watching the watchers

Ottawa must find a way to investigate the RCMP without using the RCMP. This is not a new idea. It is floated every time the cops investigate themselves.

Ottawa must find a way to investigate the RCMP without using the RCMP.

This is not a new idea. It is floated every time the cops investigate themselves.

Now, it must be raised again.

Why?

Because, the RCMP had to rely on their own officers to investigate the death of Raymond Silverfox.

And they cleared themselves.

The 43-year-old man died after a stint in the RCMP drunk tank, where he was left to wallow in his own puke and excrement for 13 hours, jeered and mocked by the guards and deprived of even a simple sleeping mat.

Moaning, curled in the fetal position, he was told by his captors to sleep in his own filth.

In the end, Silverfox finally grew quiet – his heart quit. Emergency Medical Services was called and he was pronounced dead in hospital two hours later.

In a few short hours, he’d developed a fatal infection in his lungs after inhaling his own vomit while curled up on that cold cell floor.

He died of natural causes, according to the coroner.

And the RCMP started its own investigation to figure out if any of its own officers broke the law while Silverfox was in custody.

That investigation, which was supervised by the Commission of Public Complaints Against the RCMP, wrapped up in April 2009.

It found no reason to lay charges against anyone who supervised Silverfox.

Then something odd happened.

A year later, new video and audio evidence from a cell-block camera turned up, revealing snide, callous and mean-spirited remarks from on-duty officers toward Silverfox.

The deeply troubling tape was overlooked by RCMP on the first pass.

Now, after reviewing this new information, the RCMP has again cleared its own officers. They did not break the law.

Can you trust the decision?

What choice do you have? But you can be excused for being skeptical.

This nutty system is unfair to all – most of all the RCMP, which can never fully clear itself of taint following a scandal.

A new system must be developed involving an independent investigation team with no ties to the RCMP.

It’s not a new idea.

But it’s an essential first step if Canada is to rebuild trust in our national police force.