So, I was surfing the web on the weekend and saw a story about the RCMP changing its criteria for who it allows to sign up to become an officer—and the reaction on social media was, well, to put it mildly, less than supportive.
What fired up the folks who decided to comment? A lifting of the restriction that Mounties must be Canadian citizens.
What? Are they serious? I didn’t even know you could not be an RCMP officer if you were not born in this country or had become a naturalized Canadian. It never crossed my mind.
And what difference does it make anyway?
If a man or woman is properly trained as a cop and takes his or her job seriously, does it matter where they were born?
And should we use that same criteria for other protective services such as firefighters and ambulance paramedics? What about doctors, they provide one of the most important services in society. And then there are teachers. The list goes on.
Are foreign nationals any less able to solve crimes, put out fires or administer emergency medical treatment than folks born in Canada?
It’s my experience the people who become cops, for the most part, sincerely believe in the justice system they are asked to uphold. And, for the most part, they do their jobs properly. Sure, there’s some bad apples in the RCMP and we have heard plenty about them in recent years. But to tar every officer with the same brush is unfair and not right.
Cops do a job most of us would be unwilling to do. The definition of being a cop is to uphold the law and stop people from breaking it, or catch them if they do. That means police officers deal with a section of society most of us would not want to deal with. So we, as a society, pay police officers do it for us.
I don’t think the average man or woman on the street worries about where an officer is from when they need a cop.
The RCMP is making the change, along with others, such as moving applicants with a higher level of education through the system quicker, in response to a dropping number of applicants. With demand up for more officers in towns and cities across the country and fewer recruits being turned out by the force at its Saskatchewan training facility, something had to be done.
But to hear the naysayers it would appear letting folks who came from elsewhere, but chose Canada as their home, join the force is akin to taking “Canadian” out of Royal “Canadian” Mounted Police.
Given the litany of black eyes the force has been handed by the actions of so many Canadian RCMP officers in recent years, maybe the time really has come to open up its ranks to men and women whose expertise, deportment and abilities are not only needed but who can help rebuild a once well-regarded institution, regardless of where they were born.
It’s not nationality that makes a good cop—it’s being able to do the job properly, behaving properly and dealing with people properly.
And those three traits transcend nationality.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.