ARCHIVED - Chair's Final Report After Commissioner's Notice: Kingsclear Investigation Report
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RCMP Act Subsection 45.46(3)
File No.: PC- 5710-200401
After concluding the public interest investigation, I forwarded my Interim Report to the Commissioner who responded to my recommendations in his Commissioner's Notice. After considering the Commissioner's comments, I have now prepared this, my Final Report.
In May 2004, the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) announced a public interest investigation into RCMP investigations of alleged sexual and physical assaults of residents at the New Brunswick Training School (NBTS) at Kingsclear. The investigation, which became known as the Kingsclear Investigation, also examined allegations that the RCMP did not properly investigate alleged criminal conduct of RCMP Staff Sergeant Clifford McCann and NBTS custodial staff and residents, and that the RCMP engaged in activities designed to cover up this alleged criminal conduct. In addition, the CPC examined 11 allegations that were lodged by seven complainants about RCMP investigative work spanning almost 15 years.
With a budget of $3.1 million and a team of 19 investigators and staff, the CPC combed through more than 50,000 pages of documents and conducted 150 interviews in nine provinces. In 2007, the CPC completed its investigation, the results of which are provided in the Chair's Interim Report.
The Chair's Interim Report on the Investigation
In accordance with subsection 45.43(3) of the RCMP Act, which directs me to send to the Minister and Commissioner a report setting out my findings and recommendations, I forwarded my Interim Report on August 10, 2007.
After examining the facts and verifying the evidence in accordance with its Terms of Reference, the CPC is satisfied that there is no substantiated evidence that members of the RCMP attempted to cover up alleged criminal actions of retired Staff Sergeant Clifford McCann or of sexual and physical assaults by former NBTS custodial and supervisory staff. However, the CPC did find inadequacies in the RCMP's criminal investigations of both the staff at the NBTS and Staff Sergeant McCann, some of which are serious enough to create the perception of a cover-up.
Based upon these findings, I made nine recommendations which are outlined in the Conclusion section of the Interim Report.
The RCMP Commissioner's Response to the Chair's Interim Report
Subsection 45.46(2) of the RCMP Act directs the RCMP Commissioner to notify the Minister and the CPC of "any further action that has been or will be taken with respect to the complaint, and where the Commissioner decides not to act on any findings or recommendations set out in the report, the Commissioner shall include in the notice the reasons for not so acting." The Commissioner provided that response on September 13, 2007.
The Chair's Final Report
I have now reviewed the Commissioner's responses to the recommendations contained in the Interim Report and have provided this Final Report in accordance with subsection 45.46(3) of the RCMP Act. I note that the Commissioner's individual responses vary greatly with respect to their substance and specificity. Set forth below are some examples of the Commissioner's variable treatment of my recommendations.
For example, in response to recommendations associated with enhancing and enforcing note taking, report writing and documenting, the Commissioner's response was more detailed than in other areas. He advised that the RCMP is redrafting its policy and referred to the specific elements of the policy to be addressed. He then went on to delineate the various methods by which the RCMP trains its members including two new training initiatives with a central focus on note taking and report writing. The Commissioner also made note of the current updating of the Unit Level Quality Assurances meant to assess the quality of investigations including the quality of documentation. The adequacy of note taking, report writing and documenting has long been identified as a problem by the CPC and the RCMP alike and, in fact, in this particular case two members interviewed Staff Sergeant McCann, who was the subject of a serious criminal investigation, and the notes kept by both members were so cursory and devoid of substance that they were of no value to the investigation.
Neither previous policies dealing with note taking, report writing and documenting nor the focused cadet training mentioned in the Commissioner's Notice have been successful in eliminating chronic problems in this area. The key element of any effective strategy to ameliorate compliance with note taking, report writing and documenting policies should include an accountability mechanism whereby the RCMP identifies non-compliance and then provides directed remedial measures to the member. The RCMP might consider the practices of other police agencies which regularly assess adherence to their performance standards. It will be in this light that the CPC will be reviewing the new protocols in the near future and monitoring their impact in redressing past deficiencies in this area.
The Commissioner's more robust treatment of the recommendations dealing with note taking, report writing and documenting can be contrasted with his weaker responses in other areas. First, in regards to my recommendations relating to inadequate resourcing of sensitive or large-scale investigations, I note that this was one of two recommendations to which the Commissioner did not specifically indicate his agreement. Rather he provided general comments from which I am unable to glean whether he intends to take any steps to rectify this problem. He stated that resource issues are assessed in the normal course and that it "must be recognized that resources are finite and that there are various factors, including vacancy rates and staff turn-over, that need to be considered." I wish to assure the Commissioner that I recognize that resource and personnel issues come into play and that some of the difficulties associated with these factors are unique to the RCMP in terms of contract policing and staff mobility.
