Q&A - Rude, Aggressive and Obnoxious

Q&A ImageWe live in a small town up north with the RCMP are well known to be rude, aggressive and ...obnoxious. My 25 year old son was teaching my 21 year old son how to drive a standard last night...my younger son stalled on the road and tried to get the car started and stalled a couple of more times - he was more nervous also because there was a police car behind him.

The policeman turned on the siren once, short and quickly - my son...was pulling over to the side of the road...The officer began running beside the car POUNDING HARD on the window, telling him to stop, which my son did. Instead of asking my son if everything was all right - the first thing he asked him was if he was drunk - WHICH OF COURSE HE WASN'T, it was around 7 pm.

He tried to explain he was learning how to drive a standard - this "officer" was yelling, extremely rude, told him they should have stopped right there and then when he let off his siren the one time quickly. My older son..said, well, we were just pulling to the side - this "officer" told him he was WRONG, that he should have just stopped in the middle of the road PERIOD. My son said he wasn't aware of that rule... I just looked up the rules for emergency vehicles, sirens, and pulling over - it would appear as if this "officer" was, as per usual, just obnoxious and simply making up HIS OWN RULES...to intimidate my sons...which they love to do here.

I would like clarification - I plan to write a letter to the editor of the paper....I want to have accurate information to do so.



Before I get started on the law, I just want to observe that impaired drivers can be found on our highways at any time of day, any day of the week and of any age. Experience has also taught me that being nervous could produce driving behaviour similar to that of an impaired driver. "Which of course he wasn't" isn't obvious to the officer until after he had a look at your son.

At the point your son was approached by the police vehicle, he should have pulled to the nearest edge of the roadway, clear of an intersection and stopped. Once it had progressed to the officer running beside the car trying to get him to stop, yes, he should have just stopped immediately.

Here is the article I wrote regarding yielding to an approaching emergency vehicle.

If I can throw in my advice for handling your complaint, you would very likely do much better to make an appointment with the detachment commander, take your son and make your point with him/her first. If some action needs to be taken to correct the constable or for you to receive an apology, this is likely the way it is going to happen.

If you are not satisifed with this you can proceed from there to the Officer Commanding of the North District in Prince George.

Should that not satisfy you, then there is the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

This is the constructive way to deal with the situation and once you have progressed through this, I might consider a letter to the editor, including the highlights of the process in your letter. I would not jump directly to this point first. It is highly unlikely that anything will result from it internally in the detachment and given the accuracy of some reporting recently might not result in anyone paying much attention to it.

Second Thoughts

I have now talked thoroughly to both my sons...and can be much more exact in my description of what happened. When I wrote the first letter...I was angry and had not talked to both of them, at the time, I was starting to gather information. I talked to both my sons separately, I realize perspectives can be different. This is how both of them reiterated what happened on that night.

My son was in the left lane of our highway going through town, at the appropriate speed (there are 2 lanes going in one direction). He was, as mentioned, having difficulty with the standard on his 25-year-old brother's car and he stalled. He was coming up to the light, which was green, amber...then the light went red, he stalled again. At the time of night, 7ish pm, the lights change fairly quickly. When he stalled at the red light, he hadn't realized that there suddenly was a police car behind him, at which time, the Constable put the siren on briefly. The light turned green, my son proceeded to pull forward to get to the right side of the road. As he was pulling forward...(this next detail I confirmed with both sons, 100%; my 25-year-old has graduated with a degree in Psychology, my 21-year-old is a Marketing student), this Constable was out of his vehicle WITH HIS HAND ON HIS GUN....coming along side of the car, POUNDING ON THE WINDOW, yelling that he was going to call for back up and to stop - so, my son stopped in the middle of the highway, he hadn't made it fully through the intersection yet.

As mentioned, the first thing he YELLED was "Have you been drinking?"...whereupon he continued yelling at him, telling my son he should have stopped right there on the road, (he was in the left lane) and that he shouldn't have tried to pull over to the side. My older son told this Constable he wasn't aware of that rule; whereupon he continued to yell at them. No, there was no ticket - not sure...you get tickets for stalling a vehicle?? I have looked at the rules in DriveSmart - as far as I can tell, you don't have to pull over unless the lights/siren both are on - perhaps I missed some other detail. So, no ticket for not pulling over - but, also, that was what he WAS trying to do, pull to the side of the road. By this point, my younger son was so upset...he didn't want to drive the standard, so they swapped - my older son got in and they drove away.

