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RCMP’s Medieval Prejudice?

Oct 01

Being an RCMP officer was always a dream to me. For all the criticism this institution is facing, I see such opportunity; I take such pride in this uniquely Canadian tradition.

I think of it as the SS turned on its head. The SS got its start as a kind of national paramilitary police force after all. There was strict discipline, stringent entrance requirements, and a very distinctive branding. It was about much more than just policing. The SS was deliberately designed to terrorize ordinary law-abiding citizens and encourage intolerance. The Mounties, on the other hand, I’ve always viewed the RCMP as institution devoted to exactly the opposite. When you see the Red Serge, that means more than law and order. It means justice; justice for all: men, women, minorities; everyone has a place in the RCMP and everyone is protected by them. That is the Canadian tradition. Call me naive, but that is what I wanted to be a part of.

Recruitment cost me a lot of money, a lot of effort, and was a sacrifice I enthusiastically made. Eleven months passed between passing the first exam and getting to the last medical. I was weeks away from being offered a place.

Then I got a call to go to Calgary and do a psychological follow-up assessment. With less than a week’s notice, I packed up and made the drive as requested; eager to find out what the problem was and clear it up. Little did I know that my future had already been decided.

They tell you time and time again that they are not looking for perfect people. You should still apply even if you have made minor mistakes in your life. Petty theft, white lies to your boss, drinking; these minor flaws can be overlooked. What they do not tell you is the real story. There is one imperfection that will not be tolerated. The ONE flaw a modern Mountie cannot possess.

Depression.

Of course anyone with a severe mental illness shouldn’t be carrying a badge and a gun. If you are severely depressed, that’s unfortunate, but I think everyone could agree this is not a line of work open to you. I get it.

Naturally that rules me out as well. Here’s why. I was prescribed a mild anti-depressant over five years ago. My family doctor came up with the idea after I told him that my boyfriend had broken up with me and I had lost my job. A few months later I stopped taking them as they had no effect and, anyway, I was pre-occupied with getting my life back in order.

That’s it. That’s the reason. Nice, isn’t it?

By the time I sat down with an extremely rude psychologist in Calgary, the decision had already been made. I took a follow-up test to give them another chance to root-out the insanity that undoubtedly raged within me which I passed (as I had passed every test), but it didn’t matter. A few weeks later I got a call saying I wasn’t getting in. When I asked if this seemed right, the Sgt seemed puzzled at the question. Taken aback by the very concept, he told me there was no use in appealing the decision. I would also not be compensated for my travel costs going to the last appointment.

Not too long before this happened, the RCMP Commissioner was caught on audio mocking the mentally-ill. He apologized, said that wasn’t what the Force is about, and the press quickly moved on to the next story. There was no discussion in the media about the prevailing sentiment inside the institution; about how much stigma still exists and how much worse it gets after a guy like this take the reins.

I tried to sign up not because I had no other choices open to me: I am a professional with a career going already. It wasn’t because I enjoy dominating others or feel any desire to inflict punishment. These are common stereotypes of police officers that I’ve always rejected. When I heard the RCMP being characterized as entrenched, overly macho, or arrogant it made me angry. However, my high test scores, my professional career, athletic career, service to the community, this has all been overlooked because of a medieval prejudice. All it would have taken to get in would be to have said nothing, but my honesty counted for nothing.

After the way I was treated, I feel very different about the RCMP.

But I refuse to be discouraged. My message to the forces who are responsible for the current state of the RCMP is that this will change and you will not prevail. This is not what Canadians stand for and your time is short.

Anyone reading this, I encourage you to apply. The best hope, the only chance, the Force has is that change, which must come, will come from within.

Anonymous

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20 Comments
  1. Hello Anonymous,

    Good for you. It’s nice to see a positive coming out of a negative experience. The RCMP did itself a dis-service in not hiring you.

    Currently, I have 27 years in the RCMP. I have seen this organization go from a great Canadian Institution that many RCMP members have been very proud to be a part of, to now just a shadow of it’s former self.

