"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Monday, November 24, 2014

They may be 'auxiliary,' but their work is essential

We're now getting some more clarity on the impact of last's month's edict from RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, informing us unilaterally (with no consultation)  that our 49 auxiliary officers would have to be under the "direct supervision" of a regular, armed member whenever the auxiliaries were performing their duties. And what we are being told is that the situation may not be quite as problematic as we had feared, and that all policy matters surrounding the use of auxiliaries are under review.

New letter from Supt. Bates.
 Here's a link to my previous posting about the issue; the link also includes other links to news stories about the edict, which Coquitlam Council made into a very public issue when it voted unanimously on Nov. 3 in support of my motion to ask Ottawa to overturn the edict.

At the time, we were concerned that the entire Auxiliary Constables program might be in jeopardy because the City simply couldn't afford to have a regular member shadow an auxiliary member who, for example, might be making a public-safety-related presentation to an elementary school. Similarly, the City couldn't afford to have regular members replace all the work currently done by auxiliaries.

In a letter dated Nov. 21 (see scanned copy of letter accompanying this story. I literally had to cut and paste the letter to have it fit on one page.), Supt. Tyler Bates, director of RCMP National Aboriginal Policing and Crime Prevention Services, explains that the edict was issued in response to the shootings on Parliament Hill. He explained: "...in the current environment, there is increased risk to those wearing the RCMP uniform, including Auxiliary Constables." And since auxiliaries are unarmed, it wouldn't be prudent to allow them to be unaccompanied by armed Regular Members.

That said, Supt. Bates added, "Auxiliaries can still perform crime prevention functions without direct supervision, provided they are not in uniform." He also added that the national policy governing the supervision of auxiliaries "is under review in order to ensure a balance between community policing initiatives and public and police safety."

He continued: "Feedback will be sought from RCMP Divisions on any proposed policy changes. In the meantime, the directive that Auxiliary Constables working in uniform be under the direct supervision of an RCMP Regular Member remains in effect, to ensure the safety and security of our Auxiliary Constables."

Bottom line: It's good to learn that unaccompanied auxiliaries will still be able to address students and youth groups, for example. But I'm also hoping that their educational presentations won't be rendered less-effective because they're being delivered by a non-uniformed auxiliary instead of one in the Mounties' garb.

I'm also saddened to learn that the the auxiliaries' effective crime-prevention patrols--which certainly are made more impactful by the fact the auxilaries are in uniform--cannot continue in their pre-edict form. And that's a real shame.

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