Is the Harper gov’t. planning to disband the RCMP? The CBC has raised this question and so do many loyal mounties (retired and present members). Today’s contribution is written by Eric Rebiere (Former Cst. RCMP 37515 LSGC and military veteran).On a personal note, I would like to thank all those who sent special condolences at the time my husband died. I appreciated your prayers and personal messages. BONNIE
THE WILLFUL DESTRUCTION OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE BY THE HARPER GOVERNMENT
by Eric Rebiere (Former Cst. RCMP 37515 LSGC and military veteran)
The recent exchange between RCMP S/Sgt. Chad and the Commissioner is evident of a disconnect between the RCMP membership and the RCMP Management. A number of senior NCO’s have expressed their displeasure with what is going on in the RCMP and the direction it is going. The link to the story by the CBC is as follows:
Commissioner Paulson said in an interview with Globe media that in the RCMP “things can be better.” Are they?
I have been advocating for many years and that RCMP management and this present government need to deal with the core issue of mental health in the RCMP workplace. It’s a fact that Dr. Passe from the VAC OSI clinic in Vancouver stated to Globe media that the RCMP have it worse than the Military in regards to the number of critical incidents encountered by an RCMP officer. The combat mission for the Canadian Military is over and the PTSD fallout continues. As you all know, an RCMP officer straps on that side arm and faces the unknown out there in the streets of Canada every day, in many cases for their entire careers. This is the reality of being an RCMP officer and the war in the streets of Canada is never over, which is the same for
other police services.
I have to agree that the response to S/Sgt Chad by Commissioner
Paulson was disrespectful, condescending and an obvious bit of insight into the tough process of this Commissioner.
Commissioner Paulson’s approach to dealing with harassment, sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace is to use fear. This sledge-hammer approach is only making things worse by increasing stress on the RCMP membership at the same time as it really drives the denial of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and
other Occupational Stress Injuries underground.
I am not saying discipline in a paramilitary organization like the RCMP is not important. It is crucial, but by not dealing with the huge problem of PTSD in the RCMP in 2006, when the RCMP Occupational Health and Safety Branch studied the Occupational Injury Social Support Program (OSISS) and recommended
joining into the program with the Canadian Military, the problem is compounded.
The Canadian Military has and are aggressively dealing with the prevention of suicide and related fallout of PTSD within their ranks and within their veterans’ population. They even have a family peer support program.
They — the Military — keep statistics of suicides both within the military and through VAC in regards to the military veterans. OSISS is part of this initiative to monitor this. The big question I have is what are the statistics of suicide in the RCMP, not to mention the RCMP veterans’ population. There had to be data recorded in 2006 when the RCMP Occupational Health and Safety needs assessment report was published. Are statistics being recorded by the RCMP? If not, why? Is it a simple case of no statistics equals no problem? To not monitor incidents of suicide within the RCMP is negligent. To have the statistics and not publish them is even more negligent.
What are the statistics in the RCMP veterans population? How many preventable suicides of members/veterans have taken place
I know of several incidents involving retired officers two other
police services and one from the RCMP who had committed suicide. Two suicides were the result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, one a former S/Sgt. in the Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force and the other more recent, an RCMP Cpl. in Richmond BC that initiated the Globe Media story. The following is the link. The Third was an OPP officer who committed suicide at his Detachment in Midland Ontario.
When there is a problem in an organization that results in unnecessary deaths and suffering, it is the employer who has a moral and legal obligation to deal with it. The military was in this situation and because of the statistics had to deal with suicides within their ranks, and they did by creating the OSISS program. The also took the initiative to create an aggressive educational aspect bringing the reality of PTSD within the military out into the open. PTSD comes with the territory in what they do.
OSISS prevents unnecessary suicides and it is a fact. Recently as a
trained volunteer for the OSISS program here in Kingston, I had to follow the OSISS protocol in regards to a suicidal former soldier, and as a result this soldier is doing fine because of a fellow peer who has PTSD stepped in and could relate to him. This individual got the help needed and is doing fine. This is the essence of what the OSISS does for the Military, veterans and there families. Thanks to their open-door policy, OSISS
has RCMP members and veterans that have managed to find their way into the program. I have it on good authority that if the OSISS program is strained to the point of not being able to support the Military and their veterans, the door will be closed to the RCMP and our veterans.
