Many believe the RCMP are sworn to serve and protect.
But they are wrong.
The LAPD is dedicated to serving and protecting. The RCMP is in the business of defending the law.
But that doesn’t prevent its officers from doing more to safeguard the community.
Recently, there has been much discussion about sexual assaults in the community.
And it has devolved into a discussion of statistics, which can be made to say whatever you want.
RCMP report 29 sexual assaults between May 1 and November 1. That’s fewer than 2010 and 2009, they say, which had 33 and 31 respectively.
Women’s organizations use the same numbers to suggest things are bad, and getting worse, reaching the highest ever in the territory’s history – last year’s 33.
But this number game is simply a distraction.
The bottom line is that 29 sexual assaults in this town is terrible. More is worse still.
And the community – women, police, media, the public, everyone – must do more to prevent them from happening.
Today, the police are the ones under the most scrutiny.
They are being criticized for not reporting recent sexual assaults more quickly.
This is especially true with the possibility there is a man out there targeting women.
So far, their explanation for not publicizing this case has been inadequate.
And the force’s notification procedure seems erratic.
Here’s an example. When a guy called out to a child in a park, the police had a warning on the air in hours. Later, it turned out to be a simple case of mistaken identity.
Were the police wrong to issue the warning to children and parents? No. Did it impede a possible investigation? Probably not.
However, when a woman is assaulted outside a bar, the 98, and the culprit is on the loose, no warning is issued to the public.
The police argue that once there’s sufficient evidence to support the possibility the several recent assaults may be related, they will issue a statement.
But why not do so sooner rather than later?
If a woman has been attacked by an unknown assailant, why not simply announce there’s a dangerous guy on the loose? Why not simply warn people to be more vigilant and careful?
Why not treat it as it did the callout to the young boy?
The RCMP suggests such statements would foster fear. That poor information would muddy or taint the investigation.
It is a quaint notion, born in the days of handwritten letters. But today, as we are all aware, information is transmitted perpetually to everyone in seconds.
And it hates a vacuum.
That means if the RCMP is not going to provide the public with solid information, the public will fill the void with what it has heard.
That’s just the new reality.
The local RCMP is proving to be reluctant to adapt to this new era. The force currently has just one person disseminating information to the public while juggling other duties.
Under the circumstances, he does an admirable job. But, frankly, it is not enough.
Women have always banded together to protect one another. They have always shared information about threats to their safety, it is a social necessity born of a brutal, shameful history of abuse and assault.
They are still sharing that information. And they are spreading it faster and wider and better.
It puts the police in a tough spot.
The RCMP is sworn to defend the law.
To do that, they believe they must control the flow of information.
What they don’t realize is those days are history.
People are demanding better protection through information.
And, eventually, the RCMP will have to provide it.