S. (Sunny) Parmar
February 24, 2016 - 8:37 AM
The Kamloops RCMP have recently been criticized by local media for not providing enough information to reporters. While we understand the media’s desire to be provided as much information as possible and as quickly as possible, it is important to remember that the release of information is guided by RCMP policy, Federal and Provincial laws, and ultimately, our obligations to protect the integrity of criminal investigations and the justice process.
As recently as February 18, 2016, an article and editorial were locally published accusing the Kamloops RCMP of failing to respond to a media inquiry regarding a male who they claim to have a public complaint against our investigation. The article conveniently omits the fact that a response was indeed provided via email by the Detachment’s Operations Officer, Inspector Parmar, on behalf of the Detachment Commander who was away on leave. Inspector Parmar’s response clearly stated our limitations pertaining to releasing information on any particular case. It further indicated that a process is in place for members of the public to launch official complaints against the police. It should be noted that the complaint process is also subject to privacy.
Unfortunately there remain misunderstandings about what information police can release, and when they can do so. This includes the release of the names of victims and information about ongoing investigations.
According to the Federal Privacy Act, during a police investigation where homicide or foul play is suspected, a person’s name cannot be released unless there is an operational need to further the investigation by seeking information from the public. If information is released, but there is a delay in the time it took to release it, it is typically due to officers following investigative leads to determine if a public appeal is required. If there is no need to seek additional information from the public the RCMP does not have the legal right or ability to release information, and could face charges if they do.
While we may not be able to provide details regarding files to the media, RCMP spokespeople will typically provide as much of a response as possible or attempt to explain why we cannot respond further.
We are mindful of the needs of our community and will never hold back information that is relevant to public safety. Each and every one of our detachment employees and their families are a part of this community. We have a vested interest in this city and the safety of our community. Having said that, we as your local police force have a duty to balance fair and thorough investigations that will not jeopardize the legal processes, with keeping our community informed on what they need to know.
When police do not comment on an investigation it is not because we are simply withholding information, but because by protecting the integrity of investigations it is more likely that those who commit criminal acts will be held accountable for their actions. The media may not like our limited response to certain cases, but as police officers, it is important to us that victims of crimes receive justice. We cannot, and will not, jeopardize that by providing unnecessary information to the media.
Inspector S. (Sunny) Parmar
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016