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'Needs to be burnt to the ground'

Distrust of the RCMP's senior managers by rank-and-file members is widening by "leaps and bounds," according to a letter sent recently by a 39-year veteran of the RCMP in British Columbia to Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl.

The letter, obtained by Postmedia News, is the latest salvo against RCMP leadership by disgruntled officers, who say their concerns are not being addressed.

Cpl. Loren Chaplin, who lives in Chilliwack, writes that the force "needs to be burnt to the ground, metaphorically speaking, and either resurrected from the ashes with clear new focus and direction . . . or it needs to be buried once and for all as having outlived its intended purpose."

Chaplin said that officers are stressed out, burned out and tasked with doing more with less, and harassed or bullied if they "stumble or balk under the load."

If the government is insistent on continuing with its national and international policing role, then municipal or provincial contracts need to be scrapped, he said.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. His staff says he is currently away on summer leave.

Insp. Marc Richer, a national spokesman in Ottawa, said in an email that the "obsession with making public these intended private communications only serves to undermine the majority of hard working members who are dedicated to the well being of the communities they serve and safety of all Canadians.

"No organization can undergo change without facing concerns from its employees. It is a situation where all have a contribution to make so that over time the situation improves."

Reached by phone Thursday, Chaplin, who is currently on medical leave from the RCMP's Fraser Valley Traffic Services and plans to retire in January, said current efforts to reform the force amount to nothing more than "tinkering."

Those who believe that RCMP managers, who were responsible for the force's problems to begin with, can now fix those problems are "delusional," he said.

His letter, addressed to Strahl, is the third critical letter to surface in recent weeks from an RCMP member in B.C.

Last week, an anonymous blog site claiming to represent more than 500 current and former RCMP members emerged, stating that the only way change was going to occur within the force was from the "bottom up."

Staff Sgt. Mike Casault, a member of the national executive of the RCMP's staff relations program, said he's not certain that the letters and the blog are necessarily indicative of a groundswell of discontent in the force.

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