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The RCMP Responds: Are You Satisfied?

Jun 21

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?

Any reputation management professional will tell you that in today’s climate of accountability “doing good, is good business”.  Whether a government (police) agency or a private corporation, taking responsibility for even a partial organizational failure is particularly laudable at a time when corporate executives and accountability seem like complete strangers.  (I say all of this acknowledging the legal concerns of the RCMP in the Moncton matter.  And on the other hand, it would be tough to say that Tylenol and Maple Leaf Foods were without similar concerns in their highly regarded responses to their own public relations nightmares).

Do you remember Michael McCain the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods?  Do you recall the company’s 2008 crisis, when listeria was found in their production process and linked with serious illness and death?  Mr. McCain’s response is considered to be textbook reputation management.  His apology and accountability are thought to be on a plane with the best of reputation management, including Johnson & Johnson’s response to the Tylenol tampering case that killed seven people in the Chicago area in 1982.  Mr. McCain put himself square in the middle of the crisis and took complete ownership of the tragedy.  He conducted himself in a way that was consistent with the best of crisis and reputation management.  (Where is your esteemed “leader”?)

How should a leader handle an organizational crisis?  Of course the RCMP situation differs in some ways from the Tylenol and Maple Leaf Foods crises, but there must be some kind of a game plan that a leader can refer to when the organization fumbles the ball on his watch?  Here’s a very simple one that is well regarded by crisis management experts:

“Step Up, ‘Fess Up, and Clean Up”

Twenty-first century crisis management is built on this one.  (Yet this strategy has always baffled RCMP Exec’s – recall how “E” Division’s “bright lights” of the day handled the Tasering and death of Robert Dziekanski at YVR in 2007).  During a crisis like the RCMP finds itself in, there is no doubt that a competent leader should own up to what happened and be as transparent as possible.  Here’s a quote from an interesting study done at Stanford University:

 “Executives who blame external, uncontrollable causes for problems may seem less trustworthy.  If an executive takes responsibility for negative outcomes . . . the reader thinks, ‘Oh this company knows what it’s doing, they’re in control of it, they can change it’.”

So it seems that blaming external phenomena (e.g. “monsters”) can create the impression that the leader (and his senior executive) is unwilling to admit there is a problem (no matter how small), and/or he is unable to fix his own problems, or he is simply looking for a “scapegoat”.  On the other hand, admitting to overall error or specific shortcomings (e.g. still “rolling out” new gear 9 years post Mayerthorpe, and 7 years post fatality inquiry) creates the impression that the organization has a handle on the problem and is more likely to recover because they recognize the problem and have accepted responsibility.  Do you think Mr. Paulson and his senior executive have “stepped up” or do you think they are more concerned about their own legacy than your safety?

With regard to “fessing up” the typical organizational reaction is to “shut up”.  Enter Michael McCain and Maple Leaf Foods; his response in the first few hours after learning that his products were causing sickness, was to accept accountability, apologize for the outcome, be as transparent as possible, and to be clear on an action plan.  Doing all of those things earned Maple Leaf Foods the right to be heard in the future.  A strategy of this nature may not be approved of by many who masquerade as reputation management experts; who are, of course, paralyzed by the thought of potential lawsuits that may come on the heels of any admission of culpability.  Genuine contemporary experts however would suggest, that lawsuits are going to come anyway, and if you have been exonerated by the court of public opinion, this will go a long way to assisting you in a court of law.  Do you think Mr. Paulson and his senior executive have done a good job of “fessing up”?  (What’s that about “the higher you go, the more they know”?).

In the case of “cleaning up”, the moment the CFIA confirmed the presence of listeria monocytogenes in Maple Leaf meat products, Michael McCain immediately recalled the identified product lines and a press release was issued to that effect.  Four days later, following more positive tests, he widened the recall.  Then came August 23rd when a DNA linkage was established between some of the affected individuals and two Maple Leaf products.  Mr. McCain began a recall of 191 products, closed a plant, embarked on a mass communication campaign, and made himself accessible to the media.  He provided frequent and transparent updates.  He defaulted to transparencyIn the name of his family and the company, he put the situation and the current status of the crisis out for all to see that he was taking control and cleaning up the crisis.  Do you think Mr. Paulson and his senior executive have provided any indication that they a) have anything to clean up, and b) they have a plan to do so?

