Sunday, December 16, 2007

Federal Report Recommends Radical Changes to RCMP

On Friday, a special federal task force unveiled the conclusions of its report into the many structural problems at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The report proposes major structural changes in Canada's national police force, including:
  • separating the force from the government
  • creating a new civilian board of managers to oversee its finances, resources, personnel and properties
  • creating a new independent commission with the power to deal with complaints, launch its own investigations and summon witnesses and compel testimony
The task force consulted widely and heard many complaints from RCMP rank and file police officers on issues such as understaffing, chronic fatigue, equipment shortages and inefficient management.

2007 has not been kind to the RCMP. The year saw another very negative report about mismanagement of the RCMP pension and insurance plans, the resignation of RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli over incorrect testimony to a parliamentary committee, the recent shooting deaths in the line of duty of two officers working in short-staffed and remote detachments in the Far North, and the death from a Taser stun gun of an unarmed Polish immigrant at the hands of RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport in October.

More coverage:
  • RCMP commissioner promises sweeping changes (CanWest News Service, December 15, 2007): "Commissioner William Elliott on Friday promised sweeping changes at the RCMP, including a senior management shakeup, after a governance task force recommended the Mounties be given more independence from government and be overseen by a civilian board (...) The task force, chaired by former Ontario Securities Commission chief David Brown, was appointed by the Harper government on July 16, the same day that Elliott was appointed the first civilian commissioner in the RCMP's history. It was asked to provide advice on accountability and governance at the troubled police force, which has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years, including the Maher Arar affair and the mismanagement of pension and insurance funds. Brown said the force needs to be freed from the layers of government bureaucracy that have piled up over the years."
  • RCMP 'despair' demands top-to-bottom overhaul (Globe and Mail, December 15, 2007): "Massive structural changes are needed to rehabilitate the 133-year-old national force, including granting the organization separate employer status from government, the adoption of a civilian oversight board and the creation of a new, more powerful independent complaints authority, according to a report from the five-member panel convened to help overhaul the RCMP. During its five-month investigation, the panel encountered 'fierce pride in the force' paired with 'despair, disillusionment and anger with an organization that is failing them,' said David Brown, a Toronto lawyer who chaired the group. 'With remarkable but disturbing consistency, we heard of chronic shortages of people and equipment, of overwork and fatigue, of issues of wellness, health and even safety,' he said. 'We learned about basic human management systems that haven't worked for years: mandatory unpaid overtime; discipline and grievance systems that don't work; a promotion system with little or no credibility; a sometimes embarrassing record of accounting to the people they serve'."
  • Dramatic restructuring of RCMP urged in report (Toronto Star): "If enacted by the Conservative government, the 61-page report released yesterday would radically change the way the country's national police force is run. The RCMP, after 134 years of operating in insular, hierarchical, paramilitary fashion, would have to answer to new bosses. Civilian watchdogs and managers would have final say in how the Mounties spend money, deal with staff and, ultimately, police themselves. 'A modern-day RCMP will shed its cloak of secrecy while protecting the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens ... and rebuild trust through greater transparency,' the report said. 'We now have a plan to fundamentally fix the RCMP and restore trust in this institution – but the path we have laid out is not for the faint of heart.' The prescription is drastic, but civilian Commissioner William Elliott welcomed it as 'an important turning point'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:59 pm

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