For many months now people have said the RCMP needs to change. We have challenged, - demanded even - our national police force to be different. We have urged it to break down what some have described as a paternalistic "macho" culture responsible for a host of internal ills.
If a video released Monday is an indication, the RCMP is taking that challenge seriously. And for that, we couldn't be more grateful.
The nine-minute video, released by the B.C. RCMP on its YouTube channel, is called simply, It Gets Better. As the video starts, it appears we will be treated to a standard recruitment piece, an attempt to encourage young men and women that the force is a career worth choosing.
Somewhere around the one-minute mark, however, it becomes apparent this video is something more. Instead of a sales job about what the force can offer, we are given personal stories from the lives of 20 officers, who are gay.
The officers were filmed this past summer telling their stories of pain and suffering, of growing up gay and the challenges they faced confronting their sexual identities. Their honest reflections about acknowledging who they are and who they have become are poignant and compelling.
The video was made to let young people who feel alienated or disenfranchised know that, well, it gets better. The fact is, the video's message will resonate with anyone who has been marginalized, which likely means many of the people RCMP deal with on a daily basis. With that in mind, the video can only be considered a smash success. Its raw honesty and openness are disarming and selfless and so perfectly deliver its meaningful message.
The reaction across social media upon the video's release was immediate. Twitter users gushed in viral praise for what amounts to a very genuine exercise on the part of the RCMP - not in public relations but in community engagement, in the trust sense of the word.
These 20 officers - as well as the managers and organization that clearly stand behind them -have a right to be proud. The message they have the guts to deliver in this video has the power to change lives. It is the kind of message we expect from and are so terribly pleased to see our national police force deliver.
It feels good, once again, to feel pride in the RCMP. Watch the video at www.YouTube.com/rcmptv.
© Kamloops Daily News