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LETTER – An RCMP officer’s spouse speaks out about racism allegations

Re: ROTHENBURGER: Defunding police forces wouldn’t cure what ails them

Thank you very much for your article regarding defunding law enforcement. I appreciate the thought put into the article and the rational approach to the subject.

The past couple weeks my husband has been spat on, called a racist and a pig several times while carrying out his job as a police officer.  I can assure you he is none of those. This honestly isn’t new but it has increased in frequency.

My husband and the members he works with here in Kamloops and Barriere have worked really hard in becoming more cultural sensitive and work closely with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

They have open communication and respect for each other and recognized the wrong doings of the past and injustices systemically. They are working hard to make change happen. They are trying their best but they are frustrated with the ignorance and lack of support lately from the general public, especially the spread of incorrect information.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts in health care (mainly mental health and addictions) and Ministry of Children and Family, what RCMP members have had to take on is a lot more responsibility and they are burned out.

Overdoses have once again gone up, mental health crisis have increase. They have done great things such as the introduction of Car 40 where a trained officer and RN attend mental health calls; however, it isn’t always available 24/7 due to a lack of funding.

Burnout is what I recognized in my husband coming home from his shift yesterday. A dispondance that he couldn’t shake, he had been working on a particularly awful file that morning, he said, and of course he couldn’t talk about it.

He finally had time to check on the news. It was not pretty, article after article about what the RCMP has done wrong. He recognizes their faults but this he felt was personal. An attack on the men and women he works, that back him up.

How does an officer struggles perform their job?  They do not wish to use guns or tasers for risk of fatalities and repercussions. Now they are being called out for taking someone down with their hands.

What some don’t realize is often RCMP officers are out in rural areas alone, having to do what they can to detain someone until backup arrives. Often officers have to arrest those who outweigh them, are drunk or on drugs. But that is their job and training has prepared them for it. But sure the after can look bad especially if the arrest was being resisted.

Being a registered nurse and having worked in several different areas over the past 10 years of my career I can tell you it is incredibly hard to restrain someone who is drunk or high. Often we use four or five health care workers to detain one individual and often we do rely on police to help us.

We have been punched and hit but not as often as the police. I cannot imagine having to wrestle someone to the ground and attempt to put handcuffs on alone. Especially at night on a rural road.

I believe some individuals forget that these officers are human beings, with souls, families and hearts. You can scream in their face and they are taught not to react but it weighs on all of them. Eventually it builds up and they take it home and to heart.

If you look at average wages of RCMP officers you can say they make $90,000 but I would argue most “boots on the ground” are constables and make significantly less than that. Less than most bylaw officers. Numbers available on the government website.

My husband still loves his job. He will block traffic for protesters because they have a right to free speech. He will be that officer who stops someone walking down the road at 2 a.m. looking down on their luck and ask how they are. Ask if they need medical attention.

He gets to know the people on the streets, he notices when someone goes missing. He has saved lives and our kids look up to him. He never asks for credit or a pat on the back, he doesn’t even know I am writing this article. He just wants to keep the peace and come home to his family and he is not the only one.

We do need more funding in health care not less in law enforcement. Thank you for your words, they do mean a great deal in a world of social media spins.

NAME WITHHELD

About Mel Rothenburger (7712 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

27 Comments on LETTER – An RCMP officer’s spouse speaks out about racism allegations

  1. Lynnda Smith // June 20, 2020 at 11:38 PM // Reply

    Thankyou for bringing this info forward in black & white!!! I believe most of society acknowledges our RCMP as being community oriented helpful & concerned for the safety of all citizens!! While there are always some bad apples in the bucket most people love & admire our wonderful RCMP!!

  2. sharon spacek // June 18, 2020 at 8:15 AM // Reply

    My heart goes out to all the police officers who struggle with the cruelty of the public. One thing that seems to escape all these protesters is…why were the police involved in the first place? They are there to stop thieves, murders, drug dealers and anyone else who is doing wrong. Maybe they should be saying “stop letting your kids hang out in gangs, stop letting your kids run and do what they please”, maybe more programs to educate and keep these kids busy would be a better solution. The crap that the officers take is a disgrace. When do we stand up and say “if your kids didn’t do anything wrong, then the police wouldn’t have to step in. Want to keep your kids safe??? Be a parent…. It is rare to see any police beat or kill a person just because of their skin color. Canada is going to see what its like to have a free for all in crime, because no one wants a career of being kicked in the face and spat on because a person half way across the country stepped over the line. Prosecute the guilty, get them off the streets. Flag the officers who are aggressive to blacks and whites and put them behind a desk. To the public..take responsibility for your actions and your KIDS!

  3. It can truly feel like a lonely job sometimes. When people ask that we do not judge them for their ethnicity, social status, gender etc., please know that 99% of us do not.
    We work in a world where we see the worst and the best in people, the tragedies, unfathomable sadness, unbelievable horrors, but also joys and laughter.
    We work through all types of weather, all hours, holidays and family occasions.
    We chose this life because we truly believe in serving, protecting and helping.
    All that we ask in return is that you see us for who and what we are, individual human beings doing our best.
    Please we only ask that you judge us as we see you, individuals.

