Conduct Case Summary MPCC‑2015‑016

The events underlying this complaint began with an attempt by the subject Military Police member (MP), while off duty and driving his personal vehicle, to pull over the complainant (a service member) for seemingly erratic driving on a military base. While the subject MP pulled up beside the complainant and identified himself as an MP, the complainant refused to pull over for him because he was off duty. The two drivers continued to interact for a bit while in their respective vehicles at a red light.  About six seconds after the light turned green, the subject MP said something to the effect of, “I’ll see you later”, and pulled up past and in front of the complainant’s vehicle. Both vehicles then proceeded off the base and went their separate ways.

About five hours later on the same day, the complainant was driving off-base, when the subject MP, now on duty and in a patrol car, accelerated rapidly out of a coffee shop/convenience store (the subject MP was refueling his patrol car at an adjacent service station) with his emergency lights activated, pulled in front of other vehicles which were behind the complainant and pulled over the complainant. The subject MP said to the complainant something to the effect of, “Remember me”, and proceeded to issue him two offence notices, one for careless driving, from earlier that day on the base, and another for driving with an expired vehicle registration validation. Other drivers got out of their vehicles and walked over to the scene to see why the complainant (whom they know) had been pulled over and to ask about why the MP accelerated so quickly out of the coffee shop/convenience store that he caused dirt and stones to be thrown up onto the vehicles behind him. The subject MP apparently told the bystanders in an aggressive and rude manner to go away from the scene of the traffic stop.

The complainant filed his conduct complaint against the subject MP a few days after the events.  The MP Professional Standards (PS) unit, under the Deputy Commander Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp), construed the complainant to be taking issue only with the second incident. They noted that the off-base traffic stop, where the subject MP issued the complainant with the offence notices, was for a legitimate purpose and had been authorized by the MP’s supervisor. As such, PS concluded that the MP’s on-duty traffic stop of the complainant was not an abuse of the MP’s powers to detain and harass him in retaliation for their earlier on‑base encounter, nor was it the result of a personal vendetta on the part of the subject MP. PS did, however, conclude that the subject MP’s demeanor during this traffic stop was unprofessional and aggressive.

The complainant requested a review by the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC).

The MPCC conducted a thorough review of the available evidence, as well as additional witness interviews (including two witnesses not interviewed by PS). Unfortunately, the subject MP elected not to be interviewed, either for the PS investigation or for this review.

Regarding the first interaction between the complainant and subject MP, the MPCC concluded that the MP subject was wrong to have attempted to pull the complainant over. Pursuant to the applicable MP Group Orders, the alleged careless driving on the part of the complainant was not sufficiently serious to justify the MP’s off-duty intervention, particularly using his personal vehicle. The MPCC also substantiated the complainant’s allegations that the subject MP drove in an overly aggressive manner in his efforts to get the complainant to pull over, and that he was unprofessional in his demeanor while addressing the complainant.

However, given that the complainant successfully resisted the MP’s demands to pull over, and the short amount of time involved, the MPCC did not agree with the complainant’s contention that the subject MP had wrongly detained him.

With respect to the second encounter between the two parties that day, the MPCC concluded that, while the subject MP had the legal authority to stop the complainant off-base in relation to the earlier incident on-base, the MP did not demonstrate good judgment in executing the traffic stop because:  the complainant could simply have been served with a summons; and, in any event, the need to issue the offence notices relative to the earlier incident was not so urgent as to justify rapidly accelerating out of a parking area and cutting off other vehicles. In terms of the MP having abused his authority by directing bystanders away from the scene where he was engaged with issuing the offence notices to the complainant, the MPCC determined that, while the MP did have such authority, the words and tone he used were inappropriate.

While not reported in the Deputy Commander CF MP Gp’s letter of disposition, the MP chain of command has taken some remedial measures in relation to the subject MP. As such, the MPCC did not see the need to make a recommendation to this effect.

In response to the MPCC’s Report, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal accepted the MPCC’s findings.

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