I ran into Kamloops RCMP Inspector Yves Lacasse last night at the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce mixer. He was there specifically to help mark the new partnership between the RCMP and the Chamber on a new RCMP Alert and information hotline service.
Inspector Lacasse looked to me pretty much as I would have expected - tired and frazzled. When you have a difficult issue that gets you a lot of media attention, I know from a bit of experience, it can be incredibly uncomfortable. I remember walking downtown and wondering if every person I passed was thinking bad thoughts about me. The encouraging comments don't seem to stick as much as the reality (and worry) of the negative comments.
The national media attention about the recent incident in the RCMP cells has not surprised me but it has worried me a little. I've written a lot about the great work of our local detachment have done in reducing crime in our city and in working collaboratively with many community partners. Unfortunately, the detachment has had a bad string of recent high profile incidents. And these, it seems to me, threaten to overshadow all this incredible work over several years.
I am glad the RCMP has not buried this recent incident. The City of Kamloops has also taken immediate and transparent action. We all are waiting for the results of an investigation. The systemic problem is still that the RCMP is investigating itself.
I would suggest that it is probably important that local detachment leaders supress urges to be defensive and, instead, take the fact that these recent incidents are on the public record as a badge of honour. New RCMP members in Kamloops should know that our detachment does not tolerate behaviour that diminishes public confidence in our policing. It would be great if the local detachment could invite well regarded criminologists to visit, especially those with media profile - not to sell them on the detachment, but to welcome their informed feedback and input on what is working and what could be better.
Ultimately, the public should be able to understand what happened in these incidents and to have confidence that the Kamloops RCMP is taking any steps needed to improve practices. The public also should know what has been done well in each of the incidents.