Category Archives: Ramblings on Policing and the Military…

“You Are Not A Leader” – RCMP Cpl to Commissioner…

Here’s a good one.  Someone willing to speak truth to power (and frankly, the world needs a bit of that right now)…

CBC News – ‘You are not a leader’: RCMP boss’s testimony about Moncton shootings inflames corporal

Reminds me of some recent writings by retired OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis and from his “Lighthouse Leadership Services” consultant business, articles that have been fairly recently and frequently published in BlueLine Magazine, a policing monthly publication here in Canada.  Stuff about the difference between Leaders and Managers, about Leaders and “Bosses”.  About how being a leader is about ensuring those under you and that you’re responsible for are taken care of, how you listen to their frontline knowledge, how you value their input; on the contrary of being a boss or a manager, who only worries about the next promotion, about the “organization foremost over the individual people”, about doing the politically correct and easy thing, rather than the “right” thing necessarily.

I remember one article that Chris Lewis wrote that summed it all up so succinctly for me, as it relates to policing – not verbatim, but to the effect of…

“A manager or boss is the one who, when something goes wrong, asks their staff how they’re going to fix it, doles out discipline whether people were ‘wrong’ or not, and orders a timeline for getting things done, and takes the credit afterwards.  Whereas a leader is the one who, when something goes wrong, takes the blame for what went wrong, works with their staff as a team to resolve it, helps and assists their team to get it done, and doles out credit afterwards for positive actions, yet while also not ‘passing a fault’ and ensuring improvements are made.”

With everything coming out of the RCMP from the past decade-plus or so, and their continual head-in-the-sand mentality, I can’t understand why they just don’t want to move forward and improve.  Their members are…in need of it / begging for it / deserve it.

Sounds like the RCMP management team are still in need of reading Commissioner Lewis’ writings.

Cheers all.

Dashcam Video Released From Philando Castile Traffic Stop…

So, the police dashcam video footage has been just released earlier today from the Philando Castile shooting in July 2016.  This video hasn’t been released until today, due to it being held back as evidence in the officer’s trial.

This is the shooting that further enraged things in the U.S. going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, due to it being another unfortunate case of a black male shot and killed by police, but was exacerbated by the fact that Castile had a permit for the legal gun in his possession, and also due to the fact that his girlfriend who was in the vehicle at the time (along with her four-year-old daughter too) actually live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

The police officer in question, Jeronimo Yanez, was charged with manslaughter after the shooting occurred in the state of Minnesota last summer.  He was just acquitted of all charges just late last week.  Yet, the police department he worked for in the city of St. Anthony has now also decided to terminate him regardless of his acquittal.

Jeronimo Yanez, as the police officer, is a Latino male police officer.  Philando Castile, as the shot and killed driver, was a 32-year-old black male, who worked as an elementary-school cafeteria worker, and had a proper permit to own the firearm that was found in the vehicle with him.

Yanez’s defense pointed to the fact that Castile was high on marijuana at the time of the shooting, as to a reason why he was not listening to the officer’s commands, and that Yanez stated that Castile was going for the gun.

So, all that said, here’s the link for the video.  Mature subject matter, obviously.  Please use your discretion…

Video: Dashcam Video, full screen

CBC News: Dashcam video shows officer firing 7 shots into Philando Castile car

I gotta say…

Fuck me.  I don’t know what to say.

There’s been a lot of videos of officer-involved-shootings in the U.S. lately, and be it from the Michael Brown shooting to the Tamir Rice shooting to the Jamar Clark shooting, I’ve personally believed that the racial profiling, on the part of protesters, has slanted their view more than that of the officers involved; I myself have seen all those videos / publically-released reports now, and felt that, whether I personally agreed with them or not, or whether I would have done the same or not, that the officer’s actions could be justified.  (And grain of salt here – that’s as an outside person, seeing only what anyone else in the public can see, and trying to look at it from an informed position, but understanding that I may not have all the info, and it’s just an opinion.)

But this video…

Wow.

