Mounties seek a liquor licence in new "E" Division headquarters in Surrey
You wouldn't want gambling addicts working in a building on top of a casino.
So why would the RCMP expose any of its alcohol-addicted officers to a drinking establishment at its new headquarters in Surrey?
On Monday (June 25), the Mounties are expected to seek Surrey council's approval for a liquor licence for an officers-only bar.
The Mounties have had a few high-profile cases recently of officers getting into trouble in connection with drinking—most notably Monty Robinson for killing motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson with his vehicle and then claiming he drank vodka after he returned home, and Don Ray for drinking on the job and exposing himself to coworkers.
But it's not easy to determine the overall rate of alcoholism among cops.
An article on the website of the Milestone Group LLC, a New Jersey–based professional counselling company, says some studies estimate that one-quarter of all U.S. police officers abuse alcohol.
"Research has revealed a strong connection between occupational stress and alcohol and drug abuse, but also a strong sub-cultural more among police officers that encourages drinking both for social and stress-reduction purposes," the Milestone Group reports. "Alcohol consumption among police officers is also correlated with officer suicides and domestic violence, and many departments are beginning to recognize the liability in allowing this problem to go untreated."
The article, which cites numerous published studies, likens police to soldiers in combat, who experience job-related stress in a delayed manner similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Both occupations can involve long periods of calm and boredom suddenly punctured by intense bursts. This has given rise to the term "police stress activity".
"Modern police culture remains insular and tight-knit, and the extent to which drinking has become ingrained in it varies from station to station, department to department," the Milestone Group added. "Yet empirically, police officers face heavy pressure to drink, to where non-drinking officers are often viewed as suspicious or anti-social by their colleagues."
Meanwhile in France, last year riot police threatened job action when their supervisors told them that they weren't permitted to drink on the job.
In a recent CKNW Radio interview, RCMP Cpl. Bernie Conroy defended the decision to serve alcohol in the new building in Surrey.
"It's a multi-purpose facility," Conroy told interviewer Bill Good. "It's something like a community hall."
According to the CKNW report, the maximum capacity will be nearly 1,200. The licence application would allow it to remain open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
(The mess hall at E Division in Vancouver is only open Wednesdays through Friday, according to Conroy.)
In a curious twist, the Mounties' decision to seek a liquor licence for the new headquarters comes shortly after the establishment of a new B.C.-based anti-alcohol organization.
Miles Craig, whose family owned Craig Broadcasting, launched the Victoria-based Canada's Temperance Foundation this month. It promotes abstinence or restraint in the use of alcohol and/or drugs.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.