Serve and Protect

Watching the news last night I saw a story about the RCMP that kind of got my goat. For those of you who only think of them as “Dudley Do Right” or the quaint showmen on horseback in the red serge suits (sure they all HAVE those cute suits but they only wear em for show) most of them do honest to goodness policing. Policing in cities that don’t have their own ‘local’ force and are the backbone of small town law enforcement in Canada. The city I grew up in and the city I live in now rely on the RCMP to keep order.

I’m a law-abiding kind of gal so I’ve never disliked the police. Sure, as in any job there are excellent ones and ones that maybe aren’t so much but overall I’ve got nothing bad to say about em. It’s a tough job, a dangerous job and as it turns out a VERY underpaid job. In fact the Canadian Government is trying to claw back their wages and would put the wages of a rookie cop about 10 grand below a transit cop. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we finally have the T-cops.  I mean there are a lot of shady people riding our Skytrain but they aren’t showing up at domestic disputes and rapes, murders and  countless other situations where they have no idea what they may be walking into.

Our Government has felt justified in jacking up the wages of politicians, who face it are not exactly doing the same kind of work. The people that deserve to be well paid are those that meet us on often on the worst day of our lives and maybe, the last day of their lives.

The RCMP have put together a website called Callforbackup.ca where they are looking for public support to help them in their cause to have the Canadian Government honour their wage agreement. They are already undermanned and they fear that they won’t get qualified recruits if things don’t improve, never mind get worse. There is a petition there that can be signed as well as a way to email your local Member of Parliament. I signed, I emailed and now I blog.

I know it’s a tough slog right now with the economy the way it is, but yanno.. there are just areas where you shouldn’t short change. It’s a job I wouldn’t want to do but I’m damn glad that there are others that do, others including a very good friend of mine who joined the force, a lifelong dream.

I’m not favouring the police, I include in my admiration the fireman, the paradmedics, the search and rescue workers, all those who walk into danger to help another soul in need.

In the spirit of the subject at hand  I thought I would recount my very first experience with an RCMP officer, it probably started my lifelong love of men in uniform (heh).

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When I was growing up there wasn’t a lot of talk of kidnapping or child abuse, at least not like there is now. People used to let their kids venture out to play all over the neighborhood, moms secure in the knowledge they were somewhere near a friends home if not their own.  Many of my friends were sent out with the orders of “come home when it’s dark”, and in these parts depending on the time of year that could run pretty late. My Mom wasn’t like that when I was really little. She always knew where I was and it took years before I was allowed to go any further than my own block.

My mother taught me to fear the boogeyman.

I lived two houses away from the school grounds, well within the safety zone my mother imposed, close enough to be able to see me if she walked down the end of the street and surely within earshot of her PIERCING two fingered whistle my signal to come home. Occasionally I would be left in the care of another neighborhood mom, usually the mom of my best friend back then.

I will always remember this one summer day when I was in the care of my her mom and were playing as usual on the school grounds, we couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 at the time.  On this particular day there weren’t a lot of  other kids around and probably because of that we happened to notice a man hanging out by “the big rock”. The big rock stood at the end of the gravel playing  field right above  the ravine that separated the school grounds from one of the main road and was lush with vegetation, especially in the summer time. Plenty of kite eating trees stuck out of that ravine I tell ya.  As we watched he was bending down, examining the ground and picking things up, more than once turning his head to see if we had noticed him.

Obviously we had, but didn’t pay him any more mind, that is until we saw him approaching.  He walked over to where we were crouching and looked down and smiled. He said hello. My friend said hello back and I said nothing. I was a shy child at the best of times but something about this man made me wary. Why would he want to talk to us?  I scrambled to my feet and my friend slowly followed me up.  I quietly studied him while he talked.

He asked us if we lived in the area and my friend told him we did. I nudged her and she glared back at me and rolled her eyes. He asked us if we liked money. OF COURSE WE LIKED MONEY my friend shouted. Come on who didn’t? He asked if we knew there was a LOT of money  around that rock he was standing next to earlier. My friend’s ears perked up to that. MONEY! FREE MONEY TO BE HAD!  She listened raptly to what he had to say. To prove his point he dove his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change. See! look! All this money came from over by that rock. He offered to show us where the money was if we liked. To better make his case he dipped his hand back into his pocket to try and appear to have more money but to me it looked like it was exactly the same handful he already showed us.

He smiled again and motioned for us to follow him and my friend started to when I grabbed her hand and said no. She looked at me and asked me why.  I just shook my head, grabbed her more firmly and ran up the grass hill  her protesting loudly but dragging along behind. I  kept on going until we got to her house and didn’t look back, I was afraid he would follow. When we got there we poured the story out to her Mom and she immediately called the RCMP.

I will never forget when the tall man in uniform walked into the house. My friend’s mom took us all upstairs to their more formal sitting room and the two of us girls sat together in a rocking chair giggling while he asked us questions perched on the matching chair. He was patient and kind and tried to  put us both at ease while he questioned us. I remember being in complete awe of him and PAINFULLY shy. The officer took our description, I had a pretty good one from all the staring I did while the creep talked and he was impressed. He patted me on the head when he was leaving then crouched down to meet my eyes and told me I had done exactly the right thing, tell an adult who would know what to do. I fell in love right then and there. ;)

There were a handful of incidents over the rest of my Elementary school years with  kids that weren’t as lucky as us, that WERE hurt or molested by some creep. Those odd notices to make sure we walked home in pairs and didn’t cut through the ravine. I have no idea what exactly went down, we all just knew it was bad. What would have happened if we  had gone with this guy over the “the big rock” so close to the ravine, I have NO idea. But as a mother, I shudder to think.

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