Tacked to the wall inside the offices of the Kelowna RCMP, a jumble of cards and hand-drawn notes are on display for the whole detachment to see.
The notes feature colourful, blockey drawings of police cruisers and officers, and were given to members of the force, mostly from kids, to thank them for their work.
According to Const. Jesse O’Donaghey, receiving that kind of thanks can make a police officer’s entire day.
“It’s an amazing thing to get, when we get those kinds of letters, or hand-drawn cards made by boys and girls in the community,” O’Donaghey says. “When they drop them off at the front counter of the detachment, sometimes they are directed to a specific officer who may have helped them in a situation, or just to the detachment in general, it can be quite touching.”
Policing is a tough gig, and as O’Donaghey points out, the majority of the RCMP’s interactions are with the same small group of people whom they deal with constantly. Those people, he says, aren’t always the most appreciative of what the officers do.
Because so many of an officer’s interactions can be tense or contentious, O’Donaghey says a member of the public going out of their way to say something positive can have a huge impact.
“It can really make an officer’s day, and in some cases turn it 180 degrees and put them in an uplifted mood,” he says.
“I’ve had, on occasion, a stranger, a member of the public, just go out of their way to talk to me … and they just simply say ‘thank you for what you do,” he said. “It’s such a positive thing, and it can have such an amazing effect on anybody.”
O’Donaghey says making an officer’s day with a positive comment can have an uplifting effect on the person who pays it as well. He says RCMP officers also try to show their gratitude for the community as much as possible.
“A lot of it is what we all joined the force to do, and that is help others. Any way that we can do that throughout our shift, or throughout our day, we do the best to help out the members of our community,” he said.
Members will volunteer helping with the food bank, or take part in the Cops for Kids fundraiser, or even put on the symbolic red surge and attend events
They also engage youth through their positive ticketing campaign - giving out small prizes to kids following the law by wearing a helmet, or a seatbelt.