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The RCMP: Policing in an Ethics-Free Universe

Sep 26

With the recent collapse of iconic corporations, interest has been stimulated in organizational psychopaths and psychopathic organizations.  Psychology has historically involved itself with the study of criminal psychopaths, who are often violent and do physical harm to others.  Organizational psychopaths, on the other hand, don’t often meet these expectations.  They can seem like anyone else, and are able to use their mask of normalcy in cruel and opportunistic ways.

Organizational psychopaths are thought, by those who study the phenomenon, to be the one percent of the population who are psychopathic and who work in an organization.  The key defining characteristic of psychopathy is the absence of a conscience.  One well known scholar has asserted that organizational psychopaths differ in important ways from criminal psychopaths and a revised definition may be required.

As described by psychologists, organizational psychopaths are clever, charming, and manipulative enough to avoid coming to the attention of the criminal justice system.  They are able to use their extroversion, charm, and charisma to cunningly manipulate others in their pursuit of self satisfaction.  They don’t hesitate to destroy others on their way to the top of the organizational hierarchy.  They are ruthless and cold hearted, posing a danger to the economic well being and mental health of those around them and the organizations they represent.

So what kind of an effect could a group of organizational psychopaths have on the RCMP?  A cursory review of the literature reveals several effects that could arise from the presence of organizational psychopaths in managerial roles.  The RCMP, in my opinion, provides examples, as seen below, for the majority of these cases:

Organizational Failure

The RCMP is presently experiencing a failure in the area of public trust.  A recent Angus Reid poll reveals that public confidence in the RCMP and policing in general, in Canada, is at its lowest point in fifteen years.  The results of the poll suggest that there are roughly only four out of ten Canadians with confidence in the RCMP, municipal and provincial police services.  In British Columbia support for the RCMP is less than twenty-eight percent of the population.

In his 2007 report, “Rebuilding the Trust: Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP”, David Brown suggested that the RCMP was a “horribly broken” organization.  He outlined “serious problems affecting the RCMP”.  In his opinion those “issues demanding the most urgent attention related to the impossible demands being placed on members and employees; demands that are compromising their health and safety”.  The organization’s tasks remain today, in 2012, out of check with their resources; and the RCMP is facing further budget cuts.

Involvement in fraudulent activities

An article by investigative journalist Andrew McIntosh, presented in the National Post in 2004, outlined a secret audit that detailed the misuse of millions of dollars by the RCMP of its’ own members’ pension fund.  The article went on to say that several people had been forced from their jobs, but there had never been a formal inquiry into the irregularities.  Following the serving Commissioner’s resignation in 2007, a public accounts committee heard several serving and retired RCMP members allege serious fraud and nepotism at the executive level under the recently retired Commissioner.  The allegations went back to 2002, and were related to RCMP pension and insurance plans for members of the force.  A criminal investigation into the matter, reported by Palango (2008), found serious nepotism and wasteful spending.  The Auditor General then weighed in and uncovered millions of dollars inappropriately charged to the pension and insurance plans.  The Ontario Securities Commission was critical of the Commissioner’s management style and accused him of “a fundamental breach of trust”.  It was reported by McIntosh (2004) that regular and civilian members of the RCMP who attempted to “blow the whistle” suffered irreparable career damage.

Exploited workforce

It was suggested by Professor Linda Duxbury of Carlton University in an independent report (2007), concerning workplace issues in the RCMP, requested by the Government of Canada, that the organization, as a functioning police service, is being propped up by the potentially unhealthy dedication of members who have their hearts and souls invested in it.  According to Duxbury, the work related demands within the RCMP were among the “worst” she had ever seen.  She noted that workloads had increased substantially since her previous report in 2004.  She went on to assert, “…the culture of the organization is literally sick.  It is focused on the hours you put in, sucking it up, and never saying no.  Anyone who pushes back is labelled as a whiner, a loser, someone who just doesn’t have the right stuff.  By any objective standard, it is abnormal” (Duxbury, 2007).

Social Responsibility

The RCMP’s Values and Ethics Office (VEO) states that its goal “…is to ensure that ethical principles are an integral part of all aspects of the RCMP’s service delivery and remain in the forefront of the organizational psyche”.  It claims to advise “the Commissioner, Senior Executives, policy centres, and all employees on a wide array of issues pertaining to ethics”.

Yet in spite of the above, a recent internal survey of 426 members of the RCMP’s “E” Division (British Columbia) revealed that female members do not trust the Force’s system to deal with harassment complaints and often don’t even bother to report instances of perceived wrongdoing.  Those who participated in the survey indicated that they were hesitant to come forward with a harassment complaint for fear that it would impact negatively on their careers, and possibly cause them to become targets for their supervisors.

Moreover, they added, it was their impression that the RCMP was more likely to transfer the complainant than deal with the problem.

