MPCC-2011-038-Interference

This complaint arose from a dispute between the complainant, a military police (MP) Corporal, and his supervisor, an MP Sergeant regarding the proper approach to processing a break and enter crime scene.

In this case, the complainant was dispatched to an on-base residence after cleaning staff had detected that a break-in had occurred. The complainant and his partner began to conduct their investigation. The complainant enlisted the assistance of the cleaners to assist in identifying items in the residence which appeared to be missing or otherwise out of place.

When the subject of the complaint arrived on the scene to check on the investigators’ progress, she noted that the cleaners were still inside the residence. She questioned the complainant on this. A heated exchange took place between them as to the appropriateness of keeping the cleaners at the crime scene. The subject asked the cleaners to wait outside and ultimately directed the complainant to get their names and then send them away.

The complainant filed an interference complaint with the Commission about the subject’s actions in: 1) impeding his investigation by sending the cleaners away, thus curtailing his attempt to identify missing or out of place items; and 2) allegedly berating him in front of the civilian workers.

Following an investigation, the Commission concluded that the complaint was unsubstantiated.

With regard to the alleged berating of the complainant, the Commission’s investigation revealed that, while a fairly loud and heated exchange did occur between the subject and the complainant – something which police professionals ought to avoid when within earshot of members of the public – there was some evidence that both parties were fairly assertive in their positions. Moreover, in the Commission’s view, such behaviour is an issue of interpersonal conduct and not one of interference in an investigation.

Finally, the Commission concluded that the subject’s decision to have the cleaner’s removed from the crime scene did not constitute improper interference. The decision was a reasonable one from the standpoint of proper law enforcement procedure. Moreover, there was no evidence that this action by the subject was taken in bad faith or for some improper purpose, which, as the Commission has noted in previous interference cases, is required in order to substantiate a complaint of improper interference against an MP with supervisory authority over the investigation in question.

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