The RCMP officer who inspired other current and former women officers to speak out about sexual harassment on the job says the latest plan to deal with sexism concerns in the force is flawed.
Cpl. Catherine Galliford spoke to CBC News late Monday following the release of a report that the RCMP was training 100 investigators in B.C. to deal with the onslaught of harassment complaints made since she spoke publicly in November about her own experience.
Galliford said the plan is a step in the right direction, but she still believes it's necessary for an independent body to look into allegations.
"I think if we are looking at Mounties investigating Mounties, there is automatically a perception of a conflict of interest," she said.
Recent focus groups involving about 400 female RCMP employees in B.C. revealed that women felt their complaints weren't treated seriously.
Female officers need to feel safe, Galliford says
Galliford said that without an independent view, women on the force will still struggle to speak out.
"My history in the RCMP has so many incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault that I would be very hesitant in coming forward, just because I now have a distrust of the RCMP, and how it works and how the culture works," she said.
Galliford said the force must react to the systemic problems in a way that will bring about real change.
"Now that senior management is aware of how pervasive the harassment in the workplace has become, [there need to be]changes that are going to make it so much easier for the new generation of female police officers to not only feel safe and well trained to work on the streets, but to feel safe in their own work environments," said Galliford.
A lawsuit filed against the RCMP by 19-year veteran officer Janet Merlo in March, alleging long-term harassment, could be joined as a class action by at least 100 current and former female officers.