RCMP promise to do better after officer refused to investigate sex assault claim

RCMP promise to do better

The Kelowna RCMP says it is taking steps to "do better" after it was revealed a former Mountie refused to investigate a sexual assault claim.

An investigation by the RCMP Civilian Review and Complaints Commission determined Const. Lesley Smith had an improper attitude and neglected her duty after a UBCO student told Smith she had been raped back in 2020.

The victim provided a videotaped statement to Smith. After the statement, the victim says Smith told her that investigating the complaint was not worth the RCMP’s time. Smith explained that her story was confusing and wouldn't hold up in court.

The victim alleges that Smith suggested that since the victim and suspect had dated before, it "didn't count" and because she didn't scream "no" and threaten to call the police, it wasn't an assault.

Despite the victim's pleas for an investigation, Smith placed a note on the file stating the victim did not want to pursue charges. After the victim filed a complaint about Smith, an independent investigation into the officer's actions confirmed she neglected her duty. The sex assault file was reopened and charges were forwarded to the Crown, which have yet to be approved.

In a lengthly statement accompanying an apology from detachment commander Supt. Kara Triance, the Kelowna RCMP says it works to earn the trust of victims of crimes.

Cpl. Tammy Lobb says the detachment is building partnerships and working with those who provide services to the vulnerable population.

"We have been meeting with UCBO throughout the summer and are in the process of forming a working group comprised of Community Youth Safety Officers and members of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee who have indicated their interest. The focus will be on EDI principles and rebuilding relationships, particularly with foreign students," Lobb said.

Kelowna RCMP says they have also met with Okanagan College who have expressed interest in having officers attend on-campus events with a focus on safety and crime prevention.

"We continue the ongoing quality of investigations through quality assurance. Proper training has been provided to police officers and support staff to ensure the proper categorization of files to capture statistical data correctly. We are also ensuring better supervision on more complex investigations, normally handled by frontline investigators with oversight by our Sex Crimes Unit," Lobb added.

The sex crimes and domestic violence units are specialized investigators who have direct links to supports within local nonprofits and the public sector. By 2023, Kelowna RCMP says they hope to have all officers trained in a trauma-informed response to violence that reflects modern trauma science and research.

"Kelowna RCMP officers have received enhanced training on Trauma Informed Practice and LGBTQ2S+ Awareness training as well as training with respect the sexual consent and the law and bias awareness. We have been working closely with Kelowna PRIDE and the LGBTQS+ community. Kelowna RCMP and Kelowna PRIDE have continued to build in our work together," Cpl. Lobb added.

According to the detachment Const. Smith has now "retired" from the Kelowna RCMP.

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