It’s time for the RCMP to step up to the plate and better deal with members who go off the rails, says a woman who recently fell victim to a violent outburst from her estranged cop-husband.
“They (the RCMP) created a monster,” she said outside the courthouse where Staff Sergeant Owen Wlodarczak, 41, received a three year conditional discharge for the charges of assault and careless use of a firearm.
“With what he’s seen, and what he’s been through…they need to do more. They need to take into account what’s happening with their members.”
Officers who show signs of distress do have ample access to psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors, but the woman said treatment needs to be mandated because her estranged husband wouldn’t have gone for help without being forced to do so.
For her, it meant the accumulation of stress was dumped on their family, which didn’t have the tools to cope.
The woman, whose name is protected by a publication ban, was punched in the head eight to 10 times last May by Wlodarczak, as his two young children stood by.
“She’s going to take you away,” he said while hitting her, according to court documents.
Later, while his family stood by, he grabbed his police-issue gun, held it up to his head and said, “You did this to me, woman.”
The family escaped, police were called to the scene and Wlodarczak was taken into custody with no resistance. He pleaded guilty to the charges levied against him.
The couple, which had been together since 1996, had watched their relationship disintegrate since the middle of 2010, when Wlodarczak expressed disinterest in the relationship and they separated.
Conditions became more strained until that May afternoon, when a conversation about sole custody brought him to the tipping point which he claimed to regret in court Monday. “I’m profoundly sorry for what happened,” said Wlodarczak during sentencing, noting his ex-wife and children deserved better. “I would never hurt anyone…I wish (my wife) and I had gone our separate ways two to three years ago and didn’t drag this drama on.”
He added that he wanted to go back to being a “good man” and working with the RCMP, assuming they’ll take him back from the suspension levied on him at the time of the incident.
According to Justice Vincent Hogan, Wlodarczak’s record as a good man was taken into account at sentencing. “This is one of those situations where the circumstances are frightening and dangerous and generated by someone who should have known better…but we don’t ignore the credit ledger,” he said, referencing the good work done over Wlodarczak’s career.
Hogan went on to say that the challenge of figuring out what to do when good people do bad things is most pronounced when he’s presented with family dynamics. “For most of us, the worst people we will meet will be in our own family,” he said. “Family violence is a sad and steady part of our society…we need to stop acting hysterically when our emotions are involved.”
Hogan approved a three year conditional discharge for Wlodarczak. It means, assuming he adheres to the conditions set, he will not have a criminal record. The conditions of sentence entail keeping the peace and staying one kilometre away from his family, unless family court says otherwise.
Wlodarczak is barred from bars, liquor stores and other areas where alcohol is the main course.
He’s also not allowed to have firearms, unless he’s working. That means he must surrender his gun to a superior at the end of each shift if he’s reinstated with the RCMP.
“I hope what you said is sincere,” said Hogan. “I hope all of you (in the gallery) go back to your homes and try to be loving to each other.”