Say It Ain’t So

Many years ago I worked for Canada’s famed national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, colloquially known as the “Mounties.”

I was a civilian employee, not a police officer and had the opportunity to view many officers first-hand in my work both in the national and eastern Ontario headquarters. As with any organization, the Mounties had their share of good and bad in their ranks, but there were certain agreed upon standards and ideals. Most officers had no sympathy for bad cops – the RCMP had a reputation to maintain.

I saw in the news this past week that the force has a recruitment problem. I guess times haven’t changed much in the past 40 years – they had problems getting recruits back then too.

Mind you, in the late 1970s and early 1980s there were lots of people eager to join the RCMP. But the RCMP wasn’t eager to have them join. Most of the applicants were white males, and the force was trying to diversify. Minorities, women, people with disabilities all could jump the hiring queue. I think, eventually, idealistic and qualified white males just stopped applying for a job. Being a police officer may be a calling, but there are other careers.

If I understand correctly what I read, the force is still having a problem attracting women and minorities, so it has been suggested that standards be lowered. I’m not sure that is what you want with your national police force, one with a world-wide reputation for the quality of its policing. This strikes me as being especially true when I look at the suggested reductions.

One of the first moves would be to eliminate the aptitude tests potential recruits must take. I guess it doesn’t matter if the candidate is suited to being a police officer. Aptitude tests screen people, and don’t fit in with today’s political correctness. So out they must go.

Also potentially on the chopping blocks are credit checks for new recruits. I understand how a person can get into past financial difficulty, bit shouldn’t that be something the RCMP is aware of in potential new officers? I can think of several ways a police officer in financial difficulties could be negatively influenced by those outside the force. Financial vulnerability could be a big issue – you would think it would protect both the force and the recruit if a rookie’s finances were an open book.

The thing I find most ludicrous is the suggestion that those with a criminal background no longer be banned from becoming Mounties. Supposedly the force wants to attract “groups more likely to have contact with the criminal justice system.”

Can someone explain this to me? Are we talking thieves? Rapists? Murderers? Where do you draw the line? Do you put former embezzlers in the Commercial Crime detail? Former pushers on the Drug Squad?  (I remember a very sad day when the officer in charge of the RCMP’s Eastern Ontario drug squad was indeed arrested and charged with selling narcotics. If you hire former criminals for the job, I think that would be even more likely.)

I hope that the people in charge of the RCMP are smart enough to realize that the proposed changes are foolhardy. I have to wonder though if society has changed so much that such changes would be seen as a good thing by those who should know better.

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One comment

  1. Agreed on most. However, a small crime like stealing a hubcap shouldn’t block a career. One person was blocked from med school for that (although med school is more competitive to get into).

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