Several senior RCMP members who complained about Commissioner William Elliott, shown in June, have been forced out or simply left. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

There is a shakeup at the top of the RCMP as senior officers who complained about Commissioner William Elliott's style last summer are quitting or being forced out, CBC News has learned.

Deputy commissioner Raf Souccar has been asked to leave the force, with trust cited as the reason.

Deputy commissioner Tim Killam has given notice that he will retire, but said Tuesday his decision predated and was unrelated to the complaints. He is slated to retire in May.

Assistant commissioner Mike McDonell, who left the RCMP in August, wrote to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews last week, saying those who came forward last summer "have simply become sacrificial lambs."

Senior RCMP officers complained about Elliott to some of the highest levels of the federal government on two occasions in July. They accused Elliott, who became the first civilian to head the Mounties in July 2007, of being verbally abusive, closed-minded, arrogant and insulting.

McDonell also said a recent incident "portrays the endemic level of sycophantism that is occurring amongst the commissioner's senior management team."

At a meeting in Nova Scotia, a Mountie asked the RCMP's chief human resources officer what would happen to those senior officers who complained about the commissioner.

Deputy commissioner Al Nause said, "If it was up to me, they'd be given the choice of a mug or a plaque." Nause said he apologized for his comments.

Board recommended

Carleton University professor Linda Duxbury, who has studied the culture of the RCMP, said the public dispute is unprecedented. "You're not going to get successful change if the people doing the work don't feel comfortable speaking up."

Norman Inkster, a former RCMP commissioner who served on a taskforce in 2007 that recommended sweeping RCMP reforms, said the government should have set up a management board by now that could give disinterested advice to the force.

David McAusland, chair of the RCMP Reform Implementation Council, told Toews and Elliot this summer that a management board might have resolved the rift at the top of the RCMP before it became public.

Elliott is getting some help. Rob Wright, a top bureaucrat with extensive federal experience, including in the Department of Finance and Canada Revenue Agency, is joining the commissioner's office.

With files from the CBC's Alison Crawford