Commissioner's Notice - Police Investigating Police

Mr. Paul E. Kennedy
Commission for Public Complaints
Against the RCMP
P.O. Box 1722, Station "B"
Ottawa, Ontario KIP OB3

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

Thank you for your interim report dated May 15, 2009, entitled "Police Investigating the Police: A Chair-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into public concerns as to the impartiality of RCMP members conducting criminal investigations of other RCMP members, in cases that involve serious injury or death".

We have completed a preliminary review of this report, and are encouraged by your conclusion that RCMP members' conduct was appropriate, that members were professional and free of bias, that they complied with the applicable policies and that they completed the investigations that were the subject of your review in a timely manner. We also note your indication that the CPC's concerns relate to RCMP processes, and not to individual members' actions.

Although we welcome the draft report, we do have a number of concerns. First, although the report will no doubt prove useful in guiding and evaluating future investigations and in our ongoing policy development, the language used in the report is, in our view, unduly negative and in some instances quite misleading. We do not believe it is reasonable to make judgments about past investigations based on newly proposed criteria.

More specifically, we are concerned with your choice of the word "inappropriate" in relation to the manner in which investigations were carried out. The conclusion of "inappropriateness" is unwarranted as this assessment is based on new criteria which you are proposing that were not in place, or even proposed, when the investigations were carried out.

This creates an inordinately negative and inaccurate picture. In fact, the findings referenced relate to structure, reporting relationships and level of response, not to the thoroughness or quality of investigations or our members' handling of investigations.

Although the RCMP requires more time to conduct a thorough analysis of the legal, policy, operational and resource implications of the recommendations made in the interim report, we can confirm that we agree in principle with your assertion that although all Canadians, including RCMP members, are entitled under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be treated equally under the law, criminal investigations of RCMP members may necessitate different treatment from a procedural point of view.

We anticipate that new RCMP policy, expected to be finalized in the very near future, will address a number of the concerns you have identified. Those concerns and your recommendations will be considered as we finalize our policy.

With respect to your recommendations for legislative changes, we are not in a position to provide comments. However, we would suggest that notwithstanding your considerable research into review and oversight models, a complete overhaul and expansion of the existing investigative model, as proposed in the interim report, may not be warranted. Furthermore, some of your proposals maybe impractical in some instances. As I have stated elsewhere. my personal preference would be for the RCMP never to investigate our members and for such investigations to be carried out by another agency. However, at times no other agency is in a position to do so, including at the outset of some investigations where immediate action may be required.

The RCMP is constantly striving to improve, to build on our strengths and to address our weaknesses, so that we may live up to the highest standards that Canadians rightly expect of us. We look forward to receiving your final report which, as referenced earlier in this letter, will assist us to respond to future situations and in our ongoing policy development.

Yours sincerely,

William J.S. Elliott

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