So, out of the blue, our Commish announces that the Member Employee Assistance Program is to cease and desist. But worry not folks, we have something else in mind to take its place. It will be a peer-to-peer program, with the additional bonus of the Federal Gov’t 1-800 #. We’re still not sure what the peer-to-peer program looks like, but it will be made available shortly. In the meantime, are we expected to ignore critical incidents and the need to debrief our members? Are we expected to call a 1-800 number like everyone else in the public service? News flash!!! We are NOT JUST public servants. This number is simply meant to lower the costs incurred as a result of our mental state because counsellors are used (and not necessarily well screened ones to deal specifically with police matters), instead of psychologists who are well versed and trained to specifically address issues associated with police work. Don’t for one second believe that the Force is trying to increase “strategies” for us to cope with our mental health. The costs for mental wellness in the Force have gone through the roof, and this is all one big cost cutting measure. A different health strategy was proposed by a member (who also happened to be a psychologist) and this was rejected. Why? Too expensive. It was far superior, and hit on everything recognized by specialists in the field.
I have recently been supplied with a copy of an email that Bob Paulson sent to the rank and file regarding a recent article in Maclean’s Magazine criticizing his handling of the carbine issue. Please consult my earlier comments on this site in order to place what follows in context. It is true that Bob Paulson sent a letter to me on June 21, 2010 indicating he was disappointed with my report. What is remarkable of course is that the report I had provided to the Use of Force Section on March 1, 2010 was a draft report. It is incredible that a government agency that purports to be unhappy with a report that they paid a significant amount of money for would not even meet with the contractor to discuss their concerns. This despite three and half months of phoning my contacts in the Use of Force Section and innumerable emails no one called me back. Until I received Paulson’s letter on June 23 2010 I heard absolutely nothing from anyone at RCMP headquarters regarding my report. Not a single word. With Paulson’s arrival on the scene I learned that he had muzzled his employees and I found such action abusive and insulting not only for his staff but for me as a contractor. As for a delay in receiving my report Paulson conveniently neglects to point out that there was a delay in having the questionnaire translated into French and that by year’s end only 40 percent of the questionnaires had been completed and returned to RCMP headquarters for analysis. In fact, at the end of January 2010, another 20 questionnaires arrived. To suggest to the rank and file that I didn’t deliver the report on time is just another example of Paulson digging a hole for himself.
As a result, in May 2010 I filed a formal written complaint against Bob Paulson with the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. On July 7, 2010 I received a reply from Rick Stevens an Enquiries and Complaints Analyst advising me that the concerns in my letter did not appear to qualify as conduct of the RCMP in the performance of a duty or function under the Act and as a result they were unable to process my complaint under Part VII of the RCMP Act. I have provided a copy of this letter to Maclean’s Magazine (File no. 5430-2010-2198). My point in sharing this information is that it is unprecedented for a contractor to be treated so unprofessional by a government department. I couldn’t believe that the RCMP would pay a substantial sum of money for a report and then show absolutely no interest in meeting, discussing or contacting the researcher to discuss its contents until almost four months later.
The email Paulson sent out to the rank and file conveniently neglects to mention the fact that I replied to his correspondence on June 26, 2010 and copies were sent to him both by email and fax. Despite this fact he never contacted me either by phone or email. What does this tell you about his management skills? What does this tell you about his communication skills? What does this tell you about his abilities as a leader? What does this tell you about his credibility? As I recall these were all qualifications the former Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that the government would be looking for when they appointed the next Commissioner of the RCMP. Since Paulson didn’t mention that I replied to his June correspondence in his email to the rank and file perhaps it would help if I shared that information with them. You be the judge. While Paulson is entitled to his own opinion he is not entitled to own set of facts. So let’s have some evidence based information. Consider the following letter that I sent to Paulson on June 26, 2010:
Dear Commissioner Paulson
I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated June 21, 2010 with respect to my report ‘Aiming for Safety: A Needs Analysis To Determine the Feasibility of Adopting the Patrol Carbine in the RCMP.
My report was delivered to the Use of Force Section on March 1, 2010. At that time, I made it clear that what I was providing was to be regarded only as a ‘draft report.’ I also indicated that I would be available to meet to discuss any aspects of my report and to make any changes or additions required at no cost to the RCMP.
