OTTAWA – The RCMP say it’s working to deal more quickly with complaints about serious police incidents and have made several policy changes since a man died after being arrested and jolted with a Taser in Prince George, B.C. nine years ago.
The force was responding to the final report by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP on the death of Clay Alvin Willey.
He suffered a cocaine overdose in July of 2003, was arrested by police, hog tied and stunned with a Taser before he died.
A coroner’s inquest ruled Willey’s death was accidental, caused by the overdose, and the Commission ruled while the police did not use excessive force they did not treat Willey with respect.
Commission spokeswoman Laura Colella also complained that the RCMP took 14 months to respond to an interim report examining the death.
“Our concern is it makes the public complaints system useless, people can’t trust the public complaints system if it is going to take this long to respond to our reports,” she said.
“We need to send this message today. We are not satisfied with these delays and we are hoping these delays can be fixed. The commission is waiting for new legislation so we are hoping that this will be addressed in our new legislation.”
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he doesn’t know why the response took so long, but he has begun turning around complaints commission reports much more quickly.
“That’s another change that I’ve brought to the office,” he said.
Supt. Rod Booth of the RCMP North District in B.C. agreed it took too long to address the commission’s interim report.
“The RCMP considers all public complaints to be important and endeavours to address them in as timely a manner as possible while at the same time ensuring they are assessed comprehensively and appropriately,” he said in a statement.
“The 14 months it took for the RCMP to respond to the interim CPC report is indeed a long delay and we agree with the CPC on this. I have been assured that Commissioner Paulson is committed to responding in a timely way to the CPC consultations,” Booth said.
He also said the Mounties have made several policy changes since Willey’s death, including new rules on Taser use, no longer using the hog tie method to restrain prisoners and better reporting on violent incidents.