'I'M A MOM, I'M A SISTER, A DAUGHTER, A FIANCÉE'
KAMLOOPS - From the time she was in kindergarten, Randi Lynne Love knew what she wanted to be when she grew up – an RCMP officer.
She achieved her goal and worked for the RCMP for more than 15 years, spending time at both the Kamloops and Quesnel detachments. But last June, the public learned Love had been charged with drug offences, stemming from her time as a Mountie.
Now, more than a year out of the force, she still carries the mannerisms of a police officer. She is direct and affirmative when she answers questions, rarely hesitating or seeming unsure.
It's these characteristics that have gotten the 41-year-old through the worst times of her life, including being sexually harassed by a superior officer at the Kamloops RCMP detachment.
“I was a victim of sexual harassment by a Staff Sergeant who was my supervisor at the time,” Love says. “Based on my previous experience, reporting something like that in the workplace doesn’t bode well with others and does nothing for someone’s career.”
She's seen colleagues report things like this before, only to have their careers be hindered for standing up for themselves.
"I had seen it happen to other people," Love says. "Their careers plummeted after something like that was reported."
Instead of reporting it, Love picked herself up and tried to continue on. But there were witnesses to the sexual harassment, she says, and Love wasn't the only victim of the Staff Sergeant's.
“I did not report it because I didn’t want my career to go down that path,” Love says. “It was reported on my behalf by a Corporal who was also a supervisor. There were witnesses to the sexual harassment (and) an investigation ensued.”
The investigation began, but Love says she lost a crucial right in the process – the right to a safe workplace. After the allegations came out, the accused officer was moved to the professional standards unit, the department which looks into serious allegations against RCMP members, including sexual harassment.
Love says the officer was served “Code of Conduct” papers, an internal RCMP disciplinary process. He pleaded guilty to the Code of Conduct infraction but never faced the allegations in court.
When asked what happens to an officer when they plead guilty to a Code of Conduct infraction, RCMP National Communications spokesperson Harold Pfleiderer provided a link to the RCMP's guidelines for a Code of Conduct investigation.
There are three outcomes of an investigation where an officer is found guilty:
Remedial: An admonishment, direction to attend special training, or a reprimand
Corrective: Deferral of promotion for a specified period of not more than one year or forfeiture of pay to a maximum of 80 hours
Serious: Demotion, ineligibility for promotion, or forfeiture of pay of more than 80 hours
"The RCMP is committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment, free of discrimination, offensive behaviour and harassment, however, as with any large organization conflicts can arise, including harassment situations," Pfleiderer said in an email.
Love says she was left in the dark about what the officer's penalties, if any, were for the violation, prior to him returning to work to once again be her supervisor.
“I was never told what his reprimands were and he came back to work,” Love said. "I was told that he will now be my boss and they hope I’m OK with that."
Love wasn't OK with that, especially when the officer who harassed her was seated one seat over from her at a training course, making her feel awkward and uncomfortable, she says.
But the man never became her boss. He was taking his new position as the RCMP was medically discharging her. Love had suffered a severe neck and back injury in 2009 and was no longer able to work in active-duty. Doctors told her even a minor impact had the potential to leave her paralyzed.
During court proceedings, lawyers told the story of the injury she suffered on New Year's Eve in 2009. Love was responding to a 911 call in the North Shore and when she arrived a belligerent, drunk 300-pound person was there.
The person was confrontational and violent, her lawyer said, and ended up falling on Love at the top of the staircase. Love slid down the stairs with the person on top of her, suffering a severe back injury and three herneated disks in her neck.
– Lawyers say former cop was self-medicating after years of hardship: READ MORE –
Nothing could prepare her for the emotional impact she would face after learning she would lose her career she worked her whole life for.
"I felt like my whole world was crashing," Love said. "I was in kindergarten and had the goal to become an RCMP officer. It took me a long time to come to the realization that I wasn’t going to be a police officer anymore.
"I pushed and I tried to do everything I could to... prove surgeons wrong, that I would be able to go back to full capacity. When I was finally told 'No you aren’t' I felt like a huge piece of me was lost. It wasn’t just a job to me, it was a lifestyle."
It was part of her identity. Love didn't know what to do without having the title of Constable ahead of her name. Now, when you search her name on Google, you see results for a cocaine-dealing Mountie. She was originally charged with three counts of trafficking the drug, but pleaded guilty to one count of possessing it.
Love was given a conditional discharge for her offence, which means she will not serve any jail time or have a conviction on her record. This case is one of the few times you will see provincial media coverage for one charge of drug possession.
It's because members of the RCMP are held to a higher standard. Although she didn't use drugs during work hours, Mounties are never truly off-shift.
But the court of public opinion has already made their own conviction. Endless comments on dozens of news articles poke fun at her name and bash her for the charges she faced.
"People say 'Oh she was an RCMP officer.' Yes I was, but did I get the support from the RCMP? No, I sure didn’t," Love said. "I don’t know that I would have found myself in this position had the support been there for me from the RCMP."
"One has to wonder how things might have gone differently had this young female officer, who was doing really well, not had to encounter somebody that had such an impact on her career," her lawyer, Brad Smith, added.
Love says a line graph of her career would show it steadily rising over the years, up until she faced sexual harassment. With that incident, the death of her father and a career-ending injury, she turned to drugs on three occasions to cope.
Now, she says, she has risen from the rubble left behind by her actions.
"Yes I was an RCMP officer, but I’m a human being, I’m a mom, I’m a sister, a daughter, a fiancée," Love said. "We too face challenges that other people do, and we don’t always make the right choices. I want people to know that because I made a poor choice because of the things that I had been through, (it) doesn’t make me a bad person."
Love says her fiancé has been nothing but supportive through her legal proceedings.
"He’s been amazing," Love says, as she starts to choke up. She grabs a tissue, dabs her eyes and brings herself back to the assertive, straight-forward personality she usually displays.
"As difficult as this has been for me... he’s been right alongside me," Love said. "This has been his life. He’s had stressors and struggles, and media attention has devastated him and made an impact on his personal life."
Love has been placed on a 12-month probation with a mandatory condition to serve 60 hours of community service. She has plans to become a counsellor in the future.
"I hope that people aren’t so quick to judge," she says. "We’ve all been through our own personal experiences and hardships. I hope that people see me as, not Const. Randi Love, but as Randi Love, who is a human being and makes some mistakes in her life."
Love is a complainant on a class-action lawsuit against the RCMP for sexual harassment in the workplace. Women who work or worked for the RCMP after 1974 and faced harassment are eligible to be members of the lawsuit.
For more about the lawsuit, go here.
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