July 4, 2023 by readlisaread
Always have a grabby headline…. and before you panic and call my mum, no, not for real. It was a mock-arrest…. but let me tell you why I was sweaty.
1 Adam 12, see the Officer at Cadet Camp….
My school district is hosting a week-long RCMP cadet camp. I don’t know much about the content of the week, my connection was as an actor participating in a scenario that would run through the entire week. This is a model that the trainers have used in other camps they’ve held over the years, generally the instructors play the roles of the “perps”, but where possible, they rely on volunteers. I received an email, asking for volunteer actors, and because of my penchant for Community Theatre, I thought this would be a good use of my time, the first few days of Summer vacation.
And so begins my criminal career.
I had fun, certainly, but I sure learned a thing or two my ingrained regard for and response to authority.
Now, Gentle Reader, a disclaimer before I continue, this is not an invitation to argue the merits of policing. Your opinions may vary from mine, and that’s cool, and if you have a public space you can share them there. This is about me today.
My character was a general low-life who works for a local criminal, and has a serious alcohol dependency. (I don’t want to give away the plot…. but I want to share my experience).
My first task was to disrupt the class in session with the introduction of the scenario. There were three police officers in costume and myself. Essentially the scene was an argument amongst a bunch of criminals, and as part of my role I was supposed to lob an (empty) beer can at one of the other criminals (actually a police officer in costume). When it came time for the lobbing, I couldn’t do it. Even though I had been invited to do so, suddenly a BIG alarm and a HUGE red light went off in my brain telling me to NEVER EVER THROW BEER CANS AT THE POLICE.
Of course, I don’t have much of a history with the Law. A few traffic stops (several of which only resulted in warnings), a time or two giving a witness statement about some trivial matter, that’s about it. But this intense anxiety about doing anything disrespectful, EVEN by invitation, to the local constabulary was just not something I could parse.
The next day, the task was to demonstrate a criminal activity and be arrested. My instructions were vague and broad– this was all unscripted which did not soothe my anxiety — but I needed to do and admit to some things that would result in my ultimate arrest.
I can say this– the process was interesting. And if the arresting officer had actually been another volunteer actor, I would have really dug into the role and given an Oscar- worthy performance. But every time he used his Police Officer Voice, my response was visceral, immediate, and resulted in the shortest path possible to compliance. The role did not require belligerence or resistance– I was told to just go along with the arresting officer, but I could throw in some humour, if I wanted to, because a happy drunk was always easier to deal with than an angry one. While I did get a few chuckles out of him, under his breath, that arresting officer/Instructor didn’t once show a crack in his demeanour. It was a bit amazing. (Even when I said “Yes Daddy” when he snapped the handcuffs on me)
There were definitely cracks in my performance– I was supposed to admit to having done some other kind of substance, besides my “beers”, but I hadn’t prepared an answer in advance, so said the first thing I could think of: “I had a gummy”. I mean, I could have said anything from “Dropped some E” to “Did a little line of blow”, or some other cool-street-drug-thing, but no, all I could muster was a perfectly legal adult candy. There was one part of the arrest that I didn’t have to invoke the spirit-guidance of Bette Davis or Katherine Hepburn — the “walk a straight line test”. By this point I had been hand-cuffed, breathalyzed, done a “follow my pen with your eyes–JUST YOUR EYES test”, and answered a variety of questions– now I needed to do a really intricate straight line walk. That shit is tough. It’s not just walking. It’s heel to toe, while counting, while keeping your arms still (yeah, that windmilling your arms and going “Woah!” is not going to help your case). I failed that one for real– which is why they use several screens before they make a formal arrest.
All of this in front of about 50 young people, considering a career in Law, Policing or Citizen Justice of some form. That was my second lesson about compliance. I see myself as a role model to younger generations. I did not like them seeing me as a dirt-bag.
Although my best chuckle did go to the kid who I heard comment “She drives like my Grandma”.
Oh kid…. I probably know your grandma…..
Final PS– Obviously my regard for the RCMP is high. This little insight into another part of their role just raised the bar higher.
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