RCMP to seek
third-party investigators
under new policy

Canadian Press, Feb. 4, 2010

OTTAWA — The RCMP plans to ask outsiders to investigate serious incidents involving Mounties.

Commissioner William Elliott says cases in which officers are linked to death, serious injury or criminal behaviour will be referred to provincial or federal organizations for investigation.

Where no such regimes exist, the policy allows the national force to ask an “external law-enforcement agency or other duly authorized investigative agency” to conduct the probe.

And in cases where that's not possible, the RCMP may appoint at least two Mounties from another province, along with independent observers to review their findings.

Any officers assigned to investigating their own will be screened for possible conflict of interest and, where possible, the primary investigator should outrank the subject of the investigation.

Last August the watchdog over the Mounties said the RCMP should not investigate their own members in the most serious cases — especially when someone has died — in order to avoid conflict of interest.

Until now, the national police force has had discretion to decide how such investigations will unfold.

Several recent incidents have highlighted the contentious subject of police investigating police.

They include the case of Robert Dziekanski, who died at the Vancouver airport in 2007 after being hit with an RCMP Taser, and that of Ian Bush, shot and killed by a Mountie in British Columbia five years ago.

Elliott says the RCMP “must strive to be as open and transparent as possible and fully accountable” for its actions.

“We would prefer the RCMP never to be called upon to conduct investigations of our employees,” Elliot said.

In some provinces, regimes are in place to conduct independent investigations.

“The RCMP encourages the adoption of independent investigative bodies for all jurisdictions.”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews welcomed the announcement.

“Our government's position continues to be that effective review should be external to the force,” Toews said in a statement.

“This announcement demonstrates the RCMP's commitment to becoming a stronger, more accountable and modern organization.”