Corporal Bettina Schaible knows how to balance an intense career
By Amanda Thomas
Corporal Bettina Schaible graduated from the RCMP depot in 1998. Her first post as an RCMP Constable was in The Pas, Manitoba on general duty. Six years later she moved to the Major Crimes unit in Winnipeg. After just 10 years in the RCMP, Schaible was appointed Corporal and the following year she joined the Manitoba Integrated Task Force for Missing and Murdered Women. With nearly two decades of policing and investigating experience under her belt, Corporal Schaible is a major luminary for both the RCMP and the International Association of Women Police.
What task force are you on crurently?
I currently work on Project Devote, which is a task force that investigates missing and murdered exploited persons, irrespective of race or gender. A large part of my career has been focused on investigating homicides. When I first joined the RCMP, I knew I wanted to be a homicide investigator and I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to achieve that goal. I find the work challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. When you can provide a family some closure about the fate of their loved one, that is very humbling.
Can you explain what the International Association of Women Police (IAWP) is and what the IAWP does for women in service?
At its core, the IAWP is a networking group for female police officers. There are many countries where women are just starting to work in the field of policing, and the IAWP provides support, encouragement and guidance for them. It’s a great way to connect police officers from all over the world and provide them with an opportunity to learn from one another. The annual conferences are a great forum for the exchange of ideas and for us to learn from each other and our varied experiences.
What did it mean to you to receive the IAWP Leadership Award last year?
It sounds cliché, but just to be nominated was an incredible feeling. Knowing that my Inspector had taken the time out of his busy schedule to go through the process of nominating me and to be included among the outstanding women who won some of the other awards was very humbling and an incredible honour.
Receiving the IAWP Leadership award gave me a renewed sense of energy, as it would to anyone who was recognized for the work in which they pour their heart and soul. However, in truth, I really view the award as a shared one. All my service in the RCMP Major Crimes and Serious Crimes Units (homicide), as well as where I am now with Project Devote, is team-based and so I share the award with all the members in those units, all the support staff and all the outside units who assist Major Crime Services. The general public doesn’t really have a good understanding of all the work that’s put into these investigations and the effort that dozens and sometimes hundreds of police officers put into just one investigation. Only the officers who work with or within those units understand the complexities and intricacies of homicide files, and since it’s not something that we can share publicly, it’s important to me that those investigators understand that I’m sharing the award with them.
The RCMP matters to me, the victims matter to me, the families matter to me, and I truly care about what I do. This award, for me, recognizes and honours that, which is an incredible feeling.
Have you had to overcome adversity as a woman within the force?
I don’t see, nor have I ever seen, my gender as an issue, nor would I let it become an issue. Period. I have never felt excluded. I have never felt or been made to feel different than my male peers, even when I was the only female in the Serious Crime Unit. In Major Crime Services, all anyone cares about is how you do your job. Sure, female police officers sometimes do things differently or have a different perspective, but that provides a good balance. To me, that balance has always been a positive part of policing and not a negative one. If anything, my gender is part of the diverse background that makes up the RCMP and that helps us in our investigations.
Has there been a highlight or one great accomplishment that sticks out in your mind from your professional life?
There are several that stand out. Anytime you can bring closure to a case, arrest someone for a murder and lay a charge, there’s a sense of satisfaction. On some investigations, we worked on them for years and being able to bring that to a conclusion with a conviction is a great feeling. Certainly anytime a child is murdered, you can’t help but become invested in its successful conclusion, so there are definitely a few of those types of investigations that I’ve worked on over the years that stand out.
How does having such an intense career affect the personal areas of your life?
It can be a very intense career and on occasion you take that home with you. For me, I work on very tragic cases, so I try hard to find balance in my life. I take care of myself mentally and physically, and I have a great support group in co-workers, family and my friends. It’s important to carve out time for yourself and not feel guilty about it, because you’re not helpful to anyone else if you aren’t in the proper head space.