Conduct Case Summary MPCC-2014-013

Following a fire alarm at a nearby motel where the complainant was staying, the complainant, a civilian contractor, decided to drive around a Canadian Forces Base while waiting to be allowed back into his motel room. Due to the haste with which he left his room for the fire alarm, the complainant was not wearing a coat despite the freezing temperature. The complainant suffers from a medical condition whose symptoms mimic signs of impairment.

The complainant was observed driving approximately 20 km below the posted speed limit by one of the subject military police (MP) members, who executed a traffic stop for suspicious driving. During the course of his investigation the MP member noted several signs of impairment and arrested the complainant for impaired driving. He called for a second MP member to assist. The second MP member noted a cane in the front seat of the complainant’s car.

At some point during the encounter the complainant stated that he had a medical condition and had a letter to prove it. The subject MP members completed the arrest and transported the complainant to the MP detachment.

Once at the detachment, the MP members, with the assistance of a breath technician, verified the complainant’s medical condition and released him. The arresting MP member drove the complainant back to his vehicle and gave him directions off the base.

The complainant alleges that his arrest was unlawful, that the MP members were discourteous and discriminated against him because of his medical condition, that excessive force was used during the arrest, and that the MP members failed to investigate and accommodate his medical condition.

The Deputy Commander, Office of Professional Standards, investigated these allegations and determined that all allegations were unsubstantiated as there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations and the MP members’ conduct was appropriate given the situation.

Following a request for review of the Deputy Commander’s decision and its own investigation, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) found the allegations of unlawful arrest, discourteous and discriminatory conduct, and excessive force to be unsubstantiated. In particular, the MPCC found the MP member’s decision to arrest the complainant was reasonable in the circumstances, that the comportment of both subject MP members towards the complainant was reasonable and a direct reaction to perceived resistance on the part of the complainant. Further, the MPCC found that the MP members were not aware of the complainant’s medical condition prior to the arrest and therefore were not discriminating against him on the basis of any medical condition.

In addition, the MPCC found the allegation of failure to investigate and accommodate a medical condition to be unsubstantiated. The MPCC concluded that regardless of when the MP members were advised by the complainant of his disability, the MP members were unable to confirm the legitimacy of his disability at the roadside stop. However, certain issues of concern were noted. The MPCC noted that the MP members should have been more inquisitive at the roadside stop and followed up with specific questions. Further, the MPCC noted that the complainant’s medical aids were readily visible in the vehicle but were not noticed by the first MP member.

While the second MP member did notice the medical aids, she did not collect them for the complainant’s use or ask the complainant if they were needed. The MP members should have offered the complainant the use of medical aids, once those aids had been discovered in the complainant’s vehicle. As such, the MPCC made a recommendation to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) to ensure through training that military police understand the importance of asking the proper questions during traffic stops to determine if the person has a medical disability and to ensure proper accommodation when one is discovered.

In response to the MPCC’s report, the CFPM accepted all of the MPCC’s findings and recommendation, and outlined the steps that will be taken to implement the recommendation.

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