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MP struggle to enforce mental health laws

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jollyjacktar

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Interesting article.  And, I'm floored to see who's the CFPM now, I remember him waaaay back when at Shearwater.  Getting old....

Military cops struggle to enforce mental health laws

MPs had to call local officers for help 10 times over 18 months in Western Canada

By Murray Brewster, CBC News  Posted: Jul 27, 2017 5:00 AM ET| Last Updated: Jul 27, 2017 5:51 AM ET

One night in early May, a troubled soldier wandered into the military police detachment in Edmonton and laid out a detailed plan to kill himself.

Instead of taking the person immediately into custody and conveying him to hospital, the officers were obliged to call the RCMP to the base so they could take charge.

The man, at one point, tried to leave while they were waiting and the MPs were reduced to pleading with him to stay.

'We don't have the same authorities as a provincial constable.'

— Brig.-Gen. Rob Delaney

The Mounties arrived in time and the soldier was taken to hospital.

It is a dramatic illustration of the conundrum facing military cops, who have authority over Criminal Code violations but cannot enforce specific provincial laws across the country, even on Canadian Forces bases. In those instances they are required to call in outside law enforcement, sometimes in a crisis.


'We're dealing with Canadian citizens who have certain rights and freedoms.'

— Tom Stamatakis, Canadian Police Association

The example was one of 10 startling cases — most of them involving mental health — which have taken place since the beginning of last year within the jurisdiction of 1 Military Police Regiment, the unit responsible for Western Canada.

Names and specific locations were scrubbed out of records released to CBC News, which requested the details after a series of internal federal documents surfaced which demonstrate rising concern about what's being called "a serious limitation" on military police officers (MPs).

Not only does enforcement of certain provincial health statutes fall outside their authority, so do certain mundane traffic safety provisions, such as roadside licence suspensions in drunk driving cases.

Commanders worried

The jurisdictional issue, which was flagged last year in records obtained by CBC News under Access to Information legislation, made its way up from frontline MPs in Edmonton to both the commander of the Canadian Army and the military's provost marshal.

While the limited authority of military cops is a problem from coast to coast, it is particularly acute in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the territories.

Those provinces and jurisdictions do not recognize a piece of federal legislation known as the Contraventions Act, which allows MPs to deal with certain offenses.

The limitations are stark and have come to light as the military deals with more mental health cases and suicides.

"My main concern is the inability of MPs to enforce the provincial Mental Health Act, which allows for the arrest of individuals in order to bring them to a medical facility, under reasonable and probable grounds that the person is likely to cause self-harm or harm others," said Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, in a Jan. 29, 2016 memo. He was, at the time, commander of the 3rd Canadian Division in Edmonton, but has since been promoted to be the deputy commander of military personnel in Ottawa.

"While there are other options available in crisis situations, none are as effective as an arrest by the MP under the Mental Health Act. I consider this an area that needs to be addressed without delay."

His plea won the support of Lt.-Gen. Marquis Haines, who was at the time commander of the army.

"The importance of providing Military Police with as much of their enforcement jurisdiction as possible is clear," Haines wrote in an April 13, 2016 memo. "There are practical challenges associated with simply leaving these matters to local police."

Depending upon the circumstance and rank, MPs can hold a member of the military under the National Defence Code of Service Discipline (CSD), but they need a medical doctor to provide an assessment.

It gets more complicated when you factor in civilians, including family members on military bases. 

"MPs cannot arrest civilians not subject to the CSD unless there is a criminal code offence," said a backgrounder attached to Eyer's memo. "Statements indicating self harm are not enough justification for arrest.  Another police agency capable of enforcing the Mental Health Act, such as the RCMP, would be required to arrest and bring the individual to a medical facility."

Legislative fix?

Brig.-Gen. Rob Delaney, the Canadian Forces' provost marshal, says finding a legislative fix that would satisfy the federal government and all provinces and territories is going to be tough and complex.

"Those civilian, either civilian employees or members of the public — who are on a defence establishment and if we're dealing with those individuals during time of crisis — we don't have the same authorities as a provincial constable might," he told CBC News.

When they have encountered those situations, Delaney said they have been able to talk their way through, but rank-and-file MPs are particularly concerned about being hamstrung.

