Two key players are applauding the move to seek an outside review of a controversial RCMP investigation.
“I fully agree with this,” said the father of two Indigenous women alleged to have been sexually assaulted by some RCMP officers in Prince George, B.C., about 20 years ago.
“Them policing themselves hasn’t worked and isn’t going to work in the future.”
Garry Kerr, a retired Mountie whose public complaint renewed interest in the Prince George investigation, concurs.
“This needs to happen,” Kerr told APTN News. “Another policing agency needs to take over.”
The B.C. RCMP announced Thursday it will give the “independent external agency” it did not identify complete access to its work on the case.
It hopes the move shows it has done a full investigation on its own that did not result in criminal charges against the accused officers, said Staff-Sgt. Kris Clark in a statement emailed to APTN.
“The RCMP is very concerned about recent public reports/complaints specifically alleging a lack of action with respect to a series of historical allegations out of the Prince George area,” Clark added.
“We acknowledge that due to the criminal investigation, internal Codes of Conduct, civil litigations and our response to the CRCC recommendations, the RCMP has not been in a position to publicly disclose the scope and complexity of work that has taken place to address these very concerning allegations.”
The CRCC [RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission] said the Mounties mishandled the investigation in a report it did in response to Kerr’s complaint in 2016. The contents of that report were recently made public by APTN and the Vancouver Sun.
But the CRCC, which investigates complaints about the RCMP, won’t make the report public, citing privacy concerns.
Prince George is nearly 1,000 km north of Vancouver.
Kerr said it was “common knowledge” some officers in the Prince George detachment were accused of sexually abusing vulnerable girls on the streets from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s.
First Nations leaders expressed shock and anger after APTN‘s stories were published. They said it showed a lack of interest in serious complaints from Indigenous girls and fuelled a lack of trust in the RCMP.
On Wednesday, they called for an Indigenous – and civilian-led review.
The RCMP responded the following day.
“Notwithstanding our internal review, in order to ensure transparency, accountability and public confidence in the RCMP response, Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP, has been exploring options and discussed this matter with the Director of Police Services (BC),” said Clark, a senior media relations officer for B.C. RCMP, in a statement.
“The Director has ordered an independent investigation by an external agency.”
B.C.’s minister for public safety and solicitor general, Mike Farnworth, said the external review would begin soon.
“I can confirm that the province will be launching a full independent out-of-jurisdiction investigation into the troubling complaints highlighted in the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission Report on the RCMP in Prince George,” Farnworth said in a statement shared with APTN.
“The RCMP has confirmed they will fully cooperate with the investigation, including providing all their records to the external agency – which will be announced in the coming weeks.”
Farnworth declined to say anymore citing the pending independent review.