I’ve debated with myself, since the SCC gave you the option to consider a union (among other alternatives) as to whether I should share my experience with you or not. As you can see I’ve decided to share my experience with you and offer an opinion. (I don’t think I’ll be receiving a call from the Commissioner or any of his “execs”, to consult? Do you?). As you may recall my experience, in this area, comes from being instrumental in the creation of the C.F.L. Player’s Association; and serving for several years as one of the Montreal Alouettes’ player representatives. The other reason I feel compelled to write something is that I would like to clarify and inform those of you who may not have much experience, or knowledge, in and of a union environment; or the fact that there are other alternatives. Read more…
I do hope you aren’t tiring of me writing these little pieces. On the bright side I have confirmed that I enjoy retreating to my office, when not engaged in some semi-domestic, but simple, chore assigned by Moira. I’m not really skilled enough to take on a “real” domestic task – she learned that early in our (48 yr.) marriage.
As has been my habit, of late, I am writing this little piece “with tongue in cheek”; and I feel the need to let you know this, as I couldn’t live with myself if I offended you. What do they say? “Time heals all wounds” is how I think it goes? And it might be true however, we don’t need to let that interfere with our abuse of it. We can, if we wish, turn the past into a reliable and ongoing source of misery. To my knowledge humans have engaged in four reliable methods over the course of history to achieve this; and presented below is my bastardized version of them (the original idea belongs to one of my psychologist heroes, Dr. P. Watzlawick, who used to be a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Stanford University in California). What follows is my “twist” on them. Read more…
It is reflective of how little true terrorist behaviour we have experienced, in Canada, that this questionshould puzzle law enforcement, politicians, the media, and the general public. Are all lone actors, in other than Middle Eastern countries, spouting Islam, and no substantial connection to ISIS agents,terrorists? Are the three young people (2 Canadians, 1 American) who appeared obsessed with death,and who intended to enter the busiest shopping mall in Halifax with the purpose of creating mayhem, terrorists? Read more…
The topic of “negotiating with terrorists” is one that has received much attention, of late, in law enforcement negotiating circles. It is the subject of much debate and often the focus of articles and conference presentations. The negotiation I am about to describe is not in response to a hostage taking, a hijacking, or a kidnapping. The context could be characterized as a negotiation with a resistant, oppositional, and unrealistic other party. This interaction is not the type of intervention familiar to most police negotiators (It is not crisis intervention). This is an exercise in bargaining with individuals who share the thinking of the principle targets or are their representatives. Read more…
My story is just one of hundreds that needs to be told.
I first experienced harassment on the RCMP in 2001. At the time I was working as a drug Investigator for Greater Vancouver Drug Section (GVDS)-( Unit 5, Covert Unit), Prior to going into Drug work I worked General Duty at Maple Ridge Detachment. In 1989 I joined the E Division Tactical Troop. This troop consisted of about one hundred members (Primary role was to respond to catastrophic events and civil disobedience. This duty was a separate duty and was a call-out duty where we all carried pagers. When I went into Drug work the Drug Section Commander was aware of my belonging to Tactical and Ceremonial Troops. There was no full time Tactical Troop or Ceremonial Troop. I joined both troops as I was a very proud member of the RCMP. I enjoyed wearing the RED Serge and talking to people. My ex-military background is the reason I joined Tactical Troop. I loved the adrenaline rush. Read more…
I could be wrong on this; if I am, let’s hear from you. There has been a lot of popular and academic writing lately on the transformation of policing from what we could call “public” to “private”. This transformation position goes something like this: it states that as the ratio of private to public police “actors” increases in a community/country the focus of the policing system shifts from the public good to the market. In this brief article, I would like to take this shift from the public good to a market profit and examine its impact on your trade, your employment, and the benefits/disadvantages of being unionized.
Several authors (e.g. Johnston and Shearing, 2003; Wood and Shearing, 2007; Bayley and Shearing, 1996) have addressed the issue and suggested that the rise of private security signals a revolutionary new era in which the goal of upholding the public good is very quickly falling by the wayside in favour of a profitable market share.
One author (Brodeur, J.P., 2010) branded this shift as the “watershed syndrome”, and emphasized the repeated theme, in several studies of private security, that this move high lights nothing less than a paradigm shift in the theory of policing. The spread of the watershed syndrome can be explained, in part, by the fact that it is based upon a sound observation: that is, the ratio of private security to public police has been increasing significantly over time. This observation is well represented in the pertinent literature. Most often the numbers reflect countries including the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. As far back as 1983 (e.g. Shearing and Stenning) some authors reported that the ratio of private security to public police in the U.S., and Canada, was approximately 1:1. This statistic was a great blow to the common sense impression, held by most, of the hypothetical ratio of 0:1. By the mid-1990’s (e.g. Bayley and Shearing) these ratios had expanded to 3:1 (U.S.) and 2:1 (Cda) respectively; and they threw in an additional number for the U.K. at 2:1. A number of reputable researchers and scholars, (e.g. Kempa et al. 1999; Rigakos, 2002; Johnston, 2006; Batton, 2007; and Zedner, 2009), some in an attempt to dispute Bayley and Shearing, found similar ratios in support of the original work. In defense of the argument that private and public police work in different sectors and function with different lines of accountability and funding methods, it is important to state that the similarity in ratios does highlight something meaningful about the changing nature of modern policing. It would be an error to discount these ratio-based observations since they point to some kind of transformation taking place. It is too easy to regard private security as purely market actors driven by an economic perspective. One author (White, 2010; 2012) has clearly argued that the executives of many private security companies often play a dual role; that is, the role of business person on one hand and the role of political strategist on the other. In the latter role they seek to bring their companies operations closer in line with the general expectation that domestic security should be provided by all police actors. Of course this strategy is partly driven by a desire to maximize profit, but this research also shows that for these private security executives the market and the public good objectives often become murky and mixed.