The sheer terror.  The anger mixed with terror that the officer displayed afterwards.  I don’t know if that’s solely and only a stress reaction to the incident at hand, but it doesn’t look like racism to me.  To say this was “another” racist shooting is out of hand frankly (and yes, the cop was Latino, but it doesn’t matter that way either, in my opinion).  It’s reactionary vile of the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” variety spouted off by those that want to add fuel to the fire to anything race related in the U.S.  Take this exact same shooting, and put a white driver and a black officer with the EXACT same scenario and action run through to the exact same conclusion (just changing up the colours and roles therefore), and you won’t see people saying it’s racist.

But it does look terrifying to me.  Did the officer actually react according to his training, due to the threat to life that he perceived, and therefore did he act properly per his training?  Or did the officer overreact?  I dunno.  The biggest thing with that is whether or not the threat to life was a “reasonable belief” / reasonable threat.

Did the driver actually reach for the gun?  Even with the girlfriend sitting in the front seat, she may not have actually seen what the officer saw, nor knew what the subject was thinking / doing.  No matter what the court and jury decided (and, they decided outright that they believed the officer’s defense 10-2 at the beginnings of deliberations, and then unanimously acquitted him in the end), only Officer Yanez himself and Castilo himself truly know what happened, and what each other’s intents were.

All I know is, this video, and the anguish for all involved, is the only one in a good long time that had me have such a gut-wrenching reaction.

I honestly felt violently ill after watching this one.

I’ve had a time once that I’ve screamed at someone like that, asking them why they’ve put me (and us both) in the situation they did.  And that wasn’t even a “gun’s-out” situation.

And, it almost sounds indefensible.  Almost of the “why’d-you-make-me-do-that” rationale that spousal abusers and their ilk will use afterwards to justify their actions.

But, it can be real.

No matter what I’ve done / will do in my policing career, no matter what I’ve done / will do in my soldiering career, either at home in Canada or overseas, I do fully understand that policing in the U.S. is a completely different beast from what I do.  I’ve said to many friends and family – stereotyping as it may be – that I really don’t think I could be a street cop in U.S. cities such as Miami or New York or Los Angeles.  And that from a guy that’s stood downrange from baddies in strange overseas spots, and had a good couple of gun’s-out situations in my short-so-far policing career…I just know that what U.S. cops deal with is, well, different.  Not better or worse, but different.

This one video was just absolutely gut-wrenching to watch.

There can be both victims and perpetrators on all sides.

Policing: To Serve OR Protect???

Occasionally, I enjoy turning off the mmm-da-mmm-da music, and listening to CBC Radio, both for the news as well as some of its shows and programming.  Today, the program “Ideas” presented a very thought provoking broadcast entitled “Policing: To Serve Or Protect”.  As per the program, this was recorded back in May at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, and is Part 1 of the program, with Part 2 of 2 to be aired soon.

You can find the podcast from the show here:  Policing: To Serve Or Protect?

I think this was a great programme for everything it discussed.  The issues discussed included traditional roles, Sir Robert Peel’s principles of policing, native issues, racism, police trust issues, community backlash, social ills, costs, body cams, police culture, Canada versus U.S. aspects, etc.

However, there were plenty of issues not discussed, and various other points and counter-points that were left off the table.  As well, the unfortunately typical usage of American terms relating to a Canadian show or subject was present too (for example, “misdemeanours and/or felonies” [U.S.] rather than “summary conviction and/or indictable offences” [Canadian]).

But the title of this programme alone spoke volumes. Not “Policing: To Serve And Protect”, as we’ve all known that classic saying, but “…To Serve Or Protect”.  That simple word change is indicative of the changing world of policing and of the changing  aspect of the world views of police.  And unfortunately, too much of the outside views on police are based on the dire straights within the U.S.; however as a few of the panelists agreed, its definitely not an apples-to-apples comparison across the border lines.

Give the program a listen.  Time well spent, in my opinion.

Cheers all.

