One of this week’s goofiest stories involved the police in Kensington, Price Edward Island threatening to play Nickelback songs as punishment for drunk drivers. On Facebook, they threatened holiday partygoers, “on top of a hefty fine, a criminal charge and a year’s driving suspension we will also provide you with a bonus gift of playing the office’s copy of Nickelback in the cruiser on the way to jail.” Per TMZ, the band got wind of Kensington Police Service’s plan and had their representative put a stop to it — not the first time Chad Kroeger’s band has been touchy about being the butt of a joke this year. The cops say they didn’t intend to embarrass the ’90s culture war veterans, just to publicize their warning against driving while intoxicated — and really, no one could do more to humiliate Nickelback than Nickelback have already done themselves.
UPDATE: The Kensington police have posted a lengthy apology on Facebook:
So what do you do when you use a joke to carry a message, but the message turns into the joke?
The other day I created a post in the hopes of bringing awareness to Drinking and Driving and in doing so I suggested that I would be playing Nickelback in the back of my cruiser for those that made the ill advised decision to Drink and Drive and had been apprehended for the same. At the time I thought this was a great idea, all pure intentions, get the message out .. type type type .. click…and post. There. All done.
Well, as we have seen, our little post became an international story. And somewhere in the noise, the message of Don’t Drink and Drive was overshadowed by negativity towards the band I said I would play if you did. At first I admit I was fine with the way I worded the post. I was sure a hugely successful band would be fine with a little good will shade thrown their way, after all it’s for a good cause. But the more successful the post became the less the Don’t Drink and Drive message was mentioned and the fact we love or love to hate Nickelback took centre stage. And that prompted me to think less about Nickelback as the ‘Entity’ and more about the 4 guys, 4 human beings from Alberta who were dragged into this international story. And the more I thought about that,the less funny the humor seemed.
I was accused of making light of Drinking and Driving. I was stunned by that. I, as a police officer, and as EVERY police officer before me, know too well the catastrophic devastation drinking behind the wheel can create. Police Officers, as well as my brother and sisters in the Fire and Paramedic world will attest to, having to attend the scenes of these events. The destruction to not only vehicles, but to families, bodies, entire lives, we see this destruction. We smell the pain mixed with booze covered in motor oil and blood. We take these images and sensations home with us. At no point will any of us make light of Drinking and Driving.
I’m a police officer. I love being a police officer. I love the interaction with the town, I love being able to be a symbol of what is right and just with our world, And because of that fact, how could I, later this week, walk into an elementary school classroom in uniform and try to teach the kids that bullying is wrong when I was guilty of the exact thing. How would I tell my son he was wrong for picking on a kid in the playground when I was doing the same thing, but I was doing it not on the local playground, no, I was doing it on a global scale to a global audience. The message being heard was no longer Don’t Drink and Drive and in its wake was a group of guys and their families left wondering why they were the global butt of a joke that they had not deserved.
And for that I am sorry.
I am sorry to Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel. Not as just members of Nickelback, but more importantly as fellow Canadians. I’m sorry guys because I didn’t take a moment to think of you AS just guys. Having to watch as media around the world takes a pot shot at you and having no way to defend yourself. I didn’t take a moment to think of your families as news agency after news agency used their loved ones as a punchline. I didn’t take a moment to think that you guys were the ones that stepped up first to the plate when other Canadians in Fort Mac needed help. I didn’t take a moment to think that you were the ones that give not only money to hundreds of charities but you routinely give that all important currency, time. You guys share so much with so many and I truly feel bad for using that the way I did. It was not my intention, It was not my desire but it was the outcome and I have to own that. So for that I am sorry.
We are better than that.
As a police officer we are better than that. We don’t succeed off the backs of others. We are called to lift up those that are down. Be supportive in a time of need.
We are better than that.
As Canadians we are better than that. We don’t embrace being a bully and being cruel and belittling of the work others have done. We strive for acceptance, for equality and fairness.
We are better than that.
So instead of just walking away from my misstep, I have reached out to Nickelback. To Chad, Ryan, Mike and Daniel. I have reached out to their families and offered my apologies but I still have a strong belief in the original message of Not Drinking and Driving. And as we spoke I found out some wonderful news. They feel just as strong about it as I do. So we decided it was best to take down the original post.
Now moving forward, instead of anyone being the butt of a joke, Kensington Police Service will be launching a new Anti Drinking and Driving message. One that embraces all Canadians and with a united voice we will shout back against Drinking and Driving. We will work to help many, not shun a few.
So stay tuned readers… there are great things on the way…
Cst. R. Hartlen