Regarding the time and question of drunk driving - I guess you'd have to live here particularly to understand what I'm talking about. My older son who has been driving since he was 16, with no tickets - has gotten pulled over RANDOMLY (as many of his friends have)..no reason (day or night) - been asked, "Have you been drinking?", another time, "Do you have cocaine in the car?" etc. People getting pulled over, particularly younger people FOR NO REASON..is apparently not all that uncommon. My mother-in-law also was driving, it was raining heavily, so she was driving slower than the speed limit - she got pulled over...what was she asked..."Have you been drinking?" - first question. I get the whole drunk driving thing, somebody can be drunk/stoned any time of the day or night, I understand the devastation of what can happen - I watch the news too. Call me old fashioned, I remember when I was younger - the Police were, at that time, respected and they appeared to care about whom they are supposed to uphold the law for; I literally remember the Constable that came to my elementary school from years ago. It is a different era now, where you're presumed to be guilty first...then details are obtained later. What can I say - it sucks. Years ago, the amount of drunk drivers would have gone completely unchecked, no seat belts, where basically...anybody drove on the roads...yet now, with all the rules, regulations, testing...I personally find the current attitude of the RCMP unacceptable; that somewhere nowadays in their job description they must have omitted the part about being respectful, professional and serving the people to uphold the laws and that you're innocent until proven guilty.

It's the hand on the gun...ready to call back up...for stalling prior to the intersection. Yes...my son could have been a criminal on the run...ready to shoot the cop as he came to the window...but...to me, in our small town - along with many incidents that have occurred here and in the outlying areas..it reminds me of the Rodney King era. The attitude and anger that was so quickly established, along with immediate aggressive action without any prior knowledge, the abuse of power...

For me to go in and speak to anyone at the RCMP station - well, that would be like shooting myself in the foot. Come on now people...tasering, sexual harassment, the RCMP investigating themselves, the beatings, people mysteriously dying when they're in custody (which has happened in a nearby town).... I'm afraid the reality is, more often than not, people want as little to do with the RCMP as possible - at least here. So, the only way of getting out what happened was via the newspaper, freedom of speech and all that. Not ideal...but there's not a lot of options.

Certainly, the RCMP don't make me feel safe and I gather from the Editor of the paper, many people here don't. But..that's off the subject. I just wanted to provide some extra detail to my original letter regarding this incident and I was just trying to make sure to have accurate information before I wrote anything to the newspaper.


I guess it depends on whether you want to approach this in an adult way and try and solve the problem or not.

The possibility of being tasered during an intelligent conversation with the head of the detachment is vanishingly small, but does depend on how you behave to be sure. What the current media headlines have some members of the public forgetting is that the other 99% of the RCMP comes to work each day with a genuine desire to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

It sounds to me that there has been a problem reading what you relate, but I still say that you are going to have much more luck following my suggestion than you will by writing a letter to the paper to start with.

If your neighbour had a problem with your children, how would you like to find out about it, by discussing it in an adult manner with your neighbour or by reading about it in tomorrow's paper? Which of the two do you think would help solve the problem and which do you think would result in little change and a bad feeling about your neighbour?

The choice of a constructive or destructive method of approaching the issue is all yours....

Going to the media

People who go to the media are often not taken seriously and in a lot of cases nothing will be done to correct the situation.  Anonymous letters may not even be printed, depending on the newspaper policy. I would speak to the commander, but keep an open mind as to what they tell you went on.  The stories will be different, but at this stage don't argue.  I've found that what somebody tells another party (i.e. parents) is often different from what took place. Each will see it from a different perspective.   I would ask if there is a recording, most traffic units have in car video recorders.  If it's the local detachment they likely won't.  

The part of being possibly impaired, is true.  7 in the evening is not too early to catch impaired drivers, in fact I've seen them caught at 7:00 am.  Officers are trained and alert to signs of impairment, it's not uncommon to ask a person if they have been drinking if there is some question with respect to driving. 

There is nothing in your letter to say your son received a violation ticket.  I assume the officer noted the stalled vehicle, went to check it out, found out your son was not impaired and sent them on their way.  Your concern is the way it was handled, this is best done through a supervisor.

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