"It is frustrating for them to have to rely on other agencies to do something that they see very clearly is within their abilities and their training," he said.

One solution would be to have each province specifically name military police as designated officers under their laws, but Delaney says that has a side effect.

It raises questions about what sort of enforcement powers MPs would have — both on and off base.

And, more importantly, who would conduct oversight reviews in case of misconduct or complaint? Would it be the province or the federal Military Police Complaints Commission?

Mixed feelings

One former military family that's had extensive dealings with military police said they have mixed feelings about expanded powers.

"I come at it from a very emotional point of view," said Sheila Fynes, whose son Cpl. Stuart Langridge committed suicide. The handling of his case by military police was the subject of a scathing public inquiry report.

"Maybe they do need that authority, but with that comes a clear understanding of when that authority is to be used — or not used. If a soldier is really in dire need of help, I don't care if it's the person next door that gets them to hospital, it just needs to happen."

Fynes and her husband Sean, who have been outspoken critics of the military justice system, say along with expanded authority there should be specific, better training of military police in the provincial laws they would enforce.

They also say there needs to be oversight to prevent potential misconduct from being swept under the rug.

Expectations of citizens

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said "from an efficiency perspective" it makes sense for MPs to deal with cases involving their own people on their own turf, but when it comes to civilians and potential enforcement powers off bases, more discussion is needed.

"There are a lot of issues that would need to be addressed, right from accountability, transparency to interaction with the public," said Stamatakis. "We're dealing with Canadian citizens who have certain rights and freedoms and expectations around enforcement."

A spokesman for Alberta's Attorney General's department said the province is aware of the concerns of military police, but made no promises.

"We are engaged in discussions with the federal government about the Contraventions Act," Jason van Rassel said in an email. "We have been in contact with the federal government regarding the Military Police's authority to enforce provincial statutes in Alberta."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-police-provinces-1.4223219
 

brihard

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Definitely a huge issue.

Interestingly, this is not an issue that's unique to the MPs. Ontario, I think through sheer oversight, does not include RCMP as 'police officers' for purposes of provincial statutes. While most RCMP in Ontario are not working in a uniformed capacity and won't have to worry about this, it's actually a huge issue for the federal protective policing in Ottawa, both on and off Parliament Hill.

A lot of what we think of as 'on the streets' police work is provincial. Highway traffic act. Mental health act. Liquor act. Trespass act, etc. When the public sees a car that says 'police', they expect the people in that car to act to preserve public safety and peace. Also, the 'police' designation confers certain protections; e.g., RCMP in Ontario have no statutory protection if they're driving with lights and sirens on to an emergency, to back up a partner, etc- if something goes wrong, they're under a bus with no top cover. There are other problems I won't go into.

The solution in Ottawa has been to run provincial statutes courses for RCMP and appoint those who complete it as special constables with Ottawa Police Service in order to grant them authorities under Mental Health Act, Highway Traffic Act, Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act, Liquor Act, and Trespass Act. So far it's working pretty well, but it's an awkward solution, and those powers end at the city limits of Ottawa. Interestingly, the same protective unit also works on the Quebec side, which DOES recognize them as police. So you have federal police officers writing provincial offence tickets in two adjoining provinces. Bit of an unusual circumstance.

MHA authorities for MPs is, in my opinion, an absolute must. Mental health calls are totally bread and butter for police. Very routine. But sometimes they can go quite badly, and sometimes someone is in profound crisis, their life or the life of someone else is in danger, and they refuse to consent to help. In such cases you absolutely need statutory authority to apprehend and bring them to a doctor. I've seen plenty of lives saved by this. Is astonishes (though in retrospect shouldn't) me that there are jurisdictions where the MPs do not have that ability.
 

mariomike

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Brihard said:
Interestingly, this is not an issue that's unique to the MPs. Ontario, I think through sheer oversight, does not include RCMP as 'police officers' for purposes of provincial statutes.

See also,

February 07, 2017
Policing Reform in Ontario
https://army.ca/forums/threads/125141.0;nowap
OP: "Saw this today, and immediately I wondered if it meant the beginning of recognition for MP's in Ontario."
 

