A growing number of RCMP members are facing formal discipline for offences ranging from having sex in a cruiser to using excessive force, according to the latest report from the RCMP's professional integrity officer.
The report notes the number of Mounties facing formal discipline has reached a 13-year high, a surge it attributes to a crackdown on bad behaviour by Commissioner Bob Paulson.
Other offences outlined in the report include viewing porn on duty, lying to a boss or cheating on a test to land a promotion. Some also faced criminal charges for more serious offences including assault and impaired driving.
The report notes that even though some cases were withdrawn and others resolved by the member’s resignation, a year-end balance of 144 cases marked a "notable increase" in the average caseload of 96. On top of the 128 cases carried over from the previous year, 104 new cases entered the system — creating a "significantly heavier workload," according to the report.
An increased volume of disciplinary cases had been expected under the leadership of Paulson, according to the report.
"It was observed in last year's report that increased scrutiny and the stated expectations of the new commissioner might lead to an increase in both the number of formal discipline cases and suspensions. This may well have been an accurate forecast," it reads.
In the past few years, the RCMP has been reeling from accusations of sexual harassment from female members. Paulson has complained about an outdated, drawn-out, bureaucratic process that also allows "bad apples" to remain on the payroll. The report notes that legislative reforms that passed into law last year — called the Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act — are expected to improve and "reset" the disciplinary process.
There are no cases of sexual harassment or sexual abuse of members recorded in the summary digest of formal disciplinary cases, which covers the period April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013.
Overall incident rate falling
Craig MacMillan, the RCMP's professional integrity officer, noted that although the total number of members facing formal discipline is on the rise, the overall proportion relative to the size of force is declining.
"That is unqualified good news," he said.
During the period covered in the report, 212 members received discipline out of a total of 24,667, or 0.86 per cent. Of those, 42 received formal discipline for more serious misconduct, representing 0.17 per cent of the force.
Staff Sgt. Julie Gagnon, the RCMP's spokeswoman, said there has been a clear message from the top that RCMP members must meet high standards set by Canadians.
"Although the overall incident rates of member misconduct are low, one case is too many," she told CBC News. "Every time a member engages in behaviour that could cause the public to question the integrity of the RCMP, it takes away from the outstanding work and commitment that more than 99 per cent of our members demonstrate day in and day out in their service to Canadians."
Members with fewer years of service and lower rank were more likely to face formal discipline, but some veteran officers were also sanctioned. One corporal with 22 years on the job was reprimanded and docked 10 days' pay for impaired driving in an unmarked cruiser and attempting to use his RCMP status to avoid criminal charges. He's on duty but facing criminal charges.
A staff sergeant with 25 years of service was suspected of false or misleading information in relation to a compensation claim and attempting to mislead a superior. In that case, proceedings were stayed for "unreasonable delay" so he remains on duty.
Sex in a police cruiser
A corporal with 13 years' service was reprimanded and docked five days' pay for improper personal use of a police car. He was also disciplined for inappropriate and unwanted touching during a public ride-along.
Some other cases in the report:
- A constable with two years' experience was reprimanded and docked five days’ pay for using a police vehicle to have sex with another RCMP member.
- A constable with five years on the job is off duty and was forced to take 12 days without pay for assault and inappropriately touching two people. The officer was also recommended for alcohol and anger management counselling.
- A constable was reprimanded and docked seven days' pay for using RCMP resources to transfer pornographic images, view porn online and post pictures of a third person without consent, as well as transferring grossly indecent pictures to a computer.
- A constable with two years on the job was fired for fraud for improper use of a government fuel card.
Other cases involved a physical altercation with a member of the public, giving false information to provincial agencies, neglect of duty, making a false or misleading statement to a superior, cheating on an RCMP aptitude test, failing to properly store exhibits and providing false information during a promotion process.
The report also mentioned a specific case that is "unprecedented in its scope and complexity…. and consumed the services of many representatives for an extended time," according to Stephen Thatcher, director general of the RCMP adjudicative services branch.
Gagnon said three of the four members involved in that investigation have resigned, but she could not provide more details because one of the formal discipline cases is continuing.