Conduct Case MPCC‑2017‑022 Summary
This conduct complaint relates to a Military Police (MP) investigation into an alleged incident of trespass on private property. At the time of the incident at issue, the complainant lived near a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) base. In March 2014, members of the CAF had parked a large military truck and attached trailer on the street across from the complainant’s address. A member of the CAF crew knocked on the front door of the complainant’s residence and ordered the complainant to move his car. The complainant told the MP to get off his property and call an Officer from the Regiment as per a pre-arranged protocol. The member left as requested. Following this, a different CAF member knocked on the front door of the residence. The complainant told him to leave his property and shut his front door. The member rang the doorbell a second time and was again told to leave, which he did. A verbal confrontation occurred between the two and profanity was used. The complainant stated that the second ring of his doorbell amounted to trespass.
The same day of the incident, the complainant called the nearest MP Detachment and was advised to call either the civilian police or try to resolve the matter with the CAF unit involved. The following day, the complainant emailed the Commanding Officer (CO) of his local cadet unit to report the incident but also stated that he wanted to deal with the matter informally and required no assistance. The complainant reported the incident to two members of the CAF unit involved, both of whom apologized to the complainant. The complainant contacted the civilian police but withheld the name of the alleged trespasser from the authorities as he did not want to press charges.
The CAF member accused of trespassing provided a witness statement. His CO wrote a letter to summarize the incident, and sent it along with the witness statement to the CO of the Regional Cadet Support Unit (RCSU). The complainant alleged that this witness statement was a confession of trespass and that the letter misstated its contents and covered up the confession.
Upon receipt of the documents, the CO and Deputy CO of the RCSU contacted the complainant to discuss the incident documented in the witness statement and accompanying letter. The complainant repeatedly refused, accusing them of harassment. The complainant emailed the CO of the RCSU to recount the incident that occurred on his property and demanded that both the witness statement and accompanying letter be retracted within 48 hours otherwise he would file a grievance. In addition to requesting retractions, the complainant stated that he did not seek an admission of wrong doing, fault or misstatement, apology, or to have anyone charged. A few months later, he filed the grievance.
The Commander of the Canadian Forces Joint Operational Support Group received the grievance and rejected it based on a jurisdiction review. He did however order a Commanding Officer Investigation to determine if there were grounds to begin a disciplinary investigation into the behaviour of the member accused of trespassing. The CO investigation found no breach of the Code of Service Discipline had occurred and recommended that no disciplinary investigation be initiated.
The complainant filed a complaint with the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) outlining various allegations including an allegation of trespass and obstruction of justice on the part of MP. In response to the complaint to the CDS, a Canadian Forces National Investigation Services (CFNIS) investigation was initiated into the offence of Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order and Discipline, section 129(1) of the National Defence Act (NDA). The MP that conducted this investigation is the subject in this Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) review.
The MPCC received a complaint concerning the conduct of the CFNIS MP which was forwarded to the Professional Standards (PS) Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp) to deal with in the first instance pursuant to subsection 250.26(1) of the NDA. The PS investigator recommended the PS file be concluded without further investigative activity. He noted that civilian police had responded to the initial incident of March 2014 and did not take action toward any of the alleged parties to the complaint; that two CAF units conducted unit level investigations that found no wrong doing by any CAF member; and that the CFNIS further determined that the CO's investigation was conducted appropriately such that no further CFNIS investigation was contemplated. PS also stated that the conduct complaint appeared vexatious in nature as it was one of a number of unsubstantiated complaints from the same complainant, all of which shared a common theme. As the complaint had been deemed vexatious, PS did not look at the substance of the complaint.
The complainant was dissatisfied with the results of the PS decision and in June 2018 requested the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) review his complaint. The MPCC interpreted the complaint to comprise two allegations; that the CFNIS MP conducted a superficial and improper investigation into the complaint, and that the CFNIS MP conducted an unbalanced and biased investigation because no civilian witnesses were interviewed.
After a thorough review, the Commission determined that the evidence did not support the substance of the conduct complaint. The first allegation that the CFNIS MP conducted a superficial and improper investigation was unsubstantiated. The CFNIS conducted a thorough investigation and continued to investigate the complaint despite the complainant’s refusal to be interviewed, and despite a CFNIS supervisor’s recommendation early on in the process that the investigation be concluded.
The second allegation that the CFNIS MP conducted an unbalanced and biased investigation because no civilian witnesses were interviewed was also unsubstantiated. After a review of the four witness statements submitted by the complainant, the Commission found it was reasonable for the CFNIS MP to have not conducted interviews with the four civilian witnesses. It was within his discretion to conduct interviews relevant to the complaint he was investigating, and he made a detailed Investigation Plan to reflect the investigative process.
The MPCC also determined that the complainant wrongly stated that he did not know the name and rank of the member that had allegedly trespassed and that this alleged lack of information prejudiced him. Further, the Commission disagreed with the complainant’s characterization of the member’s witness statement as a “confession”, and the claim that it was covered up by the member’s CO. The Commission found no evidence that the CO investigation that stemmed from the complainant’s complaint to the CDS was improperly conducted and therefore tainted the CFNIS investigation.
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