The Military Police Complaints Commission is investigating whether military police altered information during an investigation into an incident of “misconduct” and threats to subordinates, including one of their own.
Chairperson Hilary McCormack decided on August 3 to launch an investigation into complaints received by her office over the handling of an incident involving an allegedly intoxicated military police member and her children in March 2021.
“These complaints allege that the leadership of the MP unit attempted to cover up the alleged misconduct of an officer of that unit and unfairly accorded special treatment to the MP officer involved,” A said. statement released on Wednesday Announcing the investigation.
“The allegations in these complaints go to the core of police values and ethics. They have the potential to undermine public confidence in the military police and adhere to the basic rules of the rule of law: namely, the principle of equality before the law.
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According to the statement, the decision to investigate by the civilian watchdog came after his office received complaints in July and April this year alleging military police interference in the matter.
Details are thin but the statement said the incident at the center of the complaints took place on March 10, 2021, at an undisclosed location. A military police officer, who appeared intoxicated, put his children in his car and allegedly attempted to take them and himself home after exiting a restaurant.
The statement said passersby intervened and stopped him from getting into the car.
Local police arrived at the scene and upon learning that the person was an officer, called the military police and eventually waived jurisdiction over military force.
Yet the watchdog’s summary of what happens, notes that members of the military police quickly became concerned about how the commander of the military police unit and his sergeant-in-chief were handling the case.
In particular, the complaints alleged that the military police investigator’s electronic report had been altered without that individual’s knowledge or agreement, and that the unit commander and sergeant-major had “repeatedly advised the investigator that the incident was not I will not be charged.”
The statement said the incident was never reported to the Canadian Army National Investigative Service, which has jurisdiction, adding that no report was also made to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal’s Office of Occupational Standards .
Also, “members of the subordinate MP unit were instructed not to report the incident and those doing so were threatened with reprimand and/or posting to the MP unit in any other area of the country.”
Members of the military police unit filed complaints with the commission in late April 2021.
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Then in July 2021, another complaint was filed alleging that military police had interfered in a child welfare investigation involving the same military police officer involved in the March 10 incident.
Under the National Defense Act, the chairman of the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) has the authority to conduct what is known as a public interest inquiry, which may result in a case report being made public and a possible public hearing.
Such an inquiry occurs when the Speaker has reason to believe that “the public’s confidence will be improved by a more free and transparent process.”
In An explanatory note attached to the statement, McCormack explained his decision, saying the allegations spoke of a “deliberate attempt” by the military police leadership to cover up misconduct, “and to provide that officer with special treatment because of his position.”
McCormack wrote that the allegations suggest that military police leadership “goed to a great extent to pressure and intimidate its members to cooperate with the alleged cover-up.”
“Such allegations of cover-up and special treatment based on the individual situation get at the heart of the public’s confidence in military policing,” he wrote in his argument.
“As such, this complaint should actually be considered quite serious.”
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Canada’s military has been gripped by high-profile sexual misconduct allegations for the past eight months and a culture that sees military leaders and military police fail to take allegations of misconduct seriously, according to special reporting by Granthshala News. after.
Experts have described the situation as an institutional “crisis” for the military.
At the center of the matter is the military police handling serious charges against individuals in senior roles or prominent ranks, and a culture that was effectively identified in a landmark 2015 report as broad allegations that put the swath of command under the rug. series included.
David Perry, a defense expert and vice president of the Canadian Granthshala Affairs Institute, said similar allegations have been seen in many civilian police forces and that there is no reason to expect military police immunity, the charges come at a particularly challenging time. .
“The timing is certainly not very beneficial to an armed forces that are trying to re-establish some credibility in general and particular with how they can deal with investigations, as well as members of the armed forces. can restore credibility in its conduct.” he said.
“Even in those positions in other jurisdictions, people don’t always behave in ways that are completely above board or wholly appropriate. But boy, the timing isn’t great.”
Perry noted that the allegations would drive home that “these issues need some sunshine and they need some outside involvement.”
“Because what has happened within national defense is not in line with expectations outside of national defense,” he said.
Stu Kelock, a retired military police officer, called the allegations “quite worrying”.
“It is a very unusual circumstance when members of a particular unit complain about their chain of command to an outside organization that has jurisdiction over those investigations,” he said.
“How do you trust military police to do the right thing fairly and according to the law, while there are actually allegations of wrongdoing amongst themselves?”
Granthshala News contacted military police and asked whether the unit commander and sergeant-major involved in the complaints were still being allowed to work on other matters during the investigation.