Habs

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Luckily I work in a province where we can enforce most, if not all provincial legislation.  There have been numerous times I have arrested someone for mental health.  Not having this ability and having to rely on another police force is just absurd.  Can't imagine how the other dets are doing it.
 

trooper142

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Habs said:
Luckily I work in a province where we can enforce most, if not all provincial legislation.  There have been numerous times I have arrested someone for mental health.  Not having this ability and having to rely on another police force is just absurd.  Can't imagine how the other dets are doing it.

You and I both know that's not true!

The new directive that came down in May made it pretty clear we can not enforce provincial legislation, because we were not specifically named in that legislation!

If you are operating outside this directive, you run the risk of being found to have been disobeying lawful commands given by the Provost Marshal
 

Habs

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trooper142 said:
You and I both know that's not true!

The new directive that came down in May made it pretty clear we can not enforce provincial legislation, because we were not specifically named in that legislation!

If you are operating outside this directive, you run the risk of being found to have been disobeying lawful commands given by the Provost Marshal

First I've heard of this "directive."
 

trooper142

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Habs said:
First I've heard of this "directive."

What province do you work in?

Because it's nation wide, given to all MPs

We can't operate off jurisdiction (not new) .
What was new was that we are not legally required to intervene, but if we do, we are not protected whatsoever, even if we acted in good faith and in the best interest of the community!(think guy getting stabbed)

The thing that changed the most was our inability to enforce things like the mental health act and the motor vehicle act. We were enforcing those Acts until this directive.

Now there is a ton of confusion as to whether we can administer provincial sanctions on things like impaired cases.

Huge limbo now


Frankly , the military has to decide what they want from MPs. We either need all the legislative power and protections of police to do our jobs, or they need to drastically change what they expect from us. They can't have it both ways, we can't operate in limbo!

The clear solution would be a Military police act, similar to the RCMP act, that would allow us to operate in the provinces we are posted in.

The opponents who think given us the authority we need would just give MPs a carte blanche to police in citiea, is unfounded and absolutely obsurd. You don't see RCMP regularly operating inside a city that has a city police service, it's silly to suggest the same would happen with MPs
 

Habs

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trooper142 said:
What province do you work in?

Not sharing my location on a public internet site, but I think you can narrow it down from what I said.

Because it's nation wide, given to all MPs

Obviously not. Probably an AF/A/N CoC thing.

We can't operate off jurisdiction (not new) .
What was new was that we are not legally required to intervene, but if we do, we are not protected whatsoever, even if we acted in good faith and in the best interest of the community!(think guy getting stabbed)

That's nothing new. We get told that all the time.

The thing that changed the most was our inability to enforce things like the mental health act and the motor vehicle act. We were enforcing those Acts until this directive.

Again, not a nationwide thing.

Frankly , the military has to decide what they want from MPs. We either need all the legislative power and protections of police to do our jobs, or they need to drastically change what they expect from us. They can't have it both ways, we can't operate in limbo!

Agreed.
 

RCDtpr

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trooper142 said:
What province do you work in?

Because it's nation wide, given to all MPs

We can't operate off jurisdiction (not new) .
What was new was that we are not legally required to intervene, but if we do, we are not protected whatsoever, even if we acted in good faith and in the best interest of the community!(think guy getting stabbed)

The thing that changed the most was our inability to enforce things like the mental health act and the motor vehicle act. We were enforcing those Acts until this directive.

Now there is a ton of confusion as to whether we can administer provincial sanctions on things like impaired cases.

Huge limbo now


Frankly , the military has to decide what they want from MPs. We either need all the legislative power and protections of police to do our jobs, or they need to drastically change what they expect from us. They can't have it both ways, we can't operate in limbo!

The clear solution would be a Military police act, similar to the RCMP act, that would allow us to operate in the provinces we are posted in.

The opponents who think given us the authority we need would just give MPs a carte blanche to police in citiea, is unfounded and absolutely obsurd. You don't see RCMP regularly operating inside a city that has a city police service, it's silly to suggest the same would happen with MPs

Group orders are not law.

From what I understand the only province to have a real big change was Alberta.  In Ontario the way around was simple....you detain the person for their safety and keep them detained until the local police sign a piece of paper to make it official.

Not sure what all the fuss is about?
 

mariomike

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Adding for reference to the discussion.

