When I was a kid, 8 or 9 years old, I had a friend whose father was a sergeant in the RCMP. He was from Saskatchewan and had been posted to foggy old
Saint John, New Brunswick. He was a quiet guy with a quiet wife and two nice kids. I used to go over to my friend's house to "play". We played a lot
when I was a kid.
My friend showed me his father's uniforms hanging in a closet one day and I remember marvelling at the red tunic with its badges and buttons and a
pair of giant sized brown boots with laces on them. They looked very sturdy like their owner.
One day I called my friend on the telephone and his father answered the phone. I said, "Is this Sargeant X?"
A concerned voice on the other end of the line said, "Yes?"
I said, "Can I speak to, (Billy)?"
A low chuckle came through, followed by, "Hang on, I'll get him."
Later, Sargeant X had to fly down to Arizona to pick up some notorious felon who was later hanged. It was Clifford Edward Ayles
Ayles forced ambulance driver David Allison Graves to drive to an isolated road outside the city where he stabbed him to death. Ayles then took
the Hospital payroll from the vehicle and fled the scene. Following an extensive manhunt, in December Ayles was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona from
where he was extradited to Canada. At trial in Saint John, he was convicted of murder and executed there by hanging on November 6, 1956.
I don't know if he went alone or with another officer. Either way, I think Sargeant X could have handled it. He was an old school quiet cop.
I should add that when he went down to Arizona, the feeling in the neighborhood was that Sargeant X was our man. We were proud of him. We were with
him in our thoughts. We had confidence in him. He was one of us.
Years later, at the end of the 1960s, during the heyday of drugs, sex, politics, and social turmoil, I was walking down the street in the provincial
capital, Fredericton, where I was attending university, when I stopped at a street light. There was a man in a beige raincoat ahead of me. Not
particularly tall but solid looking. He turned slightly, looking across the street and I was shocked to realize that it was an older, weathered and
gaunt, but still trim, Sargeant X.
By that time, I had become what Norm MacDonald's mother would have referred to as "a damn dirty hippie". I turned my back to the Sargeant, hoping he
hadn't recognized me, and waited for the light to change. It seemed to take a very long time. A long time to be so close to someone without some sort
of mutual appraisal. The sort of time a seasoned police officer like Sargeant X, could not have failed to notice.
The light changed and we went on our separate ways.
That incident has stayed with me all my life. I couldn't face him. When you can't face someone there is something wrong. You are not living up to your
expectations of yourself. You have become something you are not proud of, something you can't show to everybody.
It taught me something about me, my shame, my cowardice.
Nowadays, I can face just about anybody or anything honestly. I've paid a lot of dues. I'm not afraid of the RCMP or any police department. I'm not
saying that I want trouble from them. I don't. That would be foolish and stupid. But I'm comfortable in my skin.
However, times have changed and changed and changed. Does today's RCMP face the public honestly? Does CSIS? Does the Metropolitan Toronto Police
I wonder if today's RCMP would turn away from Sargeant X, like I did, almost 50 years ago, ashamed of itself.
edit on 12-6-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)