This is not a good week for the RCMP.
Nor is it a good week for the friends and family who loved Robert Dziekanski, and Orion Hutchinson.After all the time that has passed since their respective deaths, neither family have had a visit from that sweet lady, justice. And why is that?
I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about both cases in the last several days, and the only thing to come from it is an ever-increasing feeling of frustration, and failure.
Frustration that in both cases,although the circumstances are quite different, the individuals involved in the incidents have failed to do the right thing.
Failure because the RCMP are the only defenders we have in Canada – barring municipal forces. The public depend on them both to maintain law and order and protect us, as their motto would suggest : ” Maintains le Droit.” Directly translated it means ‘ Maintain the Right”, (of the Crown )although it is often construed as ” Maintain the Law.” Using this motto in reference to the deaths of Robert Dziekanski and Orion Hutchinson, it does make me wonder exactly whose rights did they maintain? While Cpl. Robinson was off-duty at the time of his involvement in Orion’s death,I feel his actions have a direct impact on his credibility as an officer of the law. His choices and actions on personal time call to his judgement as a member of the RCMP.
If the public feels they can not trust actions or judgement of the RCMP, if they have lost confidence in the force as a whole, because of the actions of a few, the system has failed.
If even one person hesitates to ask for help when they need it because they are concerned about what might transpire, the system has failed.
When the public as a whole,are forced into the position of even having to consider whether or not an officer is telling the truth when he gives a ‘ statement of fact’, the system has failed. And to some extent, we have failed right along with it by accepting the status quo without question.
The mission and the values represented by the RCMP on their website is admirable, but in reality,meeting the expectations they have set for themselves has become nearly impossible in light of the two incidents mentioned above.
CORE VALUES OF THE RCMP – Recognizing the dedication of all employees, we will create and maintain an environment of individual safety, well-being and development. We are guided by:
COMMITMENT TO OUR COMMUNITIES – The employees of the RCMP are committed to our communities through:
- unbiased and respectful treatment of all people
- mutual problem solving
- cultural sensitivity
- enhancement of public safety
- partnerships and consultation
- open and honest communication
- effective and efficient use of resources
- quality and timely service
Clearly, something has gone terribly wrong in what has been often recognized as one of our most noble Canadian organizations,because in the end, they remain accountable to no one but themselves. Even the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP have no ability to enforce changes on the way the RCMP operate. They can make recommendations, and often do, but no one can force the RCMP to accept them. Worse yet, the RCMP have demonstrated on several occasions that they can and will refuse to cooperate with CPC investigations and recommendations.
Clearly, the RCMP need a refresher on their core values and commitments to our communities – that is, if they expect to restore what little confidence the public may have left in the members. A little housecleaning in management and some restructuring would go a long ways. However, in the end, the single act that would restore more faith in our national police force than anything else, would be to simply do the right thing in cases like the ones mentioned above.
I’ve always taught my children that no one is perfect. We make mistakes, we screw things up sometimes, and occasionally shit just happens and you have no control over it. But it is what you do after the shit happens that matters. They know that the right thing to do is acknowledge the screw up, the wrong, or the crime and take the consequence, no matter how hard it is to do.
Why? Because that’s what people with integrity, values and compassion do. Moral courage has become a rarity, in these days where people are more shocked by someone telling the truth, than someone who lies and conceals. The RCMP seem to have become more concerned with saving their own skins than ” maintains le droit.”
As much as they may deny it, there appears to be two codes of law and morality in this country; one for the RCMP, and one for the private man. It brings to mind a Japanese proverb: “The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour. ” I think I speak for many when I say I will never forget the death of Robert Dziekanski, and Orion Hutchinson, nor the actions of the officer/s involved in either.
It is time for the RCMP to publically acknowledge the failings of the organization, and of many officers within it. Then, and only then, will there be a place for a new beginning, a new start, and perhaps- just perhaps- justice for all.