(New West Record) – If you haven’t been taking notes, it’s hard to recall the sheer number of black eyes the RCMP has gotten over the past year or two – or even the past couple of weeks.
There were the high-profile deaths of Ian Bush and Robert Dziekanski; there was the bungling of the Robert Pickton file; there was the inadvertent release of hundreds of crime scene and victim images left on a digital camera “hidden” on a suspect’s property.
Then came the harassment claims. Four officers have come forward alleging that they were victims of constant bullying and sexual harassment and that their leadership was completely indifferent.
Out of this Lord-of-the-Flies culture rise newly minted Commissioner Bob Paulson
and, in B.C., Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens. Both men have publicly vowed to crack down on misconduct of this kind. Theirs is a huge task.
It’s a good development that a disinterested civilian, an American no less, will investigate deaths and serious injuries in B.C. involving Mounties, hopefully ending decades of wagon circling and obfuscation.
But professional misconduct will still be handled through the same channels, and it will be up to Paulson and Callens to make those channels actually work for once. Frankly, promises of this sort have been made before – and obviously not kept. This time, examples must be made. If some wrists are slapped behind closed doors (such as one-day suspensions with pay) we can be fairly certain it will be the same-old cover ups or, more accurately, cover up for your buddies game.
But to wash out so many stains from the iconic red serge, the prime task must be to make new officers expect and demand a new culture. These are the women and men who will eventually turn a secret society back into a public service.