Subtitled Behind the Red Serge, retired RCMP Officer Frank Pitts, a veteran of 32 years with the Mounties, tells his story in dramatic fashion in this 2016 Flanker Press publication. Born in the small community of Freshwater, Bell Island Newfoundland, Frank joined the force in 1981 and had twelve different posting assignments, from the west coast to the east, where is now retired, living in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The book is a series of work experiences, or flashbacks, centered around a major standoff Frank had with a large, intoxicated machete-wielding man. The man dares Officer Pitts to shot him; Frank realizes that this man is opting for ‘suicide-by-cop’ rather than trying to end his life by his own hand.
Here’s a brief excerpt from when Officer Pitts first confronts the suspect:
Cautiously and, yes, a little scared, I opened the car door and stepped outside. Behind the cover of the driver’s door, I stood quietly, in full working RCMP patrol uniform, minus the hat. I was alone. The adrenalin rush on the way here had left me with a mild shiver and a burning in my gut. I was not feeling cold, but I felt a shiver nonetheless.
Then, suddenly, without warning, there was a crash as the basement door burst open, and a man came stampeding out. He had a huge machete raised high above his head. He charged at me, screaming with rage as if he were part of the soundtrack of a bloody horror show. Despite his roaring voice muffling the words somewhat, his message to me was very clear.
“Shoot me, you [expletive] pig, shoot me!”
It had been a great day until now.
While Frank awaits his backup, his life as a Mountie passes before his eyes and he takes us through his training, rookie years, and other experiences, both tragic and humorous, throughout the book’s 171 pages.
Despite the title, there are no real “confessions”, no insider information or dirt on the RCMP. This is simply a few exceptional experiences from the career of a long-serving, highly decorated officer who doubtless could have said a lot more. Oddly, there is no mention of any of the tragic shootings of Mounties over the years either, such as in Moncton in 2014 and Mayerthorpe in 2005, to name just two. However, it is the human side of the RCMP that is highlighted in Confessions: harmless pranks played on a rookie, helping a fellow officer and friend cope with fatally shooting a suspect, how an officer feels when they fail to protect. While I found this book all to brief, it was nevertheless an entertaining read. Put Confessions of a Mountie on your summer reading list!