Monday, August 5, 2013

Police officers can be victims too

The sudden death of RCMP Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre was probably in mind when Resergeance.net posted the video embedded here. More than a few people believe that Lemaitre was misused by his superiors after four RCMP officers ended Robert Dziekanski`s life by homicide. Then an E Division media spokesperson, Lemaitre released information provided him by a more senior Mountie. When video evidence proved the account was materially incorrect, Superintendent (now Assistant Commissioner) Wayne Rideout took over media relations for the case and prevented Lemaitre from correcting the record. To the public, he was made to look a prevaricator. Lemaitre cared about that but apparently his superiors did not.

There is no certain evidence on the record but it does seem that, while the officer who preferred misinformation to truth was promoted, the misused media spokesperson was kicked to the curb by RCMP management. What does seem certain is that, when his life ended suddenly, he was on stress leave and the police force had been pressuring members in that situation to leave the force, through resignation or involuntary termination.

Read the comments at Resergeance.net and you may conclude that Lemaitre`s death — and the deaths and abuse of others — might have been prevented if the RCMP exercised enlightened human resource management.


More mentions of Wayne Rideout in these Northern Insight discussions of the RCMP.


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9 comments:

  1. As a former 28 year member of the RCMP and a vocal advocate for change in the RCMP labour relations scheme, your commentary really struck a cord with me. Perhaps the only person with real insight into Sgt. Lemaitre's untimely death is his widow, an ex-member of the RCMP herself. I hope that as part of her healing process she is able to tell his story so that other's may learn from it and perhaps another RCMP member's life will not end this way. Perhaps the government will also learn something and make the necessary changes to the organization that have been screaming to be addressed for years.

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    1. “Perhaps the government will also learn something and make the necessary changes to the organization that have been screaming to be addressed for years.”

      Wishful thinking as it was a federal government who made the head of the RCMP a deputy minister of the crown which in turn politicized the force. That changed the mandate of the force permanently.

      The ongoing problems with the state police force are systemic and come from the top down. Rideout did what all superiors in the RCMP do; sell out the subordinate to cover his own ass.

      Nothing new about any of that.

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    2. Thank you for your service to the public and the continuing concern for people inside what should be a respected national institution. It surprises me that despite various inquiries and management reviews, the RCMP remains essentially unchanged in the way it treats its own people and in its willingness to sacrifice individuals to protect superior ranks from embarrassments they earned.

      The Conservative Government of Canada will not make necessary changes since they are a large part of current difficulties. Placing the RCMP under direct control of the cabinet and PMO and selecting a Commissioner comfortable with that arrangement was a disaster. Paulson said the right things after appointment but has absolutely failed to live up to his own words. When he took over, I wrote positive things, expecting improvement. Now, senior management of the police service is worse. That includes British Columbia's highest ranking RCMP officers who care most about hanging medals on their own chests.

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  2. Norman, may I suggest that not only do you make some salient points around this tragic affair,but "Anonymous" and "dan" do as well.

    My thought's are with Pierre and his widow..........

    Gary L.

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  3. Dan,

    You are absolutely right in your assessment of the RCMP and it's politicization. It may be wishful thinking on my part to think the government will actually do something about the current structure but I can't stop demanding that they do. I think Canadians deserve better and I know the members of the Force do! Politicians are obviously benefitting from the current dysfunction of the outfit as they seem to only want to "window dress" the serious issues. You are correct in pointing out that there is no way the Commissioner of the national police service should have Deputy Minister status within the ruling party and be accountable to the Minister of Public Safety. He/she should have the same status as the Auditor General and report to Parliament. The Commissioner should not be selected by the Prime Minister but by a board of police chiefs. This way, politicians are kept out of the mix and hopefully a better candidate surfaces, one that is not necessarily from the RCMP. I was all in favour of a civilian taking over the top position, it's just the wrong one was chosen!
    The greatest enemy, of course, is the apathy displayed by the Canadian public. They make no real demands for change, therefore politicians are able to do nothing but "window dress" and get away with it. I know I left the outfit before my time because I could no longer survive within the ranks of the RCMP. I know there are many out there that are just counting the days before they too can get out. Doesn't paint a pretty picture of our national police service, does it?

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  4. Thanks Norm for this piece. Your readers should go back to Resergeance.net (linked in article) for the comment quoting from a report by Ontario's Ombudsman. It demonstrates how police services fail their members who suffer stress disorders. Shockingly, there seems to be almost no effort to examine the effects of mental disorders or the suicides that result. Each and everyone of the Commissioner level officers, along with the federal cabinet, ought to be ashamed. They have blood on their hands.

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  5. You all make very good points....a solution must be found....a stand must be taken. I can only hope that the family will someday have the courage to make public the letter left behind by Pierre....yes he was a friend. He clearly puts blame directly on the Force for his action. Once again another great and honest member falls because in his greatest time of need in dealing with stress and PTSD....where was the FORCE.....they let him and many more like Pierre down. Prayers and hugs to the family. Sue the Force.
    Management needs a wake up call....you cannot run and hide from this. Remember what is taught in media relations 101....MESS Up.....FESS Up.

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    1. If information we hear is correct, the family should sue the RCMP and refuse any settlement that prevents the public from learning about issues that affected Pierre Lemaitre. The federal government uses non-disclosure clauses in settlements with victims and that weakens the case for real reform. However, I realize that would be a difficult and intensely personal decision that not all of us could make.

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  6. You are so right Norm. These are the toughest times for the family and can only hope they have the strength. Pierre's letter was left to the FAMILY....it has likely been seized by the
    Police for this Coroners Investigation. Hopefully the Abbotsford PD will not lose it in exhibit handling nor the RCMP management does not make it disappear so they don't have to deal with yet more back lash of their poor handling of members health issues. The RCMP used to be a strong, proud and TRUSTED, what happened? Can upper management survive this?

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