Professor Darryl T. Davies Responds to Commissioner Paulson’s Message to Rank and File
I have recently been supplied with a copy of an email that Bob Paulson sent to the rank and file regarding a recent article in Maclean’s Magazine criticizing his handling of the carbine issue. Please consult my earlier comments on this site in order to place what follows in context. It is true that Bob Paulson sent a letter to me on June 21, 2010 indicating he was disappointed with my report. What is remarkable of course is that the report I had provided to the Use of Force Section on March 1, 2010 was a draft report. It is incredible that a government agency that purports to be unhappy with a report that they paid a significant amount of money for would not even meet with the contractor to discuss their concerns. This despite three and half months of phoning my contacts in the Use of Force Section and innumerable emails no one called me back. Until I received Paulson’s letter on June 23 2010 I heard absolutely nothing from anyone at RCMP headquarters regarding my report. Not a single word. With Paulson’s arrival on the scene I learned that he had muzzled his employees and I found such action abusive and insulting not only for his staff but for me as a contractor. As for a delay in receiving my report Paulson conveniently neglects to point out that there was a delay in having the questionnaire translated into French and that by year’s end only 40 percent of the questionnaires had been completed and returned to RCMP headquarters for analysis. In fact, at the end of January 2010, another 20 questionnaires arrived. To suggest to the rank and file that I didn’t deliver the report on time is just another example of Paulson digging a hole for himself.
As a result, in May 2010 I filed a formal written complaint against Bob Paulson with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. On July 7, 2010 I received a reply from Rick Stevens an Enquiries and Complaints Analyst advising me that the concerns in my letter did not appear to qualify as conduct of the RCMP in the performance of a duty or function under the Act and as a result they were unable to process my complaint under Part VII of the RCMP Act. I have provided a copy of this letter to Maclean’s Magazine (File no. 5430-2010-2198). My point in sharing this information is that it is unprecedented for a contractor to be treated so unprofessional by a government department. I couldn’t believe that the RCMP would pay a substantial sum of money for a report and then show absolutely no interest in meeting, discussing or contacting the researcher to discuss its contents until almost four months later.
The email Paulson sent out to the rank and file conveniently neglects to mention the fact that I replied to his correspondence on June 26, 2010 and copies were sent to him both by email and fax. Despite this fact he never contacted me either by phone or email. What does this tell you about his management skills? What does this tell you about his communication skills? What does this tell you about his abilities as a leader? What does this tell you about his credibility? As I recall these were all qualifications the former Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that the government would be looking for when they appointed the next Commissioner of the RCMP. Since Paulson didn’t mention that I replied to his June correspondence in his email to the rank and file perhaps it would help if I shared that information with them. You be the judge. While Paulson is entitled to his own opinion he is not entitled to own set of facts. So let’s have some evidence based information. Consider the following letter that I sent to Paulson on June 26, 2010:
Dear Commissioner Paulson
I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated June 21, 2010 with respect to my report ‘Aiming for Safety: A Needs Analysis To Determine the Feasibility of Adopting the Patrol Carbine in the RCMP.
My report was delivered to the Use of Force Section on March 1, 2010. At that time, I made it clear that what I was providing was to be regarded only as a ‘draft report.’ I also indicated that I would be available to meet to discuss any aspects of my report and to make any changes or additions required at no cost to the RCMP.
For the past three months I have attempted unsuccessfully to reach staff in the Use of Force section to arrange a meeting to discuss my report’s findings and recommendations. I have been conducting contract work for federal government departments for the past nine years. It is common practice to submit a draft report to a client and then meet to discuss any changes or additions to the body of the report that the client may require. As I received no feedback whatsoever I logically concluded the report must be acceptable to the RCMP.
The receipt of your letter this past week indicates that this is not the case. In the interest of good communications, it would have been far more productive to convene a meeting in person to discuss any concerns you had about the report rather than simply sending me a letter, months after the report had been submitted. With respect to the points raised in your correspondence I offer the following comments:
First, the Use of Force Section approved my methodological approach which entailed designing and administering two survey questionnaires, one to firearms experts in the RCMP and the other to rural, municipal and urban police departments. Feedback from the OIC of the Use of Force Section elicited nothing but positive comments both on the design and content of the two survey questionnaires.
Second, I proposed and developed terms of reference for convening a round table of firearms specialists and RCMP internal and external stakeholders in order to consult them on specific issues relating to the patrol carbine. I was later informed however that for reasons of cost the possibility of holding a round table did not receive the go ahead from senior management in the RCMP. In my view a valuable consultative tool that might otherwise have impacted on the report’s findings and recommendations was lost as a result. To suggest therefore that the report did not provide appropriate consultation with internal and external stakeholders is not the fault of the researcher.
Third, the terms of reference for the carbine project explicitly stated “the researcher will be partnered and required to work with certain subject matter experts as directed by the OIC Use of Force and Operational Programs or the Patrol Carbine Project Manager. “ These parties could include internal as well as external parties. At no time was I partnered or asked to work with subject matter experts or internal/external parties during the course of the project. This underscores my second point.
Fourth, your letter states that your reviewers were expecting an evidence-based rationale for and against the implementation of a patrol carbine for the RCMP based on the Canadian experience. You also mention that the report relied heavily on American sources. The terms of reference makes it abundantly clear that I was to conduct a ‘comprehensive’ review ‘of both open source (i.e. FBI Officer Shooting Report, etc) and secure information (as provided) associated to patrol carbine programs.’ Historically, US law enforcement agencies have had considerably more experience with the patrol carbine than police forces in Canada. In addition, there are ‘no’ empirical studies in Canada (published/unpublished) that I am aware of that have specifically contrasted the effectiveness of the patrol carbine over the shotgun other than the executive type reports cited in my report. Regardless, the Canadian reports would ‘not’ qualify scientifically as empirical studies. Furthermore, at no time (and the terms of reference makes this clear), was I asked to base my literature review on the patrol carbine solely on the ‘Canadian experience.’
The substantive aspect of my report dealt with the views, opinions and observations on the carbine/shotgun from firearms specialists in the RCMP and in rural, municipal and urban police departments from across Canada. With all due respect, to suggest the responses of 100 plus police officers, ‘does not probe the information available on the topic with sufficient scrutiny’ is in my opinion factually incorrect. Moreover, it is a disservice to all those police officers that took the time to complete the questionnaire.
I have been willing since March 1, 2010 to meet with the OIC Use of Force Section and other interested parties to discuss any concerns or issues that they may have concerning my ‘draft’ report. If this is still a possibility please do not hesitate to contact me.
So this is the letter that I sent to Paulson. If you were the Assistant Commissioner what would you do if you received a letter of this nature? Would you ignore it and not reply? Surely any reasonable person would have contacted the writer but not Paulson. He never once directly or indirectly contacted me to discuss my draft report and he made certain none of his staff did. You can draw your own conclusions about how he has dealt with the carbine issue since he became Commissioner. In his email to the rank and file he says the Maclean’s Magazine article is unfair and that my report was deficient. Based on the above I will leave it up to you and the rank and file to decide what is unfair and what is deficient.
Darryl T Davies BA, DIP CRIM (Cantab)
Instructor, criminology and criminal justice
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
The above views are those of the author in his personal capacity and they do not represent the position of Carleton University.