Once again my objective is not to be unreasonably critical of the RCMP (executive); I want you to think, express yourself, and become an agent in creating your own future.  My thesis here, as in most of my writing, is that Mr. Paulson (and his senior executive) has not shown leadership.  It is my impression that he is more concerned about his own image and the “brand” of the RCMP than he is about your safety.  Would you be more confident if he was “front and centre” on this matter, if he had instructed his executives across the country to adopt a “We don’t know, but we’ll find out” attitude, if he had accepted responsibility for at least some of this travesty, and had outlined a clear plan to get some answers?

Listen to MPPAC’s media spokesperson on this at http://mppac.ca/

Dr. Mike Webster, Registered Psychologist

 

 

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14 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    Well I was affected by the Maple Leaf incident years back, I ate some of the products. I was lucky I had a good immune system, and managed to get through that. I admired Maple Leaf for the job they had done, right from the get go … transparency. I did claim and was entitled to funds by the outcome of the class action. Well I am affected by the RCMP Policy about Harassment and they are simply not transparent, they are hiding, they refuse to acknowledge founded harassment and are holding me hostage, I can’t go back to work for these people, they won’t compensated me equitably and don’t even want to admit to the damage it has caused. Something is rotten at HQ, and since Moncton … and it’s not what they are serving in sandwiches, it’s the Commissioner and his cronies who hide, lie and cover-up. The Moncton incident is proof and documented proof of that, Commissioner: hiding his hands under his belt, his eye contact, he’s a liar any one will tell you that. Shifty eyed. There were no vests in Moncton, Carbines … don’t know there either, these members didn’t stand a chance. So now RCMP and Commissioner get off your ass and own up … man up and for once in your life, do the right thing.

  2. Rob Creasser permalink

    I am the media spokesperson for the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada. I have been contacted by many members that were at Codiac Detachment that fateful night and know what happened there. No Carbines were available because they were just training the trainers to instruct members on how to use the weapon. There were no Hard Body Armour vests. Many had to flown in from Ottawa.
    I am aware of a Town Hall meeting that took place a couple of days ago where A/Comm Roger Brown, the OIC of the Detachment, Supt. Snowman, and Supt. Wayne Gallant were present. Members were very vocal at the meeting and one went as far as to call the Commissioner a liar. Others echoed that sentiment. Members were also vocal about the fact that they were not going to under police the Codiac Detachment area anymore, (i.e. get more men and women to do the job and cut out the short staffing), to which Supt. Gallant stated that they would then go back to 8 hour shifts. In other words, he provide a band-aid solution at best.
    A/Comm. Brown then admitted, (finally somebody did!), that there were no carbines available to the members when this incident took place. There were no hard body armour vests either. If you hadn’t already guessed, the RCMP is in full “Circle the Wagons” mode because let’s face it, there is no valid excuse for not implementing, (in full), the recommendations that came out of Mayerthorpe Alberta nine plus years ago.
    As far as our Federal Government goes, they too need to answer for what happened here. They may have a pro law and order stance, but when it comes to spending money on Canada’s National Police Force, they have a very economic view. An economic view that continues to put our law enforcement personal at even greater risk than the job often entails alone.
    I’m sure we’ll have the standard HOIT and Labour Code investigation into these deaths but it will not change the fact that once again, we’ve had a major loss of life in the RCMP and recommendations that may, (and I repeat may), have made a difference were not implement by our so called leaders because they did not advocate effectively for their front line people and demand better treatment from a government that supposedly supports it’s National Police Service.

    So sad….

    Rob Creasser

    • Bob permalink

      Thanks Rob for the insight – truly sad what this organization has become ! There are so many opportunities to be a National and World leader in the delivery of police services. Instead the organization has become a reactive , lethargic shadow of what it could be; just never reaching, or being allowed to reach, its full potential.

      In a proactive sense we could have been a police leader in: mental health training, assistance and support for members with psychological injury; delivery of cutting edge tactical training for front line members; ‘e’ learning, training innovation and delivery. There are numbers of very intelligent, forward thinking members in the Force with skills, drive and passion that shine on a daily basis – trying to move the organizational cart forward despite the fact it has square wheels.

      Senior managers wait for studies and coroners inquest recommendations rather than tackling things head on. Then when those studies/recommendations are accepted, they move at glacial speed towards implementation. We engage individuals in educational institutions to conduct valid, valuable research only to see that research fade into oblivion.

      Secondly there is the issue of organizational responsibility and accountability to the members who serve and the public. Whether its a fear of civil liability or shifting the burden elsewhere we just cannot seem to say “sorry” as an organization – “Sorry ! We can do better”. When apologies do arrive they are masterfully crafted by some communications specialist, lack sincerity and are usually grossly late in arriving.

