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Thursday, November 13, 2008

RCMP 'anxious' to participate in Dziekanski Taser inquiry: Commissioner

November 12, 2008
Stuart Hunter, Canwest News Service

VANCOUVER - The RCMP is "anxious" to participate in an upcoming Taser inquiry and is working toward restoring public confidence in the wake of a series of high-profile investigations of officers, Commissioner William Elliott says.

Speaking to a lunch meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade, Elliott - the force's 22nd commissioner and first civilian head - said his officers will readily take part in the inquiry slated to resume Jan. 19.

"We are anxious to participate to the fullest extent possible," Elliott told reporters. "We are anxious to participate because . . . we cannot provide effective policing services to communities without the support of those communities.

"We have to be held accountable and we are anxious to be held accountable. (But Judge Thomas) Braidwood and others need to understand there are some limits to what we can do, particularly prior to the provincial Crown making a decision about potential charges."

Elliott just shrugged when told of Braidwood's threat to subpoena officers to testify into the Tasering and subsequent death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport on Oct. 17, 2007.

Elliott acknowledged the force has suffered some black eyes lately - particularly in light of an impaired driving investigation involving Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson on Oct. 25 in Delta where motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson, 21, was killed in a collision.

Robinson is one of the officers who was at the airport when Dziekanski died. He has not been charged in either case.

"The incidents you refer to certainly are very serious incidents," Elliott said. "It is important for the public to keep them in context and it is important for the public to have faith in the independent systems we have in place to review our activities."

Elliott said the RCMP and 70 police departments and agencies this week have been taking part in a three-day Olympic security training program.

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