I saw something the other day that made me think a little. I was driving back from the grocery store, and I saw a police officer taking a picture of a pair of tourists at the Mile Zero Marker, the place signaling the start of the Alaska Highway.
In truth I was surprised to see it. These last few years it seems the Royal Canadian Mounted Police haven't been concerned with actually aiding the public they protect and serve. To me, it seems like their presence is always something that leads to no good, we see a RCMP cruiser and check our speedometers or we get a ticket, if one stops a group of kids on the street it's because he's interrogating them to see if they're up to no good. And if a pair of police officers knock on your front door you bet your ass your heart is going to jump, because nothing good will ever come from that.
Earlier this spring I was driving back from our neighboring province and the RCMP had a checkpoint set up at the provincial border to check for major purchases out-of-province. You see, the province I live in has a 7% sales tax but the neighboring one doesn't, things like vehicles and major purchases that require ensuring get hit with that tax when they're insured in the province, but purchases such as furniture can slip through the cracks. Not that day, the police were our government's assigned tax officers, the perfect way to protect and serve the people.
Unfortunately this is not a trend that's new. Canada is a backward nation when it comes to laws, a nation where you can rape a child and get off in 5 years for good behavior, but miss 4 lines on your tax form and say goodbye to your family for 25. Money is worth more than people and it's painfully obvious.
It's unfortunate, but this money-first attitude permiates the RCMP. Every action they take is to make sure our tax dollars are "well spent". Regrettably this need to justify their existance results in the readyness to levy fines. And so honest citizens regret the the RCMP presence just as much as the criminals.
I don't think the Mounties are a bad organisation, or that they're just a bunch of greedy cops. They're just doing their job, and they're subject to political bullshit just like everyone else, likely more than their share actually. But I do think that our government needs to look at their motto. There is very little "protecting and serving" in the current modus opperandi, and that needs to change. The police need to concentrate on making people feel safe, rather than be the fines and tax enforcers for the powers that be. Why can't an officer just wander into a school to talk civily with the kids? Or speak in casual friendly tones with a local shopkeep just to show a friendly presence? Or offer to give someone who's had a "few too many" a lift home or a hand out to a friend's car? It's because what looks good in the eyes of the people does not shine so brightly on the forms handed in to the buracrats, and make no mistake it's the latter rather than the former who is really being protected and served.
I hope though that things might change. And seeing a small thing like a police officer holding a camera for some tourists gives me hope, and it's those small things that make a job rewarding, and help to uplift the organisation as a whole in the eyes of the people.