Management of the RCMP Disciplinary Regime 2013-2014 Annual Report

In late 2014, the Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act came into force replacing the "discipline" regime with a robust "conduct" management system, which includes a new Code of Conduct for members.

The period covered by this report was under the former disciplinary regime which was put in place in 1988.

The vast majority of our members conduct themselves with pride, professionalism and deep commitment to the communities we serve. However, the esteem Canadians hold us in can be overshadowed by the attention paid to the few incidents where our member's conduct has not lived up to the public's expectations and our standards. To protect and foster public trust, we must take timely and appropriate action to address the misconduct and to hold the members accountable for their actions.

Bob Paulson, RCMP Commissioner

By the numbers

Formal discipline cases resolved: 100

  • Hearings held: 61 (47 proceeded by Expedited Resolution Process and 14 by contested hearing.)
  • Matters withdrawn: 13
  • Matters resolved by resignation: 26

Executive Summary 2013-2014

This annual report on the Management of the RCMP Disciplinary Process is prepared pursuant to a 2008 Ministerial Directive.Footnote 1

The report provides an overview of the current regime; describes its components and how they are organized; provides a statistical look at the work done in the reporting period; and provides a brief conclusion and comments on the way forward.

The disciplinary regime applicable to this reporting period was put in place in 1988. RCMP members are subject to the same laws as all Canadian citizens. Whether on- or off-duty, members are governed by the Code of Conduct in the Regulations to the RCMP Act.Footnote 2 Matters of employee misconduct are taken seriously, and the RCMP Act gives an officer or member in command of a detachment the authority to initiate a Code of Conduct investigation. Any RCMP member found to have contravened the Code of Conduct may be disciplined. Serious violations are dealt with by formal discipline, less serious by informal discipline.

In 2013 the Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act received Royal Assent. Changes to the RCMP Act will come into force in late 2014. The "discipline" regime is being replaced by a robust "conduct" management system, which will include a new Code of Conduct for members. Efforts being expended on preparing to implement legislated changes are considerable. The new conduct management system will focus on being remedial, corrective and educative.

Within the Professional Integrity Officer's area of responsibilities, formal discipline is managed by Adjudicative Services Branch through three directorates: Discipline Adjudications Directorate, Member Representative Directorate, and Appropriate Officer Directorate. The three directorates handle formal discipline matters. Each directorate has different, but necessarily interrelated, responsibilities: Managing and conducting discipline board hearings; representing the member against whom misconduct has been alleged; and, representing the officer who initiated formal discipline proceedings. Discipline matters can be resolved by: (1) a contested disciplinary hearing which proceeds formally with calling of evidence; (2) an Expedited Resolution Process hearing in which a member admits to the alleged misconduct; (3) withdrawal of the allegation; and, (4) resignation of the member.

2013-2014 was very busy and productive. Although productivity during the period covered by the report was impacted by increased complexity and length of proceedings, the number of formal discipline cases resolved was 100. Sixty one hearings were held, 13 matters were withdrawn, and 26 matters were resolved by member resignations. Of the 61 hearings, 47 proceeded by Expedited Resolution Process and 14 by contested hearing. Where allegations are established or admitted, the discipline board hearing the matter will also hear evidence and representations on sanction and then make a decision imposing an appropriate sanction. Sanctions range from a reprimand to a reprimand and forfeiture of up to ten days' pay. A Digest of Cases provides greater detail on the 61 matters heard.

In addition to the Digest of Cases, Figures 1 to 7 provide organizational information and Figures 8 to 25 provide considerable current and historical statistical information. This year, the Member Representative Directorate had 219 incoming files, the Appropriate Officer Directorate dealt with all 100 formal discipline matters which were resolved, and the Discipline Adjudications Directorate conducted 61 hearings. Key discipline statistics included show that: over the past six years 75 percent of hearings proceeded by the expedited process; 55 members forfeited 357.5 days' pay; over the past two years over 50 percent of members who were subject to formal discipline had less than 10 years service; the length of time to resolve a formal discipline matter has increased over the past six years and now stands at 513.6 days; the 61 cases adjudicated this year were significantly higher than the 14 year average of 49.8; and, during the year, just 0.25 percent of all members were subject of formal discipline proceedings.

Although the focus of the report is formal discipline the report includes a breakdown, by division, for the 158 cases which resulted in informal discipline. Though suspension is not a disciplinary action, the report also informs that there were 118 suspended members (104 suspended from duty with pay and allowances and 14 suspended from duty without pay and allowances).

Organizationally, the RCMP can never be satisfied that there is no room for improvement. The implementation of a robust conduct management system to replace the current disciplinary regime is a significant, historic and much needed initiative. In addition to this larger initiative, the report looks at examples of other initiatives to improve the functioning or management of discipline processes such as discipline reviewer positions to provide consistency and quality control in "E" Division; civilianization of some positions in "D" Division, and aligning resources to their workload in "K" Division.

