(Published in 24 Hours Nov. 28, 2012)

Commissioner Bob Paulson's shuffle puts street cops in danger


   By Leo Knight




RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson can't seem to get it right. Even when making a seemingly good decision, he seems to find a way to draw the anger of many members of the iconic police force.

Paulson has determined that there's too much dead wood in RCMP headquarters. Good for him, he's mastered the incredibly obvious. Then he determined that they should be transferred to operational positions, many in B.C. - which has the largest complement of officers in the country. That makes no sense.

These carpet cops have nothing in kind with street cops. They have, for the most part, spent their entire careers in administrative positions. In the words of one veteran sergeant, who shall remain nameless for fear of retribution, most have never uttered the words "you're under arrest."

If Paulson gets his misguided way, they will be in positions where they would have operational command because they are usually over-promoted. For HQ positions, Mounties can be promoted to the rank of corporal after seven years service.

In the Lower Mainland, that same promotion usually takes between 12 and 16 years. The primary difference is that these officers are doing actual police work not carrying files around to look busy.

To put a sergeant, staff sergeant or inspector from HQ into an operational role as a watch commander or incident commander on the street would be foolhardy in the extreme.

Street cops know it. Detachment commanders are pushing back. One was told to suck it up and "train" them. How do you train an officer with the square root of nothing for experience in actual police work to be a watch commander? How can training possibly replace 25 years experience of the average sergeant?

These transfers are apparently occurring because of a federal government initiative called the Deficit Reduction Action Plan. I'm all for that. By all means, the government should cut spending and balance the books.

That can easily be achieved by trimming grants to special interest groups that do not serve the needs of all Canadians. It would also help to remove the tax-exempt status of faux charities like Tides Canada, which are nothing more than political activist groups.

There's much that can be done by government and the commissioner to trim the fat. But putting inexperienced officers in operational leadership positions is plain dumb. Itís also dangerous for officers that must follow them, as well as the public.


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