This complaint relates to a Military Police (MP) investigation into an alleged incident of assault which took place at a Canadian Forces Base (CFB) while the complainant was attending a training course.
The complainant's interaction with the MP began when the complainant contacted the local MP unit to request that an MP member attend CFB so the complainant could provide information regarding an incident that occurred earlier in the day. That evening, the subject MP member met with the complainant, who informed the subject MP member that previous surgery on the complainant's lower legs caused him fatigue to the point of exhaustion. The complainant explained that after he fell during a training exercise, an unidentified individual allegedly kicked him on his right side.
Some days later, the subject MP member took written statements from the complainant and ten witnesses. Following those interviews, it was determined that none of the witnesses had observed the alleged assault. As a result, the investigation was concluded as unfounded.
A month later, the CAF member responsible for the training facility sent a memo to the Commanding Officer of the local MP unit, communicating that no further action would be taken by the training facility in the matter. The memo also noted that there was an error in the MP file where it was stated that the complainant was removed from course due to a “bad attitude”; the memo clarified that the candidate was removed from training for medical reasons only. This letter was added to the MP investigation file.
Some months later, the complainant submitted an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request to obtain the information on the MP investigation file.
In the complaint to the MPCC, the complainant took issue with the quality of the MP investigation. The complainant alleged there were erroneous statements in the file which were defamatory and had caused him professional difficulties. The complainant disagreed with the MP investigator's characterization of an interview with the complainant as it had been noted in the file. The complainant stated the retraction letter from the CAF member responsible for the training facility demonstrated the sloppiness of the investigation. The complainant also alleged the investigating MP was acting under the improper influence of the complainant's chain of command, or based on misinformation in MP electronic files.
With respect to the allegation the subject MP made false statements regarding a previous injury sustained by the complainant, the investigation revealed that the statements were made by witnesses and reported as such within the file.
With respect to the allegation the subject MP did not accurately report one aspect of the interview with the complainant, the version offered by the complainant and subject were conflicting and there was no independent evidence to verify which version was correct. As in all proceedings designed to determine whether a person has breached an applicable standard or norm of behaviour, where the evidence on either side is equally weighted, the benefit of the doubt is resolved in favour of the subject person; in this case, the subject MP.
With respect to the allegation the subject MP had incorrectly noted information about the complainant's so-called “bad attitude” in the file, it was demonstrated that the information came from witnesses rather than the subject MP.
With respect to the allegation the investigation was sloppy, the MPCC noted the subject MP appropriately interviewed all relevant witnesses in the investigation. Although there were deficiencies in the subject MP's note-taking, this did not render the entire investigation sloppy.
The subject MP admitted that note-taking in this case could have been better. The MPCC noted there were some inaccuracies in the forms and notes by the subject MP and concluded that this information had no influence on the result of the investigation for the assault. Nevertheless, the MPCC stressed that information noted for identification purposes in a police investigation is important and sometimes crucial to an investigation. The lack of attention to detail in recording this kind of information could have a serious impact on an investigation, particularly if identity were a central issue. In this case, the level of reporting and note-taking did not meet general policing standards and practices, including the standards set out in CF MP GP Order.
Following its review and investigation of the complaint, the MPCC concluded that four of the allegations were unsubstantiated. The MPCC also concluded that one allegation with respect to the accuracy and detail in gathering identification information was partially substantiated.
The MPCC made two recommendations in this case. It recommended the correct manner of note-taking be reviewed with the subject MP, particularly with respect to taking physical information on an individual. It also recommended the MP detachment ensure that portable mini audio recorders are available and accessible to patrol MPs, and that MPs be trained on how to use the devices and encouraged by their supervisors to use them when carrying out witness interviews away from the detachment.
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