RCMP Auxiliaries increase police safety

Yes, we are volunteers, but we are peace officers and we wear our uniform proudly

Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter to Senator Daniel Lang and Honourable Ralph Goodale regarding a recent decision to end ride-alongs and firearms familiarization training for RCMP auxiliary constables.

Dear Sirs:

I recently came upon a transcript dated March 9, 2016 of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. In that transcript the value the auxiliary constable to the community was expressed. I am happy to see this issue had reached this level of government.

I have served as an auxiliary RCMP constable in Kelowna, B.C. since 2001. We are a well-trained force, well integrated into the RCMP operations, and have the largest number of auxiliaries in the country.

What happened to Const. Wynn and Auxiliary Const. Bond was tragic by any measure (both shot near Edmonton last year; Wynn later died), but it’s important to note a couple things with respect to this event.

Firstly, no amount of training or weaponry can stop a police officer from being shot at. Most violent interactions are a surprise event during what seems to be a routine activity. It would be unreasonable and unacceptable for police to treat every interaction as high risk and approach in that manner.

Police are expected to walk into an unknown situation, giving each individual the benefit of the doubt, and react only when warranted. This put officers at a disadvantage against those who wish to do harm.

Policing by nature is difficult and dangerous work, and people who have not served are challenged to understand it. However, police gain safety in numbers, and the more officers that are present, the less chance someone will try harm them.

The RCMP model of one member per car puts the RCMP at great risk. Auxiliaries will never eliminate the risk, but they are a key tool towards mitigating it.

No funeral is ever the last, and everyone knows that.

One could argue that auxiliary and reserve programs across the country are “unofficially” a cost effective way to increase presence and provide the “second member” optics to people who may have a reason to do harm.

One can easily conclude that having auxiliaries working with RCMP members may and probably have prevented violence towards police numerous times.

We have programs all across this country where volunteers are put at risk. For example, most municipalities continue to operate their own reserve constable programs, and volunteer firefighters all across the country face similar risks to their safety.

The armed forces reserves are filled with ordinary citizens who join, train, and face risk of death or serious bodily harm if called upon to serve their country.

We as a nation accept the reality that people willingly take risks to provide needed services. It baffles me how the thinking around police volunteers within the RCMP is so much different.

This country is filled with people who love their communities and want to play a role in keeping them safe.

Auxiliary constables are not ordinary people; they are extraordinary people, ultimate volunteers, who want to contribute in a positive and meaningful way.

Auxiliary constables come from many walks of life. They are farmers, computer techs, doctors, nurses, business owners, pastors, etc.

We know the dangers, and accept the risks freely. The answer is not to disband and de-police; the answer is to embrace the program and those who participate by supporting, strengthening and expanding it.

Give us the best training and tools so we can bring the upmost value to our police services.

Most auxiliaries I have met over the years all ask for the same thing: comprehensive training, the proper intervention tools to assist the RCMP as well as protect ourselves and the public, and in the event we fall during duty, we ask that our families are taken care of.

Yes, we are volunteers, but we are peace officers and we wear our uniform proudly.

We see and experience things that most people can’t imagine. We are aware of the risks of our role and accept everything that comes with it.

Yes, we do it all for free. I don’t think there is anything more Canadian than that.

Kim Dobranski

Kelowna, B.C.