MPCC-2000-049

Facts and Complaint

The complainant alleged that a member of the Military Police committed a breach and abuse of his authority and acted in a way unbefitting a Military Police member when, while he was off duty, he came into contact with three minors. The first incident occurred when two youths removed a piece of furniture from the garbage and ignored the Military Police member when he asked them to put it back. An argument followed as the youths were leaving the scene. Later, when the member came into contact with a third youth, physical force was allegedly used and the youths reported that the Military Police member smelled strongly of beer.

Further, the complainant alleged that the Military Police member, while on duty, intentionally misused information available only through his employment. This allegation stems from the second incident, which occurred a few days later, when the Military Police member encountered the same youths and cautioned them to obtain proper equipment for their bicycles. After subsequently finding that one of them was still without the proper equipment, the Military Police member requested a computer check to determine whether the youth was in breach of a probation order. The complainant alleged that the Military Police member was on a vendetta against that third youth after what took place during the first incident.

Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal ordered a Professional Standards investigation into the matter. According to the investigation, it was reasonable to conclude that the Military Police member's actions in this case were professional and that there was no breach of the Military Police Code of Conduct or Military Police policies.

The complainant asked the Military Police Complaints Commission (“Complaints Commission”) to review his case.

Findings and Recommendations of the Chairperson of the Complaints Commission

A- The First Incident

On the basis of the documentation provided, the Complaints Commission did not have jurisdiction to review the actions in question because the Military Police member's interactions with the youths were not within the scope of the policing duties or functions for which a conduct complaint under the National Defence Act could be made. The Military Police member acted as a concerned citizen who wanted to make sure that no public harm would be caused by the youths' actions. He was performing what he believed to be his civic duty. He was not acting as a Military Police member; therefore, his conduct was not subject to review by the Complaints Commission.

B- The Second Incident

The Military Police member did not abuse his authority by misusing information only available to him through his employment. He requested the computer check on the third youth after the argument between the two took place. The request was reasonable under the circumstances and was an exercise of his policing duties.

The Military Police member was not on a vendetta against the third youth following what happened during the first incident. Furthermore, there was insufficient evidence that he had used rude language or threatened. Consequently, there was not enough evidence to support the allegation that he abused his authority as a Military Police member.

However, the Military Police member did not make or keep proper notes of the events in question as required.

Recommendation

The Military Police member should be provided with guidance to ensure that he is aware of the importance of keeping accurate notes of interactions with the public while on duty.

C- Tasking Instructions

There were some discrepancies between the complainant's allegations to the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards and the tasking instructions and letter of disposition provided to the complainant. Nonetheless, the main issues of the allegations were adequately stated and the subtle inaccuracies did not have a negative impact on the findings of the Professional Standards investigation.

The complainant's allegation that the Military member smelled of beer was also inaccurately reflected in the tasking instructions and letter of disposition, but was appropriate nonetheless. Even though it was not part of the public complaint, it could have been a code of conduct issue. Tasking instructions should contain the complainant's allegations, as well as the issues that should be investigated. Paraphrasing a complainant is not a desirable way to set out tasking instructions; rather, the complainant's input should be sought.

Recommendation

All documentation should accurately reflect and be consistent with the words of the complainant. When tasking instructions for a Professional Standards investigation, the input of the complainant should be sought in order to avoid ambiguities, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

D- The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards' Investigation

There were allegations by the complainant that the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards investigator purposely tried to cover up issues by misrepresenting some facts to the Complaints Commission. The Chairperson found no merit in those allegations and noted that the investigator did nothing that would put his integrity, impartiality and credibility into dispute.

Chairperson's Reply following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Notice of Action

No further findings or recommendations were added since the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted all the findings and recommendations made by the Chairperson.

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