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Is the RCMP losing respect?


The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a long history in Canada, nearing 100 years, following the merger of two older policing forces. If you think of Canada, what often comes to mind is maple syrup, the Maple Leaf on our flag, our great history of peacekeeping abroad and the RCMP!

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a long history in Canada, nearing 100 years, following the merger of two older policing forces. The RCMP spawned from the merger, in 1920, of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police (founded 1873) with the Dominion Police (founded 1868).
If you think of Canada, what often comes to mind is maple syrup, the Maple Leaf on our flag, our great history of peacekeeping abroad and the RCMP!
But lately the same pride, which once accompanied the role of an RCMP officer, has not shone so brightly.
Cases in point:
- RCMP Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart chastised the force this month for keeping highly sensitive information about Canadians in secret databases for much too long;
- Investigations into the Maher Arar torture case in Syria have revealed the United Stated deported Mr. Arar to that Arab nation, knowing he would be tortured, after consulting with the RCMP;
- Taser incidents now coming to light all across Canada sparked by the RCMP's tasering of a Polish immigrant in Vancouver Airport, contributing to his death. A CBC report since then revealed RCMP officers have used tasers on 563 people and '79 per cent' were unarmed!;
- Closer to home but on the national scene, Bell Island native RCMP Deputy-Commissioner Barbara George was cited 'in contempt of Parliament' by the Commons Public Accounts Committee April 2007, for her testimony in an investigation into mismanagement of the RCMP pension and insurance plans;
- Two incidents in recent years - one in eastern Newfoundland and another in western Newfoundland about the same time - saw RCMP shoot and kill two men who were recognized as 'mentally disturbed';
- And still closer to home in Point May on the Burin Peninsula in March 1996, Nicholas Benteau was shot and killed by RCMP in a standoff at his home leading to a provincial inquiry into the shooting.
Yet, Crime Stoppers Newfoundland and Labrador just last month nominated three officers as RCMP 'Police Officers of the Year'. At the grassroots level RCMP officers are involving themselves in the community through minor hockey, other youth groups, service organizations, etc.
But with incidents as outlined above at the national level in particular, citizens are wondering whether the RCMP has overstepped its bounds in an over zealous approach to policing.
The respect, which many officers attain at the local level, seems to be thinning out the higher up the ranks one goes.
The RCMP have been strong in their community policing roles, but it seems the more senior roles are struggling to control their own self importance - case in point former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli who placed a great deal of emphasis on pomp and ceremony.
The policing role of serving and protecting - reflected in excellent 'community policing' programs - needs every officer, up and down the line, to buy into it and realize all individuals within the community need to be shown respect to have it returned in kind.

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