Conduct Case MPCC‑2007‑014 Summary

The Complaint

A military police member and his partner performed a foot patrol at a recruit school. It was alleged that the Military Police (MP) in question was intimidating, rude and aggressive to the recruits. Also, if he saw unsecured personal boxes, he had another recruit, other than the owner of the box, empty the contents on a bed and count the money. The recruits complained to their instructor after a training exercise. As a result of an investigation conducted by Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards (DPM PS), the MP member had his policing credentials suspended.

The MP contacted the Military Police Complaints Commission (Commission or MPCC) as he disputed the findings made by the DPM PS and that the DPM PS should not have been involved at all since the matter was an issue for the Canadian Forces harassment policy. The contact was deemed to be that of a MP conduct complaint and was forwarded to the DPM PS for initial disposition.

The Commission’s Review

Jurisdictional Questions

This case required the Commission to address a number of questions relative to the scope of its jurisdiction under Part IV of the National Defence Act (NDA). Some aspects of the complaint appeared to relate to matters of administration rather than “policing duties or functions”. Thus the Commission declined to address the complainant’s allegations about: the failure of his chain of command to engage internal administrative mechanisms, such as the harassment process; the distribution of the DPM PS report; and the handling of the disclosure to the complainant in connection with pending proceedings before the Military Police Credential Review Board. Furthermore, in deference to the roles and responsibilities of the CFPM and the MP Credential Review Board, the Commission declined to assess the merits of the DPM PS-ordered suspension of the complainant’s military policing credential, although some observations were offered.

The Commission’s jurisdiction over the remaining elements of the complaint, however, were also at issue, with the CFPM taking the view that the Commission had no jurisdiction because the DPM PS investigation was carried out by a civilian member (a retired MP). The CFPM also reiterated the longstanding CF position that MP professional standards investigations constitute administration, rather than a “policing duty or function”. However, the Commission decided that, as the individual PS investigator was merely an agent for the DPM PS, and was subject to supervision by an MP, there was sufficient MP involvement to proceed with the case. The Commission also reiterated its own position that MP professional standards investigations are “policing duties or functions” which may be the subject of a conduct complaint under NDA Part IV.

Merits of the Complaint

In connection with the merits of the complaint, the Commission determined that there was nothing improper in the complainant’s superiors referring the matter to DPM PS for investigation as an MP Professional Code of Conduct issue, notwithstanding the fact that the complainant felt he was acting more as an NCO than an MP in his interactions with the recruits that became the basis of the complaint against him. The Commission also rejected the complainant’s allegation that the DPM PS investigation was conducted in a biased, threatening or overly confrontational manner. The Commission also upheld the DPM PS findings that the complainant acted discourteously toward the recruits. With respect to the legality of the complainant’s actions in respect of recruits’ unsecured “personal boxes”, as it was based on legal advice, the Commission accepted as reasonable the DPM PS conclusion that the complainant lacked the necessary legal authority from a law enforcement perspective. However, in the Commission’s view, in light of the general search and inspection powers available to the complainant as a CF member under the Inspection and Search Defence Regulations, it could not agree with the DPM PS finding that the complainant had “knowingly” conducted an illegal search contrary to the MP Professional Code of Conduct.

A recommendation from this case was to draft a formal written policy as to the interactions of MPs with recruits at the school. The Commission was pleased to note that the CFPM responded favourably to the Commission’s recommendation in this case, notwithstanding his disagreement with the Commission’s jurisdiction over the complaint.

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