Mountie in child porn unit says she had no support

An RCMP officer says she wasn't prepared by the police force for the mental strain of viewing hours of disturbing material after she joined a child pornography unit.

No training to deal with repeated exposure to disturbing images

Acting Cpl. Kristine Lacelle says she received no formal training, including mental health training, when she joined an RCMP special unit that investigated child pornography. (CBC)

An RCMP officer told CBC News she was not prepared by the police force for the mental strain of viewing hours of disturbing material after she joined a child pornography unit.

Acting Cpl. Kristine Lacelle was a regular duty officer in Saskatoon when she had the opportunity to join the investigative unit in 2009. 

“There was no formal training, no debriefing to deal with the repeated exposure to trauma and stuff like that,” she said.

“As far as specific mental training, there was none.”

Lacelle said she was informally debriefed by supportive colleagues, but they went on sick leave themselves — leaving a heavy workload behind.

“There’s a burden that is being passed off to someone else and they are already taxed,” she said. “You don’t want to be that person who can’t pull their weight.”

Weeks into the job, Lacelle said she knew the assignment was taking a mental toll on her.

With her regular mental health assessment months away, she asked RCMP management for an early assessment.

Lacelle, seen in an RCMP photograph, is currently negotiating her discharge from the police force. (CBC)

“I went to talk to someone and tell them I just honestly have no business carrying a gun on the street,” she said.

“I don’t know what is going on with me anymore, but things aren’t right.”

Lacelle waited over a year for a mental health assessment. After two years on the job, she went on stress leave in December 2011.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Moreau would not comment on Lacelle’s case, but said if an RCMP member requests assistance, they should receive it.

“That's why we have different programs to evaluate them prior to going into those jobs and having regular assessment on a yearly basis to make sure that they're not suffering from any impacts,” he said. 

Lacelle found the help she needed through a military friend who referred her to the Canadian Forces' Operational Stress Injury Social Support program.

“I wasn’t aware of any of the resources that were available to me,” she said.

“I found out through the military chain that if my family needed support, they could get it.”

Lacelle is currently negotiating her discharge from the RCMP, but she feels she could have returned to the police force if the help was there.

“You’ve spent all this money and resource and I can’t work for you in the foreseeable future," she said.

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