      As an organization we hide our accountability and responsibility behind catch phrases such as “we cannot comment due to an ongoing investigation” or “the matter is before the complaints commission/board on enquiry/courts/criminal investigation/internal investigation” etc… There are things that should be said and can be said but we do not say them as an organization. As an organization we have an innate tendency to follow (in house/DOJ) legal counsel advice versus exhibiting ethical leadership.

      RCMP senior leaders are consumed with “doing things right” versus “doing the right thing”.

      The organization does not even demonstrate an ounce of embarrassment that it took from 2005 to 2012 to roll out the Patrol Carbine program ! There was even the incredulous example of a female members grievance around the wearing of banana pants for women that took ten (10) years – what does that say about the Force. Even if the grievance made its way by “pony express” I suggest a month for return reply saying, Yes, this the the 21st Century, absolutely, order them and wear them.

      A very sad state of affairs.

  3. Anonymous One permalink

    The difference between Maple Leaf Foods and the RCMP is that Maple Leaf foods relies on it’s customer for survival. The RCMP does not….and it looks like they don’t care either.

    Commissioner Paulson vowed to make it a more transparent force upon becoming Commissioner. He vowed to fix the force. So far he has publicly blamed the members (bad apples) for the force’s poor reputation and his solution was Bill-42. This is how Paulson has been transparent, meanwhile fixing the problem. The members are the scapegoats…and we truly resent this.

    I wish Paulson would be more transparent about things such as issues that affect the frontline members such as our ongoing manpower shortage. But he will never admit to that because he does not want to lose public confidence. What about why the PTSD pilot program was canned? He said it wasn’t necessary anymore because the members had all they needed in that regard. Really? That was a blatant lie. And Safety Minister, Vic Toews backed him up on it. Yes, the politicians need to be held accountable as well. They are driving the bus.

    I saw Commissioner Paulson’s interview about the Moncton incident. He was asked if the members had the necessary equipment at the time of the shooting. His response “yes, they had all they needed”. Really? Another lie. But why? Are you not our leader? Are we not supposed to be accountable? Isn’t that one of our core values? It confuses me and I must say, I no longer believe in the RCMP anymore. I do not stand for that.

    In my years service I have seen the force as being archaic and as slow as a three-toed sloth, whether it be in evolution of their attitudes or their equipment. I resent that our safety is put at risk when it could be minimized. I resent the way we are treated. Thanks to social media the force will no longer get away with it’s lies and shenanigans. WE the members are the transparent ones. We are the ones giving the public insight into the belly of the red machine. WE are fighting back. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but we deserve so much better in every respect. Better care, better support, better equipment, better leadership.

    • Anonymous permalink

      If you don’t believe in the RCMP anymore, why not leave? Why continue to work for this organization? No one is going to solve your problems for you. Take charge of your life and do something for an employer you do respect (Or start your own business).

      • Buck permalink

        Ahhhh, there it is. I knew it was coming, it always does, irregardless of the Force’s crisis du jour. The Anonymous, with the answer of “love it or leave it” tinged with the fatalistic undying respect for a broken and shattered icon which by virtue of its senior leadership, cannot pass muster. So the answer is don’t ask the tough questions and challenge the things that are failed, just quit and go elsewhere so we can carry on fumbling along in the charade that the Force is not broken, shattered and failing to live up to its calling.

        Poser’s fear the possible pain of change, the risks & challenges. The leader’s however, embrace change and challenge and say’s count me in and together we will make this organization solid and worthy of its reputation.

        “No one is going to solve your problems for you”, ironic, as that is the current stagnated state of this organization.

        Thank you Anonymous.

        Buck

      • Bob permalink

        Hello Anonymous – yes, why not walk away? Buck highlights a key reason many stay – to make this a stronger, more responsive, proactive organization rather than let it slip away. Many in the RCMP are heavily invested in their careers – working shift work; personal and family sacrifices; sweat, blood on occasion and thankfully fewer occasions some have given their lives in exercising our responsibilities to the public and organization.

        Many of us have an optimism around changing the organization for the better – because we see what the public does not, a sad state of affairs. In my service it was never the field work (vicarious trauma/stress) that got to me as much as the proliferation of internal “crap” (though I still wonder to this day why an angry seven year old in Yellowknife saw his only option was to blow the back of his head off with his dads shotgun).

        We want a better future for this organization however our Ottawa leadership (I use the term leadership loosely) will not answer the call. Its questionable even if they are able to hear the call? The claxhorn has been sounding for years. A centralized management team that is out of synch with its employees/workers is an organization well on its way to stagnation, decay and eventual oblivion – history has taught us that lesson but unfortunately it gets repeated frequently.

