A Coquitlam, B.C., RCMP officer is under investigation by the force for possible misconduct after violent and pornographic photos of the officer were posted on a social networking site for sexual fetishists.
The images of Cpl. Jim Brown appeared on the website Fetlife, which claims to have about one million members.
Brown went by the name Kilted Knight on the website and listed himself on Fetlife as “dominant,” describing the kind of role he played in the world of bondage, discipline and sado-masochism.
After CBC News asked the RCMP if Brown was under investigation, Supt. Ray Bernoties replied on June 27 that Brown's involvement with the website, “was deemed to be adult consensual activity during which the implicated officer was not representing himself as a member of the RCMP, thus it did not meet the threshold for a code of conduct investigation."
The officer’s profile was deleted from the Fetlife website after the CBC News query.
In the last 10 days, more violent images emerged online showing Brown in a staged knife attack on a naked and bound woman.
On Thursday, the RCMP confirmed that Brown will face both an internal and an independent investigation.
“As this situation evolved and additional information came to my attention, a code of conduct was ordered and that investigation is being led by the Richmond RCMP,” Assistant Commissioner Randy Beck, acting commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP said in a statement.
“In keeping with the RCMP's commitment to hold our members to a higher standard," said Beck, "I am taking the unusual step of asking an external police agency to independently review our internal code of conduct investigation.”
Beck did not say which external force would be asked to investigate.
“While we must strike a balance between an individual’s rights and freedoms when off-duty and the RCMP code of conduct, I am personally embarrassed and very disappointed that the RCMP would be, in any way, linked to photos of that nature,” said Beck.
Psychologist Michael Webster, who has a private Vancouver practice dealing exclusively with police officers, told CBC News that RCMP members are held to a higher standard than other citizens.
Webster said that an officer posing naked in RCMP riding boots is inappropriate, even if his sexual partners are consenting adults.
“They're all severely degrading to women,” Webster said of the photos.
Webster said the officer’s conduct should be a serious concern to the force, particularly in a province that has seen so many sexual harassment allegations made against members in recent months.
“Mr. Brown’s behaviour is way up the scale in the abnormal range,” he said. “This is conduct unbecoming of a [Mountie] and it is shameful that the RCMP would [try] and minimize this, would try and downplay and sweep it under the rug and suggest there is no harm here."
Erica Pinsky, who teaches respect in the workplace and has conducted training in the Surrey, B.C., RCMP detachment, said that in the context of a case like Brown’s, an officer’s deviant sexuality can be his employer's business.
“This is a fantasy that involves violence and degradation of women and sexual abuse of women, and this is an individual whose job involves investigating and dealing with those issues,” said Pinsky. “That's the concern.”
Beck said in his statement that Brown has been placed on administrative duties.
Beck also said in his statement that he had just learned on Thursday that lawyers at the public inquiry into the investigation of serial murderer Robert Pickton had raised concerns about Brown, "suggesting a possible linkage of this member's personal activities and his role as an investigator at Coquitlam detachment in 1999."
Pickton's farm, where he committed at least six murders of female sex workers, was located in the neighbouring community of Port Coquitlam and was investigated by the Coquitlam detachment.
"The member's full involvement in the Pickton investigation was provided to the inquiry in keeping with normal disclosure practices. We will continue to co-operate fully with the inquiry and we will inform the inquiry of the findings of our code of conduct investigation as well as those of the independent external review," said Beck.