Everyone is flawed and makes mistakes, and the best way we can keep our bonds together through them is by offering avenues to repair those breaks.
The Rankin Inlet RCMP detachment’s initiative to waive certain tickets for road infractions if those ticketed showed up to a community event on road safety was a great example of turning bad to good.
Sgt. Benjamin Comley didn’t take the entire credit for the idea, saying similar initiatives had been held elsewhere, but putting the subject in plain terms that cut through bureaucratic mud: “We didn’t want to ticket the whole community,” he said.
Institutions like the RCMP and government are often at their worst when they stick rigidly to “the rules,” even when those rules aren’t working to help and are really just increasing the difficulty and stress in the world. We saw a lot of that absurdity during the pandemic, where “technically” reigned supreme over common sense.
Instead, people who had road safety tickets on the books were able to attend a fun community event complete with door prizes and take in a bit of a presentation on proper driving etiquette to get those tickets written off.
The net change in giving people that second chance is massive: the individuals get to keep their money instead of being fined; their connection with the RCMP grows and may have changed from a negative interaction to a positive one; and maybe they won a new helmet or gift card along the way.
The alternative was they’d be out money, annoyed and probably not any greater fans of the cops and bylaw than they were before.
Plus, as Comley hinted at, the issue of all-terrain vehicle operators not wearing helmets or disobeying other rules of the road is so widespread that a major crackdown could undue a lot of relationship building the RCMP has done in the community.
That said, of course, road safety is no less important, and offering this second chance does nothing to hinder that message – it actually amplifies it greater. Pure punishment is not the only or best way to elicit change.
Attendees had to love Comley’s subtle humour throughout his handing out of door prizes too, often telling winners not to spend all of a store’s gift card all in one place or asking if they would like louder applause.
Comley and the rest of the detachment are no doubt not perfect people themselves and make mistakes or quietly break certain rules like we all do. By the RCMP hosting this event, they all seem more human and come off more like fair and reasonable neighbours than strict instruments of the law watching our every move.
The world today is not an easy environment for police to be appreciated in, so the work the Rankin Inlet detachment is doing to be a positive presence is commendable and to our benefit.