For the past three months I have attempted unsuccessfully to reach staff in the Use of Force section to arrange a meeting to discuss my report’s findings and recommendations. I have been conducting contract work for federal government departments for the past nine years. It is common practice to submit a draft report to a client and then meet to discuss any changes or additions to the body of the report that the client may require. As I received no feedback whatsoever I logically concluded the report must be acceptable to the RCMP.
The receipt of your letter this past week indicates that this is not the case. In the interest of good communications, it would have been far more productive to convene a meeting in person to discuss any concerns you had about the report rather than simply sending me a letter, months after the report had been submitted. With respect to the points raised in your correspondence I offer the following comments:
First, the Use of Force Section approved my methodological approach which entailed designing and administering two survey questionnaires, one to firearms experts in the RCMP and the other to rural, municipal and urban police departments. Feedback from the OIC of the Use of Force Section elicited nothing but positive comments both on the design and content of the two survey questionnaires.
Second, I proposed and developed terms of reference for convening a round table of firearms specialists and RCMP internal and external stakeholders in order to consult them on specific issues relating to the patrol carbine. I was later informed however that for reasons of cost the possibility of holding a round table did not receive the go ahead from senior management in the RCMP. In my view a valuable consultative tool that might otherwise have impacted on the report’s findings and recommendations was lost as a result. To suggest therefore that the report did not provide appropriate consultation with internal and external stakeholders is not the fault of the researcher.
Third, the terms of reference for the carbine project explicitly stated “the researcher will be partnered and required to work with certain subject matter experts as directed by the OIC Use of Force and Operational Programs or the Patrol Carbine Project Manager. “ These parties could include internal as well as external parties. At no time was I partnered or asked to work with subject matter experts or internal/external parties during the course of the project. This underscores my second point.
Fourth, your letter states that your reviewers were expecting an evidence-based rationale for and against the implementation of a patrol carbine for the RCMP based on the Canadian experience. You also mention that the report relied heavily on American sources. The terms of reference makes it abundantly clear that I was to conduct a ‘comprehensive’ review ‘of both open source (i.e. FBI Officer Shooting Report, etc) and secure information (as provided) associated to patrol carbine programs.’ Historically, US law enforcement agencies have had considerably more experience with the patrol carbine than police forces in Canada. In addition, there are ‘no’ empirical studies in Canada (published/unpublished) that I am aware of that have specifically contrasted the effectiveness of the patrol carbine over the shotgun other than the executive type reports cited in my report. Regardless, the Canadian reports would ‘not’ qualify scientifically as empirical studies. Furthermore, at no time (and the terms of reference makes this clear), was I asked to base my literature review on the patrol carbine solely on the ‘Canadian experience.’
The substantive aspect of my report dealt with the views, opinions and observations on the carbine/shotgun from firearms specialists in the RCMP and in rural, municipal and urban police departments from across Canada. With all due respect, to suggest the responses of 100 plus police officers, ‘does not probe the information available on the topic with sufficient scrutiny’ is in my opinion factually incorrect. Moreover, it is a disservice to all those police officers that took the time to complete the questionnaire.
I have been willing since March 1, 2010 to meet with the OIC Use of Force Section and other interested parties to discuss any concerns or issues that they may have concerning my ‘draft’ report. If this is still a possibility please do not hesitate to contact me.
So this is the letter that I sent to Paulson. If you were the Assistant Commissioner what would you do if you received a letter of this nature? Would you ignore it and not reply? Surely any reasonable person would have contacted the writer but not Paulson. He never once directly or indirectly contacted me to discuss my draft report and he made certain none of his staff did. You can draw your own conclusions about how he has dealt with the carbine issue since he became Commissioner. In his email to the rank and file he says the Maclean’s Magazine article is unfair and that my report was deficient. Based on the above I will leave it up to you and the rank and file to decide what is unfair and what is deficient.
Darryl T Davies BA, DIP CRIM (Cantab)
Instructor, criminology and criminal justice
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
The above views are those of the author in his personal capacity and they do not represent the position of Carleton University.
There is a Maclean’s article this week that is very critical of the Force, and me in particular, for the manner in which we rolled out the carbines in the context of recent events in Moncton and the murder of our three colleagues.
It’s important for me, for you, for the Force to understand the factors which have contributed to these deaths. That’s why I asked for an immediate review of the circumstances which gave rise to this tragedy: so we can learn and adjust quickly. I’ve written you already about retired A/Commr. Phonse MacNeil’s ongoing review. It’s also why the Employment and Social Development Canada Health and Safety Officer and the RCMP internal Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Team investigations were initiated.
