having presided over the worst sullying of the famous red tunic in more than 30 years.

And now this: RCMP officers have been getting a slap on the wrist for sexual assaults, firearms offences, drunk driving, beating up prisoners, fraud, lying and obstruction of justice.

Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act show that of 114 Mounties found guilty of misconduct since 2005, only nine were ordered to resign.

The rest all rode off into the sunset with a reprimand and maybe few days of missing pay.

(We have no idea how many, if any, also faced criminal charges since thwarting legitimate requests for information is also part of the RCMP's lamentable legacy of late.)

As Sun Media correspondent Kathleen Harris reports, the documents show offences having been committed by all levels of the federal force, from civilians and constables all the way up to the brass.

In not a single case is there any indication of a demotion.

The issue here is not that police officers have broken the law and violated the most basic standards of conduct. In such a huge and diverse organization with more than 27,000 members, there are bound to be some bad apples and big mistakes.

Indeed, given the examples set by the RCMP brass in recent years, the wonder may be why crime and corruption is not far more rampant in the force.

What is the message the rank and file take from the brass pilfering the pension fund for a costly golf getaway?

What is acceptable conduct for the average cop when the highest echelons of command allowed Arar to be wrongly branded an al-Qaida terrorist, and then did nothing to help save him from a Syrian torture chamber?

What kind of image is projected by a commissioner who charges taxpayers $1,100 for hand-made riding boots and uses an RCMP plane like his own limo?

The issue is not that relatively few Mounties are breaking the law they are sworn to uphold; it's that the internal consequences are such a farce.

A constable found guilty of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse got nothing but two reprimands over six years before finally getting the boot.

Others involved in assaults on prisoners suffered no more than a loss of 10 days' pay.

Drunk driving by a cop is so serious in the RCMP that it costs an average of a week's wages and a reprimand. One officer found guilty of drinking in his cruiser while in uniform and causing a disturbance lost 10 days' pay and got "a recommendation for transfer and supervision." Ouch.

Among the worst and most plentiful offenders are the RCMP officers caught lying on the job, a category that makes up almost 20 per cent of the total disciplinary file provided to Sun Media.

The entire judicial process and its ability to deliver a fair verdict turns in large measure on the truthful testimony of police. Yet not a single Mountie caught in official lies outside the courtroom was turfed from the force.

Day has said he will not hesitate to call an inquiry, "if warranted."

Surely, that is no longer in doubt. Anything less would be an abdication of the minister's responsibility, and an affront to the vast majority of the RCMP who serve this country with integrity and honour.

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