During one of many lectures, my trainer explained that throughout a police officer’s career he or she will be called “pig” many times. The trainer explained that it should not be a cause for you to lose your composure. He said to embrace it, as it stands for Pride, Intelligence, and Guts. Confessions of a Mountie is the dramatic memoir of retired RCMP Officer Frank Pitts from Bell Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. His story begins with a terrifying standoff between him and a machete-wielding suspect. As his life flashes before his eyes, Frank Pitts recalls his enlistment, training, and cases both solved and unsolved that have led to this moment. Through these flashbacks, we learn what a day in the life of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer is like and that decisions, often made in the blink of an eye, can mean the difference between life and death. Frank Pitts’s story has excitement, humour, and tragedy all rolled into one. Most of all, this heartfelt memoir shows the human side of the men and women who serve in the RCMP.
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 fucking pig, shoot me!”
With no memory of doing so, I had ripped my semi-automatic RCMP-issued pistol from its holster and locked it onto his centre mass. With no rehearsal, I yelled, “Police! Stop! Drop that damn knife!”
He froze. He was standing twenty feet away, and he began a series of screams. “Shoot me, asshole, shoot me! Go ahead, you fucking pig, shoot me! Come on, whattaya waitin’ for? Shoot me, or I’ll cut your guts out! Shoot me, you stupid pig, shoot me!”
I yelled back, “Put down the damn knife! Don’t be stupid!”
This was surreal. I wondered, Can this be happening? What the hell is going on?
Just seconds before this, with no lights or siren, my police car had rounded the corner onto his street. There sat his house, an older two-storey with a ground-level entry. The gravel driveway which bordered the right side of the house was about forty feet long and ended at the right bottom side-entry door. I had hurriedly rolled into his driveway and had then radioed my arrival at the scene.
“Dispatch, Five Alpha One.”
“Dispatch here. Go ahead, Five Alpha One.”
“I am ten-twenty-three. You can mark me ten-seven scene.”
“Ten-four. Copy that,” replied Dispatch.
The ten-code is a list of numeric assignments given to concise phrases used in radio communication by law enforcement and other emergency responders. “Ten-twenty-three” indicates that police have arrived at the location of the complaint. “Ten-seven” relayed that the officer was now busy with a complaint and unavailable for any other calls for service. I was definitely unavailable to address anything else at that moment. I was unequivocally ten-seven scene.
I slammed the car’s transmission into park. I could hear the gravel crunch under the weight of the sudden stop. I pocketed the keys.
My heart was pounding. It felt like it was coming out of my chest. He yelled again, “Come on. Shoot me!”
I yelled back with equal thrust, “Put down the damned knife! No one is getting hurt.”
He screamed again, “You asshole pig, I’m going to cut you up!”
I pleaded again, “Settle down, okay? No one gets hurt.”
My directions were met with more profanity, more pleading to shoot, more screaming outbursts. He wanted to die. He wanted to die right at that instant. I wondered where the hell my backup was. Three police units had responded to this complaint, and somehow I stood alone. I did not hear another vehicle. Where the hell did my backup go? My heart was now racing. I needed to settle down. Many questions flashed through my mind. Was he going to charge me? If he did, could I shoot him? Was he intent on killing me? Why was he doing this? How the hell did I get into this mess? How did this happen?
It had been a great day until now.
This book was a very interesting and insightful read. I read the book in one sitting because I just had to get to the end. I would highly recommend it.-- Edwards Book Club --
An entertaining read.-- Miramichi Reader --
This is a realistic and honest look at the life of a Mountie: what it takes, the humourest side amongst all the serious events, all the while, it’s completely unique to Pitts.-- Tint of Ink --
Its prose is straightforward and unpretentious. Its content is honest, even modest.-- The Aurora --
Frank Pitts skilfully uses a single harrowing incident as a connecting thread in the book’s 174 pages, suspending the reader with him as he faces a standoff with an armed suspect intent on killing a cop or being killed by a cop.-- The Quarterly --
Confessions of a Mountie: My Life Behind the Red Serge is written with clarity, wit and self-effacing honesty, bringing Pitts’ stories to life for the reader.-- Atlantic Books Today --