      • Anonymous permalink

        Yup, you are a bitch anon.

  4. Anonymous One permalink

    Dear anonymous,

    I would accept your response to my post as respectful, however, I detect a snippet of sarcasm. Here is my response to you.

    I don’t believe you know enough about me personally, or my circumstances to make such a statement/pose such questions but I will share this.

    Did I ask anyone to “solve my problems for me?” No. (not sure where you dreamt that one up).
    I happen to be one of those members Bob mentioned in his post above; intelligent, driven, passionate about my job. And I shine. All my annual assessments say so. So if you think I am any different than other like-minded members, think again. Would you expect intelligent members to continue believing in something we do not believe in? We do not brainwash easily. We have morals and standards. I happen to believe in justice, truth, honesty, accountability. Is that too much to expect in an organization like the RCMP? I think not. And I make no apologies as to the fact that I do not believe in the RCMP anymore. There are many more members that will say (and have said) the same thing, and that is factual.

    So you see, I am quite capable of solving my own “problems”. And by the way, I do not personally see this as a “problem”, rather I see it as a challenge. I see it as an opportunity. And why am I still with the RCMP? Because I AM a “take charge” kind of person. I am doing something about this, contrary to what you stated. I refuse to allow this organization to manipulate, use, abuse me. I am here to help make a difference, just like the others. I would rather be a part of the solution than a part of the problem. If I walked away that would not solve anything, would it? As a matter of fact it would give the RCMP more power to continue the abuse. I am still here, not because I believe in the RCMP, but because I believe in the members who deserve better treatment.

    So please don’t think I am unhappy. I am very happy. I am still a driven, passionate, ambitious person. I love being a part of change that must and will happen within the RCMP. Perhaps I will live long enough to see it become the RCMP I once believed in.

  5. RCMP are good at complaining when it comes to their own issues but are quick to turn their backs on anyone who happens to bring up that they are short of professionals themselves and inclined to be glory seekers rather that concerned for the life and well being of others outside their sphear of influence.

    When I read about their RCMP media relations personel I just laugh as this was one of their moves after the BC airport incident to curb and control the reports to their advantage. As if they needed to make that move as they already have the media in their back pockets. Approaching reporters and offering them positions in the RCMP and Prisons to keep their image up and positive before the public is being deceptive to say the least.

    RCMPWATCH was actively trying to make people aware across Canada of issues present in the force but they had their spin doctors in there defending the image of the force “deepthroat” and trying to spin the minds of anyone visiting and daring to comment. They were not happy about that site and so it does not exist anymore. Instead we have their version of events on their social media sites. It’s all about controling the media, the information and the public opinions to their advantage, it’s not about justice it’s all about perception and denying justice if it’s about them or a Gov establishment.

    When someone is murdered the police are quick to step on someone’s rights to be presumed innocent and ignoring that right they release to the media that that person is known to police. When someone is busted the media is called and the accused, not convicted, is paraded before the cameras. Not so when it’s one of their own killing a Ottawa police officer parked at the hospital. But you try and get some info on what they did and you will be dragged through the Acts to Information process and mocked for attempting such a foolish thing here in Canada. However ignoring the two tier system of justice and privledges for certain they have no problem sharing information about you behind closed doors, leaking everything possible to hamper your efforts to attain answers and justice. It works different when the troubles come knocking on their door and fear grips their hearts when they realise they are no beter than anyone else and can be replaced that easy.

    When it came to Maple Leaf they were probably trying to save lives as it addressed the public and they felt a civic duty to do something. Not so in the RCMP, police officers and military personel are replaceable and despite popular beliefs police are not that important.

    When I was shot 33 years ago and the RCMP investigators covered up the matter to protect the involved and the image of the political party of the time they thought they were smart but when it happen’s to them because they will not hold the investigators responsible they are all of a sudden concerned. Until this matter is resolved and all parties are held accountable you can expect more assaults. Gravity is a law and no one can escape it and so it will be in a corrupt police force.

    It’s just sad that the innocent has to suffer because of the decisions to protected the few.
    Don’t believe me come and read it for yourself; http://shediac1981.wordpress.com

    • Anonymous permalink

      Just to clarify myself; I’m seeing a link to the leaders rejecting what is right and the assaults on the members of the force.
      This is what I refered to in my comment. Five letters sent with five rejections leads to 5 RCMP officers shot, one for every rejection. Sad to see this happen but if you read the story of Moses in the Bible you will see what God did to the Pharaoh when he rejected the Word of the Lord and His will to do what is right. All I’m doing is asking, what is happening is a result of the hardness of their hearts and a disregard to do the right thing. Stop hardening your hearts & do what is right.