    I had the opportunity to be part of the E Division Ceremonial Troop in the late 1990’s to the mid-2000’s. This troop dressed in full Red Serge and would march and conduct rifle drills for all to see. Although members of the troop were not paid to attend practices or events on there own time, it didn’t really matter to me, because I was very proud to be able to wear the Red Serge and show off my marching/rifle drill expertise. It was a very proud time in my service. I was fortunate enough to travel to Hong Kong, twice with the troop. The Hong Kong Government paid the cost’s for the troop. It cost the Canadian taxpayers nothing. I have also travelled to several US cities and US Military instillations at the cost of the US Government to show off the iconic Red Serge

    This is what the world loves to see, our iconic Red Serge. Our National Police Force, the RCMP, is the only Police Agency in the world that has a police service as a National Symbol.

    Sadly, the men and women of the RCMP today are under attack by the very leaders that are supposed to uphold honesty and integrity of this organization. For proof of this, I would ask you to look at what is happening in the Canadian Senate. There is a Senate Committee that is currently travelling the county speaking to RCMP members on how best to deal with internal harassment issues within the ranks.

    I have to believe that something positive will come out of the Senate Committee, that will put a stop or at least minimize the harassment that is currently tearing apart our National Symbol. It would be a travesty if the RCMP were to become history. The RCMP in my view, and many others, needs a major overhaul. Many reports have been conducted and recommendations have been made for change. All have fallen on the deaf ears of our leaders.

    That overhaul has to come from the Canadian Government. I have my hopes that the Canadian Senate can make/order the changes that need to be made to save this organization.

    Here is to hope and political will.

    Rolly Beaulieu

  2. Leroy permalink

    I recommend to all whom ask about the RCMP to be a fireman or paramedic as those are honorable vocations. People ask me why. I tell them it’s illegal to ridicule or criticize the RCMP. North Koreans understand.

  3. Jamie Hanlon permalink

    Anonymous, I share your pain for a very different reason. My dreams of being a member got dashed as well. I was a few weeks away from graduating when it happened. Same narrow-minded thinking. When I tried to muster in to another agency, depression caught me up. No reason the cause or root of said depression. I was a top candidate for them as well. Similar to you, I am an educated professional. I was in good shape then. Passed the poly, gave good interview.

    No matter. Own up to that sin and you are sunk. You now have some experience with RCMP ‘policy,’ it’s policy we are looking to change for the good of the Force. And for the good of the public they serve.

    I am in K Div country as well. Look me up sometime if you want to chat.

  4. Anonymous permalink

    Sounds eerily similar to an incident I went through.

    I lost an overseas mission because I had taken two days off to move furniture when I broke up with my girlfriend.

    The decision had been made by the time I made it to the interview with the rude psychologist. Same story, different edition.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    That you’ve written this, shows you should have been considered for employment. The RCMP has likely robbed Canadians and Constables of a decent cop. Also if the present members had the self-awareness you have, we’d likely be making much quicker progress.

  6. Anonymous permalink

    Dear Anonymous,

    I feel for you and the lost opportunity over the RCMP’s decision to play rock-paper-scissors over a minor technicality at your expense. You may not believe this, but many of the individuals and their lost opportunities “THESE DAYS” might not be the opportunities you think they are based on the way the force works. If you read the postings across this site, you might actually have saved yourself a great deal of ‘other’ kinds of trouble that are very prevalent. You might not believe that but as there are opportunity costs to everything we do, i would not recommend the RCMP anywhere close to being a preferred or a good employer. I’m not trying to be ‘negative’ nor am i trying to be ‘positive’ – I’m trying to be ‘REALISTIC’ with you, as i’m a former member. The characterizations and stereotypes are actually quite realistic, although i can’t say i apply these to all members.
    It’s interesting isn’t it? You’re not allowed to feel ‘down’ half-a-decade ago over a breakup, but once you’re ‘inside’ the force, and possibly suffering from depression, ptsd, or some other ods mechanism, only then is it ok. I’d like to take stats of members who were diagnosed with depression inside the force, if they were provided prescriptions, AND if they ever went back to regular duties? I bet they have regarding your comment relating to depressed individuals carrying around a gun and badge. My point is, if they do this for members, then they should’ve allowed you in.
    Everyone is allowed to be sad, or feel depressed after a breakup or other circumstances, we all have. A shame that the RCMP has to make it an instrument to weed people out.

    I do wish you the best in your endeavours.

