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Out of Left Field: Cop creates cause for editorial rant

I was just saying the other day that it's been a long time since I penned a good old-fashioned rant deriding the moronic behaviour of members of our society who seem to find themselves with a common sense deficit – but really, I've had nothing to complain about, being surrounded by largely thoughtful, reasonable, competent people.

As if hearing my conversation verbatim and wanting to help out, however, a handful of would-be Facebook pundits rose to the challenge, presenting a perspective so asinine as to warrant their very own editorial rant.

We'll start with the back story – Castlegar RCMP Const. Ron George is a 32-year-old, athletic father of two who enjoys mountain biking and rock climbing, so when he heard Castlegar was opening up its first official mountain bike trail, he wanted to go check it out. It being a quiet Sunday, he and his partner worked hard, cleared all official business off their desks, then threw his bike in the back of the RCMP pick-up and headed out to see what was what at the Hail Merry Trail, where volunteers were doing the last bit of clean up on the trail after a long day's work and a celebratory barbecue readying the venue.

Bear in mind, RCMP officers are allotted a certain amount of time for physical activity, being that an in-shape police force is the preferred state of affairs, but rarely get to take that time due to the busy and pressing nature of their day-to-day responsibilities.

So they arrive, and someone suggests perhaps someone else's bike carrier would fit on the truck's tailgate, which it does, and George ends up pitching in and shuttling six bikes and their owners up to the top of the trail. A hugely impressed group of young people then post a video they filmed with a helmet cam of George riding down in full uniform (see the attached video, it gave me vertigo just watching it) on Facebook, expressing their delight at the 'cool' cop who joined in the fun (thanks to David Hall for the awesome footage).

While most people thought the whole thing was neat as all giddy-up, sure enough there was a handful of people who just can't stand to see people have fun if they think it might, in even the most obscure, conspiracy-theorist way, cost them some tiny bit of anything, and the whinging and hand-wringing began.

“Oh sure, great use of our taxpayer dollars,” they complained, deriding (forgive the pun) the cop and the department both.

What venal fools.

It was, in fact, a fantastic investment of taxpayer resources and money, costing precious little and earning the department a kind of PR they couldn't buy no matter how much money they spent (which is a huge statement coming from one who makes her living through advertising).

I'd bet my last penny – actually, scratch that, I'd bet the nay-sayers' last tax dollar – that some of those kids have never so much as talked to a cop in real life. Many are afraid of 'The Man”, and are made more so by popular media images of police, not to mention the terrible press RCMP in BC are being subjected to of late. There's no way they'd considering 'ratting' out a drug-dealing  or drunk-driving friend or even an acquaintance to what they see as a group of uniforms, not people, and I bet they'd be reluctant to call the police in all but the most dire circumstances, forgoing official assistance when they might really benefit from same.

Some even remarked that it was the first time they'd been in the back of a police vehicle, and they never imagined it could be such a positive experience.

The detachment could spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to present themselves as caring members of the community and enjoy far less success in getting their message out than George's bike ride created in just minutes, because young people today are media savvy enough to know the difference between outreach and advertising.

Community is created in one way only – participation. That George not only encouraged healthy exercise and activity, but also put a human face on an oft-maligned organization at virtually no cost (okay, maybe a couple of bucks for gas, but I'm pretty sure he would've been out and about with or without the bike ride) ... well, suffice it to say, he deserves a commendation and the delight of his detachment and his community.

For those armchair critics who moaned about the $.001 that might have come out of their own tax contribution, I can only say, get off the stage, would you please, and leave the microphone for people who actually have something valuable to say.

Rant over.