MPCC-2000-047

Facts and Complaint

A civilian asked the Military Police to retrieve some documents from a civilian relative of a Canadian Forces member with whom she had an agreement. The relative refused to do so when he was contacted by telephone. He later surrendered the documents to another police service that had been contacted by the Military Police.

The relative complained that the Military Police had no authority to contact him, that the Military Police member who called him was rude, overbearing and dictatorial, and that the Military Police over-stepped their authority by contacting the other police force.

Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal

An informal resolution was attempted and failed. An investigation by the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards held that a reasonable person would not support the complainant's allegations. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards held that the Military Police members had the authority to contact the complainant and that they had acted professionally and in accordance with established Military Police policies. He further held that the Military Police had not over-stepped their authority by contacting the other police service with a request to make a courtesy call on the complainant in an attempt to resolve the situation.

The complainant asked the Military Police Complaints Commission (“Complaints Commission”) to review his case.

Findings and Recommendations of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission

A- Military Police's Authority to Contact the Complainant

According to section 156 of the National Defence Act and section 127 of the Criminal Code, the Military Police has jurisdiction and authority to investigate service offences, one of which would be disobeying an order of the court.

However, after reviewing the agreement between the civilian and the complainant's relative, the Complaints Commission concluded that the agreement was not a “court order”. The Chairperson noted that the Military Police would be required to intervene in a civil matter if there was potential for a serious incident, such as domestic violence, but that was not the case in this situation. Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that the Military Police member had acted in good faith by consulting with the Regional Judge Advocate General, he did not have the authority to call the complainant and request the documents.

Any citizen could have contacted the complainant to find out if he had the documents in his possession. However, Military Police members should be aware of their inherent positions of authority and a layperson would not perceive an inquiry as being courtesy call only. The members should have advised the person who asked them to obtain the documents to contact a lawyer to resolve the matter.

Recommendation

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal should establish policies, similar to those in place with other Canadian police agencies, clarifying the involvement of the Military Police in civil matters.

B- Conduct of the Military Police member who contacted the Complainant

A review of the relevant material does not reveal that the member of the Military Police was rude, overbearing or dictatorial towards the complainant. In the absence of a recording of the conversation, this issue remains contradictory.

Chairperson's Reply following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Notice of Action

No further findings or recommendations were added since the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted all the findings and recommendations made by the Chairperson.

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