The RCMP is on the verge of replacing its current discipline system with a robust conduct management system. Based on the work which Adjudicative Services Branch accomplished this year, there will be a period of transition likely lasting 18 to 24 months. Conduct management is the way forward. It is a way that can be easily understood by members and the public. It is a way through which the RCMP will earn and maintain the trust of both.

Message from the Professional Integrity Officer

Policing is hard work and is often performed under stressful and dangerous circumstances. On the whole, the overwhelming majority of our members face these challenges with professionalism, pride and strong dedication to protecting Canadians. However, there are those who, at times, engage in conduct that does not meet the high expectations of both the RCMP and the communities we serve. In those cases, misconduct must be addressed in a timely and effective manner. The current RCMP discipline regime addresses misconduct, however it has in many respects become overly legalistic, formalistic and adversarial, a theme repeated by many stakeholders.

As the Professional Integrity Officer I have seen first-hand where our current discipline regime works and where improvements are needed. I am pleased to report that change is coming.

On June 19, 2013 the Enhancing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act (RCMP Act) received Royal Assent, which will bring fundamental change to the 25 year old Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and manner in which conduct matters are managed. After extensive consultations, the RCMP is currently working to develop policies and procedures to support the provisions outlined in the new RCMP Act. By the time you are reading this, many of these will be in place.

This means that this year's report for the period of April 1, 2013 to March 21, 2014 marks the end of an era. Outlined in this report are some of the concerns that the new conduct process will address. A trend that we see is that the discipline regime has become increasingly complex with lengthier hearings and taking longer to conclude. This not only causes unnecessary delays and a drain on resources, but prevents the RCMP and the member from addressing the situation and moving on. This trend clearly illustrates that the current discipline regime has outlived its usefulness. It was universally agreed that discipline matters must be dealt with in a more timely fashion.

Our discipline regime is being replaced by a robust conduct management system that will be timelier and meet the needs of the members, the organization and the expectations of Canadians. Under the amended RCMP Act, there is a focus on shared responsibility between the member, his or her manager, and the organization when dealing with performance and conduct.

Conduct matters will be handled at a lower level, often by the member's local detachment commander. The range of sanctions, which will be called conduct measures, will be broader, more flexible and more quickly actionable than the current RCMP Act allows. Cases will only be brought before a conduct board when dismissal is being sought.

The new conduct process will shift from being overly legalistic, formalistic and adversarial to a process that places emphasis on being remedial, corrective and educative. The amended RCMP Act will allow the organization to deal with misconduct efficiently and appropriately, contributing to a stronger organization. It will also provide more flexibility and adaptability to respond to changes that may be required in terms of dealing with conduct matters.

I look forward to being part of these historic changes and seeing where they will lead.

Craig S. MacMillan
Professional Integrity Officer,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Message from the Director General

At the heart of the statistical story told by this report are more statistics. Responding to more than 2.7 million calls annually, RCMP members are involved in millions of interactions with the public. On rare occasions members may conduct themselves in a way which needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed out of genuine concern for the public, the RCMP as an organization and the member. The public deserves high quality policing service and respectful interactions with RCMP members. Members whose conduct is not up to organizational standards may need guidance, training or correction or they may need to be deterred from future inappropriate conduct.

This report responds to the Minister of Public Safety's Ministerial Directive on the RCMP Disciplinary Process.Footnote 1 Preparing it is tremendously beneficial to me in my role as Director General, Adjudicative Services. It provides my team and me with the opportunity to reflect on the Branch's accomplishments, successes and challenges.

The sheer volume of work accomplished this past year is remarkable. Despite the considerable effort being committed towards implementing legislative changes across the organization, one of the Branch's directorates reported that this was its most productive year ever. The other directorates were no less busy and made no less a contribution to the record-setting level of productivity. Collectively the Branch's directorates concluded a record-high 100 formal discipline matters. Of these, 47 were concluded under the Expedited Resolution Process. This too was a record high for that process, which was introduced in 2008.

Last year we introduced two new analyses to this report. The first looked at members receiving formal discipline by rank or classification, the second considered members receiving formal discipline by service level. The results are not surprising. As one might expect, the analyses show that constables are more likely to face formal discipline and members who are more junior in service are more likely to face formal discipline. Fully, 50 percent of those who faced formal discipline did so in their first 10 years of service. It was somewhat surprising that the data shows that members are more likely to face formal discipline in their second five years of service than in the first five.

This year we introduce an additional new statistical analysis. This analysis looks at the population of disciplined members over 11 years. The data generally shows a favourable picture, members disciplined, whether formally or informally, as a percentage of the total population of members has been declining over time.

We are in the midst of significant and historic change. The new conduct management system, on which the Professional Integrity Officer commented in his message, will fundamentally re-focus the RCMP disciplinary process. There will be period of transition between the old and new systems during which both processes will operate simultaneously. The challenge for the next reporting period will be to keep the momentum gained this year and also overcome any obstacles to a smooth transition.

Stephen N.S. Thatcher
Director General,
Adjudicative Services Branch
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Note:

For a copy of the full report, contact RCMP.DisciplineAnnualReport-RapportAnnuelDiscipline.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

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