The B.C. Civil Liberties Association recently released a report on the RCMP following meetings held in various communities to gather input from the public on the RCMP.
Small Town Justice — a report on the RCMP in northern and rural British Columbia doesn’t, in our opinion, paint a comprehensive picture of the RCMP in Williams Lake.
Only eight people, including a few from the media, attended the Williams Lake meeting. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to get a clear view of how Williams Lake residents feel about the RCMP when there were so few attending the meeting on Aug. 10 at Thompson Rivers University.
As a result, one shouldn’t take the BCCLA report as gospel, especially when there is no evidence presented in the report to back up specific and general allegations noted in the report (no research is presented to back up any of the positive comments either). Also not included in the report are comments from the RCMP themselves — they should have been given the opportunity to defend themselves against the allegations.
The RCMP were asked not to participate in the workshops due to concerns participants may respond differently in the presence of police members. Fair enough, but in order to provide a comprehensive report, one must also do comprehensive research and, at the very least, give the RCMP an opportunity to respond to comments following the workshops.
While it is quite possible many of the claims made in the B.C. Civil Liberties Association report are correct, we also believe many of them are likely wrong. As a newspaper, we know there are always two sides to a story. We also believe that when an RCMP officer does something wrong, he or she should most definitely be held accountable, as all citizens should. However, reports, just like stories, have an effect on people’s perceptions. In this case, as Staff Sgt. Warren Brown puts it, the report is “misleading.”
We note that organizations such as the B.C. Civil Liberties Association can provide a vital role in being the watchdogs of society and the RCMP, but since the report lacks evidence, as well as fair response from the RCMP, we believe the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s report lacks credibility and we take it with a grain of salt.