Sexual improprieties involving two former Red Deer Mounties are not a reflection of the “very respectful” environment found within the city detachment, Red Deer’s top commander said Thursday.
Supt. Warren Dosko said such misconduct involving Donald Ray — incidents occurring in Edmonton, St. Albert and Red Deer in recent years — and Robert Blundell, while stationed in Calgary, would not happen here.
Ray worked at the city RCMP detachment many years ago, according to detachment spokeswoman Cpl. Kathe DeHeer.
Blundell was posted to Red Deer for three different stints — first in 1986, then again in 1988 and 1990. At one time, he was on the drug squad.
“Today, I feel that we have a very respectful workplace with regards to those types of issues,” said Dosko, who took over the top city post last December. “We make sure our managers, supervisors, are aware that those sorts of things are unacceptable and not going to be tolerated. And I know the City of Red Deer also has a very rigorous, respectful workplace program that they have their municipal employees engaged in.”
Of the tens of thousands of employees who work in the national police force, the vast majority do outstanding work every day, Dosko said. He spoke in reaction to news this week that Ray, a high-ranking officer from Edmonton, was demoted to sergeant from staff sergeant.
He was suspended for 10 days without pay, given a formal reprimand, and has been transferred to a B.C. detachment, where he is working under supervision.
In a Jan. 31 decision recently obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, the RCMP adjudication board issued its decision on seven allegations of misconduct between 2006 and 2009. These included drinking alcohol in the workplace and having consensual sex in a polygraph room with a public servant employee over almost a year at K Division headquarters in Edmonton. He also engaged in “inappropriate sexual contact” with a woman named Ms. A, who after drinking together in an office, then exposed his penis and asked for sex, but she refused.
Between June 8, 2009, and Aug. 31, 2009, Ray engaged in “inappropriate and unprofessional” conduct near St. Albert, Edmonton and Red Deer involving communications with prospective female employees. This included taking a woman for a beer in the community in which she lived after meeting with her for the purposes of fingerprinting and a security screening interview, says the report.
RCMP officer Staff Sgt. Robert Blundell admitted to discreditable conduct in 2001 in connection with allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted four female officers in the mid to late 1990s. One of those women, Victoria Cliffe, was a member of the Red Deer Emergency Response Team until 2003, when she was involved in an undercover operation with Blundell in Calgary.
In her affidavit, Cliffe said she awoke in her hotel room to find Blundell “sexually assaulting me.”
Blundell was subsequently promoted and still works in the force, according to a December 2011 article in the Globe and Mail.
Dosko said there is a protocol for such allegations.
“Any sorts of those types of complaints would be thoroughly investigated,” he said. “It would be treated seriously and ensure there was a process in place that would thoroughly look into the allegation in a very respectful manner.”
Dosko said there is various training on hand involving issues like harassment.
Mandatory online training is given to all RCMP employees, including civilian. All new people would get that program immediately.
“Anybody who was in the force before it went online would have to have taken it,” said Dosko.
The detachment also has a supervisor and management development program, so when an officer is promoted to one of these roles, they receive training in “respectful workplace” program as well, Dosko said.
“They are not new, but they have been developed within the last four or five years,” Dosko said.
Staff Sgt. Shawn LeMay, media relations officer with K Division headquarters, said he’s been a part of the RCMP for 20 years.
He said there is an open line of communication if people feel they have been harassed or have witnessed harassment.
“It’s great to see that we have assistance within our organization where people can turn to if they feel they have been wronged or they have been subject to inappropriate behaviour,” LeMay said.