Former Regina Police officer Heather Gray — “An open letter to the citizens I’ve served”
by Heather Gray
In this era of civil unrest and disillusionment about police and the abuses of power, authority and the horrors that we’ve all witnessed I draw your attention to the dichotomy of the honor and humility I’ve felt in my 20 years of serving my community. It is unfathomable to process the realities of the terror and horrors that go on within police agencies and are devastating to those of us targeted for annihilation. Some of us inside police agencies have suffered incomprehensible abuses that have led to PTSD, families irreparably decimated, driven into poverty and eventually, suicide.
When I began my career, women in policing were rare. I was proud of the accomplishments and the ‘firsts’ that I could claim and know that each achievement would set the path for women coming up behind me. At least that’s what I believed.
Coming up in a police career and facing harassment, sexual harassment and a sexual assault — never reported . . . how could my career survive that? I was tested regularly by peers and supervisors who tried to knock me out. I survived every attack and thrived in my career in spite of it, not because of it. Some events are stunning and shocking by anyone’s measure.
By the time I was a hostage/crisis negotiator and a forensic child abuse investigator/detective I’d long before ‘paid my dues’. I was in the zenith of my career and as a detective I was being promoted and should have been on my way to more successes and the career path that I’d set.
However, that was not to be.
When my child was a mere five-months old and I was in a detective unit (child abuse) I tackled that with enthusiasm. I was ready to serve the children who needed the best investigations possible and I rose to the occasion.
But no sooner had I started I noted that I was targeted. Soon I realized that my chain of command, three of them psychopathic misogynists and the other was a bitter woman bent on bringing harm to me, I was in serious jeopardy.
Within three years they’d concocted a plan to bring harm to my career, but they destroyed me in the process. Workplace violence in the form of bullying/mobbing on a daily basis and in a systematic, diabolically planned way, is something one cannot overcome unless one has superiors at the executive level who are brave enough to step up. I did not have that. The Chief and Deputy Chief were cowards. I was the stronger one.
Unfortunately, I was not alone. There were many of us who were targeted for this type of abuse and suffering, and it was so unspeakable that there were many who fled careers before reaching pension, just barely reaching an early pension or, like me and many colleagues, we fled just to try and salvage what was left of our health: mental, physical and emotional.
There were some of us who were so horrifically treated, and in my case, horrific criminal actions of retaliation were carried out, complete with destruction of all my property, that it led to our suicides. Not all of us survived.
This horrific abuse and the shattering damage done in every way has left us in dire poverty and with nothing for support and treatment. We’ve been relentlessly pursued in hateful ways by police and politicians who have not stopped in their raging purpose to cause terrible and irreversible harm. Where does one go for help when it’s the police who are doing the harm?
From the moment I began my career and throughout my service, whether patrol, hostage/crisis negotiator and child abuse investigator I loved my career and I sought to bring the right help to everyone I encountered.
I have letters from people who’ve thanked me for my service. I have vivid memories of some of the toughest cases I’ve had and I often think of the people who impacted me the most and I wonder how they’ve fared.
I’m now destitute, thanks to the horrendous and hateful treatment of my own police agency, WCB and the provincial government and I’m facing homelessness. I have not brought this on myself. Rather, I’m struggling with PTSD and those in power, those who have caused my harm, have been allowed to interfere in my case as to whether I receive wage/benefit losses and proper treatment.
I’ve been without help and wage losses for many years and it makes no sense to allow the abusers to have heavy influence into an injured workers compensation.
People have heard about the abuses in the RCMP and the accompanying class action lawsuits. However, there are approximately 300 other police agencies — municipal, regional and provincial — who cannot sue the employer nor WCB and so our pathway is circular. Einstein’s definition of insanity comes into play here. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome”. Unfortunately, that’s the only pathway . . . WCB again and again and they are inextricably linked in an incestuous way to employers (whom they refer to as ‘stakeholders’ by WCB because they pay the premiums) and linked to the provincial government.
I have lost colleagues to suicide. I was nearly lost a decade ago. Many more have nearly died the same way and it’s related to the same types of abuse, even the same abusers. What’s been done about this? Had an outside prosecutor been appointed to do a criminal investigation? No. Why? Why not? Do the citizens of Regina, Moose Jaw and countless other cities not deserve at least that?
What does it take to hold those responsible for our workplace injuries and provide us with the losses we’ve suffered so that we aren’t left homeless and suffering or pushed to die by suicide?
I know the people who’ve suffered the most profoundly and we are the ones who’ve been stellar and honorable, dedicated and caring with empathy for those we’ve served.
I am sorry that my career ended prematurely. Just as my injured colleagues, we were gone too soon and the citizens we served lost out on having us as the caring, highly skilled and trained, dedicated people we are who only wanted to carry on with that service for the duration of our careers. Unfortunately, the citizenry has been shortchanged and ended up keeping the rogues and brutes who carried out the horrific treatment so many of us suffered.
The ones who’ve exhibited the psychopathic qualities have been promoted up and, in turn, they’ve groomed, mentored and brought up the very same type of people they are. And that doesn’t bode well for the future of the police agencies and for the citizens who deserve better. And especially for the potentially high-quality police officers who would possess the high caliber and great qualities that are not welcome in a corrupt police agency with rogue and nefarious people in high places. It’s a legacy that is self-perpetuating.
Citizens, please . . . this is a call to action! Pay attention to what’s happening in your local police agencies. Don’t blindly accept what the police ‘leaders’ are telling you. Not everything and everyone is as it seems.
I was honoured to serve my communities. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there longer. To those who may remember me, thank you and bless you.
Photo: courtesy of Jackie Larkin