RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson is on record saying he wants to clean up the RCMP and get rid of the bad apples that are spoiling the barrel of decent cops.
It’s a commendable position to take, even if he’s not the first to attempt the monumental task of rebuilding the RCMP's shattered image and lost confidence of the public. His predecessor, William Elliott, also tried to clean up the RCMP and got absolutely nowhere.
At the time this failure was said to be the fault of Elliott himself because he wasn’t a career RCMP man and didn’t understand the culture. Give that Paulson is hitting the exact same brick wall that Elliott did, I propose that the issue is not a lack of understanding of RCMP culture, but one of understanding it all too well.
Resistance to Change. It's the death-knell of any attempt to change a system from within, and the internal culture of the RCMP is highly resistant to change.
On an individual level, if you’re attempting to make positive changes in your life you can bet your bottom dollar that the people who will fight you most on that change are the people who that change affects most.
For example, if you’re finding that you’re drinking more than you ought and try changing that behavior, the folks fighting you hardest on that change will be your drinking buddies. The reason is quite simple… if you think you’re drinking too much and need to stop, what does that say about them?
When you take that concept to the corporate level the resistance increases exponentially.
"We are not all a bunch of screw-ups but it is evident we are all being lumped into that category and we are not valued and trusted," BC RCMP Staff Sgt. Tim Chad wrote to Commissioner Paulson in an email in July.
Despite the complaints of Staff Sgt. Tim Chad, the entire world knows the RCMP isn’t filled with jackbooted thugs who drag their knuckles on the ground. Even someone as critical of the RCMP as me can quite easily comprehend that simple fact.
For Chad to get so upset about the need to reform the internal culture of the RCMP only makes me question what it is he may have to hide or why he believes (presuming he believes he is one of the good cops) that he is being lumped in with the bad RCMP members.
Unless Staff Sgt. Tim Chad is “living under a rock”, as Commissioner Paulson suggested, then it must be blatantly obvious to him that the RCMP has some serious internal issues.
Staff Sgt. Tim Chad must be completely out of touch with reality if he can’t see the RCMP has an atrocious record with the public and, as a result, the public (that would be the very people he’s supposed to be serving and protecting) have absolutely no confidence or trust in the RCMP as a whole.
Studies have shown that confidence in the RCMP is lowest in British Columbia and is hardly a surprise given the public perception is that BC is the dumping ground for all the RCMP's bad apples.
Cases of RCMP members using excessive force are so commonplace nobody is even surprised when another story breaks. It’s become the norm.
That is, in a word, wrong.
The RCMP, at least from the outside looking in, has a long-running pattern of protecting the bad apples. I need point no further than RCMP Sgt. Don Ray, who was transferred to BC after being found guilty of multiple counts of sexual misconduct and has been protected by RCMP here ever since.
The police will release the whereabouts of sexual offenders such as Donald Bakker, but Don Ray gets a complete pass. Not only was he never charged criminally for his actions, but the RCMP also steadfastly refuse to state where he is currently stationed here in BC. That protection of Don Ray is a double standard that serves only to deepen the public distrust of the RCMP.
It’s one thing when a single female RCMP member complains about being sexually harassed throughout her career, but when literally HUNDREDS of women join a class action sexual harassment lawsuit that says pretty darn loudly there is something deeply wrong with the internal culture of the RCMP.
All those hundreds of women simply can’t be wrong.
Only someone with their head firmly planted somewhere it ought not to be planted would fail to see how this reflects very poorly, to be kind, on the RCMP as a whole.
So if you’re reading this article, Staff Sgt. Tim Chad, please hear what I’m saying.
Nobody… not even me… believes the RCMP is filled with a bunch of scumbags that need to be fired. I’m certain the vast majority of RCMP members are good men and women. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.
But when, as I said, hundreds of women have the exact same complaint, can you really discount them all? From the outside looking in on the RCMP, how do you think it looks to the mere citizens of Canada when that kind of disgraceful conduct appears to be systemic?
Setting the issue of RCMP sexual harassment aside, I’m going to rattle off a list of names. While the list may appear long, it’s not (I could have gone on much longer, believe me). It shows there are a lot of folks wearing RCMP red serge that should probably be wearing prison stripes instead.
Please tell me if any of these men deserve to actually wear the RCMP uniform, or if they should be fired for their misconduct and criminal acts, instead of being slapped on the wrist and sent on paid vacations?
RCMP Corporal Monty Robinson (Yes, I know he’s no longer with the force, but he was given a 4-year paid vacation after killing two men and a massive 30 days house arrest for obstructing justice in Robinson’s killing of Orion Hutchinson.)
RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler – absolved of 2 cases of police brutality but still faces charges for being caught on video brutally kicking Buddy Tavares in the face.
RCMP Constable Andy Yung – who got drunk and fired his service weapon through the ceiling of his hotel room while assigned to a protection duty for the Kananaskis G20 and more recently beat the crap out of a young native girl who was handcuffed in the back of his RCMP cruiser in Williams Lake.
