Management of the RCMP Disciplinary Regime 2014-2015 Annual Report

The obligation to maintain the confidence of Canadians by promoting responsibility and public accountability rests with each RCMP member every day, in the performance of our duties, in the decisions we make, as well as how we treat one another and the members of the public. Together, we can make a more accountable RCMP, as well as a safe, healthy and respectful workplace for our employees.

Bob Paulson, RCMP Commissioner

By the numbers

Formal discipline cases resolved: 71

  • Hearings held: 42 (28 proceeded by Expedited Resolution Process and 14 by contested hearing.)
  • Matters withdrawn: 7
  • Matters resolved by resignation: 22

Executive Summary 2014-2015

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

Reports produced in accordance with the Ministerial Directive have provided an overview of the discipline regime; described its components and how they are organized; and provided a statistical look at the work done in each fiscal year. This report continues this tradition with a very important caveat: as a result of legislative reform two-thirds of the way through the fiscal year, the data collected for this year cannot be directly compared with previous years.

That legislative reform was brought about by the coming into force on November 28, 2014 of the Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act (Accountability Act) which significantly amended the RCMP's governing statute, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (1988). Footnote 2 Among the most prominent changes was replacing the "discipline" regime in place with a new robust "conduct" management system. To avoid confusion, this report will refer to the pre-reform Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (1988) as the "RCMP Act" and the post-reform version as the "Amended RCMP Act". In order to maintain consistency with earlier years of this report, it will also focus on the formal discipline process as it was administered under the RCMP Act using the terminology and reflecting the RCMP's organizational charts as they were prior to November 28, 2014. Although there will be incidental references to the new conduct process, terminology and organizational structure, these will be kept to a minimum but more fully explored in a future report.

The administration of the formal discipline under the RCMP Act was managed in 2014-2015 primarily by Adjudicative Services Branch through three directorates: Appropriate Officer Directorate, Member Representative Directorate, and Adjudications Directorate. Their respective, distinct, but necessarily interrelated, responsibilities are: representing the officer who initiated formal discipline proceedings; representing the member against whom misconduct has been alleged; and, managing and conducting discipline board hearings. Formal 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 the alleged misconduct; (3) withdrawal of the allegation; and, (4) resignation of the member. How did they perform?

Overall productivity, at least as measured by the number of formal discipline cases resolved, was down from the historical high of the previous year, 71 in comparison to 100. These 71 break down as follows: 42 by hearings (14 contested, 28 by Expedited Resolution Process), 7 because allegations were withdrawn, and 22 because members resigned. A Digest of Cases provides greater detail on the 42 matters heard.

In addition to the Digest of Cases, Figures 1 to 7 provide organizational information and Figures 8 to 24 provide considerable current and historical statistical information. As a snapshot: this year, the Appropriate Officer Directorate initiated 79 new cases; the Member Representative Directorate generated 201 new files; and Discipline Adjudications Directorate conducted 42 discipline hearings. Other key statistics show that: over the past seven years 66 percent of hearings proceeded by the expedited process; this year 30 members forfeited a total of 291 days' pay; over the past three years over 50 percent of members who were subject to formal discipline had less than 10 years service; the average length of time to resolve a formal discipline matter has decreased from 513.6 days to 482 days this year; and, during the year, just 0.16 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 118 cases (a drop of 40 from last year) which resulted in informal discipline. Though suspension is not a disciplinary action, the report also shows that there were 94 suspended members (86 suspended from duty with pay and allowances and 8 suspended from duty without pay and allowances) on March 3, 2015 (down from a total of 118 on March 31, 2014).

Assessing productivity – and measuring success -, however, requires more than an assessment of these statistics. A true assessment of what has been accomplished must take into consideration the considerable demand on existing resources not merely to prepare for the implementation of the changes brought by the Accountability Act, but also the pressures of servicing both the pre-reform discipline process and the post-reform conduct process for one full third of this reporting period.

The pressure of servicing two systems will continue for some time as at year end there remained 135 formal discipline cases to be resolved and must be managed in tandem with the new conduct process.

Message from the Professional Responsibility Officer

In my message in the Preface to last year's Annual Report, I observed that on the whole, the overwhelming majority of our members perform their demanding duties with professionalism, but that there are some who, at times, engage in conduct that does not meet the high expectations of the RCMP and the communities it serves. In those still-rare cases, misconduct must be addressed in a timely and effective manner. With the passing of the Accountability Act and coming into force of not merely the Amended RCMP Act, but also new Regulations and various updated Commissioner's Standing Orders on November 28, 2014, the formal discipline system Footnote 3 detailed in this report was replaced with a robust conduct management system. Conduct management is the way forward and I am encouraged by the fact that despite some "teething pains" the early signs are promising.

However, data and further commentary on the new conduct management process are topics for the future. This report is a review of the progress made during the fiscal year managing the formal discipline system as it existed under the RCMP Act prior to November 28, 2014.

As the report shows, while challenges remain, we ended the year at 135 outstanding cases, down from a record-high inventory of 144 at the end of 2012-2013. With the new conduct process in place, that total is in terminal decline. Thus, this is the last Annual Report with a focus on the "legacy" formal discipline regime.

A new era of conduct management in the RCMP has begun.

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

Message from the Director General

As the Professional Responsibility Officer has indicated, this is the last Annual Report with a focus on the "legacy" formal discipline regime. That does not, however, mean that the 135 remaining cases will vanish without effort. Indeed, in all likelihood, some of these cases will, for various reasons, remain on the books for the next few years. As experience has taught us, reasons for these delays include parallel criminal proceedings and/or appeals, other concurrent court proceedings, illnesses of counsel, adjudicators or the subject member, the vagaries of weather and staffing pressures. These, and other challenges will persist even as the remaining cases are reduced to those that are the most difficult, contentious and resource-intensive to resolve. In short, there remains much work ahead before the formal discipline regime reaches its true end.

Looking only at the numbers contained in this report, it is obvious that the output of Adjudicative Services Branch, Footnote 4 measured as formal discipline cases concluded, dropped this year in comparison to last. Superficially this may look like a disappointing performance, but taken in context, I think this outcome was almost inevitable and not as discouraging as it appears. First, last year's total of 100 was a historic high. It is always difficult to beat one's best. Secondly, with only two-thirds of a year's worth of new cases coming in, the number was lower than preceding years.

Although somewhat counterintuitive, this can mean that there were proportionally fewer straightforward cases to be resolved within the reporting period. Thirdly, there was a slight increase in administrative and medical discharge files over recent years. While these do not count as "discipline", these files still tax Branch resources. Fourthly, and perhaps most significantly, the Branch committed resources to the massive effort necessary to prepare for and implement aspects of the new conduct management process. Fifthly, as of November 28, 2014, the Branch has had to manage cases in both the formal discipline stream and the conduct process. These factors put the decline in the overall number of concluded cases for this reporting period into perspective.

In looking at other aspects of the data, it is encouraging to see a reversal of the multi-year increase in the average number of days to conclusion for formal discipline cases. From a high last year of just over 513 days, the figure has dropped to 482. While still higher than the 5-year average of about 442 days, this is a welcome development. Also welcome is the continuation of a trend of relatively low discipline rates. This year only .16% of the member population had formal discipline imposed on it, the lowest since 2002-2003.

It is also worth observing that the rate of informal discipline also dropped this reporting period, something one could anticipate from the fact that the data collected spans only two-thirds of a year. However, even taking this into account, there were substantial decreases in some Divisions. Finally, I note that, even if only snapshot of a moment in time, the number of members suspended (with or without pay) was also lower at the end of this year (94) than at the end of last year (118).

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


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