Christina Spencer, Ottawa (Sun Media) – RCMP commissioner William Elliott, whose appointment as the first civilian head of the agency stirred criticism, says it would be better if the next boss came from inside the police force.
Asked on CTV’s Question Period whether he should be succeeded by another civilian or someone in uniform, Elliott said, “I hope there will be fully qualified people from within the force that can be considered.
“All else being equal, I personally believe that it would be better for the organization to appoint someone from within the organization.”
A senior public servant who had extensive background in public security and had served both the Liberal and Conservative governments, Elliott was appointed commissioner in July 2007.
At the time, the RCMP was taking a drubbing over a pension and insurance scandal that had prompted an investigator to call RCMP culture “horribly broken.”
But many within the force were alarmed that a civilian had been named to head it — the first time since the creation of the North West Mounted Police in 1873.
Elliott said yesterday some members had been “surprised and frankly disappointed and somewhat angered.”
Since taking the job, he has faced his own rough ride over the RCMP’s use of Tasers, particularly in the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver Airport in October 2007.
He recently told a Senate committee the RCMP was “very sorry” for Dziekanski’s death. “Obviously things did go wrong,” he told CTV.
But he said that while his appointment from outside the force was “controversial,” the RCMP has supported his attempts to improve the force.
Recruitment is up and front-line officers are being given more power to make decisions, Elliott said.
“I think there’s been a lot of positive change in the RCMP over the last couple of years.”