St. Catharines Standard File Photo
*Letter shared with the permission of OPP Constable Pete Tucker
"Hi Rick. As my friend and a member of the OPP health and wellness team, I wanted to reach out to you and express my thoughts on a recent TV show by the 5th Estate I just watched called "Officer Down". I found the episode to be very inaccurate, one sided and biased towards the OPP. While I feel compassion for those who have reached such a destructive mental state that they harm themselves (and their families) by committing suicide, I don't believe the OPP offers NO help before reaching this point. I do not believe the OPP isolates or bullies their officers. I do not believe the OPP has an attitude of "Hear no mental illness, see no mental illness". I have never suffered from suicidal thoughts or PTSD but I have been severely stressed, both mentally and physically by injuries I have suffered on the job as the result of an accident. When I speak publicly of the OPP I do not blame them for the cause of my accident, in my case a motorcycle accident. I do not blame them for the scenario that put me in the situation where I got hurt, the equipment they provided me to do the job or the leadership that was in charge of me that day.
I found the OPP's support through four months of hospital stays to be tremendous. I never felt alone. I never felt forgotten. The OPP provided counseling to my wife and 4 children to help them cope with our tragedy. This help was not asked for, it was provided, no questions asked, by the OPP. The OPP never asked me to return to work, I wanted to. Unlike the TV show which stated front line police work is stressful and fosters mental issues and work place bullying/harassment, I found the opposite. For me, the OPP allowing me to return to front line duties is something I wanted. Nobody in the OPP made me do it. In fact, the OPP made me jump through so many hoops (mental, physical, physiological) before allowing me to return to front line duties, it drove me crazy at times. All I wanted to do was get back to being who I was before the accident, a cop. The OPP just wanted to make sure I was safe, prepared and ready. I was never pushed.
Being a member of the OPP and returning to the only job I have ever known as an adult is one of the main reasons I feel I am successful today. The OPP has provided my family and I a life which allows us to achieve or dreams and financial goals. I do not feel the public received an accurate portrayal about how well the OPP takes care of its officers. I have NO complaints, only gratitude. One day I will retire. It will be a happy and sad day at the same time. It will be well deserved but the end of a chapter of my life I really enjoyed. Considering I was offered a WSIB pension and the opportunity to retire early but I still choose to return to work (Front line duties by CHOICE), it proves I must really like my job and feel valued. I will never "burn" my uniform when I retire but keep it as a memory of a great time in my life.
I write this so you understand that the OPP, yourself and our health and wellness team, do not do meaningless work. You have not failed us all. I am a success that you have had and should be happy about. I am grateful and you should be proud. If we are open to negative comments and complaints from those who feel betrayed by the OPP, we should also be open to praise and respect from those who feel the OPP stood up and took care of them, mentally and physically in their greatest times of need."
PC Pete Tucker.
Note: Pete Tucker was seriously injured in an on-duty police motorcycle crash on Highway 400 near Barrie in 2014. His leg was subsequently amputated, however due to his incredible strength and resilience, and with the support of his family, friends, colleagues and the medical community, he returned to full police duties in the Niagara Falls OPP Detachment.