  4. I feel for you and understand how your husband must feel as my son is a police officer as well. I prayer for all officers that they will be safe as they carry out their duties.

  5. Well said! The public forgets the danger members face when dealing with intoxicated people, how unpredictable and violent they are. It is a shame that members are subject to such abuse. I’ve always supported The PM, but this week he has lost my support, he sold out his own. Officers do there best, and work to the best of their ability with what they have and so much progress has been made. I can’t wait for the audio and the rest of the video of the Chiefs arrest to come out. Then the public will see what officers deal with. It’s all very Sad.

  6. Well said from a mother of a member. There is good and bad everywhere it’s just unfortunate the bad can out weigh the good at times. I’m very proud of our front line workers most work hard, are compassionate and caring but it’s always the few that can bring down a family. Please keep protecting us

  7. While I respect the RCMP we all know there are those that abuse their power. They have been left unchecked for too long. And I’m sure all of us know a cop who is more than willing to look the other way when his brother in law drives intoxicated. Maybe if they reported those doing wrong within their ranks instead of protecting them there would be more trust. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

  8. Tough job. For sure. There are professionals. And, there are hacks. The rage fueled takedown against Chief Adams. That’s a hack. There are tons of them. These Red Bull fueled members are hired and trained by the RCMP. And the VPD and police forces across North America are all trained to be and do what they do. They have a mandate. It’s handed to them by a police board locally, regionally or nationally. Local fifedoms direct police ethos locally. Karen and her Karen friends have them on speed-dial and use them as their personal hit squad. Anyone on the margins is vulnerable to Karen… and her big haired self-righteous defacto community leadership association. Bylaw in Kamloops has become paramilitary thanks to Karen.
    Wetsuweten and Unistoten have an RCMP outpost demanded by Karen and her husband and his cronies. Look up the chain of command from the thug cop. You’ll find his handlers and they’re happy with the job their muscle is doing.

  9. Great letter. I can assure you that the majority of the public supports you. The problem is the current government and the mainstream media that corruptly supports that government. CBC, CTV, Global and and all of the big media’s across the country are bought and paid for by the government to push an agenda that is killing this country. It is past time for a major change in Ottawa. Only then will the police and the public get moving forward positively.

  10. Very well said. I could not imagine having to do what the Officers do, day in and day out, and for their families wondering if they will be coming home after their shift. People just need to realize that the officers are only enforcing the the law and in most instances if the law was not being broken, there wouldn’t need to be interactions with them. Just abide by the law and the Police would not need to interact or have any physical contact. Thank goodness we have people who are willing to risk their lives everyday!

  11. Michelle Berlinski // June 15, 2020 at 8:19 PM // Reply

    I have worked with many AWESOME RCMP officers. When I was a Peace Officer in a Young Offender Facility, I would see officers, who delivered offenders, come in on their “Off time”, to come and check in with these young people.They did so, just to make sure they were coping well, ect. This was not part of their job, this was because they wanted these young people to know, that they cared enough about them, to give them their time. A lot of the young people had no one to visit them, or support them. I can tell you…their are offenders that are not nice people, and have many issues that are in desperate need of help, but, due to lack of funding this help is unavailable to them. RCMP officers have been forced to take on some of the slack, due to this lack of funding….we need to ask ourselves, who will we rely on, if we don’t have these police officers? If someone breaks into our home, who will we call? If our child is missing, who will we call? If we witness a crime, who will we call? Does Canada really want to live in a Military Police society? Do we need to make some changes in administration, and policies? Absolutely! But I for one DO NOT hold ALL our officers responsible, for the actions of a few! I extend a HUGE THANK YOU,our RCMP officers for protecting us, at the risk of their own well being! I appreciate you all!!!

  12. I am the mother of an RCMP on the force for over 15 years! I fear more for his life now than ever before. Yes there are bad apples in any organization but should that smear the job of all the good ones?
    All that is shown on TV is the bad things, over and over again. Why not show the good they do at least once! Our RCMP have gone to being HEROES on the front line and respected to now being zeros! I feel your pain and it’s not right!
    This new normal is something I can’t get my head around. Why can’t when we finally have a vaccine be like we were before.
    The phrase “systemic racism” is everywhere in every job out there, but it does not encompass everyone in the force! People need to give their head a shake and realize that our husbands, wives, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers put their lives on the line everyday. I don’t want to have my grandchildren think that the RCMP or Police Officers are the bad guys!

  13. Barbara Teichman // June 15, 2020 at 4:14 PM // Reply

    Thank you for such a poignant letter. Unfortunately the few who unnecessarily hurt civilians wreck it for every good cop out there. There needs to be more help for police officers: debriefing, help with PTSD, burnout, etc. Policing is probably one of the toughest and most disliked jobs out there. So many of them do a great job!

