RCMP misconduct cases jump 158% in single year

The number of misconduct investigations the RCMP launched into their own staff went up by 158 per cent in 2015 over the previous year, leaving 56 officers facing dismissal over allegations of serious misconduct.

Mounties speculate spike due to emphasis managers have placed on addressing bad behaviour

The RCMP report outlines a big jump in misconduct cases. The increase could be the result of more reporting of allegations, the study's authors say. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

The number of misconduct investigations the RCMP launched into their own staff went up by 158 per cent in 2015 over the previous year, leaving 56 officers facing possible dismissal over allegations of serious misconduct. 

Details of the development are contained in a document posted to the RCMP website called Results and Respect in the RCMP Workplace.

The document appears to be a means of updating the public on how the national police force has followed through on the findings and recommendations from the Mounties' Gender-Based Assessment and Gender and Respect Action Plan, in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

In the introductory remarks, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson wrote that the purpose of the report is to "reassure and demonstrate to Canadians that purposeful and deliberate systems and processes have been deployed to change the inner workings — the guts of the organization as I've called it — in order to foster the culture change we are all seeking."

Yet Paulson went on to caution that the culture change is slow.

"While there is still work to do, change to the workplace, particularly cultural change, does not happen overnight, over a year or even over five years. Culture change occurs over a generation," wrote Paulson.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says that it will take time to improve the inner workings of the force: 'Culture change occurs over a generation.' (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The document appears to have been put together in some haste as it contained several typos and numerical errors when it was first posted. But it sheds some light on recent changes to the RCMP's internal disciplinary system.

While the report's authors conceded the bump in Mounties who could be fired for serious misconduct is high, dismissals constitute just 7.5 per cent of all conduct cases. They also made it clear that only 1.29 per cent of members were subject to any allegations of bad behaviour.

Too early to explain numbers

The number of cases being handled through conduct meetings instead of more formal adjudication board hearings has skyrocketed, which meets one of Paulson's goals — to reduce the amount of time and resources spent on relatively minor issues. The report notes the RCMP can now process the average conduct matter within six months. Under the old system, many disciplinary cases took years to resolve.

That said, CBC News has previously reported that on one occasion, serious allegations of unwanted sexual touching and harassment were not considered misconduct serious enough for dismissal. That case is now under review, but experts in the field of RCMP discipline have wondered what other matters are being streamed into private conduct meetings instead of public conduct boards.

On the rise of investigations, the report's authors said it's too early to explain the jump, but they suggest it might be due to greater attention to allegations of wrongdoing.

RCMP facing 40 lawsuits

The report also highlights numbers from the newly created Office for the Co-ordination of Harassment Complaints. It received 152 complaints since the end of November 2014. So far, one-quarter of them have been resolved.

As for lawsuits, the RCMP is facing 40 active claims concerning workplace conflicts such as harassment and discrimination.

"When claims are found to be meritorious, the RCMP provides compensation that is fair to both the complainant and Canadians, and in line with applicable court decisions," the document said.

The report also highlighted positive developments, such as the establishment of a national peer-to-peer system for staff to help each other through personal and work-related issues.

The RCMP is also quite proud of gains made in the diversity of its officers. Paulson has set ambitious targets for the year 2025 — 30 per cent women, 20 per cent visible minorities and 10 per cent aboriginal people.

As of the end of 2015, 21.5 per cent of Mounties are women, 9.7 per cent are visible minorities and 8.1 per cent are aboriginal people.

"These numbers show that the RCMP is doing similar to or better than police services in general with respect to the number of female officers," the report said.


Alison Crawford is a senior reporter in CBC's parliamentary bureau, covering justice, public safety, the Supreme Court and Liberal Party of Canada.


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