Kelowna mayor apologizes for defending RCMP on dismissal of sex assault cases – CBC.ca

Kelowna mayor apologizes for defending RCMP on dismissal of sex assault cases - CBC.ca
Mayor issues 2nd statement on Kelowna sex assault complaints – Kelowna News
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran issued an apology Tuesday morning for comments he made defending Kelowna RCMP after the police agency announced it was conducting a review into why so many sexual assault cases have been dismissed.

Statistics Canada reported the RCMP had dismissed as unfounded 40 per cent of sexual assault cases in 2017 and 2018 — a rate nearly triple the provincial and national average.

The mayor said that the RCMP operates independently of the City of Kelowna, but it is the City’s responsibility to ensure matters that affect Kelowna residents are being properly addressed.

"I am sorry and offer my sincere apology to anyone offended or hurt by my initial reaction to this news. The number of local sex assault complaints deemed to be unfounded is deeply concerning, and I know the local detachment is taking this matter seriously," said Basran in an emailed statement.

"In retrospect, I should have waited for the results of an investigation into the matter before expressing my opinion."

Basran previously told CBC in an interview last week, that while he is "happy to hear" the RCMP are reviewing those cases, that he has a good relationship with the RCMP superintendent and trusts how investigations had been handled.

This all stems from data released by Statistics Canada, which says that the Kelowna RCMP detachment dismisses 40% of sexual assault claims as “unfounded.”

"So when he tells me that he believes that the due diligence [was] put into these cases … I take him at his word that that is what, in fact, is happening."

After news recently broke about the Kelowna RCMP dismissing an abnormally high amount of sexual assault claims, there was understandable anger from the community.

Last Friday, the southern Interior city's detachment issued a news release saying it was reviewing why the number of unfounded cases are so high in Kelowna.

For many, that anger turned to outrage when Mayor Colin Basran said he had full confidence in the local RCMP and how they were handling these claims.

"We are currently not in a position to provide specific examples of why any of these investigations were deemed unfounded," said Cpl. Meghan Foster.

"We're taking immediate steps to get answers…The team will look at each file to ensure that all investigative steps were followed and that the file was properly categorized."

“In retrospect, I should have waited for the results of an investigation into the matter before expressing my opinion.”

Statistics Canada released new figures about unfounded sexual assault cases after a decade long hiatus, during which it worked to standardize the definition of "unfounded." 

“I have directed staff to stay in close contact with RCMP on this issue until a review is concluded,” Basran explained.

It cautioned it had revised the definition of founded and unfounded complaints, and, that as a result, the figures reported in 2017 and 2018 might not be comparable across police services but would become more reliable over time.

Mayor Basran said he has instructed city staff to stay in close contact with the RCMP until the review is finished.

"While the RCMP operates independently of the City of Kelowna, it is the city's responsibility to ensure matters of concern to our citizens are being addressed," he said.

"I support what the Kelowna RCMP has done in response to this new information from Statistics Canada — starting with an internal review and a subsequent request to have the RCMP's Sexual Assault Review Team at national headquarters review the files.

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Kelowna's mayor says he should have waited for the results of an investigation before commenting on the high number of unfounded sexual assault cases at the local RCMP detachment.

Upon release of an investigation that showed 40 per cent of sexual assault cases reported to the Kelowna detachment in 2018 and 2019 had been deemed unfounded, Colin Basran stated he was satisfied investigating officers were doing the best with the resources they have.

“I am sorry and offer my sincere apology to anyone offended or hurt by my initial reaction to this news," Basran stated in a second statement issued Friday.

"The number of local sex assault complaints deemed to be unfounded is deeply concerning, and I know the local detachment is taking this matter seriously."

Basran said it's the job of the city to ensure matters of concern to the public are addressed, and he has asked city staff to remain in contact with police until the review is complete.

“I support what the Kelowna RCMP has done in response to this new information from Statistics Canada – starting with an internal review and a subsequent request to have the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at national headquarters review the 2018 and 2019 files.