Que. RCMP slammed by employee survey

By William Marsden, Montreal GazetteJanuary 8, 2009 6:03 AM
Source: Que. RCMP slammed by employee survey (external - login to view)

MONTREAL - A secret RCMP report indicates that the Quebec division of Canada’s most vaunted police force is a mess of bad management, poor employee communications and rotten promotion procedures that reward cronyism and sycophants while keeping good officers down.

“The system favours development of careerism, which members explain is a genuine plague that taints relations and decisions within the RCMP,” the report states.

This careerism often interferes with sound police work, it says:
“It creates ‘individualists’ that invest in projects and initiatives not out of interest or for their intrinsic value, but simply to garnish their promotion file with ‘good examples.’ ”

The report cites officers who claimed that competition for promotion has destroyed the force’s teamwork by creating a system where everybody is out for his or her own career interests.

Quoting RCMP officers, it says that the promotion procedure at the RCMP “fails dismally at ‘putting the right people in the right places.’ ”

Officers also told the report’s authors that RCMP managers turn a “blind eye to mediocre performance, incompetence and especially reprehensible actions when it suits them.”

The report claims that senior officers are not trained to handle disciplinary problems. They also cover up bad conduct to “preserve the image and reputation of the RCMP and avoid, at all costs, conflicts with members that could attract media attention,” it says. “From the members’ standpoint, ‘image policing’ weighs too heavily among management’s concerns.”

The RCMP said Wednesday that they would not comment on the report.
It was written by three professors at the Universite of Montreal’s Research Group on Language, Organization and Governance.

The writers interviewed 668 Quebec-based RCMP employees of whom 85 per cent were officers and the rest civilians. The interviews were voluntary and confidential and were held between Sept. 21, 2007, and Aug. 29, 2008.

The RCMP commissioned the report as part of its effort to address serious problems within the force that came to light over the mismanagement of its pension funds as well as such operational tragedies including the murder of four officers in Alberta in 2005 and the death of newly arrived immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport in October 2007.

The report confirms the findings of two earlier studies that indicated the national police force is in turmoil.

Both of the earlier reports - one called Rebuilding the Trust: Report of the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP, the other a study by Dr. Linda Duxbury entitled The RCMP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: An Independent Report Concerning Workplace Issues at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - recommended a major overhaul of the Mounties.

The authors of the report said their study should give senior RCMP officers “additional reasons to take these diagnoses and the spirit of their respective recommendations very seriously.”

The authors found that the Mounties’ senior officers seem unaware of the gravity of the problems inside the force because they live in a different reality from that of the rank and file.

Officers claimed that the senior ranks treat the force as a business rather than a police force.

“They forgot that the essence of their work is to be police officers,” one officer told the authors.

The writers conclude: “Our observations clearly reveal that a large chasm separates - more gravely than we initially anticipated - the perspectives and realities of the members and managers in the C Division,” the Quebec division of the RCMP.

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