Nathan Cullen reintroduced a bill to the House of Commons on Thursday that would create a nation-wide civilian oversight mechanism for the RCMP.
“This is something the RCMP needs as much as the public. When something goes wrong and someone gets hurt or killed by an officer, the investigation should be carried out by a team that is truly working on behalf of the public, not on behalf of the police association or the RCMP. Its actually modelled in part on the systems BC, Ontario and Alberta already have in place. What we’re saying is that it has to be on a national scope. . . there’s no consistency across the country,” said Cullen during a media teleconference on Thursday.
This is not the first time Cullen has introduced this bill, it was originally introduced in 2009 but never made it into law.
If it were to pass, the would create a national Civilian Investigation Service that would be responsible for investigating accusations of wrongful death or injury at the hands of RCMP officers within 60 days of the incident. The members and director of this investigation service would not be allowed to be former police officers.
If the director of the investigation service believes a crime has been committed they will have the power to refer the case to the Crown for prosecutio0n, the results of all investigations will reported to the Attorney General.
Over the past several years, the national police force’s reputation has taken a nosedive country-wide because of sexual harassment scandals, the G20 fiasco, the Robert Dziekanski and Ian Bush deaths to name only a few of the headaches the force faces. As a result, some provinces, including BC, have begun to institute their own civilian oversight bodies. Cullen says his bill would work with those provincial organizations, not replace them.
“They’re going to have to work in harmony. We’re getting a real patchwork quilt across the country as all the provinces in the absence of federal leadership have decided they need to do something about it.”
According to the RCMP, the number of investigations into injury or death cause by Prince Rupert officers since 2007 has been a whopping: zero.