RCMP response to Chairperson-initiated complaint and public interest investigation into policing in Northern British Columbia

February 16, 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

Statement

The Civilian Review and Complaint Commission's (CRCC) investigation did not result in any findings of systemic misconduct by RCMP members in northern British Columbia. However, where weaknesses were identified, the RCMP has implemented policy or procedural updates to improve upon these areas. Please read a statement delivered by Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of the RCMP in British Columbia.

The RCMP has implemented 26 of the 31 recommendations. The remaining five recommendations are currently being completed with an expectation they will all be implemented by May 2017.

CRCC Recommendations

Personal Searches

CRCC Recommendation No. 1: That the RCMP update its National Headquarters Operational Manual policy definitions for "body search" and "strip search" to eliminate ambiguity and ensure that the definitions are consistent with current jurisprudence.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016, and includes definitions of both Personal Search, "(frisk) means a search by manual or technical (wand) methods of a person's clothed body" and Strip Search, "means the removal or rearrangement of some or all of the clothing of a person so as to permit a visual inspection of a person's private areas, namely genitals, buttocks, breasts (in the case of a female), or undergarments."

CRCC Recommendation No. 2: That the RCMP amend chapter 21.2. of its national policy regarding personal searches to ensure more robust supervisory oversight by explicitly requiring a super visor's approval prior to conducting a strip search unless exigent circumstances exist.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 to include that "a strip search must be authorized verbally or in writing, by a supervisor/delegate, unless exigent circumstances exist".

CRCC Recommendation No. 3: That the RCMP amend chapter 21.2. of its national policy regarding personal searches to clarify if and when a strip search of a person of the opposite sex is ever permitted. Further, the policy should articulate the circumstances or criteria that must be met prior to conducting or overseeing a strip search of a person of the opposite sex (i.e. if immediate risk of injury or escape exists and/or in exigent circumstances).

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 to include that strip searches are to be conducted by an officer of the same sex and in private, "Unless exigent circumstances require an immediate search for the preservation of evidence or to ensure the health and safety of members, the public, or detained persons."

CRCC Recommendation No. 4: That the RCMP amend its internal search policy to ensure that it clearly specifies the necessary grounds required prior to conducting an internal search as well as the required approvals.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 to include that, "reasonable grounds which may include a visual inspection must exist to warrant an internal search to determine if a weapon or evidence is concealed in a body cavity." Further, "because such a search is highly intrusive, a medical practitioner must conduct this procedure unless there is a concern for safety" and the search must "be authorized, verbally or in writing, by a supervisor/delegate, unless exigent circumstances exist".

CRCC Recommendation No. 5: That the RCMP amend chapter 21.2. of its national policy regarding personal searches to ensure that the policy addresses the member's requirement to articulate the reasons and manner of the search in writing, including the information members are required to document and where it must be recorded.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 to include that members "make accurate, detailed notes of the authorization, the reasons for the strip search, and the manner in which it was conducted." All strip searches must be documented on Form C-13. Further, the direction for internal searches includes: "Make accurate, detailed notes of the authorization, the reason for the internal search, and the manner in which it was conducted."

CRCC Recommendation No. 6: That the RCMP in British Columbia amend its policy regarding personal searches (Operational Manual chapter 21.2.) to reflect current jurisprudence.

RCMP Response: Division policy has been drafted and is with subject matter experts for comment. It should be completed by the end of March 2017. RCMP's National Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016, and includes references to the need to ensure that the search does not infringe on Sec. 8, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, the policy references current case law when conducting a strip search — R. v. Golden, Para. 101 (1 through 11) which discusses the 'reasonability' of a search executed without warrant. Case law also instructs members "that If a member is not involved in the search, he/she will not observe in any way, unless required for investigative purposes."

CRCC Recommendation No. 7: That the RCMP enhance basic training at Depot Division to ensure that cadets are cognizant of the legal requirements, and relevant policies and procedures for all types of personal searches.

RCMP Response: Current curriculum in the RCMP Cadet Training Program has been updated to reflect current personal search policy. Additional changes, including increased opportunities to conduct various types of searches under diverse conditions, will be implemented as part of the creation of Version 9 of the Cadet Training Program. The first set of revisions will be implemented as part of the changes to the Police Defensive Tactics program on April 1, 2017, and the second set of revisions will be implemented as part of the changes to the Applied Police Sciences program in December, 2017.

CRCC Recommendation No. 8: That the RCMP enhance training in personal searches to ensure that Division members are cognizant of the legal requirements and relevant policies and procedures for body, strip and internal searches, and that such training also be included in the Operational Skills Maintenance Re-Certification.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's national Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016, and lays out the legal requirements and procedures for body, strip and internal searches. Divisions were informed of this policy update via a memorandum from the Director General National Criminal Operations on September 1, 2016. The operational skills maintenance recertification is being revised and will include training on personal searches.