A 1-800 number the RCMP have implemented will not work and is nothing but a band-aid solution. It’s a fact that the Harper Government does not want to waste valuable public funds on funding the OSISS program for the RCMP, not to mention the RCMP veterans population. This example of a disconnect between the rank and file and the RCMP Commissioner
has become obvious because the Harper Government, the Minister of Public Safety and the Commissioner do not have the backs of the men and women out on the streets who are the RCMP (we were all there once) and the RCMP membership know this. There has been two other RCMP S/Sgt.s who have stepped up and expressed their views on this disconnect with RCMP management. These are senior NCOs who have a pulse on what is going on within the rank and file of those members they are responsible for and speaks volumes.
For the Commissioner to rule by fear in order to deal with the
symptoms of the cause (not in all cases) and not deal with the core problem PTSD and other Occupational Stress Injuries that has long been rampant in the RCMP is a big mistake.
The Commissioner seems powerless to act. Or is it that he does not choose to stand up for the RCMP officers and
their needs and concerns? The cracks are really starting to show
especially in British Columbia where the majority of the RCMP members are. It is not normal for an RCMP S/Sgt., the NCO I/C of a polygraph unit to come home, beat up his wife and level his side arm at his family. This is a symptom of the cause, a cry for help, which I strongly suspect is PTSD-related because this is not normal behaviour for a senior RCMP non-commissioned officer.
I do believe that harassment, sexual harassment and bullying within the RCMP and resulting lawsuits are because of mental health issues in the workplace and is not just the RCMP that has this serious problem of PTSD. Being scapegoated is a common phenomena experienced by members suffering with PTSD, and I do believe a lot of what is going on is related to mental health and the lack of education about Occupational Stress injuries like PTSD.
The following is an account of being scapegoated by fellow RCMP officers. I can relate because it happened to me.
There is a measure of responsibility on the part of the Government/RCMP management in not dealing with PTSD in 2006 when OSISS was recommended by the RCMP Health Services. If the firing of a member or member being forced out of the RCMP by medical discharge because of PTSD, especially if it is undiagnosed, will this result in more lawsuits? Each case of course has to be looked at individually and objectively.
The sledge-hammer approach will no doubt stop to a large degree the harassment and bullying in the RCMP for fear of loosing one’s job. Fear is a strong motivator. The real tragedy will be the increase of stress on the RCMP membership and the RCMP families will take the brunt of the PTSD fallout as a result of members melting down at home and to what end an increase of spousal assaults, traumatized kids and of course suicide leaving children without a parent.
I am not a psychologist or councillor and do not pretend to be but
having PTSD and have dealt with peers with PTSD I certainly know when an individual needs to get checked out. That is why OSISS is such an important program for the RCMP to get involved with now and why Chief Supt. Corley recommended it in the June 2006 RCMP needs analysis report.
The most incidents seem to be in the contract provinces especially E Division (British Columbia) which makes sense because of the nature of frontline police work. Of course there is also the deployments to places like Afghanistan where the RCMP have been involved since the start of the Combat mission in 2007. The members in Afghanistan have had to re-adapt to our paramilitary roots in order to survive in that environment. Because the RCMP work closely with the Canadian military
is why OSISS has an open-door policy.
I have received information about the OSISS style Peer Support program adapted by the New York Police Department as a result of alarming statistics involving he suicides of NYPD officers over a short period of time. The beauty of this information is that it is something that can be compared against because policing is policing no matter what side of the border. The NYPD claim that this peer support program called “POPPA” has reduced the suicide rate within their ranks by 80%! The Link to the POPPA web site is
Loyalty of the membership to the RCMP is paramount, but I ask have those members who have stepped up to do the right thing on behalf of the RCMP membership been punished for trying to do the right thing in regards to PTSD-related issues? PTSD is a health and safety issue for both the RCMP officers, the families and of course the general public, which the members’ families are a part of. Will this also result in unnecessary lawsuits? Does the Minister of Public Safety not realize this?
If the NYPD can take the bull by the horns and deal with a serious
problem of suicides within their organization by committing funds to their Peer Support Program, why can’t the Harper Government do the same thing for the neglected RCMP, a National Canadian Symbol that is presently imploding and the negative news media makes this apparent.