Based upon all of the above, I think it would be safe to say that rather than witnessing an explosive overnight change from the public-good model to the market-oriented one, we are in the midst of a slow metamorphosis from one to the other. Let me ask you faithful readers a few questions to stimulate discussion: Have you witnessed what I speak of? What political position (left or right) do you suppose would be more interested in saving you money by farming public policing out to private companies? Does Mr. Harper increase the RCMP’s budget as he adds more things for them to do? Could this be a set-up? Do you think a strong Mounted Police Professional Association (MPPAC), that is a union, could assist in the preservation of your job? Are you a member? What’s holding you back?
“No Courage: No Delight”
Dr. Mike Webster, R. Psych.
The news headline on almost every channel and in every newspaper today (3/2/15) features the sudden resignation of Conservative Foreign Minister, John Baird. He is gracefully slipping out of the public eye before the upcoming election. I won’t speculate on the outcome of the National Election, but I will wonder out loud if the Commissioner should follow along before his inept management of the Force is “outed” by your newly acquired (potential) power to do so? Read more…
To begin, I wish to express my sorrow and a deep sense of frustration to the Wynne family, for the loss of their husband and father. From my perspective, this was not necessary. At the outset of this brief piece, I will refer you to several articles that are on Re-sergeance and refer to the topic of “transformational leadership”. I do so as it will save me from repeating myself, and allow me to focus on a contemporary example of where a transformative leader may have been able to capitalize on a tragic situation and make use of Cst. Wynne’s sacrifice to “lever” change in the RCMP.
You may recall that the Commissioner’s initial response to Cst. Wynne’s murder was to begin pointing fingers. The gist of his response was that he and the working members of the RCMP couldn’t be expected to do everything, with the manpower (and budget?) that they presently have. He forcefully shirked any responsibility, and pointed squarely at the Federal Government in Ottawa. He continued to complain loud and long about the volume of work, the shortage of members to do the work and the size of the municipal budgets he had, to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Now, if you were in the Commissioner’s boots, what would you propose as a solution? Apparently, it would be “more of the same”; there would be nothing new or transformative about it, and it would have about as much of a chance of succeeding as the continued existence of a “fart in a wind storm”. Predictably, that is just what the Commissioner suggested. That is, he railed on about more members and more money. He must have been more interested in appealing to those who fail to keep themselves informed on the topic; for as I recall, his boss continues to chop RCMP budgets while increasing their responsibilities.
So to answer the question posed at the outset of the previous paragraph, I hope you would first of all see this situation as an opportunity to do “something different”. Do you recall the story of the drunk who was searching for his lost keys (quite unsuccessfully) under a bright street light. A passing policeman asked the man if he was certain that was the spot where he lost his keys? The drunk answered “no”, and pointing said “over there, however it’s much too dark over there to see anything”. Sound familiar?
The Commissioner’s deceptively simple formula (i.e. “more of the same”) is one of the most successful recipes for disaster ever known to person kind. Over the course of the Earth’s history, it has lead to the extinction of hundreds of species. The formula is really nothing more than the unwavering retention of a solution; that may have showed promise in another situation; but not in this one. How do we know? Would it be because it has been tried unsuccessfully on several occasions over time? This may come as a revelation to the Commissioner, but what he is suggesting is not an optimal adaptation final and valid forever, in these types of situations. Why? Because, there are always a number of other possibilities; perhaps even better than “more of the same”. This administrative myopia seems to have blinded our hero (who is busy fighting for the Wynne family?) to the fact that his pet solution continues to become more ill-fitting; and serves only to prevent him from seeing a number of more appropriate, better suited solutions that have always been there and have a greater chance of success.
Here’s one! It is my opinion that the RCMP should be downsized. They could become Canada’s answer to the FBI, investigating only federal statutes. General duty policing in the cities and provinces across the country could be put in the hands of the Municipal and Provincial police services. The RCMP would then be confined to the policing of federal laws, let’s say for example, “terrorism”. In addition, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to have a “cuddly” relationship between the Prime Minister and his Solicitor General. This would mean no more deputy minister status for the Commissioner of the RCMP. I think it is best that the head of the Force operate at arm’s length from the government. You really shouldn’t be perceived as being in charge of the P.M.’s private army!
So there it is. I hope I’ve given you something to think about and most importantly to discuss with your brother and sister members. What say you?
“Stand in the light, when you wish to speak out”,
Dr. Mike Webster R. Psych.
Commissioner Paulson speaks to High School Class about how the Force is full of results and respectful workplace…if only he practices what he preaches to children!