MPCC-2004-007

Responding to concerns expressed by the mother of a young person arrested by military police who was reluctant to become involved in the complaint process, the commanding officer of a Canadian Forces Military Police Detachment filed a conduct complaint against two members of the detachment. The complaint alleged the MPs violated military police procedures by using handcuffs during the arrest of the young person.

Because the arrest was made in an area of Canadian Forces housing that is adjacent to, but not actually part of, a Canadian Forces Base, the investigation by the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal quickly expanded to include questions of military police jurisdiction.

The Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards concluded that the area in which the arrest took place was outside military police jurisdiction. As a result, the MPs’ commanding officer - who made the original conduct complaint on behalf of the mother - became a subject of the complaint, for allegedly ordering MPs to patrol an area outside their jurisdiction.

While concluding that the use of handcuffs on the young offender was not justified, the investigation was also highly critical of the commanding officer, who was found to have ordered his MPs to police an area without making sure that it was within their jurisdiction.

The complainant - the MP commanding officer - asked the Commission to review the handling of his complaint, on the grounds that the Professional Standards investigation should not have included the issue of jurisdiction, since it was not part of the original complaint. The complainant also stated that the investigation did not take into account that, in ordering MPs to police the off-base housing area, he was responding to an order from his Base Commander, and acting on advice from the Deputy Judge Advocate (a military lawyer).

In the first instance, the Commission found no fault in the Provost Marshal’s decision to add the question of MP jurisdiction to the investigation. Determining whether MPs were arresting people outside their jurisdiction was certainly relevant to the case, and something that could have an immediate and important impact on military police procedures.

On the second question, the Commission found documented evidence that the Base Commander did, in fact, order the complainant to have military police patrol the off-base housing area, and to respond to any criminal activities they might observe there.

Moreover, the Commission found the complainant should not have been criticized for accepting at face value the opinion of the Deputy Judge Advocate. The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal also agreed with this finding, stating that it would be “highly irregular” for a member of the military police to question or conduct independent research on legal advice provided by a Canadian Forces legal officer.

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