This Maclean’s article though, is not a fair representation of what has happened.
A lot of people in the Force have worked long and very hard to properly get us to where we are in the roll out of these weapons. I maintain that it is a shallow and easy analysis of these murders to link them to the absence of the carbine in the way some people are doing.
From the outset, our strategy for the selection and acquisition of a carbine was framed to do it on a foundation of reliable evidence based analysis of our needs.
We all knew instinctively we needed to acquire a carbine, but we needed to objectively demonstrate our need and document our analysis.
We were working on this well before the Mayerthorpe Inquiry recommended we get one. We knew that the addition of another deadly force option, at a time when we were being condemned for our CEW and broader use of force practices, would require a careful and formal analysis of the need for the carbine, together with the creation of precise policies on its use, its distribution and training.
It is insufficient these days to simply say “everybody said we needed them therefore we got them.” That’s why receiving the Davies report was so disappointing. It was submitted late and fell far short of the requirements that had been plainly set out in the statement of work. Sure it said everybody thinks we need a carbine, we knew that. Sure it said hurry up and get it into the hands of the front line member. That’s what we were trying to do. What the report didn’t do was to produce an objective, evidence based analysis of our need that would position us to acquire and deploy the carbine in our reality.
It did not provide the critical analysis that the Force and our members would need to defend against criticism for its use when, ultimately it got used. I was disappointed and in June 2010 I wrote Mr. Davies and told him so.
But just because I was disappointed with this deficient report doesn’t mean we stopped or abandoned the project. To the contrary, we had already engaged Defence Research Development Canada by this time in an effort to do the proper analysis and ultimately this allowed us to move forward, identify the Colt C8, and put it in our inventory.
We developed reasonable training standards in line with 9 of the 18 Canadian Police Services we studied. We prepared policies, procurement plans, maintenance, risk assessments and a host of other processes and systems that had to be in place. We succeeded in getting the first carbine out the door in 2013.
Yes we have been carefully deliberate in the roll out and yes, it may be that some aspects could have gone quicker but we currently have 1330 out there, another 219 arriving in October and more coming.
It’s easy to second guess and criticise from the sidelines. Sensational really, especially after the murder of our members, to say “I told those guys to buy the carbines in 2010 all at once and get them out there.” But that isn’t reasonable or practical. Frankly, these claims are consistent with the kind of analysis we were provided in the deficient report in the first place.
My purpose in writing today is not to be defensive, if there are things we need to change we will. I just want to balance the criticism in the
Maclean’s story with reality. I’m not opposed to criticism, I welcome it. I just ask that it be accurate and factual.
All that said none of it helps our departed members, Doug, Dave, Fabrice or their families. I ask you not to disrespect their service and their
sacrifice by unfairly and prematurely judging how or why they died. Let’s get an analysis of what happened and make our decisions and judgments on the back of evidence.
Just a brief introduction of myself. I retired from the Codiac RCMP in Feb. of 2013 after being ODS on a number of occasions. During my ODS I was unfortunately diagnosed with PTSD. My last 14yrs was as a Team Leader, Cpl., in the patrol section.
I worked with, supervised and provided annual evaluations on two of the fallen. When this tragedy took place I felt helpless, in fact, have gone through different emotional stages. Now I am with the feeling I can help. I can do something. I am speaking up!
I have already provided an interview with the CBC on “facts” of safety shortcomings. In that interview I concluded that the only fair, transparent and non prejudicial way to have an inquiry would be by a public inquiry.
A recent “editorial” was prepared and released by one of our most recognized and read papers in the Maritimes, The Times and Transcript. The editorial supports a public inquiry while our Premier and local MP support an internal. I have a meeting scheduled with the MP, Robert Goguen, July 11th.
The Times and Transcript provides a section of its paper for public feedback. It is titled, “Forum”. Now folks is the time to let the public know what you know about the RCMP, its administration and practices. What you feel about an internal inquiry.
As you are all probably aware, the public support for the fallen, injured and its police force in general has been overwhelming. I would not hesitate to say that hundreds of thousands of dollars through various organizations, benefits and concerts are still pouring in.
The public should and, in my opinion, have a right to know what has been wrong and what went wrong. The public want to do more than make a donation and give their condolences.