CRCC Recommendation No. 9: That the RCMP amend its National Headquarters and British Columbia divisional Operational Manual personal search policies to enhance transparency and accountability by ensuring the policies include an appropriate means of recording, tracking, and assessing compliance, thus facilitating independent review.

RCMP Response: The C-13, Prisoner Report Form was amended in November 2016 to reflect the recommendations of the CRCC review. Changes include the nature/type of the search; inclusion of trans-gender prisoners; and, additional information regarding the consumption of intoxicants, allergies, illnesses and medications. The new form is being incorporated into the automated police records management systems so that compliance can be more readily tracked and reviewed.

CRCC Recommendation No. 10: That the RCMP amend its national policy on personal searches to include specific guidance and direction in relation to strip searches of youth.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 to reflect that the search must be, "explained to a young person in appropriate language along with the reason and manner of the search." It also states, "Upon arrest or detention of a young person, ensure that a parent, guardian, or responsible adult is notified according to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) and ch. 39.2., and that he/she is advised if a strip search will be or has been conducted."

Policing of Public Intoxication

CRCC Recommendation No. 11: That the RCMP remind North District supervisors of the requirement to be thorough in their review of occurrence reports and, in particular, of the importance of ensuring that all occurrence reports are properly documented, especially those involving the arrest and detention of a person.

RCMP Response: North District developed a unit level quality assurance guide [ULQA] entitled "Arrest and Release Intoxicated Persons" in consultation with E Division Review Services. On Oct. 3, 2016, the guide was disseminated to all North District detachment commanders with the direction that a mandatory ULQA be conducted to ensure policy compliance. Should deficiencies be found during the ULQA process, the detachment commander, in collaboration with their advisory Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), will take remedial action to address any shortcomings by March 31, 2017. The North District advisory NCO will conduct a verification review to ensure thoroughness and that shortcomings have been satisfactorily addressed.

This recommendation is addressed directly in the review guide by way of the following "Criteria Statement" that is required to be answered and addressed, "Do supervisors provide consistent, thorough and timely review, and document operational guidance and direction on files throughout the life of the investigation?"

CRCC Recommendation No. 12: That the RCMP incorporate mandatory review of public intoxication occurrences in North District unit-level quality assurance and management reviews.

RCMP Response: North District developed a unit level quality assurance guide [ULQA] entitled "Arrest and Release Intoxicated Persons" in consultation with E Division Review Services. On Oct. 3, 2016, the guide was disseminated to all North District detachment commanders with the direction that a mandatory ULQA be conducted to ensure policy compliance. Should deficiencies be found during the ULQA process, the detachment commander, in collaboration with their advisory NCO, will take remedial action to address any shortcomings by March 31, 2017. The North District advisory NCO will conduct a verification review to ensure thoroughness and that shortcomings have been satisfactorily addressed.

CRCC Recommendation No. 13: That the RCMP amend the National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 18.1., section 7.2. to reflect current jurisprudence.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Arrest and Detention Policy was updated in December 2016 to be consistent with current jurisprudence, and adequately reflect the broader range of risks captured under the concept of "danger to himself/herself and/or to others".

CRCC Recommendation No. 14: That the RCMP amend National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 19.9 to capture the complete list of exceptions listed under section 497 of the Criminal Code.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Release of Prisoner Policy was updated in January 2017 to capture the list of exceptions listed under section 497 of the Criminal Code. Policy now states if, "a person is arrested without a warrant, release him/her, as soon as practicable, unless there is a need to: establish the identity of the person; secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the offence; prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence; ensure the safety and security of any victim of or witness to the offence; or ensure court attendance."

CRCC Recommendation No. 15: That the RCMP amend National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 39.2. relating to the arrest of young persons to include guidance to members on notification requirements in instances where a young person is arrested and held in custody without being charged – particularly in cases involving public intoxication.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Arrest of Young Person Policy was updated in March 2016 to include, "at any time where a young person is arrested or detained in custody, a parent, guardian, or responsible adult should be contacted immediately." This enhanced the existing policy which states, "when a young person is arrested and detained in custody pending appearance in court, the officer in charge will, as soon as possible, give or cause to be given to a parent, orally or in writing, notice of the arrest stating the place of detention and the reason for arrest."

CRCC Recommendation No. 16: That the RCMP amend section 1.3.3.1. of divisional Operational Manual chapter 100.5. to outline conditions for release that mirror the guidance provided in the Criminal Code and to be consistent with national policy, which directs members to consider "alternatives to detention," thereby allowing for the consideration of a broader range of release options.