General protocols for escort and transport of persons detained for mental health reasons
http://www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca/01/1400/3700/2008-18/part6-eng.aspx

"MP members have no authority to enforce the Ontario MHA"
 

brihard

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trooper142 said:
The clear solution would be a Military police act, similar to the RCMP act, that would allow us to operate in the provinces we are posted in.

That's not how it works for provincial offences. The RCMP act doesn't give that authority. The authority of an RCMP officer working in a province to enforce provincial statutes comes from that province's own laws. The RCMP act gives RCMP the pwoer to enforce all federal laws throughout Canada- e.g., a Mountie in Ontario has a common law authority to pull someone over if they're a danger to the public (R. v. Seguin, ONCJ), and can pursue a criminal investigation, e.g. for impaired driving. But there's no authority under provincial law for RCMP to write traffic tickets off federal property. It's just that Ontario is, so far as I'ma ware, the only province that screwed this up. The workaround, as I mentioned earlier, is that a bunch of RCMP in Ottawa have been given special constable status that gives limits provincial authority under five and only five acts. Interestingly, prior to the Special Cosntable thing, the issue of the provincial suspensions and impounds for impaired under the ONHTA never got challenged that I'm aware of, however RCMP members have definitely been issuing suspensions and impounds for those who blow over 80 in the course of a lawfully commenced impaired investigation. I don't know if any of those have been challenged...

I was doing some digging yesterday. In Alberta it appears the solution for MPs would be for the 'employer' (CAF) to request to the appropriate provincial ministry for MPs to be desginated as 'peace officers' under the Alberta Peace Officers Act. The minister has the power to approve that without a legislative change.
 

dapaterson

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Brihard said:
I was doing some digging yesterday. In Alberta it appears the solution for MPs would be for the 'employer' (CAF) to request to the appropriate provincial ministry for MPs to be desginated as 'peace officers' under the Alberta Peace Officers Act. The minister has the power to approve that without a legislative change.

That's ridiculous.  Where's the lengthy, pointless meetings?  Where's the whiteboards and post-it notes?  Where's the endless TD?  You can't just propose a simple, common-sense solution!
 

Inspir

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Back in early 2000's I believe that the Area Provost Marshal had MP's appointed as Provincial Special Constables under the old Alberta Special Constables Act, atleast in Edmonton anyway. This allowed MP's to enforce certain provincial legislation on base. I guess this wasn't done through proper channels and when the CF Provost Marshal found out she had all these appointments pulled. I've been told this was done because of the branches reluctance to have to answer or have their members actions reviewed by an external agency (ie. Alberta Solicitor General, Law Enforcement Review Board).

The new and current Peace Officer Act has mechanisms in place to have external Peace Officer appointed as Provinial Peace Officer, but after reading through it appears MP's would not qualify as they have a permanent presence in Alberta. And if they did it goes back to the same problem of external review by a provincial authority.
 

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trooper142

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dapaterson said:
That's ridiculous.  Where's the lengthy, pointless meetings?  Where's the whiteboards and post-it notes?  Where's the endless TD?  You can't just propose a simple, common-sense solution!

Dapaterson!

Excellent find, I wonder if this approach could be used in all provinces?

Do you happen to have a reference?

Perhaps those in the lower ranks who are, on a frequent basis, dealing with this issue could perhaps start to propose solutions!

The simple fact is, as of right now, the Provost Marshall has directed we can no enforce provincial legislation on our property; regardless of what some may think, if you decide to enforce provisions of the mental health act of your province, you can and likely will be charge, CRB...not to mention the civil liability for the Charter breaches of unlawful detainment under section 10 which reads:

10. Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor;
b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.

A detainment under a provincial mental health act is an illegal detainment right now because MPs do not have the legislative authority.


There was a bit there where they even said we couldn't enforce the Highway traffic act, even though 6(1) of the GPTR bridges to the relevant provincial motor vehicle legislation! They backtracked quickly on that once they realized we wouldn't be able to enforce anything.

I digress, this will be an ongoing fight for the foreseeable future, likely not solved until the next Provost Marshal is announced, or someone kills themselves, that could have been prevented.
 

brihard

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trooper142 said:
There was a bit there where they even said we couldn't enforce the Highway traffic act, even though 6(1) of the GPTR bridges to the relevant provincial motor vehicle legislation! They backtracked quickly on that once they realized we wouldn't be able to enforce anything.