RCMP Constable Kwesi Millington, RCMP Constable Gerry Rundel and RCMP Constable Bill Bentley – the three RCMP constables who, along with Monty Robinson, killed Robert Dziekanski and still face perjury charges for lying in court about how they killed the Polish immigrant.
RCMP Constable Desmond Sandboe – beat the crap out of a prisoner for no reason at all other than Sandboe was “having a bad day”.
RCMP Const. Jack Cunningham – has been accused of police brutality on so many occasions it’s common knowledge in the court system where he is stationed, yet he consistently escapes being charged.
RCMP Sgt. Don Ray – who I’ve already discussed at length in this article.
RCMP Constable Harley Gillman – he thought stealing was perfectly okay, and used his RCMP gas card to fill up both his and his wife’s personal vehicles for God knows how long before he was caught.
Staff Sergeant Stuart Seib – stole cocaine from the RCMP lockup for years, apparently, before finally being caught.
Constable Michael Roe – fired his service pistol through the wall of his condo. Thank God he didn’t kill anyone.
Staff Sgt. Ronald Matthews – has a fetish for making strip-tease videos in his boss’s office. While arguably mind compared to most on this list, it shows a stunning lack of moral fibre and character, two qualities that we mere citizens expect police officers to have in abundance.
The same can be said of Staff-Sgt. Travis Pearson, who was the senior officer and a former RCMP Professional Standards Supervisor. Whether or not I believe all of Susan Gastaldo’s side of the story is not the issue. If Pearson, after being a Professional Standards Supervisor, can’t comprehend that having sex with a junior RCMP member in an RCMP cruiser while on duty is wrong… well... do I really need to say anything more?
Staff Sgt. Ross Spenard lied in court repeatedly after forging a report for Crown Counsel. I hope you would agree that any cop who is willing to lie in court and manufacture evidence needs to be shown the door immediately.
Finally, Staff Sgt. Tim Chad, while this list appears long and is certainly sordid, these names and the dozens more I could have added are why the public has no faith in the RCMP. The cases where RCMP constables violate the Charter rights of Canadians is far longer than either you or I would like to admit, and it seems there are more cases tossed out of court every week as a result.
We seldom hear of the great men and women who represent the RCMP so well, such as Kimmirut, Nunavut, RCMP Corporal Wendy Cornell and Constable Allan Jagoe. I say this because an entire community chose to come to their aid when they were under fire instead of just letting them get killed.
Can you imagine that happening in downtown Surrey, for example?
To my knowledge Staff Sgt. Chad, nobody is saying you are like one of the horrible folks I’ve listed above. Nobody is saying that the vast majority of RCMP members are rotten cops either.
The thing is though, these are the kinds of RCMP members we mere citizens hear about day in and day out. These are the faces that we mere citizens judge the RCMP by, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Where the problem lies with you and your commissioner is that he is demanding “business as usual” must end, that the RCMP act with more dignity and grace when its bad apples are discovered, for they surely will be discovered, and that every single member of the RCMP work to repair the horribly tarnished image and the lack of trust Canadians have in our national police force.
You say you want to be treated with respect and don't want to be lumped in with the likes of Monty Robinson, Geoff Mantler or the rest of the RCMP Hall of Shame.
The public hasn’t stood for the RCMP’s willingness to blindly protect its members, no matter the cost, for a very long time. The RCMP itself seems blinded to the fact that there is a problem and that the public is very aware of it.
You finally have a commissioner who understands that and is doing the right thing, not only for the public, but also for every single member of the RCMP.
I was raised with RCMP members in the house almost every day. My father was an RCMP auxiliary member for my entire childhood. Contrary to the perception, I don’t hate the RCMP; I hate that some people in the RCMP think it’s okay to cover it up when a member screws up. I hate that the RCMP refuses to acknowledge that each and every member of the RCMP actually works for Canadians, the mere citizens of Canada as I like to call us; the very people who so many in the RCMP seem to hold in great contempt.
There is nothing I would like more than to have my childhood faith in the RCMP restored, Staff Sgt. Chad. Please help Robert Paulson, your commissioner, to do that, okay?
Lastly, I’d love to talk with you about this issue of RCMP reform and accountability if you’re willing. Just drop me a note with your contact info and I’ll get back to you right away.
PS. Respect is a two-way street. Give it and you will have it heaped on you in return. Deny it and you only receive what the RCMP has today... little to no respect, public belief there is no integrity in the system and a public image that nobody in the RCMP can possibly be proud of.
Just as you, Staff Sgt. Chad, want to ensure all the world knows that not all RCMP members are like the horrid examples I've listed above, I would urge you and every RCMP member across the nation to remember that not every citizen is a Robert Pickton or a Paul Bernardo, either.
As astounding as it might seem, 99% of us are decent, hardworking and honest Canadians who long to be treated as such by the RCMP members we interact with, not like criminals-in-waiting as we are treated today.