A report was released last week, chronicling some of the ongoing issues facing the RCMP.
Some of those challenges have been well-documented. There have been instances of unethical conduct, with racist, misogynistic and homophobic behaviour. This report took it one step further, with claims of sexual assault and other conduct unbecoming a member of Canada’s national police force.
The wrong-doing by some members is reprehensible and indefensible. Those responsible should be held accountable, even if that means dismissal and even criminal charges.
We’re also hearing some of the recurring statements by RCMP critics, saying that it’s time to rebuild the force, or dismantle it.
It seems like some people think that just because there are issues with a fraction of the officers, that all RCMP members are corrupt or unethical, and we’d be better off without this essential service.
(Hmm, where have I heard that before?)
Reality, though, is that the problematic officers represent a fraction of the RCMP. Most officers are good, honest people, dedicated to their work, and always conducting themselves with the utmost of integrity.
Police officers are held to a different standard for their conduct, and justifiably so. But most officers are still great people who meet that higher standard.
It’s no secret that my father was an RCMP officer for 30 years. I’ve used this spot repeatedly to talk about his chosen career and the work that he did. And he was a damn good officer, too. From him, I learned so much about work ethic, passion for your job and integrity – traits that I’ve tried to bring to my job, even though it’s a completely different field.
My sister and I have had a very high standard to live up to, thanks to dad and mom, who was a nurse for 38 years.
My best friend’s father was an RCMP officer. I have a lot of friends in B.C. who were RCMP officers. I’ve encountered a lot of great people who have been part of the RCMP. And a lot of my friends growing up were cop’s kids.
So you can say that I know a thing or two about the men and women who have been part of the RCMP for the past 40 years.
I’ve met a couple of interesting characters in the RCMP over the years, but nobody that, to my knowledge, was ever charged with a crime.
And I’d be stunned if most of the officers I’ve ever encountered have been guilty of any legitimate wrongdoing. And by wrongdoing, it goes beyond anything that is criminal in nature.
Members of the RCMP and other police agencies wake up and go to a job that carries great danger. They work long days and shift work, without knowing whether they’ll be coming home to see their families at the end of that shift.
They get called into some pretty harrowing situations, they have to encounter lowlifes, and it’s a demanding job that requires flawless execution of duties.
And to top it all off, when a member goes rogue, or a few members act in an unprofessional fashion, all of the officers get painted with the same negative brushstroke.
Reports like the one last week undermine public trust, not just in the RCMP, but in the police in general.
It’s easy to forget just how many members of the RCMP there are in Canada, not just the officers, but the dispatchers who are dedicated to their jobs.
Ask people beyond Canada about this country, and one of the first things they will think about will be the RCMP. It’s because of what the RCMP has meant to our community throughout its history, because of the dedication to their jobs and the ambassadors they have been for this country.
Are there problematic officers who shouldn’t be part of the force? Absolutely. Is there a lot of work that remains to address the issues outlined in last week’s report? Definitely.
It’s unfortunate that there are some in the RCMP who seemingly think that women have no place in the police force, or that there are officers have handled cases differently because of someone’s race, gender or sexual orientation.
We all deserve to be treated well in the workplace, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, or other factors that might be a source for discrimination.
It’s also unfortunate that issues remain after many years. You’ll never completely get rid of them, just like you won’t rid other professions of these issues. Ongoing progress is the key.
Thankfully, the majority of RCMP officers are people like my dad, like the members we have at the Estevan RCMP and other detachments, and the members who wake up and dutifully serve their communities.