MPCC-2003-032

Facts and Complaint

An altercation between two young persons occurred at a skateboard park on a Canadian Forces base. Once advised of the alleged assault by her child, his mother asked that the Military Police be contacted to report the incident. The Military Police members arrived and interviewed the mother and young person #2. Young person #1 was then arrested and taken to the Military Police detachment, his parents were contacted and they arrived shortly thereafter. Young person #1 provided a statement and was released into his father's custody. Young person #2 provided a written statement and a third young person was also interviewed as a witness to the incident. After the investigation, young person #1 and his parents were informed that criminal charges would be withdrawn and a formal police caution would be issued instead. The father of young person #1 became angry and refused to participate in the police caution interview, after which the documentation was forwarded to the Crown Attorney's office to proceed with a formal assault charge. (It was later decided that the charge would not proceed). The father of young person #1 then forwarded a memo to his Chain of Command outlining the incident involving his son and identifying what he believed to be problems with the Military Police member's actions. The subject member was asked to explain his side to the story in a written response to the father, which he did; however, the father of young person #1 did not receive a copy of this document.

The father submitted a conduct complaint to the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards alleging that:

Decision of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal

The Letter of Final Disposition of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards concurred with the findings of the Professional Standards investigator.

The Professional Standards investigation supported the complainant's allegation that the Military Police member had not conducted a proper investigation. The investigator found that the subject member had not interviewed certain individuals who could have clarified the situation, and there were inconsistencies in the statements and other information that should have been further verified by the subject member.

The allegation that improper force was used was not supported, based on the Professional Standards interview with young person #1.

With regards to the relationship between the young people on the base and the Military Police, the Professional Standards investigator could not make a determination on this allegation.

As well, the Professional Standards investigator made other observations with regard to the Military Police member's investigation and procedures and made a number of recommendations for improvements. However, much of this information was not included in the final letter sent to the father of young person #1.

The father of young person #1 was not satisfied with the disposition of his complaint and requested that the Complaints Commission review the file.

Findings and Recommendations of the Complaints Commission Chairperson

The Complaints Commission looked at a number of issues based on the complainant's request for review. The complainant said that he was satisfied with the decision that the allegation concerning the use of force was not supported by the Professional Standards investigation.

The fact that the Chain of Command failed to forward the initial memo from the father of young person #1 to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal for consideration and acknowledgment was inappropriate, as the complaint may have been ignored had it not been re-submitted. However, the Chairperson noted that certain shortcomings in this regard have been addressed with the implementation of an automated system, which provides information to all ranks of the Chain of Command.

The Chairperson also found that the recommendation of the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards concerning additional training and counselling for the Military Police member regarding proper procedures was appropriate. Further, in order to ensure that the complainant understands that the appropriate actions have been taken, the Letter of Final Disposition or a follow-up letter should contain details of any such training or counselling.

The complainant raised a number of concerns regarding the accuracy of the information contained in the Letter of Final Disposition. The Chairperson found that additional information and details in the Letter of Final Disposition could have helped the complainant better understand the Deputy Provost Marshal Professional Standards' findings and recommendations. As well, the Letter of Final Disposition sent to the complainant did not contain some of the information and observations that were included in the letter sent to the subject member. The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal has since implemented a practice wherein the subject member(s) and the complainant(s) receive the same information in what is now called the “Report on Findings and Actions”.

With regards to the allegation that the Military Police were not interacting with the young people on the base in a way that would foster good relations between them, the Chairperson found that the Professional Standards investigator should have consulted with community centre personnel to determine if there were any concerns about Military Police involvement with the youth at the skateboard park and surrounding areas. If further investigation reveals that problems exist, then the appropriate action should be taken and the information transmitted to the complainant and the Complaints Commission.

The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal's Notice of Action and the Chairperson's Response

In her Notice of Action the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal provided a number of valuable comments and suggestions, some of which were reflected in the Chairperson's final report. The Chairperson expressed the hope that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal would continue to work towards making the process as transparent as possible so that all parties involved will be satisfied that the complaint has been effectively resolved.

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