You don't need HTA authority to enforce traffic provisions of GPTR. GPTR through a catchall uses HTA provisions to define offences ('bridges' as you put it), not to draw authority for charging. You can have authority under the GPTR and not under the HTA, as long as you're charging the offence under GPTR. Same thing with RCMP in OTtawa under both GPTR and National Capital Commission Traffic and Property Regulations. The actual substantive offense charged is still the GPTR offense, with the pursuant HTA offense simply noted to define the illegal act. You could be following a driver who is visibly talking on a cell phone on municipal streets, and have no authority to act. The instant they cross onto DND property, nail them under GPTR. But I don't buy your characterization that they were going to remove ability to enforce HTA. That's not the military's call, that entirely the province's call off federal property, and they don't need to ask the military. Military orders or policy may preclude you from enforcing a law, but that does not mean the law itself doesn't let you do so. In this case I suspect that there simply is no provision for MPs in Alberta to enforce the HTA. There is merely the 'pursuant to' interaction between the GPTR and the HTA.
 

trooper142

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Brihard said:
You don't need HTA authority to enforce traffic provisions of GPTR. GPTR through a catchall uses HTA provisions to define offences ('bridges' as you put it), not to draw authority for charging. You can have authority under the GPTR and not under the HTA, as long as you're charging the offence under GPTR. Same thing with RCMP in OTtawa under both GPTR and National Capital Commission Traffic and Property Regulations. The actual substantive offense charged is still the GPTR offense, with the pursuant HTA offense simply noted to define the illegal act. You could be following a driver who is visibly talking on a cell phone on municipal streets, and have no authority to act. The instant they cross onto DND property, nail them under GPTR. But I don't buy your characterization that they were going to remove ability to enforce HTA. That's not the military's call, that entirely the province's call off federal property, and they don't need to ask the military. Military orders or policy may preclude you from enforcing a law, but that does not mean the law itself doesn't let you do so. In this case I suspect that there simply is no provision for MPs in Alberta to enforce the HTA. There is merely the 'pursuant to' interaction between the GPTR and the HTA.

The briefing made it very clear, they did not want us enforcing 6(1) GPTR. Only when we raised the potential problems did they go back to the A/Jag and ask for clarification.
 

brihard

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trooper142 said:
The briefing made it very clear, they did not want us enforcing 6(1) GPTR. Only when we raised the potential problems did they go back to the A/Jag and ask for clarification.

OK, we may have accidentally been talking past each other here. As long as you have authority granted under GPTR, you do not need any under HTA as long as you're on turf that GPTR covers. So they may have had a helmet fire over HTA stuff, but that suggests someone was missing how those two laws actually interface...
 

devil39

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I like the model that would have MPs running TCPs, doing convoy escort, running detention facilities, etc.  Dressed like Army guys and doing Army guy things. 

Contract the base/city policing stuff out to city cops, RCMP, Provincial Police, etc.
 

Dissident

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devil39 said:
I like the model that would have MPs running TCPs, doing convoy escort, running detention facilities, etc.  Dressed like Army guys and doing Army guy things. 

Contract the base/city policing stuff out to city cops, RCMP, Provincial Police, etc.

Here is the thread you are looking for:

http://army.ca/forums/threads/4577.800.html

 

Habs

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trooper142 said:
The simple fact is, as of right now, the Provost Marshall has directed we can no enforce provincial legislation on our property; regardless of what some may think, if you decide to enforce provisions of the mental health act of your province, you can and likely will be charge, CRB...not to mention the civil liability for the Charter breaches of unlawful detainment under section 10 which reads:

That certainly sounds like how your CoC and det is operating, as you've described in hysterics numerous times now. However, it's not the same for the entire country, and to keep denying that fact for whatever reason you have is baffling, and spreads false information that doesn't serve a purpose whatsoever.

If you'd like to have a conversation about the original post and other discussion points presented here, I would gladly join in. But, you'll need to accept the fact that a police force/trade of over 1200 people across the globe doesn't operate the exact same in each location, and that your det is definitely not the be all, end all for examples to draw on.

If that's not something you're willing to do, so be it, but I seriously don't understand the point in having a discussion where you blatantly deny any experiences that don't match your own.
 
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