Executive Summary: Police Investigating Police - Final Public Report

The RCMP currently investigates its own members for statutory offences. At issue is whether or not an organization whose members' actions have resulted in serious injury or death should be the very same organization then charged with the responsibility to investigate the incident (with the prospect of laying criminal charges).

Investigations of RCMP members resulting from a number of high profile cases including that of Ian Bush, who was shot and killed by an RCMP member in 2005, to the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport (following the RCMP use of the conducted energy weapon), have brought the issue of police investigating police to front of mind domestically and internationally.

These cases raise a fundamental question. Can the current process of the RCMP investigating itself legitimately engender confidence in the transparency, impartiality and integrity of the criminal investigation and its outcome?

The Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) set out to answer this and other questions by launching a public interest investigation on November 28, 2007, to assess the adequacy of how the RCMP investigates its own members, specifically in cases where member action resulted in serious injury or death.Footnote 1

What is currently guiding RCMP member investigations?

An important part of the CPC assessment involved determining exactly how the RCMP is currently managing its own member investigations. To develop this baseline knowledge, the CPC looked at all legislation, policies and procedures currently guiding member investigations at the national and divisional (provincial)Footnote 2 level.

No specific requirements exist under the Criminal Code regarding how an investigation into police officers should be handled. And while specific reference to how police should investigate police is also absent from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (RCMP Act), there are a number of features of the RCMP Act that warrant special attention.

The first is section 37 of the RCMP Act which outlines eight guidelines for the appropriate behaviour expected of RCMP members at all times. This section legislates the imperative need for members, as representatives of the RCMP, to act respectfully, dutifully and free from conflict of interest, specifically requiring members to "avoid any actual, apparent or potential conflict of interests" (s. 37(d)). A second legislative feature is the Commissioner's Standing Orders (Public Complaints) (s. 9), which states: "A member shall not investigate a complaint where that member may be in a conflict of interest situation." Of particular concern is the fact that the term "conflict of interest" is not defined further in either the RCMP Act or the Commissioner's Standing Orders. Public and stakeholder criticism remains largely focused on the very issue that the nature of police investigating police creates a significant conflict of interest, or at the least the perception of one (particularly in cases of serious injury or death).

Of additional concern is subsection I.2.b of the Commissioner's Standing Orders, which states: "If, as a result of an investigation, a member is believed to have committed a statutory offence: 1. it is within RCMP primary jurisdiction, take the same action as you would for any other person." This passage is also found in the RCMP's National Investigation Guidelines (F.1.a) and repeated further in some divisional policies.

While the intention of the RCMP requesting that member investigationsFootnote 3 be handled like any other investigation may be an honourable one (meaning without bias), the very nature of an investigation by one police officer into another is fundamentally different from the police investigating a member of the public for the exact same crime. Police are held to higher account by the very nature of the work they do. Like other professions that directly impact the safety and welfare of those they serve, there is a public expectation requiring that a higher standard of behaviour be upheld. By exposing the police thinking that investigations into its own members should be handled like any other investigation, we begin to identify the root philosophy guiding individual member behaviour.

It is therefore the CPC's contention that criminal investigations into RCMP members should NOT be treated the same as any other criminal investigation.

Given the absence of direction prescribed in legislation regarding how members should investigate other members, the adequacy of RCMP policy to ensure impartiality, transparency and rigour in the process becomes all the more paramount. Results of the CPC's policy analysis revealed inconsistencies in content and application across RCMP divisions. While the RCMP has developed a number of policies relating to how criminal investigations should be undertaken generally, very few policies address the issue of RCMP member-committed offences specifically. This is a serious concern.

The sheer volume and variety of RCMP policies with implications for the issue of police investigating police is overwhelmingly large (e.g. hundreds of pages of policy relevant to the PIP were reviewed for this report alone). This policy "overload" poses a great threat to the RCMP's operational effectiveness. The very nature of front-line policing requires that direction be provided in a format that is clear, concise and easy to access. As previously stated in other CPC reports, law drives policy, which drives training, which directly influences member behaviour.