  6. Reblogged this on Shediac1981 and commented:
    RCMP need change… not sympathy

  7. Monopod permalink

    One would think that, as a “jet jockey” with the RCAF, Bob Paulson would have learned the importance of training for battle; mock fights, mock bombing, live bombing and live fire training. Quite obviously not!

    How long ago were Patrol Carbines recommended? What use is hard body armour if it is not available to the members now, RIGHT NOW!

    Did Bob Paulson, while growing up in Lachute, Quebec, forget the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”? It certainly looks and sounds like it.

    It would appear, for all intents and purposes, that this man has no conscience what so ever. As long as he gets to go home at the end of the day would seem to be all that matters to him. It matters little to him that he has lost men because of his stupidity and pig-headedness – he goes home at the end of his shift. Three families are mourning because their loved ones did not come home at the end of their shifts. No, Bob Paulson does not care – he did not allow the men to be properly equipped for the task at hand but, he went home at the end of his shift.

    Bob Paulson does not know how to tell the truth. He does not know the meaning of the phrase, “stand up, fess up and clean up”. He never has; he never will.

    Bob Paulson is just another incompetent bully who has succeeded in becoming Commissioner of the RCMP.

    How long will this charade be allowed to continue? The answer rests with members and the public who are totally fed-up with the incompetence, lies and deceit. IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE! Will you be a part of that change or are you going to continue to follow a bunch of incompetent leaders and put your life on the line because you do not have the equipment and training required to do your job and come home at the end of your shift.

  8. Anonymous One permalink

    Thank you for sharing, EFamia.

    It will be very interesting to see if there was hard body armor in the police vehicles at the time of the Moncton incident. I am aware (and this is fact) that of the detachments that do have HBA, they are not being stored in a consistent manner nor are they distributed consistently. Some detachments have one HBA per member while others have one HBA per 30 members. Some detachments keep their HBA stored in the office where they must be signed out. Some keep the HBA in the trunk of the police vehicles. So when one says members have access to this equipment, how accessible is it really? I see this as a major issue and one that needs to be addressed when Mr. MacNeil does his review. Consistency has always been an issue for everything in the RCMP, Canada-wide.
    As to why a member should have to “sign out” HBA before a shift is beyond me. As if members don’t have enough sh*t to drag in and out of the car between shifts…where is the common sense??? By signing out HBA we are deterring members from having it available to them when they need it. Put it in the cars and keep it there!!! <that's common sense speaking.

    And as for being so concerned about your members HEALTH AND SAFETY, why not do some 'reviews' into the suicides committed by members or cases of PTSD where good members are being forced to take medical leave? I resent that we have to die first before you take us seriously. When I ASKED for help I was ignored. I was a hair's breadth away from taking my own life. And still you refuse to take responsibility. I have given you the best years of my life. I was devoted 100 percent and gave my heart and soul to the RCMP…for twenty years! But when I asked for help you did NOTHING. Now I am no good to you and my life has been turned upside down. And you still choose to throw me away like a dirty sock. Ask me if I am resentful and angry. Mr. Paulson, you publicly stated on National tv that the members had everything they needed with regards to PTSD. And Safety Minister Vic Toews backed you up on that. It was all lies. You have NOTHING for members. And now our Employee Assistance Program is a 1-800 number. You didn't help me when EAP was a manned section, how do you think a 1-800 number is going to help?? And had I been successful in killing myself after you turned me away when I asked for help I would just be another dirty little secret of the RCMP. A number.
    I spoke to our EMRO and explained what happened when I was having trouble and asked for help. I then asked him this "who would be responsible had I killed myself after I asked for help and was turned away?" He looked at me with a serious expression and said, "why you would, of course". Well, I am sorry sir, but no. That is NOT how it works. When your employee gets ill on the job and because of the job, YOU are responsible. If I were a welder and you denied me the equipment or training to work in a safe environment, and if I got ill because of inhaling years of toxic fumes, YOU would be responsible. It's the LAW. Get with the program.

    I will keep speaking out about these issues until something is done. But not just 'some' thing. The RIGHT thing. Thank you to all those who comment on this site and speak the TRUTH. And thank you Dr. Webster for allowing us to have a voice via this forum. I hope you know how important this is and what a difference this has made for so many.

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