While I respect that these considerations may require tough choices to be made, my recommendation was made to address my concern that the RCMP investigations under review suffered from a lack of resources that resulted in interruptions, delays and an inadequate investigative quality. Citing fiscal and staffing realities without directing action designed to combat these problems is equivalent to accepting these investigative shortcomings for all sensitive or large-scale investigations.
I urge the Commissioner to reconsider his response to this issue and to raise the resource implications directly with the RCMP's contract partners (provinces/territories/municipalities), who must also contribute financially to any future initiatives designed to overcome these problems. I appreciate the difficulties raised by the Commissioner but maintain that this issue warrants extraordinary effort to avoid a recurrence of these problems during future investigations.
Another of the Commissioner's responses that does not go far enough to address the concerns raised in the Interim Report is the response to the recommendation dealing with cases where the RCMP investigates one of its own. I specifically recommended that another police service should be tasked with this type of investigation or, at the very least, a team of RCMP members from another region. The Commissioner stated that "appropriate policies and practices need to be in place to provide for independent investigations into allegations relating to members or employees of the RCMP." This comment amounts to no more than a generalized statement of principle absent the substance and commitment needed to satisfy me that the issue will be appropriately dealt with.
The Commissioner indicated that policy development is underway to address these concerns but provided no specifics. This response fails to demonstrate that the RCMP is being proactive in resolving the deficiencies identified in the Interim Report. I am not convinced that the ongoing practice of policy review, which was cited as a response to this and a number of other recommendations, will properly address the CPC's concerns without clear direction from the Commissioner.
The practice of the RCMP investigating itself is an issue of great public concern. The media scrutiny and public debate that surround sensitive and large-scale investigations which impact on the community's trust in the RCMP speak to the need for a concerted effort to create policy and procedures which ensure both the reality of and the perception of impartiality, transparency and accountability. Many of the concerns generated in relation to the RCMP investigations under review, were rooted in the lack of appropriate accountability and transparency mechanisms to ensure the public's confidence as to the integrity of the investigative process.
The Commissioner also made reference to the Independent Observer Pilot Project in "E" Division. This is a collaborative effort between the CPC and the RCMP designed to ensure the impartiality of the investigation of select serious or high-profile cases. This is only a bridging mechanism until legislative changes are made enhancing the accountability framework which ensures impartiality and transparency.
After careful review and analysis of the evidence and upon consideration of the Commissioner's response to my Interim Report, I conclude my review and confirm the recommendations contained in the Interim Report, as set forth below.
- The CPC recommends that the Commissioner of the RCMP and RCMP commanding officers ensure that a mechanism is in place to identify investigations that may become sensitive or of a large-scale or both.
- The CPC recommends that appropriate response and accountability mechanisms be put in place at the senior officer level to enable senior officers to monitor continuously the progress of any sensitive or large-scale investigation and assure the public of transparency, effectiveness and impartiality.
- The CPC recommends that an assessment and follow-up be conducted to determine the actual resource needs of the RCMP "J" Division to ensure that any sensitive and large-scale investigation is conducted without interruption and in a timely and professional manner.
- The CPC recommends that the CO and senior members of the RCMP in a pre-charge screening province ensure that members clearly understand their role in the administration of justice vis-à-vis the Crown to preserve their independence.
- The CPC recommends that the RCMP examine, amend and enforce the "Investigator's Notebook" policy and all policies related to note taking, report writing and documenting to ensure that the policies are operationally effective and that officers adhere to and are continuously trained according to the guidelines.
- The CPC recommends that the RCMP examine the policy on notebook retention used by other police agencies to glean best practices applied across the country, especially for officers who are retired, transferred or who voluntarily resign.
- The CPC recommends that the various issues associated with note taking, report writing and documenting be addressed through various approaches, including training, policy revisions, internal oversight and monitoring.
- The CPC recommends that any sensitive or large-scale investigation into allegations which impact on the community's trust in the RCMP should be tasked to another police service or, at the very least, to a team of RCMP officers from another region or province who would have the appropriate experience and who would be unfamiliar with the member under investigation. This would assist in limiting the perception of bias and ensure that public trust in the RCMP is maintained.
- The CPC recommends that the RCMP improve its internal and external communication strategies for any sensitive or large investigation, adopting a proactive communications approach using modern technologies to clearly demonstrate transparency and the RCMP's accountability to the public.
Serious steps must be taken by the RCMP to address the concerns raised in my Interim Report or there inevitably will be a recurrence of the problems which gave rise to the public's concern in this instance. The CPC will actively monitor the adequacy of the RCMP response and I will follow up directly with the Commissioner to verify the actions taken by the RCMP and the adequacy of those actions in responding to these recommendations. In addition to reporting to the Minister on these issues, the CPC will report to the public biannually on the status of the RCMP response to my recommendations.
Paul E. Kennedy
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP
P.O. Box 3423, Station "D"
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