Updated: Red Deer RCMP officer part of $1.1 billion lawsuit

Latest: RCMP responds to harassment lawsuit

A Red Deer RCMP officer is at the centre of a $1.1 billion lawsuit against the national police force.

In a lawsuit filed last Friday, the force is accused of bullying, harassment and intimidation.

The lead plaintiffs are a pair of long-serving male RCMP officers, including Staff Sgt. Geoffrey Greenwood, from Red Deer detachment, and Sgt. Todd Gray, who works out of Fox Creek detachment. Their allegations relate to incidents many years before they were at their current detachments.

Greenwood and Gray could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Greenwood told CBC he experienced fallout after reporting allegations of corruption and bribery against follow officers who were working with him on drug cases more than a decade ago in the Northwest Territories. He was ostracized and faced trumped-up internal charges to bully him, the lawsuit alleges.

None of the lawsuit’s allegations have been tested in court.

“It rocked me to my core,” Greenwood told CBC. “I was kind of demonized, and I was the one that was left to be the problem and really all I did was my job.”

Gray alleges harassment dating back to 1998, when he was a member of the musical ride. He alleges he was also witness to incidents of racism by a superior officer when he was posted to Nunavut in the early 2000s.

In a statement, the RCMP responded to the lawsuit.

The RCMP has faced other legal actions in recent years.

In 2016, the force reached a $100 million settlement for 3,100 female officers, who claimed harassment and discrimination.

In a statement, the RCMP responded to the lawsuit.

“Because we have just received the statement of claim for the proposed class action and have not had the opportunity to review it thoroughly, it is too early to address any specifics,” says the statement.

“The receipt of another claim of this sort serves to keep us focused on the work we are doing to provide all employees with a safe and respectful work environment, free from harassment and reminds us of the work still to be done.

“The RCMP continues to improve and expand on measures it has put in place to address conflict and inappropriate behavior in the workplace,” says the statement.

“Any report of misbehavior is concerning to the RCMP and we take such allegations seriously. We continue to encourage anyone who feels they are the victim of inappropriate behavior to report it.”

The new lawsuit could affect tens of thousands of current and former employees.

City of Red Deer Coun. Buck Buchanan, who retired in 2005 after 28 years as a Mountie, believes the RCMP remains antiquated in many ways and has become an unwieldy organization.

“Me, personally, I think the force is so dysfunctional right now for a variety of different reasons.

“They’ve created such a mammoth machine, in my opinion, of bureaucracy that they have a hard time getting anything done.”

Buchanan said the lawsuit could be both good and bad for the RCMP, which he believes needs to change.

Efforts are being made, he said, pointing to the RCMP’s first permanent female commissioner, Brenda Lucki, and adopting a position as the “kinder, softer employer.”

Buchanan said many issues have been around a long time.

“Kind of in the past, it wasn’t that it didn’t exist, it was just that people just didn’t come forward.”

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said she could not comment on the specifics of an ongoing legal matter.

“The City of Red Deer, as always, is committed to a respectful workplace,” she said.

The city has adopted a formal whistle blower program to make it easier for people to bring concerns forward. For the RCMP, which is contracted to police Red Deer, complaints go to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

“All allegations are taken seriously, and our duty is to ensure we have strong processes in place to uphold respectful workplace standards,” said Veer.

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