Inconsistencies across divisions demonstrate the absence of clear guidance on the issue. In some policies at both the national and divisional level, involvement of an independent investigator or an external police force is mandatory; in others, it is left to the discretion of the officer in charge. Only three RCMP divisions currently have memoranda of agreement in place with the involvement of external police forces for the purpose of member investigations in specific cases. Similarly, only three divisional policies dictate the appointment of an independent investigator in cases of member-committed offences. Some divisional policies do not address the issue of officer-committed violations and the pursuant investigations at all. The scope of policy varies as well-while most national policies are limited to cases of serious injury or death, many divisional policies encompass all statutory violations.

While a new proposed RCMP national policy, External Investigations or Review, takes active steps towards providing consolidated guidance in relation to member investigations, the content remains vague and far too much discretion remains with the divisions (divisional Commanding Officers, Officers in Charge or Criminal Operations Officers) to determine an appropriate response.

CPC assessment of the handling of RCMP member investigations

With this baseline understanding of the current handling and procedures guiding member investigations, the CPC then requested that the RCMP divisions identify all files related to criminal investigations of RCMP members by other RCMP members between April 1, 2002 and March 31, 2007 involving assault causing bodily harm; sexual assault; and death, including death caused by operating a personal motor vehicle (PMV).

The retrieval of member investigation cases from the RCMP revealed critical issues in the RCMP's administrative handling and management of these types of investigations. RCMP national and divisional headquarters do not have any centralized tracking or monitoring capacity for member investigations. As such, most divisions generated relevant files for the CPC public interest investigation by searching through divisional records housed at their respective headquarters using key word searches. Some divisions were better able to narrow the scope of their search to fit the parameters of the review through effective record-keeping processes making for easier retrieval, while other divisions did not have the same capacity.

Overall, the lack of national and divisional data collection-or monitoring capacity-for member investigations (combined with varied divisional RCMP record-keeping and retrieval methods on this issue) demonstrates a lack of attention being placed on member investigations.

Bearing these challenges in mind, the CPC reviewed all RCMP files received in order to determine which ones were relevant to the parameters of the public interest investigation. Approximately 150 of the 600 RCMP cases provided were deemed relevant to the parameters of the public interest investigation. Recognizing that it would be prohibitive to review all relevant cases, they were further reduced to a sample size of 28 cases representative of each of the three categories (14 assault causing bodily harm cases; eight sexual assault cases; and six death cases).

It is important to note that, as per the map outlined in the CPC Data at a Glance section, the RCMP's Central Region was not represented in the random sample because no cases were identified by Quebec (C) Division; Ontario (O) Division; and HQ (A) Division that fit the parameters of the Chair-initiated complaint. Furthermore, no files were identified by Nova Scotia (H) Division, and Prince Edward Island (L) Division. And while a small number of files were initially identified by the RCMP for New Brunswick (J) Division and Yukon Territory (M) Division, these files did not meet the CPC criteria and were therefore excluded. Of concern to the CPC is the absence of any cases identified by the bulk of the Maritime Provinces given the RCMP's contract policing role there.

With all relevant material identified, the CPC Review Team investigators analyzed all files and written material provided by the RCMP to assess the appropriate handling of each case against the established CPC criteria and terms of reference (specifically: line management, level of response, timeliness, member conduct, and compliance with policy). After completing a comprehensive file review of the 28 cases, the CPC Review Team investigators then recommended that full-field reviews be undertaken for a select number of cases. Overall, eight cases were selected for full-field review. Field interviews were conducted in various divisions and detachments. In total, 31 members were interviewed regarding the files selected for in-depth review. Thirteen civilians were asked to be interviewed for the purposes of this report but refused or did not respond to our request for an interview. One comment from a family member associated to one file stated: "It won't do any good. [The RCMP members involved] have all been promoted and transferred out."

