Amid intense scrutiny and multiple allegations of misconduct directed at police, a South Okanagan RCMP member has penned a public letter explaining the toll the criticism is having on him and his fellow officers and their families.
Sgt. Jason Bayda, the media relations officer for the South Okanagan-Similkameen Regional Detachment, published the following letter on the Osoyoos RCMP’s website Wednesday, July 8.
“This morning I had a great visit with Pastor Phil of the Osoyoos Baptist Church. It was a visit like no other and certainly an uplifting one. Before I get into that, please let me touch on how some of the recent media coverage has affected us.
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. 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. 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.
Lately though we have all been painted with the same brush and criticized for the actions of a very small few. This can have a demoralizing effect. Yes, even on us, the police. Remember what I said earlier? We are human too. But it doesn’t only affect us, it also affects our loved ones. Our spouses and children see us out the door before every shift knowing there is a reality that we may not come home. 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 6 feet from some of those we are assisting.
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. We are often the first to tell a parent their child has tragically passed. We deal with people who would much rather see us not return home to our families. It’s 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.
Now to get back to my visit with Pastor Phil.
Pastor Phil attended to the Osoyoos RCMP Detachment to deliver a card that on the front read, “Osoyoos RCMP Detachment, We Appreciate You!” Pastor Phil told me that they recognize through all of this, the police deal with the most vulnerable people in our society and without the police he didn’t know how society would manage. I opened the card and it was full of thank yous from numerous people of our community. I can’t begin to tell you how uplifting it was to read all of those comments. 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.
I will leave you with a belief I have held onto throughout my almost 20 year career in policing. This isn’t something new but maybe it needs to be said. It is the job of police to serve and protect; not to judge. If you have been arrested because you are alleged to have committed a crime, please know we do not judge you. And later, when you are in need, we will be there to assist you. Because just like us, you are only human too.
I want to thank Pastor Phil and the Osoyoos Baptist Church for all the kind words and support. In times like these when we hear mostly negative comments, please know you have truly lifted our spirits at the Osoyoos RCMP Detachment! We feel blessed to work and live in Osoyoos.”