More than two years has passed since former RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson issued an open apology to all women who had served or were currently serving on the force.
The apology was an admission that the RCMP had treated women as human garbage – firstly through rampant sexual harassment and abuse, and secondly through making their lives a living hell if they dared to report it.
It’s a shame that hasn’t gone away just because the force apologized.
That’s because the true scope of the abuse is only now becoming known.
As reported by the CBC recently, the RCMP expected about 1,000 claims as part of a massive $100-million settlement, but instead has received more than 3,000 and has reportedly requested more money.
Think about that.
Our nation’s police force needs more than $100 million to pay its victims. That’s how terrible the problem was and likely still is.
So there’s that.
Then there’s the recent accusations made during an inquest last week into the death of RCMP officer Pierre Lemaitre, who took his own life in 2013. Lemaitre served for a time as the media liaison officer at the Burnaby RCMP detachment, as well as a variety of other detachments in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
But it was his time as a media liaison officer in 2007 that is being discussed at the inquest. Lemaitre handled media duties right after the death of Polish visitor Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport. The inquest heard testimony that Lemaitre was fed false information about the death of Dziekanski, including how many times he was hit with a Taser by officers.
A former media strategist for the Mounties, Atoya Montague, testified that Lemaitre was “hung out to dry” by his superiors because they wouldn’t allow him to correct the false information.
The inquest has also heard testimony that Lemaitre was scapegoated and then shuffled around to other detachments as punishment. If it’s true, then it’s another black mark against the RCMP, which comes across as a diseased organization that punishes anyone who tries to effect positive change.
What this leads to are some officers who, at the very least, have the morale sucked out of them or, at the very worst, end up traumatized.
This can’t help but lead to bad policing, not to mention more than $100 million of money that is being used to compensate female officers instead of being spent on making our communities safer.
It sounds so obvious, but we have to say it: as many of these terrible superior officers as possible need to be rooted out and fired.
The entire organization needs to be shaken up.
Our faith in our nation's police force must be restored.