Another Range Weekend Come And Gone…

So, as I mentioned in an earlier post about a Ghostbusters / “Ecto 1” sighting, I had another weekend on the range for requalifications.  Good ol’ CFB “Boredom”.  Some nice new mess facilities there, but still otherwise the same.  I don’t miss that base, nor the rooms either…

We had some bright and sunny, albeit a fair bit of windy conditions for the first day.  But a good day of shooting – and even with a flyby of a foursome of Harvard trainers, there at Borden for a small airshow / demonstration event…

We even had some newer faces try to get used to full-auto bursts.  Always fun to watch…

​Rainier conditions for our pistol shoots the next day…

But it was all made better to come home to the Mrs. having got a couple of GIANT t-bone steaks marinated and ready for high-temp grilling perfection.  Mmmmmmmmm, meat (yes, I know, with a side of salad, lol!)

Cheers all. ​​

Really???  REALLY?!?!?!?!

So, following up on a recent post I did on spending and retention within the military, I just saw this article pop up in the news earlier today, and heard the various commentary on the radio this afternoon.

More spending, more troops, and more investments in our Canadian Armed Forces.

An increase (generally a good thing) of $13.9 billion.

“Defence policy promises boost to defence budget and plans for armed drones…

The Liberal government’s new defence policy lays out a plan to increase the defence budget by 70 per cent over the next decade to $32.7 billion. It is a mixture of new and previously committed cash.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberal-sajjan-garneau-defence-policy-1.4149473

However, its all only fully kicking in after the next election and/or some time within a 10-year window.

Really???  REALLY?!?!?!?!  REALLY?!?!?!

A promise of an investment down the road is not an investment right now (when that’s what is needed).  It’s promises of future increases (maybe – the track record isn’t good), and not necessarily and not mostly increases right now (which is what we need).  This announcement is kicking the ball down the field for an easy play, rather than making tough choices and deciding on a workable play RIGHT NOW.  And it’s still nowhere near raising our defence spending from a paltry 0.9% of GDP to the 2% that our NATO allies have requested and which we should be committing to, especially in this day and age.

It’s more of the same from government announcements – Liberal or Conservative, it doesn’t really seem to matter.  Much ado about nothing.

Thanks, but don’t do us any favours.

On Pay, Recruitment, Retention, and “Satisfaction”…

So, it’s about that time again.  Every so many years, people in the Canadian Forces (along with other Canadian government agencies and departments) start looking at what potential raises and pay adjustments will be coming out.  And I’ve been paying attention to a couple of online Reddit groups, message boards, etc., etc., and see that things are somewhat hammered out.

The PSAC union (Public Service Alliance of Canada), the group which oversees the majority of Canadian government public service employee groups, along with the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), generally sets the bar for what to expect as it relates to pay increases and such.  The talk looks to be about a 6% pay raise, retroactive to 2012.  So, it looks to be that the tentative agreements lay out the following:

  • 1.75% for 2012
  • 2.0% for 2013
  • 1% for 2014
  • 1% for 2015
  • Then, also tentative for 1.25% for 2016 and 2017 also

Now, this all appears to be tentative.  Everyone’s waiting on the Treasury Board / government to sign off on all these tentative agreements, which should take place by the middle of June apparently.  The RCMP is also negotiating and trying to sort things out (they’re still in the process of hammering out a union formation, since the Supreme Court of Canada recently awarded them unionization rights).

This would then trickle down to similar retroactive pay raises across other federal government departments and organizations, including down to the Canadian Forces.  Meaning, a trained Corporal (at a 4-year pay incentive level, which is the vast majority of Forces members) would go from earning $58,000 or so a year, to just over $63k for 2017 (not including Specialist pay levels, or any other perks).  Plus, with this all being retroactive, there would be back-pay of about $8000 pre-tax owed to said Corporal.

In my opinion (and yes, I’m only the “little guy” in the room with this as well), it’s a good thing.  More money (generally) is always good.  It helps retention, recruitment, morale and esprit de corps (which is really at some all-time lows within the Forces based on many formal and informal estimates and surveys going on recently).

But it’s paltry too.  Some of those numbers look good, but it’s only 6% – inflation, based on Bank of Canada numbers, has worked out to be 6.71 percent, from April 2012 until April 2017.  So SHIIIIIIIIEEEEETTTT, this (currently still hypothetical and hoped-for) retroactive raise doesn’t even keep up with the pace of inflation.

