Almost two months ago, I wrote Rewarding incompetence and stated my hope that, under its new leader, RCMP had turned a corner toward an era of accountability and respectability:
“That [William] Elliott’s tenure was a costly failure is made clear by comments to the Globe and Mail by his replacement, new Commissioner Bob Paulson:
“Admitting to a culture of bullying and a legacy of botched investigations, the Mounties’ new commander says his police force faces obsolescence if it doesn’t get its act together – and quickly.
“RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says his mandate is to “clear-cut” problems that have taken root so deeply in the police culture that some Mounties are now embarrassed to tell neighbours where they work. Speaking to The Globe and Mail editorial board after a month on the job, he gave an assessment of internal dysfunction so candid that similar remarks would be almost unthinkable coming from the head of any other corporate or government entity…”
“Commissioner Paulson’s frankness is both unusual and refreshing. Certainly Canadians are not surprised by anything Paulson said but they might be surprised at his directness and honesty. He is making clear to his members, and the public, that real change is necessary, that platitudes are inadequate. It is a good start down what will be a difficult road.”
Paulson may remain dedicated but commitment to solve deeply rooted problems is not shared by his managers in British Columbia. Apparently, they believe that real change is unnecessary and platitudes are adequate. Honourable RCMP members in British Columbia will still be embarrassed to disclose their employers to neighbours.
CKNW’s Charmaine de Silva reported to Jon McComb today on the review board conducted by three senior officers examining misconduct of Staff Sergeant Travis Pearson. In a manner that suggests nothing has changed from the worst days of corrupt and incompetent leadership, RCMP closed its official eyes to very serious allegations against Pearson, including lying to a superior and abuse of authority. Instead, the contemptuous review board imposed an inconsiderable slap for misusing police equipment.
One of the Staff Sergeant’s prey, a female constable, likely faces discharge, essentially for having raised allegations against a more senior officer. Susan Gastaldo is not Pearson’s only victim but you can be sure that, while the Staff Sergeant is given a tiny slap now, eventually, taxpayers will be given a giant financial whack when 100 or so women recover damages in an out-of-court settlement, probably secret, in the class action suit that claims systematic discrimination and abuse.
CKNW provides a a short written report about today’s news HERE but I recommend listening to de Silva’s conversation with Jon McComb through the audio vault at 4:35 pm February 9. The review panel held that an “appropriate officer” failed to pursue more serious charges against Pearson before they were barred by the force’s 12 month limitation but the panel does not name that person. Nor does it note other similar complainants against the Staff Sergeant.
Handling of the Pearson case is similar to many others involving the police force where unconscionable procedural delays resulted in dismissals or stays of prosecution. Last October, a Prince George judge stayed a case against three RCMP officers charged with multiple driving offences and eluding police. After more than 20 court appearances, citing unreasonable delays, the judge threw out all charges.
That is merely one situation of many involving inappropriate behaviour affecting members and civilians, ranging all the way from discourteous behaviour to assaults and homicides. RCMP, like military style police forces everywhere, are quick to adapt arms, armour and technology and painfully slow to develop and maintain satisfactory relations with the public it serves. Police management pays lip service to the need for a sincere partnership with the public but too often forgets that good public relations is based on deeds, not words.