CPC assessment of RCMP handling of member investigations

The criteria used to assess each of the 28 cases and the resultant findings are outlined in detail in chapter 5 of this report. Below are some highlights of the CPC findings.

As per the complaint parameters, the CPC investigators assessed 28 cases in order to determine how appropriately each RCMP member investigation was handled against five key criteria: conduct, policy compliance, timeliness, line management and level of response.

Overall, RCMP member conduct was deemed highly appropriate in 100% of the cases reviewed. The CPC found that the RCMP investigators charged with the task of investigating another member acted professionally and free from bias.

The CPC investigators also concluded that RCMP member policy compliance was appropriate in 93% of the cases. Only two minor policy violations were found. It is important to note that this criterion sought only to determine how well members followed policy in place at the time of each investigation, and did not seek to assess the adequacy of these policies (this issue was assessed separately, as outlined previously).

The timeliness of member investigations was also deemed overall appropriate 82% of the time. Of the 28 cases reviewed, 60% were completed in six months or less. However, 19% of these cases took over one year to complete, thereby potentially excluding members from internal disciplinary processes, if required. Specific concerns were also raised around the handling of historical cases which took considerably longer to investigate (one historical case still remained ongoing after 28 months at the time of publication).

CPC Data at a Glance...

Pie chart illustrating the total number of cases reviewed where RCMP member action resulted in serious injury or death.
Text Version

Total Number of Cases Reviewed

  • Assault Causing Bodily Harm – 50%
  • Sexual Assault – 29%
  • Death – 21%

Note: The CPC reviewed a total of 28 cases where RCMP member action resulted in serious injury or death.

A map of Canada illustrating the number of RCMP cases examined by division.
Text Version

Total Number of RCMP Cases Examined by Division

  • "E" Division (British Columbia) – 7
  • "K" Division (Alberta) – 4
  • "F" Division (Saskatchewan) – 4
  • "D" Division (Manitoba) – 5
  • "B" Division (Newfoundland and Labrador) – 1
  • "J" Division (New Brunswick) – 0
  • "L" Division (Prince Edward Island) – 0
  • "H" Division (Nova Scotia) – 0
  • "M" Division (Yukon) – 0
  • "G" Division (Northwest Territories) – 2
  • "V" Division (Nunavut) – 5
  • "O" Division (Ontario) – 0
  • "A" Division (National Capital Region) – 0
  • "C" Division (Quebec) – 0
Circular chart measuring the level of independence between the RCMP primary investigators and the subject members for each case.
Text Version

Independence of Investigative Team – Primary Investigators

  • Subject Member Personally Known; Same detachment – 4%
  • Subject Member Personally Known; Different Detachment; Same Division – 21%
  • Subject Member Personally Unknown; Same Detachment – 0%
  • Subject Member Personally Unknown; Different Detachment; Same Division – 57%
  • Different Division – 0%
  • Outside Police Force – 0%
  • Not specified – 18%
  • 25% of primary investigators identified themselves as personally knowing the subject member.
  • None of the primary investigators were from an outside division.
Pie chart comparing cases where charges were laid against subject members.
Text Version

Cases Where Charges Were Laid

  • No Charges – 23 82%
  • Charges – 18%

* Of the 28 cases reviewed, charges were laid against subject members in 5 cases.

Grid summarizing the total level of appropriateness for each of the five complaint criteria.
Text Version

How Did the CPC Assess the RCMP Handling of Member Investigations?

CPC Assessment Criteria by Level of Appropriateness

  • Conduct
    • Appropriate – 100%
    • Partially Inappropriate – 0%
    • Inappropriate – 0%
  • Policy Compliance
    • Appropriate – 93%
    • Partially Inappropriate – 0%
    • Inappropriate – 7%
  • Level of Response
    • Appropriate – 82%
    • Partially Inappropriate – 14%
    • Inappropriate – 4%
  • Timeliness
    • Appropriate – 32%
    • Partially Inappropriate – 43%
    • Inappropriate – 25%
  • Line Management
    • Appropriate – 32%
    • Partially Inappropriate – 36%
    • Inappropriate – 32%
Linear graph outlining the timeliness of each RCMP investigation.
Text Version

How Long Did RCMP Investigations Take?

