More B.C. Mounties complain of harassment
More members of the RCMP in British Columbia have come forward with serious allegations of harassment after CBC News revealed a well-known Mountie spokeswoman's claims she suffered from years of sexual harassment.
On Monday, CBC News revealed Cpl. Catherine Galliford has filed an internal RCMP complaint alleging repeated sexual harassment from some of her supervisors.
Krista Carle contacted CBC News after hearing Galliford's story, breaking her own long silence.
"I know for a fact there are at least six women that I know [who] have left the force or are still in that have suffered harassment," Carle said. "I'm sure there are others who are afraid to come forward for fear of reprisals."
Carle, who graduated from the RCMP's training academy with Galliford in 1991, says she was harassed and sexually assaulted. She is now off the job and says she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
'I felt re-victimized'
RCMP management tried to cover up the problems when she complained, Carle told CBC News.
"When I spoke out against the harassment, it wasn't taken seriously and I felt diminished and I felt re-victimized every time I told what happened to me," she said.
Carle is one of four women officers who have sued the RCMP, saying they were sexually assaulted by undercover Sgt. Robert Blundell in the late 1990s.
The women worked for Blundell on undercover investigations in Calgary from 1994 to 1997. According to the statement of claim, they were "individually and separately sexually assaulted and harassed by Sgt. Blundell."
The case was eventually settled in 2007 with all parties agreeing to keep the terms of the settlement secret.
Blundell was docked one day of vacation and was later promoted to staff sergeant. He is now in charge of protecting VIPs in Vancouver.
Supervisors working without morals, ethics
Carle's story is just one example of what many Mounties say is wrong with the RCMP.
A handful of Mounties recently allowed CBC News inside one of their support sessions at a small meeting room outside of Vancouver.
The officers met with Mike Webster, a consulting police psychologist in private practice. They are a handful of the 48 officers the RCMP says are off the job in B.C. because of what the force calls workplace conflict.
The officers, who asked CBC News not use their names, say they are continually bullied and harassed by their superiors.
"Many of the people in charge of us are acting without principle, without morals, without ethics. Sometimes you catch yourself thinking, 'Is this person even a police officer?' It's that shocking," one officer said.
"You go to work, you are sick to your stomach," said another Mountie. "You're expected to go around carrying a gun protecting people when you're more worried about some segment of your own management sector, not knowing what they'll do to you next because they've been malicious underhanded and abusive."
'The force is sick'
The officers, who have more than 100 years of combined experience on the force, all say they worked under corrupt supervisors at one time or another who bullied their way to promotions.
"They will do anything to get that next promotion on the backs of whoever. To me, that's where the force is sick," one officer said.
"Because a supervisor wants to be noticed by boss, they've got to find somebody to pick on, and really it's bullying to the extreme," another Mountie said.
The Mounties all say responding to traumatic events and the danger of policing is not what causes them stress.
"I feel safer on the streets than I do in the office at times," said one officer. "I'm not worried about the bad guys. I know the bad guys don't like me. It's the guys in the office and our HR unit, smiling at us, saying they are there for us and they are not."
One Mountie believes the toxic work environment is costing taxpayers because the officers are off duty with full pay.
"I know the taxpaying citizens have suffered as a result of the lies," the officer said. "They are not getting the policing they are paying for out of their taxes."
Harassment 'not tolerated'
Webster said some officers have been off the job for years despite a clean bill of health because the force uses unlimited sick leave to get rid of Mounties who complain.
"The member escapes into this very strange, very fiscally unsound and organizationally perplexing, unlimited paid sick time," the psychologist said.
The force responded in a written statement sent to CBC News and all RCMP staff in the province.
"The RCMP is clear in its approach to harassment, it is not tolerated," the statement reads.
"The RCMP is committed to providing all its employees a work environment free of harassment, discrimination and conflict, where all employees are treated with respect and dignity. While we cannot speak to specific allegations, we continue to encourage our members to report incidents of harassment when they occur so they can be investigated immediately."
The force says the 48 officers off sick because of workplace conflict represent 0.76 per cent of the province's workforce. The RCMP says those officers are off duty for a variety of reasons, including allegations of harassment, conflict about performance feedback, personality conflicts, frustration about lack of promotions and workload issues.
With files from the CBC's Natalie Clancy and Robert Zimmerman