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Actions of ‘very few’ painting RCMP with negative brush, says B.C. officer

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018.
The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. The Canadian Press

An RCMP officer in B.C. says policing is a tough but rewarding career, despite a wave of negativity that’s currently crashing over cops in Canada.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Sgt. Jason Bayda of the Osoyoos RCMP detachment said recent media coverage has painted a bad picture of police.

“With all of the negativity portrayed in the media towards police these days, what used to be a highly rewarding profession, for some has become difficult,” said Bayda.

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“Police officers are human, we make mistakes. We recognize we are not perfect even when we strive for perfection. We work for you, the public, and we do our very best to keep you safe.

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“We do this always, even during COVID-19. We do this because we care. We care about our communities. We care about you. All of you.”

He continued, saying all police officers are being painted with the same brush and are being criticized for the actions of a very small few.

“This can have a demoralizing effect,” said Bayda. “Yes, even on us, the police. Remember what I said earlier? We are human too.”

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Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff agreed that police as a whole are being negatively viewed.

“I can’t say enough good things about (the officers) that we have here,” McKortoff told Global News, adding politicians can relate to waves of backlash, as they’re often on the receiving end of negative calls.

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There are many stories of police incidents involving too much force or rough treatment, including the death of George Floyd in the U.S., or the shocking video of a Kelowna, B.C., university student being dragged during a mental health wellness check.

Not so many, though, are police stories involving positive comments.

For example, last month, Elk Valley RCMP issued a statement regarding an officer apprehending a male who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

According to police in that incident, the man was intoxicated and was crying out that he wanted “suicide by cop.”

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The attending officer eventually apprehended the man, who was taken to hospital. But later on, the man’s friend contacted police and thanked them for the officer’s actions.

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“The officer reassured my friend, realized that professional help was required, despite the aggressive behaviour of my friend, even after he had reached for the officer’s gun,” said the police statement.

“Thank-you RCMP and thank-you to the officer for being exactly what the police stand for, especially in the current climate.”

Global News reached out to police for more information at the time, but is still waiting to hear back.

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Rarely do police mention positive comments they receive from society, with Bayda noting constantly seeing bad press affects not only them, but their family members as well.

“Our spouses and children see us out the door before every shift knowing there is a reality that we may not come home,” said Bayda.

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“When they hear or read negative comments about the police, it hurts them too. And that’s not fair to them. Yet they stand beside us because they know who we really are.

“They know we are not what the media is trying to portray us to be. We are not villains. We respond to calls during the pandemic, most often without the ability to remain six feet from some of those we are assisting.”

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Bayda continued, saying, “we don’t know if we are leaving a scene infected and taking it back to the detachment, putting our coworkers at risk or taking it home and putting our families at risk. We are the ones that attend scenes and have to see things no one should ever have to witness.”

He said policing is a stressful job yet through it all we will not stop serving and protecting. That is what we signed up to do and we will not leave you without help, regardless of the negative press aimed at us.”

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The statement came after Bayda said a local pastor visited him and delivered a card filled with numerous comments thanking police for their local efforts.

Osoyoos RCMP Sgt. Jason Bayda and pastor Phil Johnson of the Osoyoos Baptist Church.
Osoyoos RCMP Sgt. Jason Bayda and pastor Phil Johnson of the Osoyoos Baptist Church. Submitted

“I can’t begin to tell you how uplifting it was to read all of those comments,” said Bayda.

“It re-energized me as I know it will also do for my officers and office staff. It reminded me that although there is a wave of negativity toward police in the world today, the support much outweighs the negativity.”

The pastor, Phil Johnson of the Osoyoos Baptist Church, said police forces are being portayed “as almost a hindrance to the well-being society than an asset. We have no comprehension of how good our society is because we have a force like the RCMP that takes care of the underbelly.”

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In an interview with Global News, Johnson said the current wave of anti-police sentiment is portraying police “as a bunch of irresponsible thugs who want to hurt people, and that just isn’t who they are.”

Johnson continued, saying policing is hard work, “and because of that work that they do, we have a good and pleasant society, and we don’t see what they do. And so we think that when the bad comes out, this is all they are.”

The pastor said no matter the profession, there will always be a few bad apples in the bunch, but to entirely paint a profession negatively isn’t right.

“That’s the thing we need to realize,” said Johnson. “Ninety-five per cent, at least, or more, are doing good, hard work that keep our society safe and keep it good.”

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McKortoff called the church’s card effort a wonderful moment.

“I hope more people will do that,” she said. “I hope more people will think about what’s something positive that we can say and so, rather than always being critical?”