‘Guns over brains’ mentality worries RCMP commissioner
OTTAWA — RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says he is afraid of the increasing militarization of police forces across the country, which includes a growing emphasis on guns over brains. Paulson says he wants his officers to have the best equipment possible to uphold the law as well as protect the public and themselves. But he says there needs to be an equal amount of attention put on making sure police officers have problem-solving skills and the ability to de-escalate potential conflicts and prevent crime. Paulson’s comments to the Senate national security committee come as the RCMP have been handing out more rifles to frontline officers following the shooting of three Mounties in Moncton, N.B., in 2014. Describing the rifle decision as “very electric,” Paulson says police forces need to spend more time thinking about how they present themselves to and engage with the public, right down to the choice of uniform. The commissioner says the greatest risk is creating an us-versus-them mentality among police officers and forces, thereby distancing them from the communities they serve.