    • Mary Nelson // June 15, 2020 at 5:43 PM // Reply

      Thank you so much for all you and your husband do…every day! I am a paramedic and see both your occupations every shift. I commend you both! 👏🏻👍🏻❤️

  14. Knowvah Smhart // June 15, 2020 at 1:13 PM // Reply

    Kamloops police are the worst of any I’ve seen. Also, anyone who says they aren’t racist is an automatic hypocrite because if you spend time researching racism, listen to the people being affected by it, and sit down with yourself and spend the time and question your thoughts and actions over the years, you will find it. No matter how perfect and nice and woke you are, it’s there. I dare you to look. It’s systemic even in you. Saying your husband isn’t racist is even more ignorant. This kind of real, personal, from-the-heart downhome polite patriarchal propaganda is a part of the problem. “Not all police!” Groan: just a big exasperated eye-rolling groan. Give us a serious break from hearing anyone say “but not all…” about anything for like a week. I urge you to go spend more time in dark corners of your own mind and less on your soapbox. Other voices need to be heard. Your privilege is drowning them out. Maybe sit down and listen for once.

    • Do you realize that speaking this way is causing your problem?
      Yes I’m white. I used to accept everyone at face value. Your color doesn’t matter to me but your manners, attitude and actions do.
      Talking the way you are in this post automatically takes you off my list of ‘someone I’d like to get to know’.
      The more I hear others talk about our White privilege, not understanding not caring is actually causing me to put up a wall to protect myself from this kind of verbal put downs..
      Not drawing me to try to learn and understand your issues. Change my mind with your heart. Not by attacking me.
      This lady was sharing from her heart how it feels to be on the other ‘side’. The wife watching her husband. Would you like her to understand your side?
      Then calm down and talk to others the way you want to be talked to.

      • You sound like a very troubled person. Full of hate. Please seek help.

      • Knowvah Smhart // June 19, 2020 at 5:37 PM //

        I’m white, silly Susan. Your privilege is showing. Dig in and do the work. I hope you do.

    • All I will say is YOU and your attitude are what is wrong with today’s society. Please go away with your self pity. You are not wanted!

    • Your comments make me sad because you sound to me like there is no way to repair how people have been treated in the past with that closed heart you are carrying around. I’m lost for words on how you will only listen to your side and not be open to how other people are feeling and want to see change moving forward. Geeze…I’m actually lost for words.

      • Knowvah Smhart // June 19, 2020 at 5:39 PM //

        All I’m saying is you guys have personal work to do inside your own selves if you want to rid the world of racism

  15. Well said and I believe from the heart! I too have a family member on the force and worry about him daily. The goodness in him will stand tall. Know that I am praying for everyone who is a member, their support services and especially their families! We all have to weather this together! 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦

  16. V Hitchens // June 15, 2020 at 8:52 AM // Reply

    So glad you spoke up! Our police need positive support & accolades for the job they do! Kudos to your husband for putting his life on the line for us. Our government needs to look at the Oregon model of mobile crisis support (CAHOOTS) for our wonderful police force. Instead of reducing funding, support them with complementary resources.
    We recently experienced a theft of a vehicle and the RCMP members who helped us were so caring and compassionate. We just want you to know we support & appreciate you!

  17. Thank you for a birds-eye-view on ‘the other side’ of this situation. My brother is a retired police officer. My brother-in-law is an officer in the lower mainland and my ex is part of the major crimes unit for BC. What these people face in their jobs is stuff nightmares are made of. And you’re right, the money is not good for most. All work places have that small number of people that work outside the rules, work with their egos first. Unfortunately for the police these people have the same deadly training and tools. As a former journalist I know first hand a good violent police involved incident is good for numerous news cycles. So many stories can be wrung out of the footage, sound clips and public reaction. The good news stories that would, perhaps, balance out the public view doesn’t have the legs to stay more than one news cycle, if even that. I don’t think this will ever change. I feel for your husband and the millions of good officers around the world who have to face this mind-numbing fear and hatred. I feel for the families affected by their family member and have to witness the toll it takes. I want you to know if see you’ and I care.

  18. Good letter, extremely well written. Many good points have been brought up. Especially in regards to funding cuts to crucial public affairs like mental health and children and families. There is a lot of work that needs to be done including of course restoring full credibility in the police force. Management and politicians need to ditch the rhetoric and get to work with integrity and much urgency.

    • We live in a society where people do not take responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault for what has happened. If you want respect then show respect!! You couldn’t pay me enough money to be a police officer, the abuse they take is unbelievable!! And as for the media…stop sensationalizing arrests!!! This doesn’t help. Stop showing snippets of video that make for good reviews. You are part the problem!! Again, be accountable media people…

      • Yes you are right TB…we live in a society where the authorities from police to doctors to engineers to local administrators do not take responsibility for their bad actions and decisions thus showing everyone else one gigantic bad example.

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