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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Letter to the Chair,Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, from RCMP Commissioner of December 7, 2009

December 7, 2009

Mr. Paul E. Kennedy
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP
P.O. Box 1722, Station "B"
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 0B3

Dear Mr. Kennedy:

This is further to our telephone conversation on December 3, 2009, and your subsequent letter to me of the same date.

As I indicated, the RCMP is in the process of reviewing your interim report respecting the death of Mr. Robert Dziekanski. As I also noted, we are awaiting the final report of the Braidwood Inquiry in British Columbia which is also examining the circumstances respecting Mr. Dziekanski's death. We are therefore not in a position to provide you with the results of our review of the interim report as provided for in section 45.46(2) of the RCMP Act.

As you are well aware, and as has long been the practice, the Act provides that our notice to you will be considered by you in the preparation of your final report. Such final reports are provided to me as Commissioner of the RCMP and to the Minister of Public Safety and are also made public.

It has not been the practice for interim reports to be made public and we do not believe that it is appropriate for you to do so in this case or more broadly. We believe that the normal process and the sequence of events set out in the legislation should be followed.

Even if we had completed our review of your interim report and the large volume of documentation accompanying that report, it would not be appropriate, in our view, to provide you with our response prior to receiving the final report of the Inquiry. It is fully expected that Justice Braidwood will make findings and recommendations on the very matters dealt with in your report.

The RCMP has been fully supportive and actively engaged in the conduct of the Braidwood Inquiry which has heard from many witnesses and conducted extensive public hearing. We expect the final report from the Inquiry will futher inform our actions and our response to you.

We acknowledge your expressed view that the Commission for Public Complaints takes precedence over a provincially constituted public inquiry and you are therefore not bound to wait for the Inquiry's report. I note, however, that you yourself testified before Justice Braidwood during Part I of the Inquiry and that your interim report refers extensively to evidence led during the public hearings during Part II.

The current situation and multiplicity of processes suggests that there should be improvements in how the actions of the RCMP are investigated and reviewed and that streamlining and coordination of existing processes is required. The RCMP fully supports improvements being made in these important areas.

Although we are not yet in a position to respond to your interim report and this letter is not to be considered as notice to you pursuant to the RCMP Act, I would like to underscore that the RCMP has already taken concrete action in relation to a number of the issues, concerns and shortcomings identified in relation to the death of Mr. Dziekanski and the events leading up to and following that terrible event.

Given that we have worked extensively with you and your staff, you are aware of many of the improvements that have already been made. In fact, you refer to some of these in your interim report.

Those improvements include changes to our policies and training in relation to the use of conducted energy weapons. Among other things, we have emphasized the risks associated with the use of the weapon, including the risk of death. We have restricted the situations in which a "Taser" is authorized to be used to situations involving risk to public or officer safety. We have placed further emphasis on de-escalation and introduced additional requirements for arranging for medical assistance.

We have also strengthened our reporting requirements and we provide you with copies of all Incident Reports where a conducted energy weapon has been deployed. As we have publically reported and as you have noted there has been a significant decrease in the number of such incidents. You may also be interested to know that the RCMP has initiated a pilot project on body-worn video devices and Tasers equipped with video cameras.

We anticipate that as a result of your findings and recommendations and those of the Braidwood Inquiry, as well as our ongoing work with provinces and territories, policing partners, academics, medical professionals and others, the RCMP will be making further changes to our policies and training related to conducted energy weapons.

In closing, I would like to thank you for all of your efforts as Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. I understand you will be leaving your position at the end of December. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Yours sincerely,

William J.S. Elliott

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