Number of months

  • Less Than Six Months (60%)
  • 1-2 Months – 39%
  • 4-5 Months – 21%
  • 7-8 Months – 14%
  • 10-11 Months – 7%
  • Over One Year (19%)
  • 15-16 Months – 11%
  • 20-21 Months – 4%
  • 27-28 Months – 4%
Pie chart measuring the number of investigators for each of the 28 cases reviewed.
Text Version

Number of Investigators

  • 1 Investigator – 17 cases (60%)
  • 2 Investigators – 5 cases (18%)
  • 3 Investigators (General Investigation Section) – 1 case (4%)
  • 4-6 Investigators (Major Crime Unit) – 5 cases (18%)
Pie chart evaluating if the number of investigators was adequate
Text Version

Was the Number of Investigators Adequate?

  • Yes – 11 cases (40%)
  • No – 17 cases (60%)

The two criteria the CPC investigators found of greatest concern were the RCMP's handling of the investigations in relation to line management (which looked at any actual/perceived conflict of interest; appropriate management structure and reporting relationships) and level of response (which looked at how appropriate and proportionate the RCMP response was to the gravity of the incident). Given the fact that these two criteria specifically relate to the process of how member investigations are handled, this analysis further helps to illustrate the fact that CPC concerns relate largely to the current RCMP process (which is flawed) and not individual RCMP member action.

Of particular concern to the CPC is the RCMP's line management, which was deemed to be appropriate in only 32% of the cases. Sixty-eight percent of the cases reviewed were deemed to be handled either partially or entirely inappropriately. 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.

Further, in 32% of the cases, the primary investigator assigned was of the same or lower rank as the subject member, thereby creating the potential for intimidation. Recommendations to address these concerns are outlined in greater detail in chapter 7, CPC Recommended Model for RCMP Member Investigations.

Of equal concern to the CPC is the 68% of cases deemed to be partially or entirely inappropriate for level of response. Of particular concern was the fact that interviews with subject members and witness officers were conducted by a lone investigator in 17 of the 28 cases, again creating the potential for intimidation or a conflict of interest.

It is important to note that while no specific conflicts of interest were noted in these particular cases, the practice of single-member interviews was deemed to be inappropriate.

Other concerns included the referral of cases to the proper sections. CPC investigators noted inconsistent assignment of files across divisions and an absence of formal criteria to identify which investigative unit should be assigned which cases.

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

In addition, the complete absence of reassignment of duties or adjustment of workload for members assigned to investigators undertaking member investigations was also noted as a serious concern impacting the integrity and timeliness of member investigations undertaken. The call for an administrative review of member investigations was also found to be inconsistently applied across the country (an administrative review was only called for in four of the 28 cases).

Recommendations to address these concerns are outlined in greater detail in chapter 7, CPC Recommended Model for RCMP Member Investigations.

What we can learn from other models

Overall, an analysis of 14 different domestic and international police review agenciesFootnote 4 was undertaken in an effort to determine how other jurisdictions handle allegations of police misconduct. Three types of models were identified based on the level of civilian involvement in the investigation: (1) Dependent Model, (2) Interdependent Model and (3) Independent Model.

The dependent model essentially represents more traditional "police investigation of police." There is no civilian involvement in the criminal investigation and, therefore, there is a total dependence on the police for the handling of criminal investigations. There are two subcategories to this model: (1.1) police investigating police and (1.2) police investigating another police force.

In the police investigating police subcategory, the police service is fully responsible for the criminal investigation and administration of public complaints alleging criminal offences. The review body in question does not conduct criminal investigations, but it may recognize complaints regarding service, internal discipline or public trust.

