MPCC-2002-005

Facts and Complaint

The complainant contacted the Complaints Commission to request a review of the Professional Standards disposition of a matter and alleged that his reputation had been damaged by the actions of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards. He stated that, although he had not filed a complaint against a Military Police member, the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards had conducted an investigation and found the “complaint” to be unfounded. The complainant also alleged that he had been harassed and abused by Military Police. The Complaints Commission determined that the complainant had not filed a complaint nor had he authorized anyone to file a complaint on his behalf. However, because the individual was not the complainant he did not have the right to request a review and the Chairperson was unable to proceed. In light of the complaints of harassment and abuse by Military Police, as well as complaints against the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigation results, the Complaints Commission forwarded the correspondence to Professional Standards so they could address the complaints in the first instance pursuant to subsection 250.26(1) of the National Defence Act.

Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal

The report of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards concluded that the complainant had in fact lodged a conduct complaint about members of the military police. The investigation also concluded that, since there was no indication of any improper conduct on the part of the Military Police, further investigation would not be necessary.

Findings and Recommendations of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission

1. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards handled a complaint against herself

The circumstances surrounding the complaint indicate that the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards was dealing with a complaint that related to statements made in a letter, which she had signed, and a report of the investigation, which she had written. In view of the fact that the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards was a subject of the complaint, there was a conflict of interest when she then made decisions on the merits of the complaint. The Chairperson found that the investigation into the matter should have been immediately referred to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.

2. Assisting complainants

The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards identified the complainant as a co-complainant without first seeking his permission to do so. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards has a duty to consult with the individual and determine if that person wishes to be designated as a co-complainant to ensure that he or she has a right of review by the Complaints Commission. The Chairperson found that the complainant had no intention of filing a conduct complaint against the Military Police in the first instance, nor had he asked anyone to file a complaint on his behalf. Professional Standards personnel have a duty to assist complainants to accurately express their concerns and properly file their complaints, and to ensure that complainants understand the process in general.

3. Incorrect information contained in reports and letters of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service and the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards

The Chairperson found that the report of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigation and the letters concerning the case contained incorrect information, which continued the perception that this individual had filed a conduct complaint against the military police. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards repeated the error in relying on the report of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigator to conclude that the “complaint” was unfounded.

The Chairperson's report noted that these are the types of problems that can occur when Professional Standards rely solely on the investigations of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service to make decisions on the professional conduct of Military Police members.

The mandate of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is to investigate allegations of criminal or service offences. The role of Professional Standards is to determine whether the conduct of a Military Police member in the performance of a policing duty or function was appropriate and professional (did they perform their policing duties properly?). Thus, a Professional Standards investigation is much broader in scope and more likely to examine conduct that might not be considered by a Canadian Forces National Investigation Service investigation.

4. The application of subsection 250.28(2)(c) of the National Defence Act

Subsection 250.28(2)(c) of the National Defence Act gives the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal discretion to refuse to investigate a conduct complaint or to end an investigation if, in the opinion of the Provost Marshal, investigation is not necessary or reasonably practicable. The Chairperson stated in her review her belief that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal should exercise this discretion in only the most clear-cut circumstances. In this instance, the Chairperson found that those circumstances did not exist.

The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards dealt with a complaint against herself, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service supplied incorrect information to her, and there was evidence that the Military Police Members may have acted unprofessionally. These factors indicate that the application of subsection 250.28(2)(c) of the Act was not warranted here. The Chairperson recommended that the case be referred to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal for a thorough review of its disposition by the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards.

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

The Notice of Action of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted the majority of the Chairperson's findings and recommendations. The Chairperson believes that this is a clear indication of the Provost Marshal's commitment to improving policing practices, which will further enhance the professionalism of the Canadian Forces Military Police.

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