I guess Chief chief William Elliott is correct; they are making changes in the RCMP after all. Apparently, now when they perceive misinformation sneaking onto the public record, they act quickly.
Within hours of the Globe and Mail reporting an unenthusiastic police response to Paul Kennedy’s August 13 CPC report, The Commish issued a strongly worded press release and wrote the newspaper with the force’s own version of its reaction.
Under the old policy, correcting misinformation had a somewhat lower priority and was certainly not handled by the top cop, or any cop for that matter. Readers will recall that after many untruths were articulated by RCMP spokesmen following the homicide of Robert Dziekanski, Superintendent Wayne Rideout, M.O.M., ordered the media department not to correct the record.
Can we assume the new policy for senior officers to immediately correct misinformation will apply to all situations, even when the RCMP is in full-out CYA mode?
Elliott’s actual defense is rather weak. He begins by saying, “… the RCMP would prefer if we never had to investigate our own members.” Yes, we knew that before.
His major point is “… that our officers’ conduct was free of bias in 100% of those [28 reviewed] cases.” Because of the comment about bias, Elliott supposes that findings of any inappropriate conduct is, well, inappropriate. A careful reading of the CPC report suggests Elliott misconstrues it. The finding that officers were not biased hardly excuses the faulty process these guys struggled to work under.
Kennedy’s statement regarding bias should not be separated from offsetting comments. For example, if a junior officer is asked to investigate misconduct of his supervisor, the lower ranked one might be absolutely free of bias but that would still be an inappropriate examination. I thought the situation was similar to when a guy tells the wife, “You look fairly decent, but you’re fat.” Chances are she will not focus on the first half of that statement.
Elliott complains the CPC report pointed to a lack of national standards for investigations of officer misconduct. In the next sentence he admits that statement to be true and promises, without specifying a time frame, that new policy will be issued. Mr. Elliott, you are complaining about what?
The most insincere comment by Elliott is this:
As I have often publicly stated, the RCMP is very supportive of enhanced independent oversight and review. We believe that the more credible independent oversight and review is, the more credible the Force can be. We are also very seriously committed and very seriously engaged in bringing about positive change in the RCMP. This is not being defensive as has been suggested. It is proactively striving to improve the RCMP and live up to the highest standards Canadians rightly expect of us.
Come on Mr. Commissioner, the Mounted Police were formed in 1873; internal scandals are not new. You were appointed more than two years ago, Ian Bush was killed 4 years ago, Robert Dziekanski almost 2 years ago. That you still have no national standards for internal investigations is appalling. Your mewling defense has no credibility. None. Zero. Nada.
It seems though, that the RCMP has at least a national standard for refusing to take responsibility for its long standing faults while disingenuously claiming to support accountability. This is not a problem of the constables working the streets. This is a problem in the board room, in Ottawa.
Regular readers will recall an earlier contribution from Commissioner Elliott. There are similarities.