January 6, 2011 / 2:54 PM / in 7 years

Mounties urged to push reform efforts

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the country’s iconic national police force, must keep pushing for reform if it wants to regain public confidence, a government panel said on Wednesday.

<p>Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers march during a memorial for four slain officers in Edmonton, Alberta, in this March 10, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>

Known as the Mounties, the force is famous for its red-serge ceremonial uniforms and the dashing characters who wear it in film and television productions.

But the force’s image in Canada has been rocked by scandals in recent years, including pension mismanagement and the high-profile death of a Polish immigrant in a conflict with officers at Vancouver’s airport.

The Mounties have made progress, but not enough has been done to ensure that reforms that have been made stay in effect, according to the report of a panel set up three years ago to monitor efforts to modernize the force’s management structure.

“The risk as we see it is that the force, and those responsible for leading and managing it, might finish the current round of changes and see reform as complete,” the RCMP Reform Implementation Council said.

Mounties’ management still falls short in communicating with the public and with its own officers, and that must improve if the country’s pride in the force is to be restored, the panel warned in its final report.

“Our bottom line is that the RCMP must be as open and transparent as possible in dealing with its own employees and with the public,” the report said.

The panel renewed an earlier call it made to create a independent management group to advise the force, and said the RCMP should have greater independence from the government in hiring decisions.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, whose office released the report, said he will consider the recommendations.

Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway

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