Federal Government and RCMP complaints body must take off-duty police misconduct seriously

The BCCLA is calling for a shake-up at the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP after the second shocking revelation about the oversight agency in the last two months. The latest development comes via notice that the CPC refuses to accept so-called “off duty” complaints involving RCMP officers. Off-duty conduct is supposed to be regulated by the RCMP Code of Conduct and overseen by the CPC. Several RCMP officers have been in the spotlight in B.C. in relation to drunk driving, sexual harassment, and spousal assault incidents occurring while off duty.

“A short time ago, we learned that complaint investigation files were sitting for inordinate periods of time with the RCMP, holding up the work of the CPC without the CPC taking any action to demand their return so they could get on with their investigation,” noted Robert Holmes, Q.C. “Now we have discovered, coincidentally, that the CPC has adopted a policy of refusing to forward to the RCMP complaints about RCMP officer conduct that the CPC deems to be „off duty.‟”

The BCCLA is calling for the replacement of part-time lawyer Ian McPhail, Q.C., who has been the “acting” head of the CPC since January 10, 2010. Mr. McPhail maintains a wills, estates and real estate law practice in Toronto in addition to leading the CPC. The BCCLA says that the CPC needs a full-time leader committed to police accountability and aggressive defence of its police accountability mandate.

“The CPC has developed a chronic problem of failing to do its job. It indulges delays. It avoids reaching conclusions. And now we learn that it fails to take off-duty conduct complaints notwithstanding that the RCMP Code of Conduct clearly addresses that. The CPC is in place so as to preserve public confidence in the police by investigating matters that would otherwise erode confidence. When it fails, it lets down complainants, the public and the police community,” noted Holmes.

Click here to read the correspondence where the CPC refuses “off duty” complaints
Click here to read the BCCLA letter to the federal Public Safety Minister
Click here to read the December release about RCMP delay in returning files to the CPC

Media Contact:
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, 604 838 6856
David Eby, Executive Director, 778 865 7997