The second subcategory involves "police investigating another police force" in specific cases so that the police service does not investigate its own members in instances of serious injury or death. In three selected Canadian provinces, formal memoranda of agreement exist between the local police and the RCMP that allow an outside police force to handle the investigations of the RCMP member(s).

The interdependent model introduces civilian involvement into the criminal investigation to varying degrees. There are also two sub-types to this model: (2.1) civilian observation and (2.2) hybrid investigation.

In the first sub-type of the interdependent model, a civilian observer is assigned to the police investigation to ensure that the latter is conducted with impartiality. The hybrid investigation comprises mostly of a civilian review body whose involvement in the investigation goes beyond the role of mere overseer. In this model, the police force may be engaged in some form of collaboration with the review body, although the latter may have the ability to conduct the investigation entirely on its own.

Examples of the interdependent model, which introduces civilian involvement into the police criminal investigation, are found in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, New Zealand, United Kingdom and South Australia.

The independent model is embodied by a totally independent criminal investigation with no police involvement. The review body composed of civilians undertakes independent criminal investigation and may have the authority to make binding findings and lay charges. Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, the Independent Police Review Authority in Chicago and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland are representative of this model. The key advantage of an independent review body is that it offers an appearance of total independence and objectivity.

For Canada, there is no single model that can be applied in its current form and expected to function effectively without taking into account the particular characteristics of our country and the size and scope (municipal, provincial, federal, territorial and First Nations) of the policing activities undertaken by the RCMP. The size of the territory and sheer vastness of the country, coupled with budget realities, must be considered. Valuable lessons were learned from our domestic and foreign counterparts in the development of the CPC's approach for the RCMP in the Canadian context, outlined next.

CPC's recommended model for handling of RCMP member investigations

The CPC's recommended option underlines the importance of police in the process (as part of the solution), while also recognizing that an enhanced degree of civilian engagement in the criminal investigation process is fundamental to ensure its impartiality and integrity. To that end, the CPC recommends shifting from the current "dependent model" towards the "interdependent model."

The recommended "interdependent model" rests between the basic dependent model and the full-featured interdependent model:

Linear graph comparing the current CPC role and the recommended CPC role along a model continuum for handling member investigations.
Text Version

Model Continuum

The CPC's current role ties between the dependent model and the interdependent model, but is a closer match to the dependent model.

The CPC's recommended role also lies between the dependent and interdependent model but closely resembles the interdependent model than the dependent model.

The Independent model sits at the far right of the continuum.

Overall, the CPC believes that a criminal investigation resulting from member conduct is unlike any other criminal investigation and accordingly must be handled procedurally very differently. Therefore, to help transition the RCMP from its current "dependent (police investigating police) model" to the "interdependent model" (involving an enhanced CPC role in the context of RCMP member investigations), a number of legislative, structural, and policy changes are recommended.

Recommended legislative changes

To effectively enhance review capacity, legislative changes should be considered to provide the new RCMP Review Body the authority to:

  • Refer an RCMP member investigation to another police force or to another criminal investigative body in Canada.
  • Grant the RCMP Review Body the authority to monitor any criminal investigation relating to a member of the RCMP, where it deems it appropriate to do so. This would therefore extend the RCMP Review Body's ability to deploy the observer to an RCMP member investigation being undertaken by an external police service and/or provincial criminal investigative body. While permission from the investigating body would be required to embed the observer, the authority would at least provide the RCMP Review Body with the power where granted permission to observe.
  • Undertake joint investigations with like-mandated bodies. The amendment could allow the new RCMP Review Body to "conduct a joint investigation, review, inquiry, audit or hearing with another body in Canada that has powers, duties and functions that are similar to the RCMP Review Body's, including provincial criminal investigative bodies." This would allow the new RCMP Review Body to undertake investigations with new criminal investigative bodies (like the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team) as they emerge across the country.

Other recommended legislative changes should include:

  • The RCMP Commissioner revise the current version of his Standing Orders to direct handling of member investigations, as per the recommendations herein (specify that member investigations are not to be handled like any other criminal investigation and a better definition of the term "conflict of interest" should be included).

