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Thursday, February 10, 2011

RCMP moving forward with Taser recommendations: watchdog

February 10, 2011
Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER — The Commission for Public Complaints into the RCMP has closed the file on the tragic 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport.

In a final report, interim chairman Ian McPhail said the force was in the process of addressing all 16 recommendations made in 2009 after the commission's initial investigation of the Polish immigrant's death at the hands of the RCMP.

Most of those recommendations concerned the use of Tasers.

The Mounties say 11 of the recommendations are already implemented, two have been partially implemented and the remaining three also have been separately addressed.

"In particular," McPhail wrote in the report, "the RCMP has revised its policy on the usage of (conducted energy weapons) and the reporting and tracking requirements flowing there from. The RCMP is also increasingly emphasizing de-escalation in its member training.

"In addition, the RCMP has developed and implemented an external investigation policy which requires that serious incidents be investigated by other agencies. Notably, the commissioner (of the RCMP) also addressed deficiencies in member note taking and emphasized the importance of thorough and reliable contemporaneous notes."
Concerns continue to exist with respect to the national force's capacity for strategic communications, McPhail added, and "the commission hopes that progress in this area continues."

An independent body with jurisdiction over complaints about all members, the commission normally waits for the RCMP to respond to a report before publicly releasing its findings.

In this case, however, the former chair felt public interest demanded the results of this investigation be released as quickly as possible.

The international attention, the widespread concerns over what happened and the slow pace of the Braidwood Inquiry into the incident, pushed the commission toward the release of the report in December 2009.

In it, former chairman Paul Kennedy concluded the RCMP officers failed in the performance of their duties and afterward, lied about what happened when they subdued the 40-year-old Dziekanski with multiple Taser jolts.

The RCMP only disagreed with the commission's criticism of a use-of-force expert who was consulted during the police investigation.

Lisa-Marie Inman, director of reviews for the commission, said the report was found to be limited in direction. For example, she said it failed to compare the officers' actions against the RCMP's specific policy for use of force.

As well, Inman said Fawcett's report made certain assumptions that were not conclusive, such as that Dziekanski was angry.

"The RCMP commissioner disagreed and referenced the use of force expert's qualifications and the evidence available to him," the commission said. "The CPC stands by its finding . . ."

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