A local Children’s Aid Society (CAS) contacted the military police and requested them to speak with the spouse of a member (a Warrant Officer) of the Canadian Forces (CF) regarding physical abuse in the household. The military police and the CAS agreed to carry out a joint investigation of the matter. One of the lead military police members, a Master Corporal, involved with the investigation was a next-door neighbour and well known to the family.
The spouse stated that her husband was showing signs of stress about a possible transfer, there were other health issues, and there had been episodes of physical and verbal abuse of herself and two children. She also advised there were firearms in the house, and that she feared his reaction if he knew she was sharing such information with authorities. It was agreed with his wife that the husband was to be removed and kept away from the house.
The husband was arrested upon his return from a weekend trip to a training camp and the military police also seized the firearms. He was subsequently charged with aggravated assault; assault arising from the same incident; uttering threats; and careless storage of firearms. He was held in custody for a bail hearing the following day. However, since the base lacked close custody facilities, he was taken to and held in a municipal police station according to a standing agreement between the municipal police and the CF. He was held on a “
suicide watch” based on the earlier concerns expressed by his wife. While he was in custody, issues arose around the roles and responsibilities of both the CF and the municipal police for his care and transportation.
The bail hearing was delayed a further two days due to the court file being incomplete and the lack of availability of prosecution disclosure. He was subsequently released on bail under specific conditions. Following his release, he had further encounters with various military police members which formed part of his conduct complaint.
The complainant originally made numerous allegations against military police members. Specifically, he alleged that they: wrongfully incarcerated him; threatened and harassed him; conducted a biased investigation; repeatedly failed to address him by his rank; were too personally involved with his family; wrongfully and vindictively placed him on a “
suicide watch”; did not provide him with meals while incarcerated; and, failed to provide the court with the appropriate information resulting in an extended period of incarceration. The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards (DPM PS) found that some of these allegations were substantiated, while others were not. The DPM PS also identified certain procedural irregularities requiring corrective action.
In accordance with Section 250.31 of the National Defence Act, the complainant requested the Commission to review his conduct complaints, augmenting many of his original complaints with additional allegations including disputing the validity and severity of the charges laid against him.
The Commission found that military police members had sufficient grounds to support the complainant’s arrest and the charges laid against him, and that they had not attempted to harass him or his family, or shown unfair bias or bad faith. However, a number of policy and procedural deficiencies were identified. These included:
- a failure to provide complete and timely documentation;
- a lack of understanding of respective roles and responsibilities between the CF and the municipal police regarding care and custody arrangements;
- a failure to apply timely and appropriate search and seizure procedures;
- a military police member being too personally involved with the complainant’s family (which represented a conflict of interest); and
- a lack of appropriate supervisory involvement or intervention that would normally be expected on a significant and sensitive investigation.
In respect of conflict of interest, the Commission found that military police policies should require military police members to consider whether any personal connection, and not just one of a commercial or financial nature, might reasonably call into question their actual and perceived professional objectivity. Any such potential conflicts should be immediately brought to the attention of the members’ superiors.
On the last and particularly important point, the Chair of the Commission specifically recommended that legitimate supervisory intervention by senior military police personnel is not only appropriate but necessary. Other recommendations were also made, e.g. to revise arrest and custody procedures to more explicitly address civil incarceration of persons arrested by the military police; to review custody arrangements at all Military Police Units; to revise policies and procedures to clarify the responsibilities of members conducting such searches and seizures and ensure related training; and to revise the Security and Military Police Information System (SAMPIS) recording procedures to clarify the need to record supervisory input provided at all stages of investigations.
All of the Commission’s recommendations to address its findings were accepted by the office of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.
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