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Mounties who allegedly watched jail-cell sex suspended with pay Add to ...

All but one of seven men accused of not intervening while two women had sex in a British Columbia jail cell two weeks ago are now off their police and guard jobs without pay while RCMP investigate.

Police suspended the officers on Wednesday while officials decide if further disciplinary action is warranted.

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Surveillance footage allegedly shows four Mounties and three civilian jail staff watching a video monitor for seven minutes.

The women had been picked up for public intoxication and were double-bunked in the "drunk tank" of the Kamloops, B.C., jail when the sex acts occurred on Aug. 18.

The decision was made after a review of the work status of the officers implicated in the incident, a supervising officer with 20 years on the force, and two of three constables who'd been in service ranging from one to seven years.

RCMP Inspector Tim Shields said a fourth officer is still under investigation.

"He is currently away on personal holiday outside of the province and we should have more to say regarding the decision on his duty status shortly," he said.

Police announced they were conducting code-of-conduct and criminal investigations late last week.

At the same time, the southern Interior City of Kamloops suspended two prison guards and a watch clerk after getting basic details of the incident.

"I'm not going to make any decision or voice any opinions about this, other than, 'get out of your jail block cell and out of your position until we know exactly what's happened, and then we'll treat you fairly,' " said Randy Diehl, the city's chief administrative officer.

Mr. Diehl said the city will wait for results of the RCMP investigation before taking further action toward the employees based on their collective agreement.

He said he's particularly bothered by the incident because the RCMP detachment won some international awards last year based on its crime-prevention strategies.

"It has a potential to taint the entire department and all of their very good public work that has been done gets put on the shelf, and that's the really unfortunate side of this whole thing," he said.

But Mr. Diehl said he's "very pleased and proud" the department came clean.

"They haven't tried to hide anything, they've been doing their due diligence around it, they could have just as easily buried this thing and they're not doing that," he said.

About 45 city employees work in the Kamloops RCMP detachment, he added.

Gayle Nelson, president of the union representing the suspended workers, said she personally finds the incident upsetting.

"CUPE 900 does not condone the alleged behaviour in any way," she said.

"Labour law dictates that we provide representation and we will ensure that they get the representation their collective agreement entitles them to."

After announcing the allegations, Insp. Shields said that because both the women were picked up for public intoxication, the main concern for investigators was their level of consent.

The women were later released without charges related to their initial arrests.

Insp. Shields has said the criminal investigation is also looking at the sexual activity of the women, but he did not elaborate. A police news release from last week indicated the investigation is targeting just one of the women in the cell.

 

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