Thursday, July 19, 2007

RCMP often rewrote critical reports!

So the RCMP was in fact a watchdog over the RCMP Commission for Public Complaints rather than the other way around! Imagine that the rules under which the Commission operated allowed the government to rewrite the reports! This is so amazing one wonders if the reporting is correct. At most one would think that the RCMP could file a rebuttal to whatever the force disagreed with as an addendum. What is the use of a commission of complaints if the RCMP can rewrite its reports!

RCMP often rewrote critical reports, watchdog says
Tim Naumetz, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, July 19, 2007
OTTAWA -- The past two RCMP commissioners before the recent appointment of a public servant to head the force effectively rewrote half of the rulings by a civilian watchdog agency that found Mounties used excessive force or acted improperly over a year-long period, the head of the independent agency says.

The RCMP Commission for Public Complaints issued 48 interim reports on public complaints against the RCMP between March, 2006, and last March. Half of the 184 findings in the reports went against the officers involved, the commission's annual report says.

But former commissioners Beverley Busson and Giuliano Zaccardelli challenged half of the adverse findings, questioning witness credibility, reweighing evidence, introducing new evidence and substituting their own findings of fact in the cases, said the report from commission chair Paul Kennedy.

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Font: ****The refusal of the RCMP commissioners to accept the findings of commission reviews over Mountie actions "strikes at the core of civilian accountability of the RCMP," the report said. "More than half of the commission's adverse findings have been overruled by the RCMP commissioner, enabling the RCMP, in effect, to ignore the merits of the commission's recommendations."

The report added the resistance "significantly undermines" civilian review of the RCMP and is "inherently biased" against the person who has lodged the complaint. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day tabled the report in the Commons Thursday through a special procedure used when Parliament is not sitting.

The commission's annual report included two examples where the RCMP commissioner of the time essentially rejected adverse findings after a civilian review of incidents in which police dogs injured suspects or, in one of the cases, an unarmed suicidal young man in an argument with his father.

An RCMP dog handler unleashed his dog after the young man began running away after hiding in nearby bushes, even though the commission later found he was not threatening anyone and was not carrying a knife his father had claimed was present.

"The RCMP commissioner believes that the decision to release the dog was justified because the young man could have had a knife, was reported suicidal and was running away," the public complaints commission said in its report on the incident.

In another case, however, where an RCMP officer used a Taser stun gun on a handcuffed woman in a police station, the RCMP commissioner of the day agreed with the commission's findings that use of the Taser in that situation was "totally inappropriate" and denied the officer access to Tasers until he finished a new training course in their use.

The complaints commission -- while finding the RCMP "generally" meets high standards of professionalism investigating complaints against its members -- found "a few extremely poor" internal investigations raised public suspicion over the way the force polices itself.

A man who suffered injuries to his shoulder and a broken bone in police custody complained about his treatment, but the commission found later no notes were taken at the time by the officers involved and key witnesses were not interviewed during the internal investigation into the complaint.

The internal inquiry failed to determine how the man was injured and who injured him.

Kennedy said changes he is proposing for the law governing civilian review of the RCMP should require the police force to accept the findings of independent reviews of complaints.

"If this process is going to have any kind of credibility, once we have done our findings, we've made our findings, that should be it," he said in an interview. "There should be no discussion of what our analysis and what our findings are."

NDP MP Joe Comartin agreed, saying the lack of accountability over RCMP reaction to civilian oversight is one of the major problems the national police force faces. "If no disciplinary methods are taken, you're not going to change negative conduct. That has permeated the RCMP."

Ottawa Citizen

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