Now, reading some of those Reddit threads and message board and forum discussions, it funny how there are lots of those that come out of the woodwork with the typical tripe – “we’re the second-highest paid Forces in the world already”, “if you don’t like it, quit”, “everyone else has frozen pay too” [not quite true, in actuality, apples-to-apples as much as it can be], “no one joined to get rich”, etc., etc.  These are the same types of pricks who argue for the sake of arguing, who bitch about everything but offer no suggestions or improvements towards it, who become the new “old dinosaurs” who stick to the age-old way of doing things in the military “just because that’s the way it’s always been done, so why change/fix/improve it”, etc., etc.

I also HATE hearing the old adage, “you joined to serve your country”, and that money’s not everything, and that “to serve with honour” sacrifices must be made, etc.  Well, yes, we make sacrifices – to serve as Military Police, rather than on a civilian police service, there’s more sacrifices than normal.  There’s extended absences from home (not just missing a simple birthday or being out on a call rather than being home for dinner, but being days and weeks away instead).  There’s international taskings, ops, and missions that all come into play, and not just working in your own “backyard” or home neighbourhood.  But sacrifices like those are what’s expected for the added “honour of serving one’s country”.  You’re simply willing to give up certain comforts and privileges for the added honour of being one of the few.  But, sorry, but pay doesn’t NEED to be one of those sacrifices too.

I for one (obviously) would definitely like to see the raises and improvements.  As I mentioned, so many things are not looked at positively within the forces right now.  Pay improvements help.  As Military Police especially, we’re already 20-30% less than comparable civilian agencies, and that’s not including any overtime or court-time pay (which we do NOT get as MPs).

As well, over the past number of years, there’s been many things cut out of our pay, besides not having raises or getting a cost-of-living-increase.  Over $400 a month cut from my pay, in my case alone, just in my first two years.  Now, also add in that we don’t have money for many “typical” things – uniforms are back-ordered, we can’t get new boots in place, something that should take a week or two takes 10 months to work through the bureaucratic red-tape nightmares that have been put in place, many units (especially on the Reserve side) can’t get enough bullets and other consumable items for regular-enough training, much equipment is in such disrepair and Red-Green-duct-tape’edness (just to get through another day) that things are getting onto the side of embarrassing.  And hell, all that tied in with the fact that many Forces members live in PMQ / RHU housing on the bases, in houses owned by an arms-length civilian agency, where the rental cost on a house is about 80% of what an actual mortgage cost would be on a comparable local house.  This is insane to be charging Forces members that, when you consider these homes are on DND property, most built and paid for since the 1940s to ’60s, that are long paid for and don’t cost the government all but a dime to have, and yet they’re fleecing our Forces members that way.  And, since it’s an arms-length civilian property-management agency, THEY always make sure they get their annual price increases, and stay ahead of inflation with annual fee increases.  It’s such a joke.

Could it be worse?  Hell yes.  We in the Forces do (I know, I know) have the ability to leave; it IS indeed a voluntary choice to be in the Canadian Forces.  Granted, they make it an ABSOLUTE BITCH for those wanting to transition out (six-months minimum to “voluntary release” and get out; this ain’t your civilian aspect of “two-weeks notice” and you’re good-to-go, darling).  But we’re not a conscription Forces, and as I mentioned before, we are definitely up there on the remuneration paid (though our taxation and cost-of-living is also higher than most too).

But it could be made much, MUCH better too.  The Forces loses SO MUCH money in retention and recruitment and training – how many pilots are lost early to civilian companies, MPs to civilian police forces, CF firefighters to municipal services, military medical staff to public agencies and hospitals, etc., etc.  If you want the skills and the training and the experience to stay (ESPECIALLY AS IT RELATES TO “PURPLE TRADES” AND CERTAIN SPECIALTIES), to not have such heavy retention losses, then pay up.  Make things at least somewhat comparable to civilian rates of pay – not 40 to 50% less.  (It’s absolutely disgusting when CF firefighters make what they do, but then the CIVILIAN-run DND firefighters [who do the “regular” CF bases aside from those with airports/airstrips themselves] have their pay tied to within 30% of the very top tier of what outside civilian agencies get, and so, they just recently got a 20% or so pay raise to factor in changes from the last 5 years or so.  Meaning the same rank/position from CF fire to DND/civilian fire can be a difference of almost double the pay.  Fucking disgusting.)  So why not automatically attach a cost-of-living increase that matches the annual inflation rate???  You’d get rid of the need for all this money wasted on giant TEAMS of people negotiating new contracts, leg work needed, lengthy negotiations and man-hours spent doing all this, etc., etc.  Short term, yeah, it may cost more.  But the long-term savings from higher retention rates, and then less costs in recruitment and training, and people staying longer to continue to serve, will pay dividends.

