LETTER: RCMP witness to countless trauma

A Ponoka News reader speaks to the stress that comes with being an RCMP officer.

Dear Editor,

In a recent report on the RCMP the auditor general found that 79 per cent of respondents who were on off-duty sick leave and 44 per cent of those who were on active duty believe that seeking help for mental illness would have a negative impact on their careers.

That’s a significant perception by a large number of RCMP members.

The police and a range of other professions witness or are involved in events that would deeply shock and emotionally disturb most of us. Hearing graphic stories of what these professionals see can induce not only abhorrence but some form of trauma by association.

It is a rare and I believe a deeply disturbing occurrence to be emotionally unaffected or immune to witnessing human tragedy. That seems something the RCMP administration perhaps does not want to acknowledge. Human beings are emotionally vulnerable under certain conditions. To acknowledge that vulnerability likely challenges the stereotype of the brave, strong, indomitable image of the RCMP officer who always get their man or their woman.

Not to acknowledge that vulnerability is to be blindsided by inaccurate assumptions about how trained professionals perform in crisis situations. It could lead to inaccurate assessments in critical situations or in their aftermath.

Acknowledging vulnerabilities, I believe, typically only occurs in emotionally safe environments, where there is no judgment but support. That’s a deeply needed task. Not to engage in that task, however would, I suggest, likely have significant implications for the effectiveness of the force and the erosion of some of its human capital.

George Jason