Conduct Case MPCC‑2016‑037 Summary

The complainant alleged that the Military Police (MP) unlawfully arrested him, abusing their power and traumatizing his two minor children. Specifically, he alleged he was wrongly suspected of kidnapping his two children and, despite being cooperative with the MP, was arrested and handcuffed without regard to a medical condition he declared.

The Office of Professional Standards (PS) of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) dealt with the conduct complaint in the first instance. Since there was a concern regarding the legality of the arrest and the manner in which the MP investigation was recorded in the MP file, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) conducted an investigation into the actions of the MP involved, while PS held their investigation in abeyance.

The CFNIS concluded there was insufficient evidence to support charges under the Criminal Code or Code of Service Discipline against the MP. PS then resumed their investigation, which consisted of a review of the MP and the CFNIS files. PS investigated two allegations affecting six MP subjects. One allegation was that the complainant was treated unfairly by the MP when he was arrested, and the other was that he was treated in an aggressive manner. PS concluded that both allegations were unsubstantiated.

The complainant was not satisfied with the PS decision and referred the complaint to the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC or Commission) for review. In doing so, he noted that PS did not view the Mobile Vehicle Recording System (MVRS) recording prior to concluding that the MP conduct was reasonable.

Upon receipt of the complaint, the Commission requested disclosure of all relevant MP file materials from the office of the CFPM. Following an initial assessment of the complaint, the Commission conducted a detailed review of the materials received from the CFPM that included a viewing of the MVRS recording and determined that further investigation was required. The Commission also determined that the CFNIS investigation was a “matter relating to the complaint” as per subsection 250.32(2) of the National Defence Act (NDA).

The Commission interpreted the complaint and the related matter as comprising four allegations.

The first three allegations related to the six MP subjects who were identified by the CFNIS in the initial complaint. The Commission named four CFNIS investigators as additional subjects in the request for review in relation to the fourth allegation.

  1. The MP detention and arrest of the complainant was both unlawful and unprofessional.
  2. The MP failed to conduct a proper investigation into the status and safety of the children that were allegedly kidnapped by the complainant.
  3. The MP failed to conduct a proper investigation; it was mishandled and contained serious procedural failings.
  4. CFNIS Investigators failed to conduct a proper investigation. They did not interview key individuals or review relevant evidence as part of their   investigation, and concluded their investigation providing a justification for the MP action in the face of evidence to the contrary.

The Commission conducted interviews of the complainant, subjects and witnesses. It also reviewed the relevant MVRS and other recordings and requested further disclosure of documents.

Upon review of the totality of the evidence, the Commission substantiated the first, third and the fourth allegations, and partially substantiated the second allegation.

The Commission substantiated the first allegation regarding the detention and arrest of the complainant having found that the principal subject MP did not have reason to place the complainant in mechanical restraints; did not have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest the complainant; did not inform the complainant of the reason for detention and arrest; and used profanity and made inappropriate comments when speaking to the complainant. The principal subject MP also failed to exercise discretion to assess the need for medical accommodation, and the impact on the complainant and the minor children of the ill-measured and unreasonable MP response being conducted in full view of the complainant’s neighbours.

The Commission partially substantiated the second allegation regarding the MP failure to conduct a proper investigation into the status and safety of the children allegedly kidnapped by the complainant. Although the MPs’ primary duty in this matter was to locate the children and ascertain their safety, vital information obtained from the first call the MP made with the complainant, prior to any physical response by MP, was not taken into consideration during the active investigation. This included the identity of the complainant, the complainant’s spouse and their children; the fact that the complainant and their spouse were separated and that there was no custody order in place; and that the complainant was cooperative and compliant with the MP during the investigation. The principal subject MP did not interact with the children in anyway, and basic information from the MPs who did interact with them was also not taken into account during the MP response.

The third allegation regarding the inadequacy of the MP investigation was substantiated. The Commission found that during the MP response, the principal subject MP was confused about which alleged offence was being investigated; misinformed the complainant of the offence that was allegedly committed; and misinformed the on-site supervisor of the facts. Further, the information entered in the MP General Occurrence (GO) file was factually incorrect, incomplete and not timely, and MP members’ notes were either insufficient or absent.

The fourth allegation regarding the inadequacy of the CFNIS investigation was substantiated. The Commission found that the CFNIS did not interview key individuals or review all relevant evidence as part of their investigation, and concluded their investigation providing a justification for the MP action that was contrary to the evidence.

The Commission made eight recommendations. Three subject MPs should be provided training on situational assessments and the elements of the offences of s. 279 kidnapping, s. 282 abduction in contravention of custody or parenting order and s. 283 abduction of the Criminal Code. Four of the subject MPs should review Canadian Forces Military Police Orders (CF MP Orders) concerning note‑taking and receive additional training to correct their note-taking practices. The principle subject MP should also receive training to ensure their understanding and practice of assessing the need for and execution of a high-risk vehicle stop; ensure the correct approach when assessing a Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) “caution V” (violence); the importance of assessing a person’s claim of medical disability and executing proper accommodation in response as needed; and the execution of a lawful arrest and best practices regarding investigations and arrests under the offences of s. 279, s. 282 and s. 283 of the Criminal Code. This subject MP should also work with a coach MP to ensure they receive proper supervision over an extended period of time with a particular focus on the policing duties and functions of, for example, proper de-escalation techniques, how to interact with possible suspects and arrestees in a professional and courteous manner, proper arrest techniques, proper use of force, and use of police discretion. In light of the seriousness of this subject MP’s misconduct and given that he has been promoted twice since the incident underlying this complaint occurred and is therefore moving up the Chain of Command (CoC), increasing in rank and responsibilities, the Commission also recommended that further significant corrective action in addition to the above be determined by the CFPM. The Commission also recommended that the CF MP Orders be updated to detail the proper procedures for handcuffing as clear written documentation will complement any training provided to MP members and will better assist them in executing these policing duties and functions as required. Finally, in light of the serious errors made by the principal subject MP in this complaint, the Commission recommended that the CFPM issue a written apology to the complainant in this matter.

The Commission observed that PS did not perform an independent investigation into the alleged professional misconduct of the MP, but rather reviewed the CFNIS criminal investigation. PS based their findings regarding MP misconduct on the CFNIS conclusion to not lay charges for Criminal Code and Code of Service Discipline offences. There is also no indication PS addressed the concerns raised by the CoC regarding confidence in the principle subject MP’s abilities and the possible need for remedial action.

In response to the Commission’s Report, the CFPM accepted the MPCC’s findings, recommendations and observation in this matter.

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