RCMP officers have faced disciplinary action for acts of bad behaviour ranging from driving a cruiser drunk, to surfing porn on the office computer, to carelessly firing a gun.
According to the latest annual report on bad behaviour in the RCMP ranks, an Alberta sergeant was also disciplined for deliberately deleting portions of a document that led to a stay of proceedings in a "major criminal case."
In all, there were 51 cases adjudicated in the 2011-2012 period in which Mounties were reprimanded, docked pay or demoted for code of conduct violations under the RCMP Act.
There were only two cases where the officer was forced to resign or be fired. Another 24 cases were resolved by resignations, and 14 were withdrawn, according to the report.
Some of the cases outlined in the report include:
- A staff sergeant posted at RCMP headquarters was reprimanded and lost 10 days' pay for using an RCMP computer to access pornographic websites and using the computer to capture and send explicit images.
- A staff sergeant in Alberta was reprimanded, lost 10 days' pay, was demoted to rank of sergeant, recommended for transfer and recommended for continued professional counselling for drinking at work, using RCMP resources for sexual encounters, having sex in a public place, inappropriate comments and touching of a subordinate, inappropriate and unprofessional contact with prospective employees and altering data on a prospective employee’s security clearance form.
- A sergeant received a reprimand and lost eight days' pay for having an inappropriate personal relationship with a subordinate and making inappropriate advances toward a subordinate.
- A constable was reprimanded and lost eight days' pay for harassment and for possessing a prohibited weapon with a lapsed registration.
- A constable was reprimanded and lost 12 days' pay for using an RCMP badge and identification in an intimidating manner, being intoxicated in a public place and being unco-operative and confrontational with other members of the RCMP
- A corporal was reprimanded, lost five days' pay and recommended for professional counselling for a criminal offence of assault causing bodily harm.
Of the 51 cases, 14 involved drunk driving, drinking while on duty or intoxicated behaviour.
According to the report, stoppage of pay and allowances is an administrative process created to protect the integrity of the RCMP in cases "where the allegations of misconduct are so outrageous that they require a greater response than suspension alone, and is only invoked when it would be inappropriate to pay a member pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing."
There were also another 210 informal disciplinary cases in the annual period.
The report notes that the incidents of breach of the RCMP's code of conduct are relatively low in number compared to the size of the federal police force and the number of interactions with the public. The members who have received formal discipline has decreased over the last three years, and last year was slightly below the 10-year average of 0.26 per cent.
"While any finding of misconduct is not satisfactory from an organizational and public perspective, in terms of serious acts of misbehaviour requiring formal discipline….as a percentage of the total number of members, the rate of formal discipline is less than half a percent, and for 2011-2012, was .20 percent," the report concludes.
The report also notes that Commissioner Bob Paulson has raised expectations on how the RCMP handles disciplinary action, and has provided extra support and resources to address "a complex area that has challenged the organization for many years."
Appearing on CBC News Network's Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defence, called the incidents in the report "disturbing and unacceptable."
"There is an institutional problem in terms of discipline. It was not possible in the RCMP to delegate disciplinary authority to the units that should have been taking rapid action to dock pay and to ensure that RCMP did not return to work for longer periods of time because of their bad behavior," he told host Solomon.
Alexander said Bill C-42, which is now in the Senate, will help tighten up disciplinary regime by giving the commissioner new powers and more disciplinary authority to units across the country.
But NDP MP Nikki Ashton slammed C-42 for failing to specifically mention sexual harassment, and said the bill won't fix the problems of "pretty disturbing" wrongdoing in the RCMP ranks.
"It's clearly the case of the punishment not fitting the crime," she said.
Liberal MP Wayne Easter said because the RCMP is the symbol of law enforcement in Canada, officers must uphold the highest standards of behaviour — and be punished harshly when they don't.
"Penalties imposed on wrongdoing have to be seen at least as equivalent to the punishment that's applied to any other member of society, or in some cases probably greater," he said. "So it's really worrisome."