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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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3/14/2005

Direct Action

Regular readers will remember that I was arrested last June. (Newbies can read the blow by blow here and here.) The rather outlandish charge was dropped and my complaint to The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP against the Galiano RCMP officer involved is proceeding at a pace which would do a banana slug proud. (Apparently "Provide excellence in policing through accountability", the mission statement of this outfit is about as accurate as it is grammatical - a gerund, Ms. Heafey, would change the sentence into a call to action rather than leaving it a pious hope.)

In due course I expect there will be a report and then I will proceed with such other remedies as are required.

Meanwhile, I was greeted this morning by a delightful gentleman who, on behalf of various citizens of the People's Republic of Galiano, was gathering information on Constable Scott Hildersley's conduct. It appears that more than a few islanders have grown rather fed up with what they see as an overly aggressive attitude towards law enforcement.

We had a good chat and I spent a little time trying to make clear the difference between bona fide complaint about a specific abuse of authority and the more general question of the proper role of a police officer in a small community. The second is essentially a political question and, while it needs to be addressed, needs to be addressed outside the complaints process.

The life of a policeman in a small community is not ever an easy one. On the one side there is the law to maintain, on the other the support of that community for that law. Striking a balance is, more than anything, a test of judgement and character.

Most importantly, it is not pass/fail on a single instance. Authority comes with the job, respect is earned across hundreds of encounters. Some policemen thrive in small communities, others become depressed and issolated. As respect ebbs, the assertion of authority where none is required increases.

Part of the leadership function of the RCMP is to intervene when, after a reasonable time, a given member's suitablity for a particular situation has become compromised. At some point it is time to move on.

When gentlemen in their 70's make it their business of a Sunday morning to co-ordinate the complaints and concerns of a small community about its police officer it is well past time for the RCMP's leadership to pay attention.