Re: RCMP auxiliary roles reduced (Gazette, March 9)
I was an RCMP auxiliary constable for almost 10 years in the West Shore. I can tell you, in that time I have seen many changes to the program, mostly for the worse. Our tax base can no longer support the increasing costs needed for many services our community needs. Consequently the use of volunteers is our only option.
When the RCMP say they are only looking out for the safety of their volunteers, take it with a grain of salt. Volunteer officers are not to be classed in the same boat as the civilian volunteers. RCMP auxiliary constable are given basic training and ongoing annual training amounting to hundreds of hours, training the RCMP provided by their own people.
Good managers would have improved the program, not dismantle it. With proper training these volunteer constables would make an awesome addition to the force and the communities they serve. Many communities around the world use volunteer officers as regular members with great success. If you can put two armed officers in a car for a Friday and Saturday night why wouldn’t you? It’s safer, four eyes are better than two.
Many of us have tried to convince the RCMP to follow those models used elsewhere to improve the service provided but they refuse. That makes no sense whatsoever. Communities need that augmentation of volunteer officers. Volunteer constables come with local knowledge and a full understanding of the job and the risks at hand. The RCMP should applaud those volunteers and stop treating them like children.
I am confident the RCMP could, if it wanted to, train high quality volunteer constables capable of doing a fantastic job on the streets. Consequently I am suspect as to why they would rip apart the auxiliary program and their excuse for doing so. The RCMP is struggling with manpower right now big time. I suspect many auxiliary constables will quit due to these changes, leaving the program in shambles and losing several hundred thousand man hours down the drain with the fault squarely on the shoulders of Ottawa.
Don’t think for a moment the RCMP could not build one of the best auxiliary constable program in the world.