The RCMP contravened its own policy by allowing direct policing in British Columbia by Texas state troopers, the body that investigates complaints about the Mounties says in a new report.
During an investigation involving the troopers, the force also had one of its own members conduct an impaired driving probe without proper grounds, detain the motorist unlawfully and search his vehicle unlawfully, the report says.
The report released by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP was sparked by a complaint from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
RCMP commissioner William Elliott said he accepted the findings and almost all the commission's recommendations involving the program called Operation Pipeline Convoy.
The civil liberties group took its complaints to the commission in 2005, but a lengthy delay by the RCMP in responding to the 2006 interim report meant it took longer than expected for the final report to be released.
In a letter to the commission, Elliott promised to ensure the program was reviewed in keeping with a recommendation "to assess whether policing techniques shared and learned during these exchanges are fully compliant with Canadian law and the charter."
Elliott also agreed with a key recommendation that "foreign police officers are formally provided policing status if they are to be exercising policing powers in Canada."
The commission said that during the Operation Pipeline exercise, two Texas state troopers and two RCMP members stopped a car twice based on suspicions of criminal activity.
"Troopers were involved in both stops of the motorist in question," the report said. "Texas state troopers were engaged in direct policing contrary to RCMP policy."
The report said that if the RCMP continues to engage in police exchanges it should formalize the status of foreign police, such as by seeking special constable status.
The RCMP member who was found to have acted unlawfully said he was unaware that another Mountie had legally stopped the car earlier. But he acknowledged that he was advised of the initial stop after he stopped the motorist.
Sgt. Tim Shields, who speaks for the RCMP in B.C., said Operation Pipeline is still active but does not use foreign officers to stop vehicles.
But he said U.S. police still share information.
"We all know that a police officer from outside the country doesn't have the powers of a peace officer here in B.C.," he said.
The program has been successful in finding illegal drugs and firearms on Canadian roads, Shields said.
Foreign officers are now used only as observers, he said.
B.C. association not satisfied with commission's findings
Murray Mollard, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the RCMP program was designed to intercept suspicious vehicles that might be transporting drugs or drivers suspected of being impaired by drugs.
The program focused on the Trans-Canada Highway and specifically the area around Hope, a two-hour drive east of Vancouver, Mollard said.
"We had concerns about what are Texas Rangers doing stopping cars and engaging in active law enforcement in Canada?"
Mollard said he was not completely satisfied with the commission's findings.
"Unfortunately, though the commission substantiated a lot of our complaint, it didn't go that far as to say, 'It's bad policy for the RCMP … to use [foreign officers] to enforce the law in Canada."
They are not trained in Canadian law and there's no accountability mechanism in place if they "misconduct themselves," Mollard said.