Recommended structural changes for the RCMP

  • Create the position of National RCMP Member Investigation Registrar to manage, track, train, promote and advise on all issues related to member investigations. The National Registrar would be responsible to:
    • Create an RCMP National Registry for all police investigating police data (especially for serious injury, sexual assault, and death cases) with timely sharing of data with the CPC.
    • Create and manage an RCMP Police Investigating Police Advisory Group to help determine actions to be taken in sensitive cases.
    • Monitor effective compliance with policy and enforce compliance where necessary (e.g. consultation with Crown re: laying of charges mandatory).
    • Create and oversee a specialized unit with expertise on the handling of RCMP historical cases to be consulted-or deployed-where necessary.
    • Create a mobile critical incident member investigation team (with a CPC civilian observer embedded) that can be deployed where both the RCMP National Registrar and the CPC Chair jointly determined it necessary to do so (a pool of qualified senior investigators placed on standby that can be deployed quickly).

Recommended RCMP policy and procedural changes

There are certain instances where the RCMP should not investigate itself. Below is a chart that delineates that as the seriousness of the member-involved offence increases, a corresponding degree of independence and impartiality in that member investigation is required. The chart below highlights the CPC's contention that as the seriousness of the offence alleged against a member rises, the discretion for the RCMP to respond as it deems appropriate must be removed and mandatory requirements inserted in its place.

Table illustrating the recommended RCMP response to member investigations.
Text Version
Mandatory RCMP Action with CPC Role
Type of offence defined Member offence (by level of seriousness) Current RCMP handling Recommended RCMP handling of member investigation
Indictable offencesFootnote 5
An offence which, in Canada, is more serious than those which can proceed by summary conviction. In many regards, this is the Canadian equivalent to the USA felony. Murder and treason are examples of crimes committed in Canada which would be indictable offences. These crimes are usually tried by federally-appointed judges and carry heavy sentences.


Criminal Negligence causing Death (s. 220 CCC)

Discretionary at RCMP Division level RCMP Mandatory Action:
  • CPC to refer all death cases to external police service or provincial criminal investigative body (no RCMP member involvement)
  • Divisional MOUs activated
  • CPC Observer embedded
Serious Injury & Sexual Assault

Assault with Weapon or Assault Causing Bodily Harm
(s. 267 CCC) Sexual Assault
(s. 272 CCC)
Discretionary at RCMP Division level RCMP Mandatory Action: CPC and National Registrar to determine appropriate response from options below for serious injury/sexual assault cases:
  • Referral to external police service or to provincial investigative body through MOUFootnote 6
  • Deployment of RCMP HQ mobile critical incident member investigation team
  • CPC Observer embedded

Discretion Retained By The RCMP
Type of offence defined Member offence (by level of seriousness) Current RCMP handling Recommended RCMP handling of member investigation
Hybrid Offences

Dual Procedure Offences which Crown can elect to proceed with an indictable offence or a summary conviction.

(s. 265 CCC)
Discretionary at RCMP Division level RCMP HQ National Registrar retains discretion to determine appropriate response.
Summary Conviction

In Canada, a less serious offence than indictable offences for which both the procedure and punishment tends to be less onerous.

Theft under $5,000
Discretionary at RCMP Division level RCMP HQ National Registrar retains discretion to determine appropriate response.
  • Recommended CPC standard policies and procedures are followed (outlined next).

Recommended policy changes

The CPC's policy analysis revealed that RCMP policies, while voluminous, are inconsistent and do not adequately address the handling of member investigations. Criminal investigations into members should not be treated the same as any other criminal investigation. To address the current void in effective and consistent policies and procedures related to the handling of member investigations, the CPC recommends the following key changes:

  • Criminal investigations of RCMP members into allegations of serious injury, sexual assault or death in hardship or remote postings must be consistent with all other member investigation protocols, no exception.
  • An administrative review is mandatory for all member investigations.
  • The RCMP establish formalized MOUs for every RCMP division to ensure the mandatory referral of member investigations to an external police service is consistent and documented. At present, only New Brunswick (J) Division, Nova Scotia (H) Division and Newfoundland (B) Division have formalized MOUs in place. These existing MOUs should be revised as per the CPC's recommendations to reflect new processes.

