Facts and Complaint
A civilian complained that Military Police had shown preferential treatment to others involved in an incident by interviewing those people first and causing the complainant to wait several hours for his interview. He also alleged that police did not prepare a proper report of the incident and wondered why Military Police would suggest to him and his daughter that they could be arrested when he was reporting a crime of which his daughter was the victim.
The complaint related to a dispute on a Canadian Forces Base involving members of the complainant's family, as well as certain other individuals. Everyone involved then proceeded to the Military Police detachment to report the incident and over the course of several hours all were interviewed by Military Police members. The complainant stated that he waited about four hours before it was his turn to be interviewed.
Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal
The investigation of the complaint by Professional Standards found that, in essence, the Military Police member involved had made the best of a difficult situation, and concluded that the delay in interviewing the complainant, although regrettable, was unavoidable in the circumstances.
As for advising the complainant and his daughter that they could be arrested, the Professional Standards investigator found that it is proper for a police officer to advise individuals of the potential consequences of their conduct. The investigation also concluded that all the appropriate reports on the incident had been completed.
Not satisfied with the findings, the complainant asked the Complaints Commission to review his complaint.
Findings and Recommendations of the Complaints Commission
The Commission Member examined various issues in the context of this review.
1. The complainant felt that the Military Police member had discriminated against him by causing him to wait while the subject member interviewed other individuals involved in the incident before interviewing the complainant.
The Commission Member found that, at the time the complainant and the other individuals concerned arrived at the detachment, the Military Police member who is the subject of this complaint was alone in the office. Sensing that the situation was emotionally charged, he placed the various players in different areas of the detachment and began individual interviews with those involved. After two interviews had been completed, two other Military Police members returned to the detachment and proceeded to carry out one of the two remaining interviews.
The Commission Member agreed with the conclusion of the Professional Standards investigation. Though regrettable, the delay was unavoidable under the circumstances and there was no evidence of any intent on the part of the Military Police member to discriminate against the complainant when determining the order in which the interviews were conducted.
2. Completion of appropriate reports by Military Police members
The Commission Member also found that the results of the Professional Standards investigation in this regard were supported. Military Police interviewed all potential witnesses and completed all the appropriate incident reports. As well, given that no charges were laid or pending in connection with the incident, there was no requirement to prepare a Military Police Investigation Report.
3. Propriety of Military Police advising someone that they could be arrested or charged with an offence.
During the course of the interview the Military Police subject member told the complainant that his actions earlier in the evening could have resulted in charges under the Criminal Code, although no charges would be laid in this instance. Police, in that they are responsible for crime prevention, have a right and a duty to ensure that individuals understand the possible consequences of their actions. The Commission Member in his findings referred to jurisprudence demonstrating that police officers are within their rights to advise citizens of the consequences of their actions and that doing so does not constitute a threat or intimidation.
4. Refusal to provide the subject of a recorded interview with a copy of the interview.
The Commission Member made an additional finding based on an issue that arose during the review but was not part of the original complaint. When he learned that his interview had been videotaped, the complainant requested a copy of the videotape but the Military Police member refused to provide one. Although a Military Police member is neither required nor expected to provide an immediate copy of a videotaped interview to the subject of the interview, it is the responsibility of Military Police to advise individuals of their right to obtain a copy and to refer them to the appropriate authority.
Reply of the Complaints Commission following the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Notice of Action
The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal generally accepted the findings and recommendations of the Commission Member.
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