An inquest into the death of a 35-year-old man in Inuvik has concluded with six jurors making 12 recommendations to RCMP in the Northwest Territories.
Richard Binder Jr’s body was found on a snowmobile trail near Big Lake on November 3, 2018 – more than a week after he fled from police as officers attempted to arrest him.
Over the course of this week’s inquest, the lack of a full search-and-rescue operation was called into question. RCMP said such an operation was unnecessary as multiple tips suggested Binder was still in Inuvik. However, police could not track him down.
Binder was reported missing by his mother on October 28, three days after the attempted arrest, in the hope of triggering a search and rescue effort.
While some expert witnesses said police had acted appropriately in the circumstances, the absence of a significant ground search was repeatedly raised.
Inquest coverage from other outlets
CBC: Inquest reveals Richard Binder Jr. died days before body found
NNSL: Jury makes 12 recommendations following inquest
Late on Thursday, the NWT chief coroner’s office released the verdict of the inquest’s six-person jury, who found Binder’s death to be accidental and caused by hypothermia.
The jury went on to make a dozen recommendations, all directed at RCMP and related to how similar circumstances could be better handled in future.
The recommendations urged RCMP to:
- publicize that reports of missing people can happen immediately (you don’t need to wait a certain time until you can tell RCMP someone is missing);
- provide search and rescue training to community members who want to help;
- review procedures for “dealing with a flight risk individual;”
- ensure officers are aware of in-house missing persons policies;
- ensure officers across the NWT know police dog teams can be consulted by phone in similar circumstances;
- consider making an online missing persons investigations training course mandatory for all officers in the NWT;
- maintain or provide more training for officers on missing persons and search and rescue;
- clarify the use and necessity of a “search urgency form” found in RCMP operational manuals;
- ensure one or two officers are assigned to keep family members updated during a missing persons investigation;
- increase search-and-rescue resources available to the Inuvik detachment;
- establish guidelines on “how to weigh the value of unconfirmed sightings of an individual who is evading police and the past history and behaviour of that individual as shared by persons close to that individual;” and
- review guidelines on communication with reporters “to ensure that all information about the missing person is made available to the public.”
Reached by Cabin Radio on Thursday, RCMP said in a brief statement: “The RCMP has received a copy of the recommendations and will review them prior to make any comment.”
A police spokesperson added RCMP welcomed the recommendations and supported the inquest process.
Coroner’s inquests are used to examine the circumstances surrounding a particular death. Juries’ recommendations are intended to help prevent future deaths in similar situations.
The chief coroner’s office on Thursday stressed such inquests are “not intended to assign blame.”