Where it is deemed appropriate for the RCMP to handle its own member investigation or where an RCMP member forms part of the investigative team (led by an external police force), the following policy recommendations would apply.

  • Create an RCMP integrated manual to specifically address procedures for investigations undertaken by the RCMP into one of its own members. This integrated manual should have links to any additional relevant policies for ease of reference. Key features to be included in the integrated manual:
    • CPC recommended investigative team structure:
      • Qualified primary investigator at least one rank higher than that of subject member;
      • A minimum of two members required for every member investigations (including for subject and witness officer interviews);
      • Minimum mandatory qualifications of investigative team;
      • Workload of members assigned to member investigations reassigned or adjusted to prioritize member investigation accordingly;
      • Timely completion of investigation preferably six months and not recommended to exceed one year;
      • Assign liaison position to member of investigative team to ensure timely and effective communication with public, family and subject member;
      • Self-identification of knowledge of subject member mandatory;
      • Use of the probeFootnote 7 in lower-end investigations.

CPC overall conclusion

To answer the question raised at the outset, "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 CPC answer is that it cannot. To address this, the CPC has recommended legislative, policy, procedural and structural proposals for changes, including an enhanced civilian presence during the investigative process to protect against any real or perceived conflicts of interest involving RCMP member investigations. It is important to note that these recommendations do not rely on any legislative enhancements and can be implemented immediately.

Complete list of findings and recommendations

CPC Key findings

Finding No. 1: What is at issue today is no longer whether civilian review is desirable, but rather, how civilian involvement in investigations can be most effective.

Finding No. 2: The very nature of conducting criminal investigations requires that police, to some extent, must be part of the solution.

Finding No. 3: RCMP policies, while voluminous, are inconsistent and do not adequately address the handling of member investigations.

Finding No. 4: The lack of national and divisional data collection-or monitoring capacity-for member investigations (combined with varied divisional RCMP record-keeping and retrieval methods on this issue) demonstrates a lack of attention being placed on member investigations.

Finding No. 5: Overall, personal knowledge of subject member for primary investigators occurred 25% of the time and 4% of primary investigators were from the same detachment as the subject member.

Finding No. 6: There was a slightly higher likelihood of primary investigators personally knowing the subject member (14%) in remote and northern postings than in other more centralized locations (12%). However, there does remain a large number of primary investigators (12%) from more centralized divisions where external assistance is more readily accessible.

Finding No. 7: Overall, in the opinion of the CPC investigators, the use of expert witnesses in the cases was appropriate.

Finding No. 8: Overall, the number of team members assigned to the 28 investigations was inadequate.

Finding No. 9: Overall, the CPC found the structure and reporting relationships of the 28 cases reviewed to be partially or entirely inappropriate (68%).

Finding No. 10: Of the 28 files that the CPC investigators reviewed, it was found that in 17 of these files, the subject member and witnesses were investigated by a lone RCMP investigator.

Finding No. 11: Overall, the section or unit tasked with member investigations (including their mandates) lack uniformity across the country.

Finding No. 12: In the 28 case files reviewed, the qualifications of the investigators varied greatly. Some had all the major crime and related courses, while others had as few as two years experience in the General Investigation Section.

Finding No. 13: Overall, it was found that the investigations conducted by the Major Crime Unit were focused and completed in a timely fashion, as they had the ability, resources and the time to conduct the investigation. This was not found to be the case when the investigation was assigned to a Detachment Commander or General Duty or GIS member whose heavy workload was not adjusted accordingly.

