The RCMP continue to come under fire for their response in the Nova Scotia killings in 2020, and many people believe the force will never change the way it does business despite the recommendations in the Mass Casualty Commission’s final report on the tragedy.

Yes, their response could have been better to save more lives. Yes, some officers use excessive force, and yes, racism exists in some of the ranks. But let’s not forget the invaluable service the RCMP provide in our communities. Law enforcement aside, the RCMP perform a plethora of duties behind the scenes; tasks that largely go unnoticed and unrecognized. 

Picture a cold winter morning outside a popular drinking establishment. A tipsy young woman appears disoriented while standing outside, waiting for something . . . someone. Inappropriately dressed, no winter coat. A police officer patrolling the area spots her with a hint of worry, then wonders how impaired she is. He pulls up, offers her a warm cruiser to wait while she calls her dad for a ride home. The officer subsequently calls the father (on her phone) to ensure he is on the way, saying his daughter is safe. Five minutes later the father pulls up to the cruiser where his daughter gets out and stumbles into the car while the officer explains the situation.

On the way home, the dad is shaken; his youngest born could have hopped into a predator’s car, driven to a strange home and raped. That officer prevented that possible outcome and acted like a father figure to a woman he never saw before.

There are countless stories like this where police have gone above and beyond the call of duty. 

“Sometimes it’s the small actions of our members that truly make an impact, no matter how big or small,” the police superintendent told the father afterwards, following a letter of commendation.

Yet another example: 

“Smash!” The child hurled something at her door during a tantrum that the parents could not control. A struggle ensued and the mother struck her daughter while trying to wrestle her phone out of her hands. The father was beside himself and didn’t know what to do, so he called the RCMP for help. An officer came over and calmly mediated the quarrel, listening to both sides. It ended with the parents apologizing for the ruckus. The child also expressed remorse and the trio went back to being a family again, thanks to the officer’s intervention. 

Tomorrow, it could be a domestic dispute between a husband and wife, or a lost child that an officer found hiding in a neighbourhood dog house. 

Often maligned, often criticized, the RCMP are the ones on the front lines making split-second decisions to protect the good, the bad, and the ugly, all while risking their own safety. They have families who often wonder if they’ll ever see them again after a shift.

Police find themselves battling a system that isn’t on their side, but they continue to  forge ahead because of the oath they swore to uphold the law and keep their communities safe — a job nobody else wants to do.

Lyonel Doherty, editor