In an unusual move, the British Columbia Mounties plan to invite a single reporter to be embedded in a federal-level police investigation from surveillance to court hearing, the force said Wednesday.
The invitation comes from the federal-policing section of E-Division and could see the reporter involved in a drug investigation, or cases involving border integrity, financial crime, terrorism or other areas covered by the unit.
The selected reporter would have the opportunity to attend team briefings, be an observer in active surveillance and have access to the investigation right through to the court process.
The program follows a spate of negative publicity surrounding the RCMP, from the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in a confrontation with four Mounties at Vancouver International Airport to recent allegations of sexual harassment of female officers.
Asked if the program was an effort to counteract the image questions raised by these incidents, Sergeant Duncan Pound said: “I think, with the RCMP, we have always believed the overwhelming majority of our members have done an outstanding job, day in and out. This may be a way to promote access to that silent majority that doesn’t get the same media attention.”
Sgt. Pound said there would have to be talks about how a reporter could publish or broadcast information during the investigation without compromising the case.
“We’re trying to give as full a picture as we can to the media and public of what a federal investigation would look like.”
The RCMP is hoping to receive invitations from reporters by May 2, and have a reporter in place by summer.