43.6% of ALL complaints against the RCMP are for abusive behaviour and language.
That is incredible and shows a systemic problem that RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson cannot be happy about.
I stumbled across this information while looking for some recent decisions by the RCMP Complaints Commission. Shockingly, I discovered their website does not list a single RCMP complaint case past 2009. I've written them asking where they're hiding the rest of the decisions and hopefully they'll respond with something other than "they are not publicly available".
That being said, the information about RCMP complaints is displayed in a way that seemed odd to me. After stating this:
The most common complaint issue relates to RCMP member attitude. This category can include behaviours that are perceived to be:
- unfair; or
- lacking in empathy.
where they specifically state the "most common complaint issue relates to RCMP member attitude" the writers of this web page then specifically do NOT include the most telling statistic of all; 24.2% of all complaints against the RCMP are for abusive language.
Notice they specifically exclude this number from the table:
Complaints "other than abusive language" are a whopping 19.4% of all the complaints they receive, but when you combine that with the stats for abusive language complaints, 24.2, you end up with the stunning figure that almost half of all complaints against the RCMP (43.6%) are for their bad attitudes toward the mere citizens of Canada.
Is it any wonder the RCMP is held in such low esteem by Canadians? How could it be otherwise when RCMP members clearly hold the rest of us in such contempt.
Here's the thing that every single member of the RCMP needs to comprehend: If you want public support, if you want we mere citizens of Canada to respect you then you must first treat us with respect. This, according to the RCMP Complaints Commission, is something you are clearly NOT doing.
I was absolutely stunned when I saw that graph. My mind immediately targeted the phrase "other than abusive language" and the numbers just didn't add up. I grabbed my calculator and sure enough, the biggest number of all was missing.
Do these folks really believe we're that stupid?
I guess we already have the answer to that in the graph above. Yes, they do. They think we can't add. Or that even if we can add, we won't make the connection between the opening statement, "The most common complaint issue relates to RCMP member attitude" and the graph that starts with "Attitude other than abusive language".
The percentage is telling, even if the RCMP as a whole wants to deny the reality that 43.6% of complaints makes absolutely clear: there is a systemic attitude problem inside the RCMP.
The foundation of that attitude is as old as policing itself, I'm sure. I doubt it was many years after Sir Robert Peel wrote his famous 9 Principles of Policing that the Fat Blue Wall was erected between "them" and "us".
Police demand respect from us. Fair enough, but there is a missing component here and that is the respect they must first show us.
When the starting attitude of a cop is that every single person they interact with is a criminal or scumbag until proved otherwise, they become insular and detached from the very people they ought to be most respectfully engaged with.
I remember an incident that happened a few years ago that really crystallized this for me.
It was late, after midnight I think, and I was on my way home from working in Vancouver. I was going a little faster than I ought to have and that's why he pulled me over.
It wasn't because this particular RCMP member was rude in any way. He wasn't. In fact he was quite decent. But the thing that shocked me was his statement, after interrogating me as to where I lived (Lytton) and for how long (20+ years):
"Why don't I know you?"
I was so dumbfounded by the question I sat there in stunned silence.
He walked back to his cruiser, discovered I was telling the truth, came back and gave me a warning instead of an expensive speeding ticket. Like I said, that was rather decent of him as we both knew I had exceeded the speed limit coming down that hill.
It wasn't until I continued driving toward home that a response to the good constable's question came to me.
"Well, Constable, I keep to myself, I mind my own business, I don't drink, I don't do drugs, I don't beat my wife and I don't kick my dog. Why on earth would you know me? You have absolutely no reason to interact with me."
But my own answer gives away part of the problem with systemic police bad attitudes, doesn't it?
I'm not the sort of person an RCMP constable normally comes in contact with.
The sort of person they come in contact with most often are the criminals types, the scumbags if you will, of society. I suspect it takes a very strong personality type to NOT become jaded by that; to NOT see the entire world as scumbags unworthy of respect and dignity.
The solution to this problem is not one that can come from the RCMP alone, although Commissioner Robert Paulson absolutely must address this issue and come up with ways to help his men and women understand that the vast majority of Canadians are decent folks; that as RCMP members they must, first and foremost, treat we mere citizens with respect.
That's a given.
But I also believe there is a part for we mere citizens to play in all this as well. In order for cops to realize, aside from being ordered to as part of their ongoing training, that there are good and decent citizens out there worthy of their respect and even (gasp!) their admiration, they must interact with us.
So maybe the thing to do for each of us individually is, the next time we see a cop on the street, is to ask them to allow us to buy them a cup of coffee and chat for a few minutes. Maybe use a copy of this article as a starting point for your conversation. But don't be surprised if you're advance is met with skepticism and distrust, at least initially. You will likely be the first person who has ever approached them in this way.
What do you think?
What ideas do you have for changing the RCMP's insanely high statistic for complaints of police bad attitudes? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments area below.