Prince Rupert officer defends RCMP

Re: Who killed Justin, Kayla, Emmalee?
I have been a police officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the last eight years.

Editor:

Re: Who killed Justin, Kayla, Emmalee?

I have been a police officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the last eight years. During that time I have lived in and policed Prince George, Laxgalts’ap, New Aiyansh and Prince Rupert. Prior to starting my career I grew up here in this community and graduated from Charles Hays.

When I had my own children I decided to return to this community to raise them. Regardless of where I transfer to next, Prince Rupert will always be my home.

For the last three years I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most professional police officers that I have encountered. Together with the help of many unsung heroes working for partner agencies, we have done our best to assist community members during their worst hours. Prince Rupert is not immune to alcohol/drug abuse, suicide, domestic violence, mental health issues, violent crime and tragedy. I have witnessed this community’s police officers attend horrific collisions, talk a young man into taking a shotgun out of his mouth, talk people back over the railing of the 6th Avenue Bridge, discover dead people and intervene in domestic assaults among other things. I share this to illustrate that while we signed up for this career, it takes a heavy emotional toll on the members of your community that are tasked with carrying out these duties.

I have not been involved in the investigations of the tragic deaths of Justin Brooks, Kayla Rose McKay and Emmalee McLean. I do not have any inside knowledge about the investigations. I will say that when something extremely tragic like their deaths happen, you have an entire detachment in shock, dismay and everyone is affected by a profound sadness. What happens in the community, especially one as tight knit as Prince Rupert, affects all members of it. The only goal of the team assigned to investigate occurrences like this is to gather all available evidence and use that to try and figure out what happened. If the evidence supports that a crime has been committed then the process to have culprit(s) charged begins.

My reason for writing today is to suggest that when tragedy strikes the whole community breaks. Everyone, including the police, desire and work towards finding answers, so that the community and the loved ones of the people involved can try their best to grieve, find some closure and if someone is responsible to hold them accountable. Comments from groups outside the community like “…the [RCMP] are only interested in protecting their own, and they certainly are not attempting to bring justice to the native people in the north”, that the police “jump to conclusion[s]” and “the RCMP were very indifferent and negligent…” do nothing to help repair the damage done by the event, to help find out the truth or to support the people whose job it is to investigate. All they do is damage years of relationship building and create distrust.

If I worked with a bunch of people who were negligent, indifferent and prejudiced towards a particular group of people I would not continue to serve beside them and wear the uniform that I do. Rather than criticize in the media before having all the facts or seeing what each investigation actually entailed, why not sit down for a dialogue with an open mind and ask what can I, or my organization, do to promote healing in this place?

The overwhelming majority of police officers take that open minded approach with them to every community they live in, every meeting they have with partners/clients and every house they walk into. They then ask themselves that question and do the best they can with what they have.

Kyle Trask

Prince Rupert, BC