Letter of observation #1
This file is not a review under subsection 250.31(1) of the National Defence Act (NDA) but rather the result of a request from the Chairperson for information and materials pursuant to section 250.25 of the NDA in order to assess and evaluate the handling of a conduct complaint by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal pursuant to the Complaints Commission's monitoring role. The observations of the Chairperson will hopefully contribute to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's efforts to enhance the professionalism of complaint investigations.
Summary of the Complaint
A complaint was received concerning the conduct of two members of the National Investigation Services alleging that, in the course of an investigation, the NIS investigators gathered together a group of military personnel and informed them that one of their group was the subject of a court martial for alleged sexual assault with homosexual connotations. The investigators identified the individual and then asked anyone who was aware of any similar incidents involving the accused to contact the investigators.
The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards
Based on the complaint the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards identified and investigated the following allegations:
That the investigator inappropriately disclosed personal information
That the actions of the investigators had the potential to result in physical harm to the individual under investigation
The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards investigation supported the allegation that the actions of the investigators were improper, inappropriate and displayed, at best, poor judgment. The investigation also supported the allegation that the personal information was inappropriately disclosed, but it did not support the allegation that the actions of the investigators had the potential to result in physical harm to the individual in question. The DPM PS recommended that the Military Police subject members receive remedial training in order for them to better conduct their policing duties and function.
After considering the issues, including the disclosure of personal information and the potential for physical harm to the accused, the Chairperson decided to exercise her monitoring power.
Observations of the Chairperson - Allegation #1 - Investigative actions
The Professional Standards Investigation Report and the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards Final Letter of Disposition supported the allegation that the Military Police members' investigative actions were improper, inappropriate, and displayed, at best, very poor judgment. However, neither report supported the allegations that the subject members' conduct was humiliating and offensive to the dignity of the accused and the members who were subjected to it. The Chairperson notes that the investigators could not conclusively make this determination based on the enquiries conducted, as neither the members of the military unit nor the accused were interviewed in relation to the matter.
Observations of the Chairperson - Allegation #2 - Inappropriate disclosure of information
The Professional Standards investigation found that the subject member had disclosed to a group of military personnel the homosexual connotation of charges for which a court martial was pending. When interviewed about the disclosure, the subject member explained that he believed that, based on his working experience, the group already knew of the nature of the incident, as this type of information tends to spread quickly among the military units. The Chairperson's view was that, although there was a possibility that some of the group members already knew about the nature of the incident, the Military Police member's disclosure of the information served to confirm the suspicions and rumours. The disclosure was inappropriate and unprofessional, and was not an example of a good police practice.
Observations of the Chairperson - Allegation #3 - Risk to physical safety
Considering the particular circumstances of this matter the potential risk to an individual's safety if they make sexual advances to someone who is not homosexual is quite significant and the disclosure of this information by the subject member could have led to physical reprisal against the individual. It is the Chairperson's observation that the Professional Standards investigator did not fully understand the particularities of the allegation and as a result did not address the correct issue in relation to the allegation. At no time did the Professional Standards investigator ask the officers how other members of the unit would react to a male accused of sexually assaulting another male, which information would be necessary to determine whether such a disclosure could have endangered the individual in question.
The Professional Standards investigator made a number of recommendations with regard to the Military Police member's failure to take adequate notes during the course of his investigation. The taking of notes directly relates to a policing duty and function in the conduct of a police investigation and in the Chairperson's opinion this should have been addressed by the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards in the Final Letter of Disposition. Additionally, as any information about the potential involvement of the individual under investigation in similar incidents could be of interest to future Military Police investigations, the Chairperson notes that it is important to ensure that such information is properly reported and documented as required by existing Military Police policies.
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