by LESLEY BIKOS
Originally published: May 19, 2017
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP unveiled a damning report on systemic workplace harassment in the RCMP. In a one-two punch, former auditor-general Sheila Fraser also released a second federal report of her review of four harassment lawsuits from female RCMP members. Both reports call for substantial reforms to the operations of the RCMP. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responded to the reports stating they both contained “similar serious and long-standing concerns.”
While some in the public may see these reports as earth-shattering revelations about the workplace culture of Canadian police forces, their content should not surprise many of the officers who serve. The culture of policing was originally built on white, traditionally masculine, conservative norms, and is based on hyper-masculinity, loyalty and, above all, silence. There have been commissions, gender audits, independent reviews, academic studies, lawsuits, whistle-blowing memoirs, public complaints and media coverage of the ills of the police culture for decades. The internal issues of harassment, discrimination, abuse of power and corruption have been known by police administrations and government bodies in Canada for a long time. Yet, little about the culture has changed in any meaningful way. I say this from my own experiences in policing, but, much more importantly, from the 77 in-depth interviews across 23 police services I have conducted thus far in my current nationwide study on police officers’ experiences of police culture.