As police departments around the world face pressure from public opinion over their use of force, the RCMP reports that out of more than 3,000 allegations of abuse of force received in the past five years alone 1 % have been confirmed.
A text by Catharine Tunney, de CBC
«Of the thousands of interactions RCMP members have with the public across the country every day, the RCMP has found that there have only been 36 cases of abuse of force in the past five yearsRCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin said in an email to CBC.
The national police say that, although there is no precise definition of “inappropriate use of force ”, This notion generally refers to the deployment of unnecessary, inconsistent, too frequent or too hard force, or to the use of this force for an excessive period of time.
The allegations relate to physical interventions and the use of intermediate weapons such as batons or tasers, police dogs or chemical weapons (gas, etc.).
An investigation process “inadequate»
Harsha Walia, director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, which works to promote civil liberties and human rights in Canada, said the RCMP’s finding does not mean police are not using force excessive during his interventions.
In particular, she described the figure of 1% as “unbelievably low “, Adding that she didn’t think it was”an exact reflection” reality.
In addition, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is responsible for the majority of deaths during police interventions, according to the CBC study. Blacks and Aboriginal people are still over-represented among those killed by police.
The use of firearms is also the most common intervention technique of the RCMP, according to the same report.
Thus, over a period of 20 years, the number of people who died during police interventions increased proportionally, even taking into account the growth of the population.
While Canadians who believe they have been mistreated by an RCMP officer can file complaints with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, an independent oversight body, Harsha Walia points out that local RCMP services are still responsible. the handling of these cases – which, she said, casts doubt on the independence of the review process.
«Which, of course, is woefully inadequate and inappropriate … this data doesn’t really reveal anything. They simply show that police accountability is a self-fulfilling prophecy. »
Erick Laming is a doctoral candidate in criminology at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on the use of force by police and its impact on Indigenous and black communities. According to him, the number of legitimate cases of victims subjected to excessive use of force by the police is low, in part because these people are afraid to file a complaint or do not trust the system.
«If you’re an aboriginal person from the north, you file a complaint, it’s legitimate, you really think it is, but then it’s the same officers who investigate. It’s really hard to trustMr. Laming said.
«We need these watchdogs to have that power and go further.»
A “subjective definition»Excessive force
The release of this data by the RCMP follows a series of allegations that made headlines condemning the use of force by the police.
Under pressure, the RCMP notably tried to explain why an officer shot and killed Rodney Levi, a member of the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick, in June. His death is being examined by an outside police surveillance agency.
Another investigation has been launched into the controversial arrest of Chief Allan Adam of the Chipewyan First Nation of Athabascan, Alberta. Chief Adam said he was beaten by RCMP officers and his wife was manhandled in March when police arrested him in Fort McMurray for an expired license plate.
Greg Brown, a professor at Carleton University and an officer with the Ottawa Police Service, said many Canadians do not understand what police officers are legally allowed to do on the job.
«Just because the result is injury, blood, or a result that does not seem particularly pleasant to the public does not mean that it is an illegal or improper use of force by the ‘agent», Maintains the professor.
The perception of the use of force by the police is subjective, Mr Brown said. Police officers are trained in what is called a “use of the continuum of force,” which aims to give them options based on the threat a situation poses.
«Our law is subject to interpretation Said Mr Brown, who also worked as a police trainer. “Sometimes these are situations where there is controversy and the use of force is marginal ».
A call for more training
In cases where a public complaint is supported, the relevant RCMP officer “receives guidance to improve knowledge, skills and abilities as a police officerRCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin said.
The response to a valid complaint may include an apology from the officer concerned or a superior. A superior will provide the officer with operational advice, additional training, procedural or policy changes, and attempts to resolve the issue through discussions with complainants.
Carleton University professor Greg Brown said police training used to be much more physical: “I had people who hit me and broke my nose“, he said. He mentioned that he wanted to see more training in the police force.
«If a police officer has never been involved in a use of force scenario, and suddenly he is dealing with a very violent person trying to harm him or using a weapon, we want that police officer to have the skills necessary to handle the situation professionally ” did he declare.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to look into “modernization of police structures and updating of standards concerning the use of force ».
«Having a conversation, I think, at this point – especially with policing news these days – is healthy in any democracy.Mr. Brown said.
«The police take their orders from the law. It is possible to make changes to the patterns of police use of force and the way they behave in society. Police reflect what society wants».
Strengthen the power of the Complaints Commission
Harsha Walia and Erick Laming both suggested strengthening the legislation around the Civil Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) so that it can make binding decisions.
The complainant really has no recourse, Mr. Laming said.
Michelaine Lahaie, president of the CRCC, wondered about what she considers to be a “general model of concern “Regarding the behavior of RCMP members during welfare checks and their training”command and control ».
«The commission’s reports notably found on several occasions an unreasonable use of force by the RCMP to apprehend people in crisis situations.», She declared.
RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin, however, said the RCMP supports “a collaborative approach When caring for people with symptoms of distress or addiction – but stressed that funding for mental health services is largely a provincial matter.
«Some communities across Canada have mobile mental health support and awareness services, usually in the form of a psychiatric nurse.», She declared.
«Mobile mental health resources are not available in all jurisdictions, leaving RCMP members to handle those calls that otherwise would not be attended to in the vast majority of cases ».