Royal Canadian Mounted Police Deputy Commissioner Bob Paulson has been named the national police force’s new commissioner. He replaces the controversial William Elliot as top boss. Paulson joined the force in 1986 and until 2005 served in BC. He then moved to headquarters in Ottawa. Prior to joining the RCMP, Paulson spent almost seven years in the Canadian Armed Forces.
He accepts this position at a time of controversy within the RCMP. His predecessor and career bureaucrat, commissioner Elliot was often at odds with many in the Force. Elliot’s lack of a policing background was seen as a major disadvantage. Furthermore, certain members of the senior management found the former commissioner’s abrasive leadership style too harsh.
Many pressing issues currently face Canada’s national police force, one of the most obvious being the task of rebuilding public trust after several instances of perceived police misconduct. For example much has been criticized about the RCMP regarding the taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport in October of 2007. Then there were allegations that the RCMP had failed to share information with the Vancouver Police about serial killer Robert Pickton and blamed for delaying the the case.
Internally the Force has also been undergoing a bit of conflict with the recent allegation from Cpl. Catherine Galliford, claiming she had endured years of sexual harassment from senior officers. She has been on sick leave since 2007. Since then other members have come forward saying that there is no efficient method of filing grievances against senior members in the force. This is partially due to the fact that the force has never been unionized.
Paulson will also have to asses whether or not the RCMP has been stretched too thin in terms of resources. The force is currently conducting a study to determine whether or not certain services would be handled better by private sector companies.
These are just some of the things that Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopes that Paulson will adress immediately. Although it seems like a daunting task to try and unite an organization that is so deeply divided and controversial, Paulson seems up for the challenge.
“I recognize that I have a lot of work to do, a lot of work ahead as we continue to transform the RCMP,” he said on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning. “Accountability and leadership will be areas of focus for me and my team as we go forward.”
Public safety minister Vic Toews was also confident about appointing Paulson to top RCMP spot and stated that, “His leadership skills, experience in policing knowledge, will be instrumental in helping him successfully manage an organization as large, complex and diverse as the RCMP.”