MPCC-2006-008-Interference

After responding to a disturbance on a Canadian Forces base, a military police member decided to lay a criminal charge of uttering threats against a man. The MP did the necessary paperwork near the end of his shift, planning to complete the process the following day. In the meantime, the MP’s supervisor asked a second MP to find out whether this was a case where the Crown might agree to withdraw the charge if the accused signed an undertaking such as a peace bond - if so, military police could avoid the time and effort involved in prosecuting the case. This MP learned that, in the circumstances, and provided the victim consented, a peace bond was indeed a likely outcome.

With the supervisor’s agreement, this MP contacted the victim, who asked for a few days to think about the peace bond idea. This second MP then sent an email to the investigating MP to fill him in on the steps that had been taken while he was off duty.

Unfortunately, this email was worded rather ambiguously, and left the investigating MP with the impression that his supervisor had unilaterally overruled his decision to charge the man, and was pursuing a peace bond to resolve the case without consulting him. The MP filed a complaint of interference against his MP supervisor.

After reviewing the documentary evidence and the relevant sections of the Military Police Policies and Technical Procedures, as well as interviewing a number of witnesses, the Commission found that the actions of the supervising MP did not constitute interference with the MP’s investigation.

The Commission found no evidence to indicate that the supervisor was seeking to overrule the MP’s decision to lay a charge. Even if he did, this would not necessarily amount to interference, given his role and authority as a military police supervisor. While military police policies provide some guidance in this area, the Commission found the policy could be more definitive in describing a supervisor’s responsibility and authority to override the decision of a subordinate military police to lay a charge.

In concluding the investigation, the Commission also found that the complaint of interference might not have arisen had the supervisor’s actions and the reasons behind them been communicated more clearly to the complainant. The Commission recommended that military policies in this area be clarified.

The Chief of the Defence Staff accepted all of the Commission’s findings and recommendations in this case, and agreed that the findings regarding interference in particular provide a useful reference for MPs and their supervisors in the future.

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