Letter a scathing indictment of RCMP
Globe and Mail, May 15,2009 at 7:40 PM EDT
It started out as an apology for the role Canada's national police force played in the death of her son, Robert. But in its writing, police psychologist Mike Webster's open letter to Zofia Cisowski became a scathing indictment of the force's leadership.
“So how could this happen?” Mr. Webster writes in his letter to Ms. Cisowski. “The short answer is an inept, insular and archaic group of RCMP executives …”
Mr. Webster has a perspective on the RCMP that few do.
He's been associated with the force for more than 30 years. He's been a consultant on undercover operations, hostage-takings and kidnappings. He is recognized as a leader in his field…
“I thought this [my letter] would be the closest she would get to a genuine apology from anyone associated with the RCMP,” Mr. Webster said in an interview this week. “I mean a genuine apology. If I didn't say anything nobody would. But I also thought she needed to hear someone speak the truth about what's really going on inside the force.
“I thought that might help her explain how things ever got to the point they did on that night at the airport.”
In his letter, made available exclusively to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Webster said he holds RCMP management responsible for the decision-making by the four officers in the short minutes leading to Mr. Dziekanski's death.
“Unfortunately,” Mr. Webster writes in his letter, “the idea of intimidating people is entirely consistent with the RCMP management's way of managing conflict, not only with the public, but also with its own membership.
“The idea of protection is reflective of the RCMP executive's view of the public they police. We have become the ‘enemy' and they go to ‘war' with us each day, rather than collaborating with us to form a cohesive and consistent approach to policing our communities.”
Mr. Webster… also takes aim at the Criminal Justice Branch's decision not to press charges in connection with Mr. Dziekanski's death. A decision based on an investigation of the incident conducted by the RCMP itself.
Mr. Webster concludes his letter by saying that he's “deeply sorry for the RCMP's behaviour that contributed to Robert's death.”
“I wish I could tell you that the issues … that are rotting the RCMP from the top down will soon be changing. I won't do that as the RCMP is in need of significant transformational change in order to genuinely re-connect with the public and its own membership.”
While he admits to having little faith that anything much will change until the current leadership group in charge of the RCMP is changed, Mr. Webster promises Ms. Cisowski he will continue to “shine a critical light” on the role played by management of the Mounties in her son's death.
That, he says, is the least he can do.