Pot-smoking Mountie accuses RCMP of pressuring PTSD sufferers to quit
Suspended New Brunswick Cpl. Ron Francis says force needs to do more to help
A New Brunswick Mountie, who sparked controversy last year by smoking medically prescribed marijuana in his red serge uniform, is accusing the RCMP of trying to force members with post-traumatic stress disorder to quit.
Cpl. Ron Francis says the force has made his life miserable since he went public about his struggle with PTSD in November, but the chief superintendent disputes his claims.
Francis, a 21-year veteran who serves with J Division in Fredericton, was placed on medical leave, ordered to turn in his uniforms, then arrested and charged following an alleged confrontation with fellow Mounties and city police officers.
"You got to realize during this process, no one from the RCMP, not the DSSR [Division Staff Relations Representative] program or anyone, come to sit down with me and offer me help," said Francis, who has since been suspended with pay, pending the outcome of a code of conduct review and a trial.
"They just applied pressure to hope that I would crack and break," he said.
Francis said he was hospitalized twice due to suicidal thoughts.
In January, the RCMP offered to send him to the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a treatment facility in Powell River, B.C., for three months, footing the estimated $60,000 bill.
Francis agreed to go, but left after three days because he said he couldn't get settled and felt he was being watched.
He was arrested again and taken to the local hospital, which he contends is all an attempt to make him quit.
"One of the things that the RCMP is trying to do is get members that have PTSD to sign off medically, and what happens is, it turns our claims over to insurance companies so the member has to battle with the insurance. And the RCMP [brushes its hands], and hires a new member," Francis told CBC News on Wednesday.
"That's not the right way to treat someone who has given dedication to this country," he said.
RCMP Chief Superintendent Wayne Gallant said the force does support its members struggling with PTSD, and he rejects the idea that its support ends when a member leaves.
"They have certain selections that they have to make in terms of health-care provisions that will be provided to them after they leave the organization. I think they're fairly good provisions," Gallant said.
"Ron would be afforded the same opportunity if he chose to leave the organization. But right now, like I say, we're continuing to offer support to Ron, so that he can return to the force as a contributing member."
There is, however, a code of conduct review underway, said Gallant.
"They can take anywhere from three to 18 months. And right now, you know, there's a criminal proceeding as well, and we have to wait for the outcome of that, as well," he said.
Francis has pleaded not guilty to two counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of resisting arrest, stemming from the alleged confrontation with the officers who arrested him in Fredericton on Dec. 6.
A trial has been scheduled for Sept. 3. Three days have been set aside.
Francis remains free on conditions until his trial. He must not be in possession of a firearm, not use alcohol or non-prescription drugs, and not have contact with the alleged victims.