Mounties need major overhaul, boss says

Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:15pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acknowledged on Friday that the national force needs a major overhaul to deal with a widespread lack of morale, scarce resources and heavy public criticism.

The Mounties have been embroiled in a series of scandals and unsavory incidents over the past two years. In October, officers were condemned for using stun guns on an unarmed Polish man who collapsed and then died after being restrained.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott spoke minutes after the head of a task force looking into the Mounties said they had fundamental problems and recommended major changes.

"Let me be clear -- there is simply no other option. The RCMP must change and we must change in significant, relevant and meaningful ways to address the problems described in the task force report," Elliott, the first civilian commissioner in recent Mountie history, told a news conference.

"The RCMP clearly has significant weaknesses ... we must address them and we will address them. We must, however, not let them blind us to our many strengths."

Lawyer David Brown, who headed the task force, said he and his colleagues had "witnessed despair, disillusionment and anger with an organization that is failing (police officers)" and cited frequent complaints about "chronic shortages of people and equipment, of overwork and fatigue."

He recommended the Mounties be split away entirely from the government rather than relying on Ottawa to help manage its affairs. He also called for the creation of a civilian management board and a powerful independent commission for complaints against the force.

In June, Brown wrapped up an earlier investigation into allegations of fraud by those running the RCMP's insurance and pension funds by saying the force's culture was "horribly broken."   Continued...