By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Castor Advance
There are few jobs as satisfying, nor as challenging, as being a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Five RCMP members serve the region of Paintearth County. The days vary, perhaps starting the shift performing highway patrol and finishing the shift responding to a break and enter. The job requires dealing with people who are not often having the best days of their life, but in a lot of cases, their worst.
Still, serving the community and helping people makes the job worthwhile for Const. Yasser Mostafa, a four-year member of the RCMP and recent addition to the Coronation RCMP detachment.
“I guess for me, it’s when you help someone, and the outcomes in court are backed by the work you did, it’s quite satisfying,” said Mostafa.
“It’s like when you build something in your backyard, and step back and think, ‘I did it.’ You did something on the large scale for the community.”
Still, despite being able to do the job to help people, Mostafa is very aware of the need to help himself, too, where mental health is concerned.
“I’ve had a lot more respect with the mental health side of everything,” said Mostafa.
“I, myself, have needed to speak to someone about some of the things I’ve seen. Some things are harder to digest than others. You have to make sure you properly cope with things. You have to understand what happened, and not forget your role.”
According to Mostaffa, the role of an RCMP member is to investigate, document, and enforce the law, with no room for emotional attachment.
“You have to be absolutely detached from some of the things I’ve seen,” said Mostafa.
“I have compassion. I have to keep it professional. That’s something I’ve really had to learn how to manage. “
Still, between his own experiences and the people he has interacted with in the four years he has been an active member have taught Mostafa a lot about mental health.
“I have more respect for mental health than I did before,” said Mostafa. “I didn’t understand what people were going through.”
Despite acknowledging that mental health issues can be significantly challenging to deal with, Mostaffa believes that to a certain degree people are ultimately responsible for their own actions too.
“Everybody makes a choice,” said Mostafa. “You are free to make the choice, but you are not free of the consequences. At the the end of the day, sometimes you have to look at (someone) going to jail as being isolated, and maybe reflecting on themselves, as quite possibly helping them.”
Aside from the rigors and stress of the job, policing in rural Alberta offers other challenges for RCMP members as well.
“The challenges of rural (policing) are distance and time,” said Mostafa.
“That is pretty huge. We get one call on one end and get a call across to the other side of our area, it is a challenge. In urban (policing) you have a police officer covering an eight-block radius. (In rural) you are one-all-be-all. If anything happens, I feel like I’m contacted, even if I feel like it has nothing to do with me. It is different policing because you learn a lot more.”
That learning all stems back to the basics learned in Depot.
“Depot only taught you the basics of everything,” said Mostafa.
“Depot taught me how to hang up my ego in the locker room when I’m gearing up.”
Mostafa is planning for the long-term with his RCMP career.
“My hope in my career is to get into national security,” said Mostafa. However, before he accomplishes that, there is something else he wants to work on.
“There’s a big gap between the Muslim community, and the police in general That’s something I hope to do one day – bridge that gap.”
This is the third of four articles looking into the RCMP members serving the Paintearth County region of East Central Alberta.