"We need to go into situations where we have to understand the language and cultures for our operations," said Corp. Luce Normandin, a diversity recruitment officer for the RCMP.
"We are a national police force. We have to be able to represent our changing communities and populations."
A key challenge, the force knows, is convincing the communities it is a real enforcer of law and order across the country and not just a symbol.
"Most people only recognize us as the officers riding horses in red uniforms," said Normandin. "They don't know that we're just like other police officers. We do patrols. We investigate drug cases and we do everything that others (forces) do."
Currently, just 6.4 per cent — about 1,000 officers — of the national force are from minority backgrounds. Some 7.6 per cent are aboriginal and 18 per cent are women. Of the 90 new cadets now in training in Regina, 26 per cent are visible minorities. In comparison, both the York and Toronto forces are comprised of about 13 per cent visible minorities.
While recruiting police from all backgrounds is a laudable aim, and helpful in gaining criminal intelligence, it should not come at the lost of lowering entrance standards.
I also remain somewhat sceptical of the claim that recruiting visible minorities itself makes members of those communities less hostile towards the police. Criminal elements and other aggrieved and disadvantaged people fear and loathe the uniform, regardless of the colour of its wearer.
The brutishness and insensitivity of policemen also cuts across racial lines; police work just naturally attracts that sort of person, regardless of race.
But at least this article gives me the opportunity to relate this tasteless anecdote, told to my father by a Saskatchewan Mountie (himself an Indian).
This Mountie was at a remote detachment in northern Saskatchewan where the locals were frequently drunk and violent and he had to regularly break up some ugly fights.
In view of the situation, he needed someone who could throw around a little force.
They sent him a four-foot-nine Indian woman. A good woman, to be sure, but not someone who could handle a fight.
Saith the Mountie: "That's what the RCMP stands for now; Runts, C--ts, and Minority People!"