ENFIELD: Const. Deidre MacIntyre wouldn’t want to be in any other profession than as an RCMP officer serving the residents of East Hants.
On June 6, Reporter Pat Healey tagged along for a morning shift with Const. MacIntyre as a media observer to speak to her about the job, why she became a police officer, and what a day in the life of a police officer is really like. And a surprise to some, that day does not involve spending their time eating donuts and drinking coffee at the local coffee shop, or trying to meet their so-called “monthly quota” of speeding tickets.
For the Newfoundland and Labrador-born and raised MacIntyre, whose husband is also a police officer although in HRM, the best part of the job is the unknown—how each day is not the same as the day before.
“I like the fact that you don’t know what to expect from one minute to the next. I’m not an office person,” said MacIntyre. “I also like the opportunity to be able to help someone too.”
She provided an example of just that. She and a fellow officer went from being filled with adrenaline at a standoff, to assisting an elderly woman who had locked herself out, and was only in her nightie.
She became a police officer for mostly the same reason many others take the training to join the national force—to help people.
“I think policing gives you a unique opportunity to help people in such a variety of different ways,” said MacIntyre. “Most of the people you meet you do so at their most vulnerable time, whether their afraid or going through a loss. There’s so many different situations you meet people in. Most of the time you’re the first contact they have to help them get through it.
“I think just being able to help was the main reason.”
It wasn’t an overnight decision for MacIntyre, who is one of six women officers of the 12-officers at the detachment, to start her way down the journey that has led her to where she is today.
“I thought about it for years,” she said. “I never knew how to go about doing it.
“When I initially thought about doing it when I was younger, there wasn’t a lot of females in the force. For me, I always thought it was so awesome when I would see them.”
MacIntyre said she was shocked when she started at the Enfield detachment of East Hants RCMP and was informed of the ratio of males/females being 50/50. There are 15 women and 14 men.
“I don’t know many detachments that have it like that,” she said. “I think it’s great. The females that I work with are very strong members and I’m just as confident with them as my backup as I do a guy. It’s unheard of to have that many females in a detachment our size.”
She has been able to get a feel for the job through her husband, who has been an officer for 17 years, and saw that it wasn’t all like the TV shows portray it as.
“He kind of helped go down the path,” said MacIntyre. “He said if I wanted to do it to go do it.”
MacIntyre said being able to educate people, whether their students in schools or residents, based on what she has seen in the field, with regards to Social Media, traffic, and safety.
“It’s not a one-dimensional job,” she said. “People think we just write tickets, but that’s not the case. You get to help a lot of people in a lot of different ways.”
What’s the worst part of the job?
“Paperwork,” MacIntyre said without hesitation. “I hate paperwork. When I became a police officer I didn’t expect that. It’s my least favourite. Nobody does policing because of the paperwork.
“You get to see a lot. I think sometimes it’s trying to remind yourself when you go home to turn it off. You can go through for weeks and be fine, and then have to deal with something that’s pretty hard for most people to see. Being able to go home and turn that off and just be a mom to my two daughters.”
The shifts at the Enfield detachment are 10-hour shifts, but most times, MacIntyre said, they run much longer that that.
“It’s stuff people don’t ever see,” she said.
SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGING POLICING
MacIntyre, who has two daughters including one that wants to follow in her mothers footsteps, said one thing that has changed how policing works even in just her two years on the job is the prevalence of Social Media.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from people about social media, whereas before you wouldn’t,” she said. “The calls are mostly about kids sending pictures back and forth and not realizing what they’re doing.
“Back in the day, kids could do something stupid on the weekend and by Monday it’s forgot about. But now, it’s recorded and they have to deal with it for a long time as it gets shared among their peers at school. You can educate and educate, and Const. Cheryl Ponee does that a lot in the schools, but they just don’t seem to get that the police can’t just make photos online disappear.”
MacIntyre said another thing with Social Media is that sometimes videos or information posted by people isn’t exactly what is happening, and most times police are unaware of the background information for a situation. When posted, the video clips or photos only show part of an incident, not what led to it or the outcome.
She said those getting into policing know what’s ahead. MacIntyre has had people yell “FTP” to her, but she just lets it roll off her shoulder.
“You know getting into it that you’re going to face some scrutiny,” she said. “You just have to learn to not let it bother you. The training is mentally challenging for that reason. They want to make sure you’re a strong mental person.”
OFFICERS DEATHS IN MONCTON
The deaths of three officers in Moncton at the hands of a lone shooter sent shock-waves through policing. It impacted MacIntyre.
“Nothing’s the same when something like that is going on,” she said. “Police officers and first responders all over Canada felt it. I sat by my TV screen and my phone waiting for people to message.
“I think you just feel for the families because it almost feels like you are under attack. You worry about people trying to copy cat it.”
She said it was a big worry for everyone.
“The people you work with, they’re like your family,” she said. “Their people you entrust your life with, just like the public does with us. It was scary being known that we were being targeted.”
She said no matter how much training one has, there was no way any officer could have been ready for a situation like Moncton.
“When something happens like that, it’s just complete chaos because everyone is trying to figure out how to deal with it,” said MacIntyre.
The fact the shooter was taken into custody alive showed a lot.
“I think it showed a lot of courage for the police officers to take him alive,” she said. “I think it shows what type of people police officers really are. Some of those officers, three of their colleagues were shot and killed for no reason, and they took him in alive.”
During our tour we take a patrol up Highway 2, going in and around Elmwood Subdivision before continuing to Shubenacadie, checking on hot spots, including around HERH where reports of vehicles speeding has been a common complaint to police in recent weeks. We go as far as Indian Brook and turn around and head back to Elmsdale.
We head back towards Shubenacadie using Highway 102, and the traffic appeared to slow down compared to what it is usually with no police cars travelling it. We head to the overpass on Mill Village Road where a checkpoint will be taking place.
While everything seemed to be going well, the officers did stop one car with no plates for further discussion, while another was going a bit faster than it should have been through the checkpoint area.
A third vehicle was spotted backing up the road avoiding the checkpoint, so I jumped in the cruiser as MacIntyre went to check it out. It turned out everything was fine—just a driver who forgot their license.
After that we headed back down Highway 2 to the Enfield detachment, where my morning ride-along as a media observer came to an end. While my afternoon consisted of going back to the office, MacIntyre’s had her seated at her desk doing something she is (not) very fond of — paperwork.
She spoke about some of the myths regarding policing and the negativity around the job, which is always under the public’s microscope no matter whether they’ve done a great job or not.
“My oldest daughter has told me about comments she’s heard about police officers,” said MacIntyre. “I’ve always told her she doesn’t have to pick up for us. It’s something that, unfortunately, just comes with the job. I just tell them to be themselves.
“It doesn’t bother me personally anymore cause I’m used to it. People take pictures of our police cars at Tim Hortons and make comments. It’s just a break like everyone else, it’s just we’re in uniform. The minute our radios go off, we’re out the door responding to the call.
“This is a profession that is no-win. People just see the tickets or that we ruined their life, when that’s not the case.”