Prime Time Crime


(Prime Time Crime exclusive April  7, 2017)


Do the Right Thing

By Bob Cooper


I wrote this piece 5 years ago, Worth Considering, and it looks like things haven’t improved, Sunshine Coast RCMP sport pink duct tape to protest salary discrepancies.

I spent close to a third of my career working in Joint Forces Squads and if anyone told me that I would see this sort of open protest in the RCMP, not to mention individual members like Sgt. Backus speaking out, I’d have said they were crazy.  

When I joined the Vancouver City Police in 1974 I was typical of police recruits all over North America.  White, male, 21, with a high school education and just out of the regular army, as were a number of my classmates.  The Vancouver Police Training Academy was much like the service.   The discipline was strict, instructors’ words were law, and Probation meant exactly that.  You could be dropped at anytime for no reason whatsoever.  You kept your mouth shut, your boots polished, and you didn’t question anything or anyone.  This was typical at the time of police training everywhere and I mention it not as a criticism, quite the opposite.  Recruits learned self-control, adherence to rules, following orders and most importantly, working as part of a team.

But, times change.  Now the average recruit will be older, more diverse in terms of race & sex, and will have a University degree.  They question things and they do so without hesitation and this applies to the RCMP as much as it does anywhere else.  Regaling them with tales of the hardships and heroism of their predecessors, Artic dog-sled patrols, Sam Steele and the March West no longer compensates for poor working conditions, disgraceful pay inequity, and a feeling of abandonment by your own leaders.  Telling them they’re the best while they’re getting paid the worst gets old pretty quick and does nothing for your own credibility.

Low morale, apathy, and hopelessness creates a vacuum which, left unaddressed, is filled by the breakdown of discipline and eventually corruption.  Police leaders worth their salt would have been on top of this a long time ago standing up for the troops instead of feathering their own nest (Big bonuses for RCMP top brass as front-line Mounties go without pay hikes), and scheming over who’s going to be the next Commissioner. 

The best bosses I ever had were people who never forgot where they came from. 


Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.

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