Complaints Commission releases report on RCMP's response to the 2013 flood in High River, Alberta

Ottawa - 2015-02-12

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Mr. Ian McPhail, the Chair of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (Commission), today released the Commission's report on its Chair-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into the RCMP's response to the 2013 flood in High River, Alberta.

The Commission's investigation reviewed the decisions and actions of RCMP members with respect to the entry of private residences, and the seizure of firearms from some residences during the emergency response to the flooding of High River.

The investigation included an examination of approximately 10,000 pages of documentation, more than 1,000 images and 50 videos, as well as a review of RCMP operational and administrative policies, applicable laws and jurisprudence related to the actions in question. Investigators also interviewed dozens of individuals affected by the flood and the resulting emergency response.

“The 2013 flooding of the Town of High River, Alberta, was unprecedented and challenged the emergency response capacity of the region to its limits. There is no question that the emergency measures implemented were extraordinary and saw countless examples of heroic efforts by first responders, including members of the RCMP, which deserve to be fully recognized,” said Mr. McPhail.

“However, it is also clear that, in the interest of saving lives and securing property, RCMP members exceeded their authorities in some instances during the emergency response. The Commission's investigation found no evidence that this was deliberate, but rather that it occurred as a result of a lack of understanding of legal authorities applicable under the circumstances, unclear policy relating to emergency response management, and gaps in RCMP leadership. This, combined with ineffective communications by the RCMP about how it was responding to the crisis, added to public anxiety and led many to question the integrity of the RCMP's actions,” added Mr. McPhail.

The Commission's report makes 52 findings and 10 recommendations which are intended to inform and enhance the RCMP's response to future emergency situations.

The full report is available here on the Commission's website.

The Commission is an independent agency created by Parliament to ensure that public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially. The Commission is not part of the RCMP.

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