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"RCMP approach needs to change": investigation results

The RCMP’s approach to investigating serious cases involving their own members must change, according to results of an investigation by the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP released today.

“As the seriousness of an alleged offense by a member increases, the discretion for the RCMP to respond as it deems appropriate must be removed and replaced by mandatory requirements,” said CPC chair Paul E. Kennedy today in a press release.

The Public Investigation into Police Investigating Police, launched in November of 2007, assessed 28 randomly selected cases that occurred between April 2002, and March 2007.

In those 28 cases, the CPC found that RCMP conduct and policy compliance were very high--100 per cent and 93 per cent respectively. Level of response, however--how appropriate the RCMP response was given the gravity of the incident--and line management, which looked at actual versus perceived conflict of interest, appropriate management structure, and reporting relationships, were very low.

Of particular concern was the fact that 25% of primary investigators identified themselves as personally knowing the subject member. Another critical concern is the fact that in 60% of the cases reviewed, a single investigator was assigned to investigate another member, thereby placing the integrity of the investigation at risk for potential conflict of interest or perception of bias.

...The CPC noted inconsistent assignment of files across divisions and an absence of formal criteria to identify which investigative unit should be assigned which cases.

The CPC also found a significant disparity in the qualifications of the investigators (including primary investigators) assigned to member investigations.

The CPC recommended that certain mandatory requirements laid out in the report be implemented temporarily to govern such cases where RCMP must investigate their own members, until federal legislation can be put in place permanently.

Kennedy explained, “The CPC set out to answer the question: ‘Can the current process of the RCMP investigating itself legitimately engender confidence in the transparency and integrity of the criminal investigation and its outcome,’ the informed answer is that it cannot under the current RCMP approach.”

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee

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