    • I work for them. It’s all politics and sucking up to the seniors. Everybody, policemen and civilians all are fearful and very scared grown up men and women. I swear to God I was one of them I use to be scared and fearful but not anymore. Because now I have nothing to lose.

  7. Anon permalink

    I have to agree with the above comment. Author, you have been saved this nightmare. You have experienced a divine intervention of sorts. Now, strange as it may seem, you will be able to fulfill your potential. With respect to pharmaceuticals you have just experienced contradiction one in the RCMP manual of contradictions because numerous people that I worked with were taking them. Some couldn’t face the job without them. I had them pushed on me because they said it would help me cope better at work. That is your red flag.

  8. fokk jullenaaiers permalink

    I am always taken aback by the idealization of the past, as though the force hasn’t been rife with problems since its inception (I’m referring to the confluence of The Royal Northwest Mounted Police and The Dominion Police in 1920, I haven’t the time to begin to comment on RNWMP wrong-doings and their extremely flawed leader).

    What ever happened to the good old days, back when RCMP union breakers used force, intimidation, and in the case of the Estevan Riots, murder, to quell labor disputes? Or that golden era which saw RCMP killing sled dogs owned by Inuit, in order to aid federal efforts to assimilate northern First Nations people? Or that grand organization that planted TNT its members had stolen in hopes of framing FLQ members?

    The list is extensive and carries on, and that’s just the stuff that’s documented. The truth is, there has never existed any such beast as the idealized RCMP I see many members writing about. There’s no Lone Ranger, no Justice League of America, or Hong Kong Phooey, and the idea that the red serge was once above all the grime of humanity needs to be relegated to the funny papers.

    • Jamie Hanlon permalink

      No one says the org is/ was perfect. However, no one going in expects to be treated in the manner that many of us were. No one can tell what the outcomes of the careers of those who were cut out by the Force would be, but would it not be a shame if one of the folk affected by the CURRENT problems and misdealings of the Force would have been the one to truly make a difference in a community – or for the organization itself?

      Many of us go/ went into policing wanting to make a difference for our communities and for Canadian society in general. It is unlikely that we went in wondering how to best use our skills to murder people/ plant evidence/ lie and cheat others. The history of the Force has some taint to it, but you do not fix the present by shaking a finger at the past. A new broom sweeps clean, as the old saying goes.

      And while we are on the topic, something that is increasing cranking me up is the ‘insistence’ by members, current and former, that people like the author of the original post should be ‘glad’ they did not get in. As if:
      – the moratorium on suffering caused by the Force should be held by those who have been ‘self-martyred’.
      – somehow the gist of the comment is that true suffering only happens if you are part of the org.
      – somehow, those who were done in by the org were perhaps not worthy of wearing the uniform to begin with.

      Your comments such as “count yourself lucky” do nothing for people like her (or like me) and, if anything, are a stinging reminder of the narrow-mindedness that found us outside of the org to begin with. Cease, desist and find a more acceptable way to commiserate with us. None of us hold a monopoly of suffering caused by the org.

      • fokk jullenaaiers permalink

        That is a fair enough assessment of my comment, and I appreciate your insight, though I think it naive to join policing to fulfill some deep altruistic need to better your country, and further more naive of anybody to outright accept that explanation from a member of law enforcement. Honestly, it is my belief that employment which presents an authoritarian role has a tendency to attract that personality type.

        Now, from my own personal experience on the other side of law enforcement (former SOC), I can tell you that the majority of members I’ve had personal contact with, including Bob Paulson back when he was on the street as a UC, have been complete hard-ons. I was seriously assaulted at age 13 by a member (not Paulson), had emergency calls responded to hours later because police erroneously believed it to be drug related, been arrested at gun point for non-violent crimes, and had numerous illegal searches performed against me, none of which turned up evidence of any crime.

        These aren’t the actions of bright eyed, altruistic do-gooders. It’s bullies being bullies, and frankly it’s bullsh*t. Are people right in telling others that they’re lucky to have not made it into the serge? Maybe and maybe not. Or better: yes and no. Would the inclusion of some of these folks make any difference to how business is done? Not much, and not for decades to come, as they wait for the senior members even Paulson can’t make change their ways to retire.

        You can only get that sh*t so shiny when you’re polishing turds.

