Conduct Case MPCC‑2001‑037 Summary
Facts and Complaint
The complainant alleged that he witnessed several Military Police members disobeying traffic laws by exceeding speed limits, proceeding through a red light and recklessly passing other cars.
Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal
In the Professional Standards investigation report, it was determined that a reasonable person would support the allegations brought forward by the complainant and it was recommended that the complainant should be informed of the findings. In addition, the Military Police members involved should be made aware of the potential consequences of their actions and that they can be held accountable for traffic law violations. However, the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards held in his final letter that, even if the allegations were true, the actions were justifiable given that the Military Police members were part of a surveillance team that needed to move fast, that all safety precautions had been taken to minimize risks and that, in certain circumstances, this type of driving was necessary to ensure the success of an operation. Therefore, he concluded that the members had acted professionally and in accordance with established Military Police Policies.
The complainant asked the Military Police Complaints Commission (“
Complaints Commission”) to review his case.
Findings and Recommendations of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission
In his request for review, the complainant added two new allegations. The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal, by virtue of Section 250.26(1) of the National Defence Act, has the responsibility to deal with allegations in the first instance. Since these allegations were not in the original complaint, the Complaints Commission did not review them.
A- Initial Complaint
(i) Was the Surveillance Authorized?
The Military Police members of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service were involved in an authorized surveillance operation as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. They were, therefore, performing policing duties and functions.
(ii) Did the Military Police Members Break the Law?
The Highway Traffic Act (Ontario) must be respected outside National Defence property and the Military Police cannot create a policy or regulation that would conflict with the Highway Traffic Act. According to sections 144(18) and (20) of the Highway Traffic Act, a driver must stop his vehicle at a red light, unless it is an emergency vehicle, which must also stop, but may then proceed through the light if it is safe to do so. An emergency vehicle is described in section 144(1)(b) of the Highway Traffic Act as “
a vehicle used by a person in the lawful performance of his or her duties as a police officer, on which a siren is continuously sounding and from which intermittent flashes of red light are visible from all directions”.
Subsection 128(13)(b) of the Highway Traffic Act permits a Military Police member in the lawful performance of his policing duties to drive above the speed limit. However, in this instance, not all safety precautions were taken in order to minimize any potential risks as per the Act (lack of sirens and flashing red lights).
Surveillance training for Canadian Forces National Investigation Service members should be modified to include provincial highway law requirements in order to ensure public safety when the members are operating outside of federal property
(iii) Did the Military Police Investigators Contravene Military Police Policies and Technical Procedures and/or Standard Operating Procedures?
The Military Police Policies and Technical Directives, Chapter 24 are not adequate, as they do not address the issue of respecting provincial statutes pertaining to highway traffic or the issue of public safety. Therefore, the members were not in contravention of any policies.
Military Police Policies and Technical Directives should include sections on the rule of law and public safety.
According to Military Police Policy Chapter 29, “
vehicular pursuit” does not apply to surveillance operations. Under this policy, a “
vehicular pursuit” occurs when the Military Police member attempts to stop a vehicle, the driver of the vehicle refuses to stop and the seriousness of the offence warrants that the police chase the vehicle until it is stopped. This should not be done unless it is necessary to apprehend a dangerous offender or to stop the commission of a serious offence on Department of National Defence property and where the risk to the public, including the offender, is minimal.
The Military Police members of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service violated Standard Operating Procedure 117, which states, inter alia, that all vehicles shall be operated in compliance with provincial laws and regulations, in a safe and prudent manner. Further, when in an emergency situation, the safe operation of the vehicle and the safety of the public must be considered. Also, emergency lights and audible signals shall be activated.
All Canadian Forces National Investigation Service personnel involved in this incident should read Standard Operating Procedure 117 - Vehicle Use.
B- The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards Investigation
The Chairperson found that the investigator conducted a thorough investigation; however she noted that he failed to interview one of the members of the team who alleged that they were conducting a surveillance operation at the time of the incident. In addition, the investigator should have included in his final report a section discussing and analyzing Military Police Policies and Technical Directives as well as Standard Operating Procedures.
As a best practice Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards investigators should include in their reports all relevant Military Police Policies, Technical Directives and Standard Operating Procedures.
C- The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards Handling of the Complaint
The Military Police members were in contravention of the Highway Traffic Act, Military Police Policies and Technical Directives, Standard Operating Procedures and Canadian Forces National Investigation Service Surveillance Training Handbook. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards conclusion that their actions were justified was not supported by the information gathered during the investigation.
Chairperson's Reply following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's Notice of Action
After considering the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's Notice of Action, the Chairperson modified her initial recommendation regarding the incident that had occurred on the base. She concluded that the Military Police members were not in contravention of section 144(18) the Highway Traffic Act. All of the recommendations were then accepted.
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