I ask that perhaps the ones placing concerns on this web page, contact the Times and Transcript and forward your thoughts to the editor. Many of you are like me, retired and have seen a lot. If and when our public read comments from people that are not just local, that are from various venues perhaps from around the world, you will get their attention.
Finally I must tell you that I have conversed a number times already with the MPPAC and am in support of their efforts, or should I say our efforts as I recently became a member myself.
Another response from the Commissioner that doesn’t correspond with previous comments made to the media (CBC) when he said that the members had all the equipment they needed. Who is being superficial and incomplete ? Who is the monster here ? You decide. see below.
Over the course of the last week the RCMP Executive made an attempt to defend themselves against mounting criticism and questioning around the travesty in Moncton; there was “Setting the Record Straight” out of “J” Division (New Brunswick), “RCMP Say New Gear Is On Way” (Moncton Times and Transcript), a “broadcast” to individual RCMP mailboxes from a Deputy Commissioner, and the “RCMP Denies Force Not Properly Equipped With Guns, Armour” (Toronto Star). After reading these carefully crafted media pieces and releases, do you feel safer? Have your questions been answered? Are you impressed with the way RCMP Senior Executives have handled this matter? Can you point to someone who has shown real leadership? Read more…
To begin, the principals of Re-sergeance.net would like to send their condolences to the grieving families; and the wish that their deceased loved ones David Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan, and Douglas Larche will rest in peace. The same group of principals (comprised of retired and presently serving RCMP members) would like to begin a very difficult conversation. Read more…
What I am writing should NOT be perceived as police officers being criticized after being killed or injured.
It is the examination of their actions. The examination of their tactics may save other police officers from being killed or injured. A very high percentage of police officers killed or injured in the line of duty commit one or more of the “Ten Deadly Errors”. The “Ten Deadly Errors” are listed below.
Please remember that a police officer has to make only one of these errors to be killed or injured. In some cases these errors do not apply when a police officer is injured or killed. An example of this would be the Las Vegas police officers being shot and killed while have lunch. Or a police officer who is killed by a person driving the wrong way on a freeway or highway off ramp.
TEN DEADLY ERRORS
1. Sleepy or asleep
2. Fail to handcuff
3. Taking a bad position
4. False assumption
5. Relaxing to soon
6. Poor or no search
7. Failure to recognize danger signals
8. Tombstone courage
9. Failure to watch the hands
In deadly police encounters, frequently training does not take into account “Hormonal Induced Stress” that occurs in life and death situations. (see and Google Below)
Stress Effects on Heart Rate and Perceptual & Motor Deficits http://www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2004/stress_heart.htm The fear-related stress hormone … were brainstorming
correlations between fear-induced stress, … Some really good books by Lt Col Grossman are On …
Keeping the above information in mind; a critical examination of RCMP training and equipment must be examined. Deadly encounters where multiple RCMP members are killed and the shooter survives and escapes, cannot be explained away by simply saying ” The police officers were ambushed”. “The shooter was a brutal killer”. Immediate access to effective proper firearms and vehicles should be a priority. This is not the case in the RCMP which has come to light in Moncton and Mayerthorpe.
Could poor equipment, poor supervision, poor moral, poor tactical training, and political optics, in active shooting encounters, play a part in the sad outcome of these deadly situations?
Could the performance bonus, if still being paid to Commissioned RCMP Officers be better spent on equipment and training for front line officers?
Yes, we have to mourn police officers deaths; but we also have to examine why police officers are losing these deadly encounters.
SOMEBODY KILLED A POLICEMAN TODAY:
“Somebody killed a policeman today,
And a part of Canada died.
A piece of our country he swore to protect
Will be buried with him at his side.
The suspect who shot him will stand up in court,
With counsel demanding his rights,
While a young widowed mother must work for her kids
And spend alone many long nights.
The area that he worked was a battlefield, too,
Just as if he’d gone off to war.
Yes, somebody killed a policeman today,
It happened in your town or mine.
While we slept in comfort behind our locked doors,
A cop put his life on the line.
Now, his ghost walks a beat on a dark city street,
And he stands at each new rookie’s side.
He answered the call and gave us his all,
And a part of Canada died.”
In the last few months there has been an increased focus, and increased discussion, related to the above noted topic. Much of this interest has concerned itself with immediate tragedies and knee-jerk responses. As those of you who read this blog may know, I have worked as a psychologist in the military/paramilitary (police) universe for over 35 years. In an effort to stimulate some thought and conversation, I would like to share with you what my patients have taught me about the topic of suicide.