Ask civilians what they want from their agencies – do you want the vast majority of people working for emergency services to have 5-10 years experience only, or the vast majority to be in the 10-30 year experience level???  I know I sure as shit would rather have a doctor doing surgery on me with 24-years-experience and X-amount of previous procedures performed, rather than a doc with only 7-years under his/her belt, and “that’s the best we have, right now, due to recruitment and retention”, etc., etc.

Emergency services (police, fire, ambulance), doctors, nurses, etc. – these make up a fair portion of what we call the “purple trades” in the CF.  In civilian society, these professionals and trades are quite generously paid – and that’s because (put gruffly) these people do shit, see shit, and prepare for shit that the average person can’t or won’t be able to handle.  They are, day-in and day-out, prepared and preparing for everything that the average person couldn’t even IMAGINE sometimes.  They make up a part of why everyday society is simply able to function and continue to operate, blinders-on sometimes.  Now….take these trained professionals….and put them into an armed-forces mandate and concept-of-operations.  Take them, doing these jobs, and insert it into both domestic and international operations.  Where our clearly-defined Canadian lines-of-operation start to get fuzzy, and a billion other variables start coming into play.

And yet, WE PAY THEM ANYWHERE FROM 20-50% LESS THAN WE PAY CIVILIAN COUNTERPARTS, AND WE WONDER WHY EXPERIENCE / RETENTION IS SO PISS POOR, AND THEN WE WONDER WHY AVERAGE EXPERIENCE LEVELS ARE IN THE 5-10 YEAR RANGES COMPARED TO 10-/15-/20-YEAR-PLUS ON THE CIVILIAN SIDE?!?!?!?!

The problem is….the government (from ALL parties; this is a problem that has gone on far too long, and covered across many successive governments) and the greater bureaucracy in charge….they just simply don’t have a long-term view on this.  They spend millions and millions every couple of years on workplace satisfaction surveys, to see where to improve, to see what would help, but they DON’T LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS, and use it as simply a “check in the box” that they’re “listening to the troops” and hearing what the front lines have to say, etc.  And, what we end up from the top is that all anyone is looking at (for those in charge) appears to end up being budgetary bottom-lines,  the next promotion, re-election, “what’s best for ME”, etc., etc., etc., and NOT the greater picture unfortunately.

But hey, what do I know….I’m only the low guy on the totem pole.

Cheers all.

Don’t Sleep And Drive…

A good two snapshots of an accident scene I had attended last spring.  An 80 kph zone, four total lanes of traffic in the area, and the van COMPLETELY avoided all traffic, came across the roadway on a slight curve, and took out TWO of the giant utility poles on the far side!  The driver’s mistake?  Falling asleep while driving, in the middle of the afternoon, while his other four passengers were all asleep in the back seats as well!

Thankfully, not a single person was seriously hurt.  If I recall correctly, only two people went to hospital for minor injuries.

Lesson of the day – pay the fuck attention and drive safe!  LOL.

Cheers all.

Quinte International Air Show 2016 starting soon at CFB Trenton…

Well, the acts are flying in.  Our kids are ready.  The crowds are starting to fill up the roads.  It’s going to be nice weather for the event weekend, too.  We’re all pretty pumped up…

 

Well, at least the swans and their babies don’t seem bothered by all the fuss…

I’ll update further pics and videos after the air show weekend is done (and DEFINITELY better digital SLR photos, not just from my crappy iPhone camera).  And there’s more posts coming shortly too on the Jamaica trip that Erin and I took in April 2015 too.  Enjoy.

Cheers all.