Gordon Campbell indicated some time ago that BC would continue RCMP contract services in British Columbia after the present agreement expires in 26 months. Many critics believe that BC Liberals made the wrong decision and made it too early, without public consultation.
The RCMP has a lengthy history of misconduct and mismanagement, with one unfortunate event following another in British Columbia. This week, comes a new scandal threatening to contaminate the Surrey Six gangland murder prosecution. Intimately involved is Sgt. Derek Brassington who also investigated fellow members in the YVR homicide of Robert Dziekanski. And again, senior management of E District hides in their offices and sends out a spokesperson who, only six months ago, served in the Langley detachment. She was then promoted and moved to the Lower Mainland District Regional Police Services. Of course, her statement to the cameras mentioned an investigation being underway but she then minimized the likely impact of the problem. Again, we have an answer before the questions are complete.
This precisely indicates that senior command officers are detached and out of touch, incapable of managing a modern police service that has lost public confidence. After all the affronts to RCMP integrity and competence, the most senior officers should have been front and center demonstrating that this era of ineptitude and dishonor is finished. They could learn from Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu who took immediate control of a crisis and, within hours, spoke publicly about the incident and met with the family victimized by VPD officers.
Perhaps, RCMP bosses only venture out to give themselves awards. Incidentally, Superintendent Wayne Rideout, manager of the the Dziekanski death cover-up investigation, received another award from the force in late 2009, to add to the one given him by the Governor General in 2008, on recommendation of the RCMP Commissioner. Those awards were the RCMP putting its fingers in the collective eyes of Canadians. Will Monty Robinson be next to hang a ribbon from his chest?
Interestingly, while citizens learned about the Surrey disgrace by watching Global TV News January 26, so did the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Kash Heed. His public reaction was angry and near incredulous, saying, “It was incumbent on someone to let us know there was a significant issue out there that they are investigating. I was not made aware that something of the nature had taken place.”
Former RCMP psychologist Dr. Mike Webster, the guy sent packing for criticizing policy and training, says this latest incident is an example of the RCMP policing in an ethics free atmosphere.
The absolute shame of this is it happening concurrently with the Ottawa funeral for RCMP Superintendent Doug Coates who died in Haiti on a mission to assist the poorest people in this hemisphere. He was eulogized for courage, tenacity and good character, qualities lacking in the highest levels of RCMP management.
Update, January 28, noon
The initial RCMP release regarding allegations of unprofessional behavior of an IHIT investigator was by Sgt. Peter Thiessen, E Division Senior Media Relations Officer. That was issued the evening of Tuesday, January 26 and it stated that Sgt. Thiessen would be available throughout the following day for media interviews. Sgt. Thiessen is highly professional but I thought it strange that such a significant story was to be handled by an NCO media person and not one of the senior command officers.
By Wednesday, RCMP brought forward Chief Sup’t Janice Armstrong to make comments for media. As written above, I found that troubling as well. However, by Thursday morning, Assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre made himself available for a radio interview as acting commander of E Division. In the absence of Gary Bass and others who attended the Coates funeral in Ottawa, McIntyre was the highest level RCMP officer in BC.
We are left to wonder about the process that resulted in McIntyre’s public appearance and that result is laudable, if late. I noted that many visits to Northern Insights Wednesday came from Government of Canada web domains, many the Solicitor General of Canada. It’s interesting that politicians don’t admit the fact but they dedicate large resources to knowing what is said in the blogosphere. Sometimes, they react.
In a further development, RCMP announced fraud charges against another member of the IHIT team investigating the Surrey 6 murders. This relates to two disputed overtime claims submitted in July and August 2009. Dr. Mike Webster asserts these charges are deliberate distractions. Not only is the timing strange, so is the issue of overtime. RCMP members have long been pressured to contribute voluntary overtime to enhance their promotional opportunities. Turning up on days-off to complete files or demonstrate initiative is routine. The police force has extorted millions of dollars from its ordinary members and we can only hope the issue will arise at the fraud trial, if it every occurs.