Interference Case MPCC‑2021‑058 Summary

The complainant filed an interference complaint with the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) in December 2021. He alleges that the subject ordered him to; recommend charges, amend the Concluding Remarks in a General Occurrence (GO) file, and to issue Appearance Notices, all of which were against his own opinion and discretion. At the time of the incident, the complainant was a new recruit with six months experience and the subject was the Shift In Command (I/C) with supervisory responsibility for the Military Police Unit (MPU) detachment.

The MPCC finds the allegation of interference is unsubstantiated. An MP supervisor/superior has the authority to direct the handling, or discontinuation, of an investigation, including its ultimate disposition and may overrule an investigator’s exercise of policing discretion. In this matter, the subject’s actions during the investigation represented supervisory interventions that were in line with applicable Canadian Forces Military Police Group Orders (CF MP Gp Orders). The complainant’s investigative discretion was intact as the final disposition of both investigations were consistent with his conclusions. The MPCC found that poor communication between the subject and complainant, within the MP Unit and between MP Unit and the base command, the absence of base supervisor personnel and the lack of an effective process to manage performance issues of MP members also added complexity to the situation.

The underlying incident occurred in December 2021 on a Canadian Forces Base (CFB). Upon finding his friend’s vehicle on the street, unlocked with the engine running, a prankster jumped in and drove off. This was reported as a theft to the complainant who was directing traffic in the area. The complainant reported the theft to the dispatcher and drove off with lights and sirens on in the direction of the vehicle. The subject heard the call to dispatch on the radio and drove with lights and sirens on to the area in question. While the MP response was unfolding, the vehicle was found nearby, and the prank discovered. The vehicle owner called the dispatcher to explain what had occurred and asked him to cancel the MP hunt for the vehicle, which he did.

The complainant and subject interviewed the prankster who took full responsibility for his actions. The subject told the complainant to inform the prankster that “charges would be recommended,” which he did. This was recorded in the police GO investigation file. The complainant later edited the Concluding Remarks in the GO file to say charges would not be recommended against the prankster. The subject told the complainant to change it back.

The MPCC found that when the subject told the complainant that they would recommend charges, he was referring to recommending charges under the National Defence Act (NDA) to the prankster’s Unit chain of command (CoC) for violations of the Code of Service Discipline (CSD). At the time of the incident, military police did not have the discretion or authority to decide the matter. Further, when he told the complainant to put that recommendation in the GO file, initially and then again after the complainant said he had edited the Concluding Remarks, the subject was following the requirements of the applicable CF MP Gp Orders. The complainant however misunderstood this as an order to lay criminal charges against the prankster and to document that in the GO file, which he did not want to do. The complainant did not appreciate the distinction between laying charges under the Criminal Code as opposed to charges under the NDA, and he misconstrued the subject’s supervisory interventions as interference.

While investigating the theft of the vehicle, it was discovered that the vehicle was not registered. The complainant and the subject discussed the issue with the vehicle owner who agreed to leave the car parked where it was until he registered it. The owner refused to surrender the vehicle keys, however upon direction of the subject, the complainant obtained them from the owner. Soon after this discussion, the owner returned the vehicle to his residence without informing the MP, effectively violating the agreement he had made with the subject and the complainant to leave the vehicle parked where it was until registered. As a result, the MP opened a second investigation and issued an Appearance Notice to the owner with a charge related to operating an unregistered vehicle. Later that evening, the subject identified another charge that was applicable to the owner regarding the display of an unauthorized licence plate. In the morning, the subject advised the complainant to re-write the Appearance Notice and add the second offence. The complainant did so but said that while there were grounds for the charge, he disagreed with issuing a second Appearance Notice.

The MPCC found that both the subject and the complainant agreed there were grounds to lay the charges against the owner for the expired vehicle registration and for the unauthorized display of a licence plate. However, as an Appearance Notice had already been issued with the first charge, issuing a second with the additional charge the following morning based on the same facts and evidence was overzealous. It was not however, unlawful, and the MPCC found no evidence to indicate the subject was being vindictive or acting in bad faith. It does not constitute interference.

The MPCC observed that as the incident did not involve a risk to human life and according to the relevant CF MP Gp Order, it did not merit a code 3 response. Also, the Mobile Video Recording System (MVRS) was not functional and the dispatch communications at the base were not recorded, both of which are mandated by CF MP Gp Orders.

The MPCC recommends to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) that the Military Police Coach Officer program or its equivalent, such as the QL‑5 training, be instituted as soon as possible or in the interim, that the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) be required training at all CF bases; that all MP members at this CFB are trained regarding appropriate code 1, 2, 3 responses; that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that all marked and unmarked MP vehicles at this CFB are equipped with a functional MVRS; and that communications with dispatch at this CFB are recorded and preserved as evidence.

In June  2023, the Chief of Defence Staff acknowledged the finding in the Final Report and stated that the CFPM had written to him acknowledging the four recommendations. However, in communications between March and September 2023, the CFPM advised the MPCC that the CFPM’s Office has no legislative responsibility under the NDA to respond to the findings or recommendations in an Interference Report. He did acknowledge “the possibility of their validity and will therefore review them and take appropriate action as necessary.”

The MPCC has not been advised of any action that has been or will be taken, or reasons for no action with respect to the four recommendations. In August 2023, the MPCC Chairperson wrote to the Minister of National Defence for assistance in resolving the matter and to obtain a response that substantively addresses the MPCC’s recommendations to the CFPM.

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