The media rarely speaks of the good work the RCMP does. To say
everything will be fine in the RCMP once the bad apples are thrown out is irresponsible and a very counterproductive approach in dealing with the problems plaguing the long neglected RCMP.
Why is this happening? I get the impression the present Government wants the RCMP to decay in order to have a reason to disband it? Is there a motive to get out of contract policing as a whole to further save federal tax dollars. This present government is lead by an economist and a bean counter who has put the savings of tax dollars ahead of the wellbeing of the RCMP members, their families and veterans who have sacrificed for this country and continue to do so. When does it become obvious that this government has no loyalty to the RCMP, a Canadian national symbol? The savings of passing on policing to provinces and reducing the size of the RCMP perhaps? Possibly disbanding the RCMP entirely and reinventing a new National Police
Service like the FBI.
Commissioner Paulson recently stated that the RCMP membership as a whole had better get their act together or “Lose their Stetsons.” A good indicator of the possible road the RCMP may be going down under this present government.
I felt compelled to write this because we as the old guard have a duty to support the RCMP as best we can. I am very proud to have been a Mounted Policeman for 24 years, through good and bad times, and I am still proud to have served.
THE CBC SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEIR IGNORANCE OF THE MILITARY HISTORY OF THE RCMP AND SHOULD EDUCATE THEMSELVES ABOUT A CANADIAN NATIONAL
SYMBOL THAT HAS BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN THE CBC.
Recently I could not believe a CBC reporter in London covering the London Olympics stated that it was a real honour for the RCMP, a civilian police force to replace the Queens Life Guard at Buckingham Palace. A civilian police force? The reason as a lot of RCMP vets know, we are not a civilian police service because King George V said different in the 1930s . King George V bestowed to the RCMP by royal assent the distinction of being a Regiment of Dragoons because of service during time of First World War. The RCMP have the distinction of being a
Regiment of Dragoons in order to have a Regimental Guidon with Battle honours hence being given the honour of replacing the Queens Life Guard, a Military Regiment. It’s pretty sad that the British know where we stand and appreciate the RCMP for our contribution to the British Monarchy but a lot of Canadians like this CBC report do not know why the RCMP march in the parade with the Canadian Military on Remembrance Day and stand with the Canadian Military on the National Cenotaph. The CBC and their obvious ignorance of the RCMP’s history as a paramilitary organization with battle honours only helps to spread
this ignorance to the Canadian Public. Investigative journalist? Not doing to well in the history department. Thank God the Queen and the British know who the RCMP are by giving the RCMP the honour of replacing the Queens Life Guard during the London Olympics.
I recently spent three days at the National Archives doing research on the Royal North West Mounted Police and their contribution to the First World War. To Know that we have two members that are the recipients of the Victoria Cross for valour, one during the Boer War and the other during the First World War is something to really be proud of. The true-to-life stories I have encountered of Mounted Policeman doing their duty with honour and dedication makes me even more proud to have
served in RCMP. We as the old guard have a duty to keep their stories of duty and honour alive and to educate the public, especially the CBC, about the proud history behind the red serge.
Today, as I have been writing this, another RCMP member has come forward and is disillusioned with what is going on. This member more senior than my regimental number is speaking up and more will follow.
It is apparent to me that the disconnect between the Commissioner and the rank and file is severe. The Commissioner is towing a political rope and those that are the RCMP have been put aside because of the political agenda that has caused the disconnect in the first place.
Leadership is the ability to do what is right for those under the
Commissioner’s responsibility but this is not the case because the
Commissioner is there for a political reasons. Leadership is not a
priority when the RCMP has been compromised politically. I implore all those who have something to say to come forward and do what is right for the RCMP and the membership. The Commissioner walks to a different drummer like the previous Commissioner Elliot who was the subject of a senior management revolt. Where did Paulson stand when the revolt took place? It is evident it was not with the interests of the RCMP membership but one that is political. How did Paulson get there in the
first place? The RCMP’s existence is threatened by all this. The NYPD information about the POPPA peer support program speaks for itself.
Save the RCMP before this Canadian National Symbol is abandoned…….
- Major depression drives suicidal thinking in soldiers and vets, new Canadian study show (canada.com)
- Analysis: RCMP bigshots missing the point (lfpress.com)