Re: Armchair Police Criticism Degrades Public Safety
April 24, 2023
On behalf of our 20,000 RCMP Members and particularly those serving their community in Red Deer, we have significant concerns about the extremely presumptive criticism — and the credibility given to these comments — in your story of April 21, 2023.
We thank Mr. Matheson and Mr. Buchanan for their RCMP service, but it’s also important to note they left policing 50 and almost 20 years ago, respectively, during very different times in Canada’s history. Given their policing experience, they should recognize the importance of respecting both the RCMP’s and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team’s investigations without pre-supposing or speculating on what occurred, or the outcome of the investigations. We and our Members support transparent, timely, and thorough investigations into these rare situations.
As both long-retired officers asserted, police are now dealing with more unpredictable subjects. Our Members are increasingly called to fill the gaps created by the chasm in social services and related supports, including mental health calls. Previous generations of police officers did not bear that same burden. In this situation, police were called with a complaint of an individual threatening violence toward others with a knife.
In 2021 alone, the RCMP responded to 701,126 calls in Alberta. By comparison, there were 623,659 calls in 2016 which shows a 12% increase in just five years. And yet use of force is still extremely rare, with only one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of calls resulting in any use of force nationally. Members are now more thoroughly trained in de-escalation and mitigating mental health calls. Again, we support ongoing learning and best practices in these critical areas to keep Members and the public safe.
We do agree on the need for additional investment in police and mental health partnerships including the successful Police and Crisis Team in Red Deer. These programs have proven successful and should be expanded in Red Deer and all across the country.
The trend of armchair criticism of police is not only disrespectful of those who put their lives on the line for their communities, it also degrades the policing profession and the safety of these dedicated men and women — and puts overall community safety at risk.
Instead, let’s thank all police officers for their bravery and professionalism in protecting their communities, and leave the investigations to those charged with doing so.
About the National Police Federation:
The National Police Federation (NPF) was certified to represent ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally in the summer of 2019. The NPF is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada; the second largest in North America and is the first independent national association to represent RCMP Members.
The NPF is focused on improving public safety in Canada by increasing resources, equipment, training, and other supports for our Members who have been under-funded for far too long. Better resourcing and supports for the RCMP will enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.
Kevin Halwa and Jeff McGowan
NPF Prairie Region Directors