RCMP outreach efforts lack ‘clear overall strategy,’ report says

posted on February 11, 2015

By Douglas Quan, National Post | Link to Article

By Douglas Quan, National Post | Link to Article

Knowing that it can’t fight terrorism alone, the RCMP has reached out to Canada’s diverse communities, participated in Muslim youth forums, attended cultural events and dinners, even held yoga classes for women of different cultural backgrounds. But is any of this feel-good community outreach working?

A report released Tuesday at a public safety conference in Ottawa suggests while the Mounties have made inroads, its outreach initiatives are “piecemeal and disjointed” and suffer from a “lack of a clear overall strategy.”

Some community members remain suspicious when police show up at gatherings, according to the report by researchers at the Royal United Services Institute, a British defence and security think-tank.

Even Mounties are confused as to what the overall aims of community outreach are: is it to project a smiling face and inform people what the RCMP does; or is it to collect hard intelligence? Should success be measured by the number of cultural events attended or the number of leads generated? What’s not helping, one Mountie told the authors, is some CSIS intelligence agents using the RCMP “brand” to gain access to community members, further hindering trust-building efforts.

Lead author Charlie Edwards said the allegation has not been substantiated but was included in the report to reflect the fear among some RCMP members that the “firewall” between community outreach and intelligence gathering may be “difficult to maintain.”

A CSIS spokeswoman said agents do not pass themselves off as RCMP.

“I see no value,” added Ray Boisvert, a former CSIS assistant director. “CSIS officers have developed their own unique narrative to approach and engage people.” An RCMP spokesman said the force was still reviewing the report’s findings and unable to comment.

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