    • Aught Buck permalink

      As a formerly very proud member, I really wish I had a good response to the little fokker but there’s plenty of merit in what they say.

      I don’t think the past has been idealized, I think the past has been ignored and the image idealized.

      I will disagree on one point though, plenty of members joined out of deep rooted altruism and I know cause I was one.

  9. Johnny permalink

    RCMP is an organization that is lost. I passed my psychological assessment the first time. I was struggling in academics, left in the third month; resigned. Came back and realized made a mistake, so reapply after one year. Went through the process successfully and guess what I was failed in Psychological. And you won’t believe it. I work for them in the Civilian capacity. Funny eh!!!

  10. I went to depot though for three month. Went through the whole process. I am the same person, like before. This made me sad.

  11. After reading all that and inside stories that i know personally. I thank God for not making it to Depot and failing the Psychological part. Imagine, that I didn’t make it and this process of the application has made me mentally exhausted and depress after failing. Imagine, how depress it would be if I would have been working for them as an officer. I speak couple of languages, hopefully I will land in some great government department that doesn’t torment their own. Good bye RCMP (Rascals, Criminals, Mentally sick and Pissed-on)
    All members and civilians are extremely scared of coward men and women. Who are scared of losing their good will among each other. I have never seen grown up men and women being so scared. Other Police forces also exercise control too but unlike the RCMP. RCMP eats their young. This is so true about them. I have seen and witnessed it.

  12. Hello, thank you for this post. I am glad to know that there are others who feel the same way. I am a ‘minority’, have a master’s degree and applied to the RCMP last year. I applied because I perceived it as a very rewarding career, and wanted to be part of an organization that I believed to be the epitome of justice and equality. After about 3 weeks of taking the RPAB, I received the selection package. I filled out all the forms and submitted all of the required documentation (eye exam, driver’s abstract, etc.) at my expense. About a month later I had the RMSI (interview), and it was here I discovered what the RCMP truly was — a highly militarized organization that de-humanizes civilians, and actively recruits thugs to violently enforce their interpretation of the law. Yes, I failed my interview because I could never see myself treating civilians like garbage. Unfortunately, Canada has followed in the footsteps of the US and not the UK. One only needs to observe the police in the UK to notice the drastic difference in their treatment of civilians.

  13. Anonymous permalink

    This just happened to me. Yesterday I got an email saying that I failed my medical examin and that I have to wait 30 days to even request the reason why I failed( not to mention how long it’ll take for me to even receive the reason). If it is a medical issue strong enough for the RCMP to fail me I should be informed of it immediately.

    I am in the same position too I passed everything well with flying colours. And I had every tester at every stage of the process tell me that they want me to get hired. I know the reason I failed is illegitimate because I’m lucky enough to live in perfect health with no issues what so ever. My doctor even said that their is no reason why I shouldn’t get hired.

    My opinion about the force that I loved and dedicated a year of my life too has changed for the worse. The RCMP has made a mistake and I will apply and take my skills to other police services if they choose to not recognize that this is a mistake.

    Now I know why I get a bad reaction from every officer who is not in the RCMP that I told that I was applying to the RCMP. I really hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else because we know how bad it feels to fail something that we have no control over.

  14. Anonymous permalink

    Sorry to hear that and I also feel exactly how you feel right now. The only difference between me and you is that you know the reason which doesn’t make sense to you, but I don’t even know the reason!
    I waited 2 years and passed every single steps and did PARE test 3 times and passed all of them, and my health test was great (as I have a record of it directly from the lab and asked the lab technician), and then when I was waiting for the confirmation I got this email telling me : “We have been advised by our Health Services office that you do not meet the RCMP medical standards in review of your recent medical examinations. I regret to inform you that as a result,your file has been concluded.”
    Then they asked me to mail them if I want to know more after 30 days.
    I mailed and emailed and they just ignore me.
    No one to talk to, no one to complain to, no one to even ask what my problem was that I don’t even know it myself!
    All I can see about myself is that I’m tall, healthy, fast, play lots of sports, won some medals, and according to the same examinations that they are talking about, I have a clean blood test and my eye sights are 20/20, my ears hear great, and my heart pumps normal. What else I need to have to consider healthy for the RCMP? all I need is an answer! I don’t even want to be one anymore!

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