Re: “‘Grow a pair,’ city councillor tells Surrey Police Union twitter account,” the Now-Leader online.
I am a proud police officer and member of the Surrey Police Union’s board of directors.
Recently, Surrey City Councillor and former RCMP officer Jack Hundial told me to “grow a pair,” suggested I was not a “real cop,” and challenged me to meet him “face 2 face.” The choice of these specific words on Twitter was not coincidental. They are artifacts of a toxic police culture that fostered bullying and harassment.
With paramilitary roots, policing historically operated under strict chains of command where status and success were conflated with strength and dominance. Some police organizations have become “old boys clubs” where officers are either “in” or “out.” The pressure to be part of the in-group breeds posturing, machoism and mistreatment.
These behaviours undermine teamwork, trust and psychological safety while promoting unspoken anxiety, as vulnerability is seen as weak. Comments like “real cop” and “grow a pair” represent toxic police culture where bullying and harassment are commonplace and bravado, intimidation and competition are taken to the extreme.
In addition to being harmful to police officers, this toxic culture transcends into community interactions. The culture inside a police organization can affect how an individual officer communicates with the public, uses discretion, employs tactics and applies force.
Police officers feeling they must “prove themselves” in front of their peers may be inclined to take a harder stance in police-public interactions. This may lead to increased use of force instances and public complaints. Clearly, strengthening relationships and delivering meaningful change in the community starts inside the police building.
The Surrey Police Union and our members are committed to building a healthy and progressive police organization, equipped to serve our community. Our officers will support each other through mentorship and peer-to-peer support programs. Diversity and cultural-competency components are embedded into our training. We are learning about trauma and its effects on us and our clients. Our use-of-force program prioritizes de-escalation over confrontation and teamwork over individual performance.
Once finalized, the collective agreement will place well-being and families first. Together, we are creating an inclusive, collaborative, and compassionate culture.
The expressions “grow a pair” and “real cop” have no place in the Surrey Police Service or our community.
Ryan Buhrig, Surrey Police Union