MPCC-2000-011-Interference

Facts and Complaint

The complainant, a Military Police member, alleged that a superior officer interfered with the conduct of his investigation into the presence of narcotics in the room of a Canadian Forces member. Evidence was discovered during a health inspection. Specifically, the Military Police member alleged that the superior officer may have compromised the investigation, flouting legal procedure, by ordering members of his unit to search the room without a warrant.

Report of the Chairperson of the Military Police Complaints Commission

Following the investigation, the Chairperson, in her interim report, advised the Chief of Defence Staff that she preferred to resolve the complaint informally.

A- Chairperson's observations

Under the terms of informal resolution, the Chairperson made the following observations to the concerned authorities. These observations could serve to stimulate discussions on the theme of interference at conferences, forums or symposiums attended by commanding officers, among others.

(i) Inspection procedure

In the context of this complaint, a health inspection can give rise to trespassing or breach of the right to inviolability of domicile, and can jeopardize administrative measures or criminal proceedings undertaken subsequently. The teams conducting the health inspections should include someone who has the necessary skills and authority to make appropriate decisions in irregular situations. This person could be the regimental sergeant major.

(ii) Relationship between a Military Police member and an officer

The relationship between an officer and a non-commissioned member is heavily influenced by the authority conferred by rank. It can be difficult for a non-commissioned Military Police member to talk with a superior officer and express an opposing point of view. To facilitate exchanges and dispel any ambiguity, the duties and responsibilities of a Military Police member conducting policing functions should take precedence over hierarchical considerations.

Although hierarchical relations are part of the military culture, senior managers in the Military Police and the Canadian Forces should use the various forums available to sensitize Canadian Forces members to the special nature of the functions carried out by the Military Police.

(iii) Information which the Military Police can communicate to a unit commander

Provided it does not risk undermining the investigation, a unit commander should be advised of an investigation being held concerning one or more members of his unit. At the conclusion of the investigation, he must receive the necessary reports and documents in order to be able to take decisions regarding the case. However, the commander has no right to intervene in the police investigation. Moreover, by doing so he risks compromising his objectivity and impartiality when charges are laid and at summary trial - procedures he may be called on to preside over.

(iv) Recourse to services of the Military Police

Section 106 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces states that a commanding officer can conduct an investigation in order to determine whether a service infraction has been committed. A commanding officer enjoys wide discretion, therefore, to decide whether or not to use the services of the Military Police. Caution and judgment are called for, since it may be preferable in some situations to obtain the assistance and expertise of the Military Police.

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