Trust in the RCMP is crumbling, an overhaul demanded
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been heavily criticized in recent years, both for sexual misconduct and for their handling of the Nova Scotia massacre. This tarnished his reputation. (Archives)
In Nova Scotia, the year 2022 was marked by the important commission of inquiry which looked into the April 2020 shooting which left 22 dead in the province . Revelations that emerged during public hearings continued to fuel public mistrust of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which some say have been setting up shop for years. experts.
This year alone, an Indigenous group in Newfoundland and Labrador and a government committee on systemic racism in British Columbia have both called on their province to divest itself of the RCMP, while the United Conservative Party government of #x27;Alberta is working on a plan to replace the RCMP with a provincial police force.
In Cumberland County, where some of the killings took place during the Nova Scotia shootings, city council recently voted to seek proposals to establish local police departments, including from local police departments. other police forces than the RCMP.
A poll commissioned by the national police force earlier this year showed that only 51% of Canadians believe the RCMP is honest, representing a drop of five percentage points from the previous year. Only one-third of Canadians believe the RCMP treats visible minorities and First Nations fairly.
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has faced widespread criticism following the shooting of Nova Scotia. (Archives)
The RCMP must be held to account. It really needs to rethink what it does as a police force, says criminology professor at Saint Thomas University in New Brunswick, Michael Boudreau.
Now that the missteps of the police have been exposed to the public during the commission of inquiry into the mass shooting in Nova Scotia, Mr. Boudreau points out that it would be a missed opportunity if the recommendations of the commission do not #x27;not entailing radical changes.
Nevertheless, it is not very optimistic to see such a change in direction occurring.
Unfortunately, politicians are going to have to get involved if we are to have a serious discussion about the future of the police, he nuances. The police cannot be left to reform themselves.
Historically, the RCMP has kept its problems out of the public eye, says the professor.
However, that all changed 10 years ago when several women said they had experienced discrimination, harassment, bullying and sexual assault from their colleagues. A class action that resulted from these reports ultimately paid approximately $125 million to more than 2,300 women.
Janet Merlo was among those women who exposed the actions of their coworkers. She was also the main plaintiff in the class action.
During the Nova Scotia shooting hearings, she was able to draw several parallels to the situation she experienced herself, including a chronic understaffing, friction with local police, and a vision cops first who delayed issuing a public warning about the shooter who was driving a replica police cruiser.
“Everything is starting to fall apart, but I feel bad for those on the ground doing their job.
— Janet Merlo
She is now leading a campaign to establish independent external oversight of the RCMP, which she hopes will ensure greater accountability and will help trigger cultural change.
They should no longer be allowed to control or investigate themselves, Ms. Merlo argues. That's why public trust is crumbling: they're always investigating themselves, coming back and saying it's okay.
Two years ago, when releasing the final class action report, Merlo hoped Commissioner Brenda Lucki would turn things around.
But now, still seeing little change, Ms. Merlo has given up hope.
I've lost all faith in Brenda Lucki, she says. she. I don't believe she will do anything to right the ship.
Professor Boudreau thinks Ms. Lucki should be replaced — preferably by a civilian who doesn't x27;never been a policeman.
The RCMP began as a national police force, and Mr. Boudreau argues that it should go back to its roots rather than spread across the country.
“They [cops] should be looking at corporate crimes, national security and that kind of stuff, not answering 911 calls when an ATV has been stolen. »
— Michael Boudreau, professor of criminology
And, while the creation of municipal or provincial police forces is expensive and demanding, Mr. Boudreau believes that any significant change regarding the RCMP should include a fundamental, if not radical, review of policing as a whole, both nationally and nationally. than provincial.
In a statement emailed from RCMP National Headquarters, Corporal Kim Chamberland says culture reform as well as tackling harassment and discrimination are priorities for Ms. Lucki.
Criminologist Michael Boudreau
We know that ending harassment and improving the culture are key to achieving operational excellence and for our success as a modern organization, writes Ms. Chamberland.
The RCMP has already identified five key priorities to achieve this goal, including the combating systemic racism and improving accountability, says Ms. Chamberland.
However, Professor Boudreau remains convinced that the police force has failed to learn from its failures.
I'm starting to think maybe it's time for the feds to get involved in really exposing this police force and rebuild it from top to bottom, because it' ;is a broken police force, he concludes.