The RCMP is under scrutiny again as word comes out of yet another Mountie facing a code-of-conduct inquiry.
The Vancouver Sun reports that an inquiry is underway into Coquitlam Cpl. Jim Brown — who played a bit part in the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton — for posing in sexually explicit pictures reminiscent of the pig-farmer's crimes.
Ian Mulgrew writes that the narrative of the photographs, posted on a S&M website, progresses from an apparent street scene of a woman walking past Brown sitting on a wall; he overpowers her; he hog-ties her, and he imprisons her in a cage.
In one image, Mulgrew notes, Brown appears to be wearing only his regulation-issue Mountie boots and is aroused carrying a huge knife while the naked woman cringes in terror.
His detachment commander, Supt. Claude Wilcott, said that when he became aware of the material on the Web earlier this year, he discussed the issue with the force's legal services to determine if there was a violation of the Mountie code of conduct.
"The alleged issue was deemed to be off-duty, non-criminal, adult consensual activity during which the individual was not representing himself as a member of the RCMP and thus it did not appear to legal services to meet the threshold for a code-of-conduct violation," he told the Sun.
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"Despite this legal opinion, a code-of-conduct investigation is underway to determine if there are any additional facts and ensure the fullest review possible. While I agree the staged images are graphic, it's important to note that they appear only on an adult site catering to those who seek them out."
During a brief telephone call Wednesday, Brown declined to comment about the pictures but acknowledged being aware of the material.
"I am familiar with an internal investigation that was conducted," Brown told the Sun.
"It concluded in March or April and it was decided it was a non-issue … There was no victim."
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Despite there not being a "victim," Brown's involvement in the photos opens the door to more criticism about male officers' attitudes towards women.
Mike Webster, who has had a career counselling police officers and advising departments, including the RCMP, said the sexual degradation of women in the images raises serious concerns.
"The fact that Mr. Brown could engage in these activities without considering current attitudes toward this type of behaviour indicates to me that his empathetic abilities are impaired," Webster told the Sun.
Last month RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson wrote an open letter to Canadians claiming that he was pushing attitudinal changes within the ranks in a bid to modernize the force.
He was buoyed by new legislation unveiled by the Tories which will give him more power to eventually fire the force's "bad apples."
For Paulson's sake and for the sake of the RCMP's reputation, that legislation cannot be enacted soon enough.