Suicidal behaviour almost never occurs in a vacuum. Whether a military or a police case, the act will have most often co-occurred with a prior history of depression; or in the absence of depression at least a profound sense of hopelessness. Moreover, the suicidal individual will likely have been recently inundated with several significant stressors resulting in deep despair. In most cases of suicide there will have been a long slow build-up of hopelessness in tandem with a numbing sense of being powerless to effect any change. Upon careful investigation we are likely to discover that the present state of despair is not the first experienced by the suicidal victim.
The general motivation behind an act of suicide is similar for all; whether military, police, or civilian. Suicidal behaviour is an irrational attempt to escape what appears to the victim, as a hopeless situation. The perceived untenable situation is bound to include personal, family, and/or work related stressors. The key motivational difference between a civilian and a (service) member suicide is that military and police members tend to be more personally invested in their jobs (even more so in elite and highly specialized units). Military and police personnel draw much of their self- image/worth from the work they do. In a sense, they become what they do. Consequently, any threat to that image will result in a strong reaction. (Here is where we find the hesitancy to reach out for help; viewed as weakness by many, and a threat to self-image).
The suicidal picture is often complicated by alcohol. A history of harmful or hazardous drinking often brings with it mood and behavioural concerns including: violence; impulsivity; aggression; intimidation; criminal harassment; or excessive use of force. None of these having much potential for increasing self-esteem. In addition, the use of alcohol during a crisis has the potential to affect judgement, decision-making, and increase the likelihood of impulsive behaviour.
When thoroughly investigating military/paramilitary suicide an important nexus emerges. There is a particular personality type that is attracted to this type of work; and there is a unique organizational culture in which the work takes place. These two variables can interact and influence each other. The military/police culture can reinforce many of the attitudes that characterize the “warrior/cop” personality adjustment. For example, many (service) members are dichotomous reasoners, they see the world in absolute terms; that is, winner/loser, good/bad, right/wrong, success/failure, all or nothing. “If you don’t win them all, you’re a loser”. This rigid style of thinking may assist with the work they do, but when generalized to their self-perceptions as professionals and as human beings it can create fertile ground for crushing disappointment. For there is no one who has not failed at something; we have all been bested by someone at least once in our lives. We have all made mistakes. Yet, when it comes to matters of personal honour or professional reputation most (service) members will accept nothing less that perfection.
In addition to the strong need for achievement, the “warrior/cop” personality often carries a strong need for approval. Much of the reward/reinforcement that derives from military/paramilitary work comes from the respect of the general public and the sense of family provided by other (service) members. Moreover, the (service) members’ families act as places of refuge, understanding, and unconditional acceptance in the “us vs. them” world they perceive. An excessive need for approval can create fertile ground for perceptions of being abandoned, being vulnerable, and being disapproved of. It is pure folly to think that we can have everyone’s approval (agreement) all of the time, and patently inaccurate to believe that we can’t survive without it.
Tragically, this world view leaves very little room for human fallibility or error. A (service) member’s seemingly “together” persona can quickly unravel in the face of significant personal, professional, or family demands; and all three together can create “the perfect storm”. In such situations personal embarrassment or shame are experienced as far more threatening than anxiety or fear; and the loss of respect from colleagues, family, or the public they serve, can feel worse than receiving the diagnosis of a terminal disease.
Finally, the inflexibility often thought to characterize the “warrior/cop” thinking style, at the best of times, can become magnified during times of personal crisis. This result increases the chances that the suicidal individual will have difficulty adopting a different perspective and thinking accurately to a solution. For example, the not uncommon inaccuracy that confuses one’s self-worth with consensus (i.e.” My worth, value, dignity as a human being is determined by what others think of me”) can become confirmed under a barrage of criticism (e.g. “Others are thinking poorly of me, so I am without any human value”); and ultimately impermeable to any self-challenge or change. All of this illogic paving the way to suicide.
In closing I will add that suicide is a complex phenomenon. It would be unwise and unscientific to suggest that one variable in the equation is to blame. In addition, each case is unique; presenting its own set of unanswered questions. When someone is lost to suicide, those left behind inevitably question why. No one should be left without answers; the family, other (service) members, or the public served.
Dr. Mike Webster, R. Psych.