Disheartened workforce

Survey data compiled by Duxbury (2007) revealed that approximately half of the RCMP’s 25,000-plus front line employees do not believe the organization is concerned about their health, safety and well being, treats them fairly, or treats them with respect and trust.  Interestingly, the same number didn’t believe that the organization would address any of the results of the survey they were filling out (Duxbury, 2007).

Moreover, Duxbury (2007) reported that there appears to be a dangerously high number of members who plan on early retirement, at a reduced pension, and moving on to other employment.  Professor Duxbury suggests that these members can be considered to be “fleeing” the force (Duxbury, 2007).

Workplace bullying/harassment

Investigative journalists Jonathan Gatehouse and Charlie Gillis revealed in a Maclean’s magazine article (Oct. 2009) that a high level drug bust was not prosecuted in September 2007 because the RCMP investigators, from the elite Ontario unit, were all off the job due to stress.  They had been reportedly driven out of their jobs by an abusive manager.  The manager had allegedly used harassment, racist bullying, and physical intimidation to turn a once satisfied and tight knit group into a clutch of emotional basket cases.  In response to several grievances the RCMP promoted the manager and attempted to run the unit as if it was business as usual (Gatehouse & Gillis, 2007).

In November 2011, Corporal Catherine Galliford, a former spokeswoman for the RCMP in “E” Division (British Columbia) disclosed that she had been the victim of sexual harassment by senior officers dating as far back as 1991, the year she graduated from the RCMP Training Academy.  Within weeks a landslide of sexual harassment allegations were lodged against the Force by female members.  The Commissioner, Mr. Paulson, in response, announced that the RCMP would be initiating a recruitment drive to hire more female members.  It was never really made clear how this would eliminate the harassment problem, but Mr. Paulson assigned Deputy Commissioner Line Carbonneau to head up the drive.  Within weeks D/C Carbonneau interestingly resigned from the RCMP leaving one less female on the roster.

Loss of expertise

As noted by Palango (2008), Bill Majcher was one of the most respected and celebrated members in the recent history of the RCMP.  After his promotion into the commissioned ranks he became frustrated with what he saw as the RCMP losing its way.  He decided to address the situation by running for public office.  Inspector Majcher stated that the RCMP balked at the idea and began to push back.  He received information from his political opponent and from sources “on the street” that the Force was out to destroy his credibility and reputation.  The abbreviated version of this story is that they did exactly that.  Following a prolonged witch hunt during which time the RCMP proceeded to destroy one of its best and brightest, Inspector Majcher retired in 2007 after being offered a generous settlement in exchange for keeping his mouth shut (Palango, 2008).

Allegations of unlawful activity

In June of 2011 it was reported that a special prosecutor had approved charges, including breach of trust and obstruction of justice, against four RCMP members involved in the investigation of a 2007 gangland slaying that left six dead in a Surrey, BC high-rise.  The Force explained that the four investigators were senior, experienced and trusted policemen.  “What is alleged to have occurred was a breach of policy, protocol and the law.  Fundamentally, it was an abuse of the trust that the public places in police”, said their spokesperson.

In May of 2011 perjury charges were laid against the four RCMP members who confronted Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver’s airport and repeatedly stunned him with a Taser in 2007.  They are accused of lying during the testimony they gave during a public inquiry into Mr. Dziekanski’s death.  Moreover, there exist emails that suggest “E” Division senior executives were aware of the alleged perjury and silently stood by saying nothing.

Collateral damage

In her 2007 report Professor Duxbury comments that “compared to the Canadian public, employees of the RCMP report higher levels of job stress, overall stress, depressed mood, burn-out, role overload, and work interfering with family”.  She warns that for many members of the RCMP “their job is making them sick”.

You tell me, RCMP core values, fact or fiction?

Dr. Mike Webster, Registered Psychologist

From → RCMP Core Values

  1. Anonymous permalink

    This is an extremely important article. It’s essential that people learn what things are really about (truths), instead of living within accepted delusions and/or sheer ignorance. Continued denials and/or ignorance only results in continued harms and losses, with inevitable serious increased risks produced. Lives can become devastated and even lost.

    I am left thinking as I read this article, that when Dr. Webster writes, “The RCMP, in my opinion, provides examples, as seen below, for the majority of these cases” , that what I’d like to change is the word “opinion” and replace it with a different word, “observation” so that it reads, “The RCMP, in my observation, provides examples, …”

    We care for ALL members and the public, and really only want best practices promoted and implemented.


  2. She warns that for many members of the RCMP “their job is making them sick”…. their job and the way they perform it is making all the rest of us sick too. fire the rcmp and it will be better for all of us

  3. Please re-read: Google below:

    The RCMP Dysfunctional Alcoholic Family

    The RCMP Dysfunctional Alcoholic Family. Oct 06. Recruiting by the RCMP is
    also a form of conforming or indoctrination. Leaders must conform to the higher …

    Positive change will not come by just talking about it.
    Each individual RCMP Member has to make the changes that they are demanding.
    “At this stage in game abuse isn’t even news anymore, it’s just a reminder.”

  4. harsh permalink



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