Commissioner Brenda Lucki's career has taken her from drug investigations in Granby, Quebec, to a United Nations Protection Force mission in the former Yugoslavia. She has trained peacekeepers and instructed at Depot, the RCMP's police academy, and held numerous operations roles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta before being named the commanding officer of Depot. Commr. Lucki sat with Gazette editor Katherine Aldred to talk about her vision for the organization and what she considers her best role yet.
What led you to apply for the job of Commissioner?
Well, I've always been attracted to jobs where I can evoke positive change and it's followed me in my career. I honestly thought when I was the commanding officer at Depot, I'd been given the greatest gift. And I was proven wrong because now I actually have the greatest gift of all. And I think I've been so lucky throughout my career and the RCMP has given me so much. This is now my opportunity to give back to my organization.
In your first address, you pledged to modernize the RCMP. What does that mean to you?
I divide it into two things: people and communities. For me, to modernize, I have to ensure we have enough resources and we have the right resources to do the job. We have to ensure our people are fairly compensated, we have to make sure our employees are healthy both physically and mentally, we have to keep Canadians safe and we have to build the trust within our communities and with Indigenous peoples. That's how we need to modernize.
With a number of significant internal and operational challenges facing the organization, what's your plan to address them?
I'm sort of the glass is half-full kind of gal. So I don't consider them challenges but rather they're opportunities. And I think we can't rush into things. If we did reach a point where we had some issues, it didn't happen overnight and it's not going to get fixed overnight. It's like when you gain weight, you don't gain weight overnight so you're not going to lose it overnight. But you need to take each issue one at a time and see how they connect with others, and get the input of all the employees. Because I want everybody to own anything that we do because I'm that type of leader. I'm a very consultative leader.
Speaking of leadership, what type of leader do you want to be?
I want to be relatable. I want to be authentic. I want to be credible, caring, innovative and creative. Unafraid to be vulnerable — I think that's really important as a leader. Like I said earlier, I'm a consultative type of leader. I don't need to have all the answers because I have great people who are going to help me but I need to not be afraid to ask the questions. That's the type of leader I'd like to be.
There are some pressing issues on the minds of RCMP members, including pay and unionization. How do you intend to advance them?
I really do look forward to working on the issues of vacancies, pay and benefits with our new bargaining agents. They'll be active advocates for our members and employees. There's processes for that but I think it's going to be a positive step because I think it'll give us a stronger voice for our organization. And I really do believe that members and employees deserve fair compensation for the work they do.
What's your approach to communicating with employees about important issues and also hearing their concerns?
It's always a challenge because we're such a huge organization. But I plan to get out to the provinces as much as possible and do a lot of travelling. I prefer face to face. I think somehow I have to modernize my communications. It's a new world.
What's the most important piece of advice that you're received as a police officer? How will you apply that in your role as Commissioner?
There are four things I told every RCMP graduate, the new constables. First of all, make every community better than it was when you got there, be kind and take care of one another, take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually, and above all, have fun. So I plan to apply that philosophy to my role.
Are you having fun yet?
I am actually, but it's pretty early!
What would you like all employees to know as you begin to lead this organization?
We are a great organization and we shouldn't forget that. We do many, many things very well. And we are a great organization because of all the awesome work that each and every employee does every single day. I want every employee, first of all, to remain accountable to themselves. But I want them to have the courage of conviction to be accountable for others. And I want them to own their RCMP and be proud of their RCMP.
In your first broadcast, you said 'One employee can make a difference, but every employee should try.' What did you mean by that?
We can all make little bits of difference but it's not the fact that you make a difference, it's the fact that you put yourself out there. You go one step further to be that person who makes that change. You make that effort.
Where would you like to see the organization one year from now?
I want my organization to be more agile and more capable. More inclusive, more respectful and more tolerant. And I want us to be more trusted by the communities we serve.