Finding No. 14: Of the 28 cases reviewed, six of which involved death, an administrative review was only undertaken in four cases: two of which were member-involved shootings (Manitoba (D) & Nunavut (V) Divisions); and two of which were in-custody deaths (Saskatchewan (F) and Alberta (K) Divisions).

Finding No. 15: The CPC found that, overall, the level of response was handled partially or entirely inappropriately (68%). Key concerns related to interviews being undertaken by lone investigators as well as inconsistent referral of cases to the appropriate investigative unit.

Finding No. 16: Of the eight charges laid, three (37.5%) resulted in successful convictions, while five (62.5%) resulted in no convictions.

Finding No. 17: In cases where an immediate response was required, such as member-involved shootings and in-custody deaths, the CPC investigators found that all necessary personnel were dispatched to the incident as soon as possible and practicable.

Finding No. 18: The CPC found that most investigations were completed in a timely manner. The files that took significantly longer to complete were not due to a lack of interest but rather to the heavy workload of the investigator in addition to general hindrances encountered (court dates, difficulty locating witnesses or complainants, employee absence, etc.).

Finding No. 19: Overall, the CPC found that the RCMP investigators were free of bias and were professional and conscientious in their approach to their assignments. It was also found that most subject members and witness members cooperated with the CPC investigators and conducted themselves in a professional manner.

Finding No. 20: After an in-depth review of the randomly selected cases, it was found that in most cases, the appropriate policies were complied with. In the few cases where it was found that some aspects of the related policies were not adhered to, they were minor in nature and did not appear to have any effect on the outcome of the investigation.

CPC Recommendations

Recommendation No. 1: Overall, it is the CPC's contention that criminal investigations into members should not be treated the same as any other criminal investigation.

Recommendation No. 2: The CPC recommends that the rank of the primary investigator must be at least one rank higher than that of the subject member.

Recommendation No. 3: In order to reduce the length of time to conduct statutory investigations against RCMP members, it is recommended that member investigations be assigned to a team of (minimum) two members in a specialized investigative unit.

Recommendation No. 4: The RCMP should assign competent senior investigators with a proven track record in court who have completed the appropriate courses (e.g. sexual assault, major crime, interviewing and interrogation techniques and statement analysis); who can effectively interview witnesses with strong analytical skills.

Recommendation No. 5: Workload of members assigned to member investigations should be reassigned or adjusted to prioritize member investigations accordingly.

Recommendation No. 6: Special attention should be paid to enforce the RCMP requirement to consult with the Crown prior to laying any charges against members, given the particular need for independence and impartiality in member investigations. The RCMP should also undertake a review regarding recommendations made to the Crown in cases involving RCMP members.

Recommendation No. 7: Given the sensitivity and transparency required for member investigations, it is recommended that administrative reviews be undertaken in all cases of serious injury, sexual assault or death.

Recommendation No. 8: The RCMP should consider applying the use of the "probe"Footnote 8 to lower-end investigations in all divisions.

Recommendation No. 9: The RCMP could consider recommending that the Officer in Charge of the Criminal Operations Section be the appropriate recipient of the probe report in order to determine whether or not a lower-end investigation should proceed to a statutory investigation.

Recommendation No. 10: Historical cases require expertise not typical of most investigators. It is therefore recommended that these types of cases be handled by a specialized unit at the national or regional level.

Recommendation No. 11: Policy guiding criminal investigations of RCMP members should be standardized nation wide. This would allow for the statutory investigations into RCMP members to be conducted uniformly across the country.

Recommendation No. 12: Create the position of National RCMP Member Investigation Registrar responsible to provide the CPC Chair with regular monthly reports for all member investigations undertaken for indictable offences, hybrid offences and summary convictions.

Recommendation No. 13: The RCMP should formalize a memorandum of understanding for every division across the country to ensure consistency in the referral of member investigations to an external police service.

Recommendation No. 14: The RCMP should create an Integrated Manual to specifically address procedures for investigations undertaken by the RCMP into one of its members.

Date modified: