Drugs, guns and the
latest RCMP scandal

Yet another really stinking
Mountie mess proves a few points:
Cops can’t be trusted to investigate cops.
Lawsuits, onerous as they are, can bring results.
The media have a important role to play
in police accountability

Dec. 22, 2010


According to the criminal charges, RCMP Const. David Clarke used his position as a corrupt police officer to sell drugs and accumulate a lethal arsenal of illegal weapons. According to the lawsuit, Clarke and RCMP firearms officer Jeffrey Harrison used their positions as corrupt police officers to destroy Travis Bader’s family business, confiscate legally registered weapons, commit assault and battery and lay false charges. Then — get this — Harrison set up a competing business himself while Clarke started another, possibly similar business.

The RCMP didn’t investigate any of the charges against Clarke until nearly two and a half years after he launched a sensational raid on the Bader family. The Mounties flatly refuse to investigate related charges against at least one other officer.

An RCMP chief firearms officer named Terry Hamilton used a blatantly ridiculous reason to reject Bader’s evidence against Harrison. Her excuse? Harrison didn’t authorize the release of damaging information to Bader.

The cops couldn’t be trying harder to cover up for each other.

(Update: Hamilton granted a firearms licence to known psycho Angus Mitchell, who then killed two people and seriously injured a third.)

Last May the Bader family launched a lawsuit. Much later the Mounties finally began their investigation.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rob Vermeulen called it a “fast investigation,” claiming no allegation had been made until Oct. 1. In fact information was brought to the RCMP last April and again in May.

Even then no media announcement was made until Clarke appeared in court, just days before Christmas. That’s the time many reporters are on vacation, others are overwhelmed with holiday puff pieces and the public are too busy to pay attention anyway. That’s often the time spinmeisters get around to releasing their really embarrassing info.

Speaking of embarrassing info, Clarke remains on full pay although he was finally suspended from the RCMP. Even if he’s convicted he could stay on full pay and receive pay raises for years to come (more on that issue here and here, and also here and here).

Harrison’s still on duty, a Mountie in fine standing — although, for some reason, he falsely claims to be “recently retired.” There’s no word on any investigation into him following Hamilton’s absurd decision. Nor is there any word on an investigation into a third cop named in Bader’s lawsuit. Nor on Hamilton, who ought to be investigated for her part in a cover-up.

This scandal shows, for the zillionth time, that cops can’t be trusted to investigate cops.

The scandal also shows that lawsuits can bring results when other efforts fail.

And Vancouver Province writer Ethan Baron’s reporting shows that media could have a strong role to play in police accountability. After all, unless the public hears about it, a scandal isn’t a scandal.

Baron should be complimented especially for his fast but thorough digging into a story that the RCMP and Crown chose to release just before Christmas. To re-phrase an old tune, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — to evade public scrutiny.

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