RCMP Response: The policy was amended in February 2017 to specifically require members to exercise appropriate discretion and alternatives to detention in these cases.

Use of Force

CRCC Recommendation No. 17: That the RCMP in British Columbia's North District ensure that articulations of use of force interventions are clear and comprehensive, and fully align with policies, guidelines, and training requirements.

RCMP Response: In September 2016, the North District Operational Skills Maintenance NCO received the rights to review all North District Subject Behaviour/Officer Response (SB/OR) reports. This NCO reviews all SB/ORs which involve Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) use, discharge of a firearm, and any major police incident to ensure that the articulation of use of force interventions is clear and comprehensive, and fully aligned with policies, guidelines, and training requirements. He conducted a conference call with all North District Detachment Commanders and Advisory NCOs on Sept. 21 and 22, 2016, and provided an overview of the quality assurance process that will be adopted, what he will be looking for in a well written SB/OR, common gaps etc. He discussed the "Completing a Written Narrative Job Aid" and disseminated it after the call. The quality of submissions is being actively monitored. In addition to the criteria listed above, SBOR's are being reviewed monthly based on the following: 10 per cent of all detachment SB/OR's are being reviewed by the detachment commanders (or delegate), 10 per cent of all SB/OR's generated in an advisory NCO's area are being reviewed by the advisory NCO, and the North District Operational Skills Maintenance NCO randomly selects SB/OR's for review.

CRCC Recommendation No. 18: That the RCMP establish criteria and reporting thresholds to aid in the identification of "issues," and provide clear direction on reporting and tracking use of force issues identified in reports.

RCMP Response: Policy has been amended and is in the final review stage. This policy will provide detailed direction to supervisors and to the division Criminal Operations Offices that if an issue with the appropriateness of a use of force intervention is identified during the review process of a Subject Behaviour/Officer Response (SB/OR) report, that the report will be forwarded for review to a divisional Use of Force Coordinator or delegated subject matter expert.

Under the revised policy, a Use of Force Coordinator or delegated subject matter expert must review all SB/OR reports when: a CEW is applied, a firearm is discharged, it involves a major police incident, or if an issue is identified by a supervisor or National Criminal Operations during review of an SB/OR report.

CRCC Recommendation No. 19: That the RCMP modify the Subject Behaviour/Officer Response database and reporting policies to enhance accountability by ensuring issues identified through the reporting process can be monitored, tracked, and independently reviewed.

RCMP Response: The SB/OR database was updated on Sept. 28, 2016, to track issues on the appropriateness of a use of force intervention. The SB/OR report now includes a question on whether an "issue with the appropriateness of an intervention has been identified." When reviewing SB/OR reports, the supervisor is required to answer yes or no to this question. All 'yes' responses to this question are tracked for reporting purposes and are required to be reviewed by a division Use of Force Coordinator or delegated use of force subject matter expert.

CRCC Recommendation No. 20: That the RCMP modify supervisor training to provide guidance on the identification and reporting of issues in use of force reports.

RCMP Response: An SB/OR supervisor checklist has been created and was implemented on Sept. 28, 2016, which includes a reminder to supervisors that they must answer the question on whether or not an issue has been identified with the appropriateness of a use of force intervention. All division SB/OR Division Coordinators have been notified of the implementation of the checklist. When the revised policy is published, a communiqué will be forwarded to supervisors via the divisions to ensure awareness of the policy that requires the reporting of issues related to the appropriateness of an intervention.

Domestic Violence

CRCC Recommendation No. 21: That the RCMP ensure that yearly unit-level quality assurance and/or management reviews always include a review of violence in relationships investigations.

RCMP Response The Violence in Relationships Unit Level Quality Assurance is mandatory in 2017. Going forward, policy states that Commanders "Consider the inclusion of a Unit Level Quality Assurance (ULQA) specific to violence/abuse in relationships."

CRCC Recommendation No. 22: That the RCMP amend section 1.6.1. of National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 2.4. to correctly reflect the distinction between Criminal Code offences and provincial and territorial statutes.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Violence/Abuse in Relationships Policy was updated in March 2016 to state, "notify the victim that charge(s) will be laid or recommended, if a criminal code offence or an offence under any applicable federal, provincial, or territorial legislation has been committed."

