OTTAWA, February 4, 2010 - The RCMP today announced new policy to ensure independent and impartial investigations of RCMP employees.
The External Investigation or Review Policy has been developed in consultation with provinces and territories and provides for a combination of external investigations, independent observers and independent review, as well as formal requirements with respect to potential conflicts of interest.
"As the policy states, the RCMP must strive to be as open and transparent as possible and fully accountable for our actions," said RCMP Commissioner William Elliott.
The RCMP policy supports and is consistent with broader efforts to provide for investigations to be carried by independent agencies as is already the case in some provinces and as is being implemented elsewhere. The RCMP supports these initiatives and considers its policy to be an interim step to provide further independence and assurances of impartiality whenever employees of the RCMP are under investigation.
The policy clearly states that the RCMP would prefer never to be called upon to conduct investigations of RCMP employees but recognizes that there are not currently independent agencies in place in all jurisdictions. Wherever such an agency does exist the new policy directs that the RCMP will refer investigations to it.
The RCMP strongly supports independent investigations and enhanced independent oversight and review and looks forward to future initiatives to advance these important goals.
For more information:
Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Media Relations, 613-993-2999
February 4, 2010 - The RCMP would prefer to never investigate its own employees and has always supported having outside agencies conduct such investigations.
Canadians also believe that independent review alone is simply not enough for those rare but very serious cases where police officers have been involved in situations where life is lost, serious injuries sustained or sensitive matters of public confidence and trust are raised. Canadians are telling us that they want the investigating agency assigned to conduct this sort of investigation to be independent from the police force that is the subject of the investigation.
However, independent regimes or agencies to conduct such investigations are not currently established in all jurisdictions and the legislative changes and resource requirements to make this happen are well beyond the control of the RCMP. The implementation of the RCMP's new External Investigation or Review Policy will serve as an interim measure while we continue to work with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal partners within existing mandates and legislative frameworks to provide to the greatest extent possible for independent investigation, observation or review .and to work in support of new legislative and other initiatives to enhance this important aspect of police accountability
This new policy has been developed in consultation with our provincial and territorial partners, and addresses recommendations made by the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP.
The new policy will ensure that investigations of RCMP employees are fair, effective, thorough, impartial and culturally sensitive, and conducted in a manner that promotes public confidence.
The RCMP will request an independent external investigation whenever:
- there is a serious injury or death of an individual involving an RCMP employee, or;
- when it appears that an employee of the RCMP may have contravened a provision of the Criminal Code or other statute and the matter is of a serious or sensitive nature.
The RCMP will refer all matters that meet the established criteria to a provincially or federally established regime to conduct the investigation, where one exists. Where no such regime has been established, the RCMP will request an external law enforcement agency or other duly authorized investigative agency to conduct the investigation.
While there are reciprocal arrangements for independent investigations among various police agencies and the RCMP in some jurisdictions, it is not always possible for an outside agency to take on an investigation due to its own workload requirements and the lack of available resources. An external investigation could be requested in any part of the country, however, it can be particularly difficult to find external resources for remote parts of Canada, where the RCMP is usually the only police service of local jurisdiction.
Even when it is possible to identify an available team from another agency, it can sometimes take a day, or even longer, to bring in officers from elsewhere. Time is critical in police investigations. Witnesses must be interviewed while their memories are fresh, the site must be secured and forensic evidence preserved and protected from degradation as much as possible. Where no one else is available to investigate, the RCMP is obligated to act.
When the RCMP must investigate its employees, these cases will be assigned a team of at least two members, who will be screened for any actual or perceived conflict of interest. The policy also provides that the rank of the primary investigator will be higher than that of the subject being investigated. In addition, the policy provides for independent third party observers or independent review of investigations.
If an RCMP Commanding Officer or delegate determines that it is not feasible or appropriate to proceed with an external investigation, review or observation, he or she shall provide a written rationale to the Commissioner and ensure that the relevant minister responsible for policing is advised.
The policy is effective immediately.