I remember being in grade school some fifty years ago, listening to a Mountie talk about what a great career choice becoming a member would be. I recall him saying that the position is one that holds a lot of respect and when they move to a community they become friends with the local doctors, lawyers, business and community leaders.
I not only remember that talk, I have always held members in high esteem. When I see news footage of four beating a man to death s they did in the Vancouver airport a few years ago, I would think well there are always a few rotten apples in every group or perhaps we are not getting the whole story. When one is videoed kicking a prisoner in the face while he lay on the ground handcuffed, or some of the other incidents that have been on the news the last few years I think perhaps we should give them a break they deal under a lot of stress with the scum of our society and again there is probably more to the story. When visiting Ottawa a few years ago I even stepped in to block a young man, who suddenly and without reason attacked an older lady on a House of Commons tour. A fellow I did not know from Saskatchewan and I stepped between him and the rest of the people and tried to comely talk him into relaxing as he was obviously very distraught. We were both twice his size and he did quieten while an excited young female member tended to the fallen lady before radioing for assistance and having him removed. For this I got a letter from the then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, but only thought it was my duty to assist law enforcement in keeping our country safe.
A few years ago I bought and wear an RCMP pin most the time that has four mountie hats on it in memory of the four young members killed in Mayerthorpe. I am even polite when I do get a rare ticket because I usually deserve it. After all the police are just doing their job, right?
Now however most citizens seem to have lost respect for the force and I am wondering are we becoming more jaded towards them or is the force losing our respect by their attitude? I like to give them the benefit of the doubt thinking that there will always be a few bad apples to taint the others but how did I suddenly manager to get two in the same car?
Before heading out on a traditional family Christmas on the desert, decorated with millions of bright lights and the tinkling sound of slot machines I had to go to Vancouver to help Liam move out of his basement suite. The plan was we would rent a $100 moving truck, haul this $50 worth of stuff and store it in a $200 storage unit until he knows where he will be working next.
It took a day longer than planned to clean the suite making it obvious to him that he should be the first roommate to leave next time. With the job finally done we returned the truck to the old service station but when I pulled up to the pump the owner said they did not have gas and I would have to go back two blocks to replace the fuel I had used. He looked in the back and agreed it was clean, as I only had to remove the plastic shoebox that held a half dozen bungee cords and a towel when I returned. The owner closed the door and I headed back down the road. As I waited to turn left into the service station I heard a loud speaker advising me to continue straight ahead and pull over. I could see the back of a police car in the mirror so I did as directed. I could not see if they continued to follow me so when able I changed lanes and pulled off on a side road. It was then I saw the car with its lights on, it had been tailgating me so close I could not see it in the mirrors.
I pulled to a stop and got out as I have a hard time sitting since my accident. As I walked back towards the car watching the driver, a tall young man stepped out from behind the truck. He seemed pleasant enough with a big smile and asked if I knew why they had stopped me and I told them I did not.
He motioned towards the back of the truck and the door that was up a couple of feet and said, “You have an unsecured load.” He pointed towards the shoebox and towel. I thought he had opened the door and just looked at him in a puzzled sort of way. He went on to say that the door had opened and there was nothing to prevent the towel and box from falling into traffic. I was too dumbfounded to speak. I mean they couldn’t blow out as they were in a cube van, they couldn’t slide back because it does not have enough power to accelerate fast enough for that, besides the floor had metal groves across it to prevent things from sliding back. They couldn’t bounce out because the towel on top of the box weighted more that the box and contents so it held them in place. He continued to smile at me and I said; “You are kidding right?”
He asked for my license and the rental truck insurance and retreated to his car for a good half-hour. In the mean time two different ladies came out from the apartment and asked if I could move the truck as it was blocking them from backing out of their parking space. Both times I moved the truck then stood in the street to direct them out safely as they could not see past either the truck or patrol car. While I did this piece of police work the member that had been driving continued to sit in the car and watch.
Finally he returned to me still smiling and I thought okay I am going to get a lecture, a warning ticket or maybe a $50 ticket, which, I thought, I will not protest. He handed me the ticket but my failing eyesight and his poor writing skills made it difficult to see the amount which appeared to be $88 which seemed ridiculous for this offence. I asked how much the ticket was and he said with a grin, “$288”
“No seriously, how much is it I can’t make out the amount.”
$288, he again answered then added I can make it for $650 if you prefer?”
“You have to be kidding?”
“No sir that is the amount but if you don’t like it,” He said looking down at my Alberta drivers license, “You can always come all the way back here and fight it. I will be happy to see you in court.” Now chuckling he walked away.
So this is how two officers spend an hour of time doing their job. Have I been too concerned about the risks they face it seems this is an easy way for them to rise $288 rather than chasing someone with drugs or guns. I have lost a number of friends doing their jobs in construction, driving trucks and the oil patch over the years and no one gives them a second thought. Why should I respect someone with a gun and an attitude who have nothing better to do that hassle people over petty offenses?
Am I wrong? I would like to hear your comments but in the mean time I have removed my pin and won’t give them a second thought when I hear of another officer down after all they were just doing their job.