CRCC Recommendation No. 23: That the RCMP amend section 2.2.4. of National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 2.4. to enhance accountability by requiring members who do not obtain victim and witness statements to document the reasons they were not obtained.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Violence/Abuse in Relationships Policy was updated in March 2016 to ensure members document the steps taken in an investigation surrounding statements specifically, "obtain statements from all victims, witnesses, and accused persons. If you are unable to obtain a statement from one or more of these persons, document the reason(s) in your notebook and on the operational file."

CRCC Recommendation No. 24: That the RCMP amend section 2.2.7. of National Headquarters Operational Manual chapter 2.4. to make it consistent with the search and seizure provisions in section 117.04. of the Criminal Code.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Violence/Abuse in Relationships Policy was updated in March 2016 and directs investigators specifically to refer to the Criminal Code sections related to Search and Seizure "Sec. 117.04(1), CC, with a warrant; or Sec. 117.04 (2), CC, without a warrant in exigent circumstances. "

CRCC Recommendation No. 25: That the British Columbia RCMP ensure that the divisional policy adequately addresses the process for making highest risk designations.

RCMP Response: The E Division Violence in Relationships Policy has been revised and the draft is under review. It is expected this review will be complete by the end of March 2017.

Missing Persons

CRCC Recommendation No. 26: That the RCMP review and amend its Missing Persons Risk Assessment form to ensure that it contains questions that assist members in assessing the full range of risks that pertain to high-risk persons, including runaways and individuals with a high-risk lifestyle.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Missing Persons policy was updated in December 2016 to include a definition of a high-risk person for missing person investigations. High-risk person means "that the missing person's health or wellbeing may be in immediate danger due to their own vulnerability, the weather or physical conditions where the missing person is believed to be, or reasonable grounds to believe they may be the victim of a crime." Examples of persons considered high-risk have been included in the policy to assist members in making that determination: "children; the elderly; a person with a physical, mental, or sensory disability; a person with a medical condition, mental illness, or who is suicidal; sex trade workers; gang or drug-trade associates; court witnesses; victims of abduction; victims of domestic violence and elder abuse; victims of bullying; transient/homeless persons; runaways; and those involved in high-risk activities such as hitchhiking and drug or alcohol abuse." The policy also includes a definition of high-risk lifestyle stating it, "means the engagement in or the association with others involved in dangerous activities and/or frequenting or residing in dangerous environments, either by personal choice or circumstance." Form 6473, the Missing Persons Intake and Risk Assessment form, contains various checklists that document this critical information.

CRCC Recommendation No. 27: That the RCMP amend its national policy on missing persons to include a clear requirement to fully articulate risk assessments on file, and to update the risk assessment on file as a case progresses.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Missing Persons Policy was updated in December 2016 to include that members "Determine the appropriate investigational response considering the circumstances, as well as any risk factors associated to the missing person." Further, members are directed in the policy to "Document on RMS (investigational file) the initial risk assessment and throughout the investigation re-assess the risk level, and document the changes, if any."

CRCC Recommendation No. 28: That the RCMP amend national policy on missing persons to ensure that it requires supervisors to fully document observations and directions to members on file.

RCMP Response: The RCMP's Missing Persons Policy was updated in December 2016 to direct the supervisor to "Review all missing persons files, review Form 6473 (Missing Persons Intake and Risk Assessment), and document direction and guidance provided to the member on RMS (investigational file.)"

CRCC Recommendation No. 29: That the RCMP update its national policy on missing persons to require members to complete the new Lost/Missing Person Report and Search Results form at the outset of an investigation.

RCMP Response: Form 6473 (Missing Persons Intake and Risk Assessment) contains various checklists to assist in gathering all critical information at the outset of an investigation, including last location/communication, items or money that the missing person had at the time of disappearance, relationships/affiliations/social media connections etc. and directs members to, "Complete Form 6473, Missing Person Intake and Risk Assessment Form, to assist in determining the appropriate response and resources." The policy further directs members to "Complete Form 6473 first, unless the incident requires immediate operational response (i.e. abduction in progress). The completion of Form 6473 is critical, as it contains information that may guide you on different investigative avenues." Supervisors are required to sign off on Form 6473.

CRCC Recommendation No. 30: That the RCMP review and amend the divisional missing persons policy in British Columbia to ensure that it is in line with the revised national policy.

RCMP Response: E Division Missing Persons Policy was published August 2016. It is under review to ensure consistency with the National Missing Persons Policy.

CRCC Recommendation No. 31: That in the interest of promoting a standardized approach, and to support effective, comprehensive and coordinated responses to missing persons investigations, the RCMP consider making training on the revised national missing persons policy requirements.

RCMP Response: Contract and Aboriginal Policing are currently developing new missing persons training. The training will be delivered online and will include a module on missing Indigenous persons. This training will be linked to national policy.

–30–

Date modified: