RCMP statement on Human Rights Watch report
June 19, 2017
The RCMP has received the Human Rights Watch Report on Police Treatment of Indigenous Women in Saskatchewan and will take time to thoroughly review it. Several of the report’s recommendations to the RCMP have been addressed in response to other reports by, among others, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) and the Call to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Last February, the CRCC released its report on Policing in Northern British Columbia, which contained 31 recommendations pertaining to the RCMP. These recommendations focused on five areas: personal searches, policing of public intoxication, use of force, domestic violence and missing persons. In response to the report, the RCMP has further implemented policy and/or procedural changes in each of these areas. The CRCC’s review did not find any systemic racism in Northern British Columbia, nor did they initiate any new investigations.
The RCMP is committed to participating fully in the implementation of the national reconciliation framework and supporting the Calls to Action resulting from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. For example, regarding Call to Action 41, the RCMP is providing its full cooperation and participation to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Allegations of police misconduct are serious and demand a full investigation. If individuals are aware of specific allegations of police misconduct, the RCMP encourages them to bring them forward, either to the RCMP directly or to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
Expand Indigenous training for officers
- The RCMP has integrated cultural awareness, human rights and gender diversity training into its Cadet Training Program. Also, the RCMP’s Aboriginal Perceptions Training Course provides members an understanding of Indigenous perceptions/attitudes towards the Canadian Justice System, the factors which have influenced perceptions, and how those factors can sometimes create tensions. The interactive training fosters a broader understanding of the contemporary and historical issues between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the government.
- Through Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, the Government of Canada has committed to cultural competency training for members that is division-specific. The training will recognize the unique and varied experiences of local and regional communities and focus on family violence and violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Training on de-escalation/use of force
- The RCMP created a national crisis intervention and de-escalation course, which is mandatory for all members to complete by October 2017. Included in this course is a crisis intervention and de-escalation model. This model provides a foundation for police to approach a crisis in a manner that not only builds rapport but allows for a more thorough risk assessment of crisis situations and ultimately de-escalating crisis situations more effectively and safely.
Respectful police response for Indigenous victims of violence
- The RCMP has developed a National Missing Persons Investigations course. This course is being released in English at the end of June 2017, and will be available in both official languages in September 2017. The course will be mandatory for all members who investigate missing persons complaints. Within the course, there is a module dedicated to Indigenous missing persons.
Female body searches
- The RCMP’s Personal Search Policy was updated in August 2016 and states that strip searches must be authorized by a supervisor/delegate and be conducted by an officer of the same sex and in private, unless exigent circumstances require an immediate search for the preservation of evidence or to ensure the health and safety of members, the public, or detained persons.
Available female officers to conduct searches
- The RCMP Personal Search Policy was enhanced to ensure that same sex searches are conducted, when possible. However, given operational requirements and the vast geographic area covered by the RCMP, it is not always possible to have a female member available to conduct a search. The policy permits strip searches by officers of the opposite sex in exigent circumstances.
Identification of dominant aggressor in intimate partner violence
- The RCMP’s bias-free policing policy is clear: all persons are treated the same regardless of sexual orientation or gender. The RCMP’s Violence in Relationships policy demands a thorough investigation be completed to distinguish the primary aggressor.
Collection of race and gender data
- As announced in the 2014 Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview, “Aboriginal identity” is now included on the Homicide Surveys used by all Canadian police forces, and remitted to Statistics Canada.
- The RCMP is committed to a bias-free policing policy to ensure all people in Canada are treated fairly through transparent, independent and neutral investigations. Ethnicity is not a variable collected through most policing forms, unless there is a need to do so for the investigation, such as for missing persons.