The Current

CBC obtains data on 700 disciplinary cases of RCMP members breaking rules or law

In 2012, RCMP boss Bob Paulson was adamant his officers who broke the rules — or the law — would face serious consequences. Four years on, a CBC News investigation looking at RCMP officer infractions is raising questions about how punishment is doled out.
A CBC investigation suggests that the RCMP doesn't appear to follow a standardized discipline standards because data reveals transgressions that raise questions about whether there was commensurate disciplinary action. (Shaun Best/Reuters)

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Using access to information, CBC/Radio-Canada has obtained data on some 700 cases where RCMP members were disciplined.

The data covers officers in five provinces, over a five-year period, starting in 2010. And the offences that officers were charged include poaching caribou, leaving a loaded gun at a gas station, sexual offences involving children, and even failing to respond to calls for help.

The CBC's Alison Crawford joined The Current's guest host Piya Chattopadhyay to talk about how the officers were disciplined.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Piya Chattopadhyay: OK let's start with this story about caribou poaching. Tell me what happened there.

Alison Crawford: Well this is a case of an officer in northern Manitoba who on three occasions hunted caribou without a licence, and on one of these occasions he actually used an RCMP aircraft to circle some herds, round them up and landed the plane in Lac Brochet. Then he hopped on an RCMP snowmobile, went back to the location, then shot and killed four caribou.

PC: What happens to him? He's caught out and then what happens?

AC: Well we're actually not sure because the documents leave us wanting. It does say that the allegations were substantiated but it does not indicate how the Mountie was punished.

PC: OK. But they say the documents, the allegations were substantiated. That means I am guessing that there's some hint there was some kind of "investigation" done by the RCMP?

AC: That's right. So the RCMP when it disciplines the officers it has an internal, very formal sort of setup to go in and investigate its own officers. Sometimes it's a big investigation and sometimes it's very minor for minor infractions.

B.C. Civil Liberties Association says RCMP needs to be tracking disciplinary issues within its ranks. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

PC: Tell us more about these documents that you got your hands on. What kind of information did you get through access to information?

AC: We did get data from five provinces but considering that one-third of Mounties are posted in British Columbia, it is a good sample. We're only missing Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. And what we got varies a little bit because the RCMP provided us with information in four incompatible formats. So for some areas, we have colourful summaries of allegations such as the caribou, and others we have very little information about the complaints.

In all there is 1,253, and more than half of them were considered to be founded.

PC: Tell us about cases of misconduct in these documents that stood out for you?

AC: I think that the allegations that really stood out were the ones that were potentially criminal such as the possession of child pornography, trafficking cocaine, and lying under oath.

PC: Do we know if any of those officers who are accused of this stop were charged with a criminal offence? 

AC: Well some of the documents tell us that yes something had been you know referred to Abbotsford or Vancouver police force for investigation. Others note that top crown approved charges but other documents don't say anything at all. Some just say you know the officer retired or resigned and they don't say whether an investigation had ever been ordered. 
Documents obtained by CBC reveal 700 cases over the last five years where Mounties found employees had broken the rules or the law. (CBC)

PC: What about dereliction of duty? I think that's when Mounties don't do their job, right?

AC: That's right. This is the only area where we saw consistent climb in the number of complaints over the last five years. You know in the in the first nine months of last year there were 47 complaints and more than half were substantiated.

Now this is the kind of stuff that will concern Canadians because this is about stuff that can affect people calling for help. So in two instances there was a Mountie who took way too long to respond to calls for help including 45 minutes it took him to get around to responding to an urgent call from a babysitter that a man was kicking down the front door of the apartment she was in, and that person received a reprimand.

In another case an officer didn't investigate a complaint about sexual assault properly and then lied about it to their supervisor. That person was reprimanded and ordered to undergo special training as well as being placed under close supervision.

PC: And again in those two cases reprimand is left open to interpretation about specifically what that was.

AC: Generally a reprimand is a written note to file from a senior officer probably the commanding officer for the detachment.

PC: OK so it goes on your personnel file?

AC: Yeah.

For more on this story, go to CBC News.

Listen to the full segment.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

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