July 23, Thomas Braidwood issued his report recommending severe restrictions on the use of conducted energy weapons. That is, he issued it to the public. Before that date, the report had been delivered to the Province of British Columbia. That enabled Solicitor-General Kash Heed to review and immediately announce the government’s acceptance of every recommendation of the Braidwood Commission. He said the policy applied to every police force in the province, regardless of uniform color. No pussy footing. No back pedaling. No self-serving delays and rationalizations. Heed, as the Minister responsible, spoke directly to the public, clearly and succinctly.
Deputy Chief Doug LePard announced the same day that Vancouver City Police was accepting and implementing the Braidwood recommendation fully and immediately.
RCMP spoke out publicly too. Not through the Commissioner, nor one of the eight Deputy Commissioners, nor one of 25 Assistant Commissioners, 62 Chief Superintendents or 168 Superintendents or 380 Inspectors. No, they sent out a Sergeant from media relations to give the RCMP’s response to Braidwood. An officer ranking somewhere about number 3,000 on the command list, spoke but about nothing substantive. Tim Shields said, “It’s too early to say whether the RCMP will comply with the directive to adopt Braidwood’s recommendations.”
Hands up all those who think the RCMP learned about Braidwood’s recommendations on the same day as the public release. I do not. Like other police forces in British Columbia, they were aware of the Solicitor-General’s related directions. And, even if they had no advance copy of the report, they heard every bit of evidence placed before the Braidwood Inquiry. That tilted directly toward the conclusions drawn by the Commissioner. No objective person who listened attentively throughout the Inquiry was surprised at the Judge’s findings.
A day after the release of Braidwood’s report, Premier Campbell publicly stated RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass had assured him that the recommendations would be implemented fully. Why did the police force miss the opportunity to send a senior officer before the public to say and do the right thing without a puerile exhibition of reluctance?
The Alberta RCMP bunkhouse ensured that nobody missed their calculated disdain for the Braidwood Inquiry. Alberta Division’s first comment was issued by a lowly Corporal who grandly stated that the Inquiry’s finding applied only in B.C. That will be a difficult position to argue before the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta when the next wrongful death action is filed.
Braidwood hired medical and technical experts to examine the weapons issue. He listened to use of force experts and other police officers, criminologists and behaviorists. Braidwood has a lengthy and honorable career as a high court judge. He has no financial or personal interests at stake and he assembled a highly experienced and skilled staff to assist him in making the conclusions. In short, this is the most thorough and credible examination of conducted energy weapons held anywhere, anytime. Contrast that with the RCMP’s acquisition and deployment of model X26 Tasers with no credible independent testing and very little internal analysis.
Commissioner Braidwood’s report was accepted fully by the elected government responsible for policing in British Columbia. Ultimately, the RCMP work according to directions of the BC Government or they withdraw from contract policing in this province. Why did they not embrace the inevitable, congratulate the Inquiry Commission for its outstanding work and have the Deputy Commissioner announce they would fall in line with every other police force in BC regarding Taser use.
Throughout this entire Inquiry process and the initiating tragedy, the RCMP acted regularly in their worst interest. Whenever called upon to make a decision, they made the wrong one, beginning from the day of Robert Dziekanski’s death. There is no award for consistency in being wrong but if there were, the RCMP would win it hands down. Not a record of pride for anyone.