Tag Archives: police force

Who Watches the Watchmen: Police Investigating Themselves

Canada’s police have been going through the ringer lately and rightfully so. We have both civic police and the RCMP. In some cities and jurisdictions the RCMP are the only police force where there is no other policing body. They are spawned from Canada’s oldest police unit, the NorthWest Mounted Police (NWMP). They began with the fur trade, the frontier and the Gold Rush. There are romantic images of Mounties on their horses, dressed in the traditional red serge uniform with the brown stetson hat. They were considered noble and strong, and the Mounties “always get their man” was a tagline for years.

Now, a cumulation of mismanagement, inferior training, bad judgment calls and arrogance have come back to smack the force in the face. Their reputation has deteriorated so much in recent years that they are becoming a laughing stock. It didn’t help that they sold the copyright to their image to Disney. Yes, perhaps Mickey Mouse could do better in red serge.

What has lead to this now lamentable record and public scorn? There are several very public cases, the most notorious, that of Robert Dziekanski who was tasered to death at the Vancouver airport by four RCMP officers. Dziekanski’s biggest fault: he didn’t speak English and was confused from hours of being lost in the airport with inept handling from airport staff. And he picked up a desk stapler. The ensuing inquiry that wrapped up recently showed a farce of statements by the supposedly well-trained Mounties who should be able to resolve many situations with communication and not escalated violence.

Besides statements that contradicted the video footage (and without it Dziekanski would be dead and we would never have come close to the truth) the big, strong and supposedly fit officers feared for their lives and that of their fellow officers, because Dziekanski picked up a desk stapler. As I’ve said before, if these guys get scared so easily then they have no right being a police officer. And this statement, them fearing for their lives, is a crucial phrase that probably every RCMP officer ever investigated for a death at their hand has uttered.

Other notable cases were that of Kevin St. Arnaud, shot dead after being chased through a field and surrendering. The officer, a rookie, said St. Arnaud looked threatening and was overtop of him where he fell, when he fired. Witnesses (including 24-year veteran officer) and forensic evidence indicated the officer was standing and five meters away when he fired, and that St. Arnaud had raised his hands in surrender. The outcome: the officer was not found to have committed any wrongdoing.

The other case was Ian Bush, shot in the back of the head while in police detention. Again, it took place in northern BC and a rooky copy said it was self-defense because he was being choked. Yet Bush was shot in the back of the head, not the side or front. Forensic evidence and character witnesses didn’t match up to what happened. Yet again, the officer feared for his life.

These are just three cases that took place in BC, and rookie cops were involved in two of them But in all three a man died and the officers feared for their lives in questionable circumstances. And in all three, charges were not laid, though the Dziekanski case could still see charges brought against the officers because of its high publicity if nothing else. And in all three cases the police investigated their own.

There have been outcries of biased investigation, which the RCMP adamantly deny. Of course they would but the evidence stacks against them. Questionable outcomes, officers never found in the wrong and a system that perpetuates itself in negligence and inefficient training have knocked the RCMP down to little better than some criminals. Still, this is not the majority of officers, but bad and very notorious publicity hurts their image as a whole.

Some areas in Alberta use retired police officers to investigate deaths involving officers but even so, there is still the possibility of the police protecting their own and staying loyal to an ethic that has been passed down through the years. Having different officers from other regions investigate an event has the same problem. Sometimes junior officers have investigated senior officers, where inexperience will lend itself to abuse or misjudgment.

The recently completed report on RCMP self-investigation recommends “that serious cases involving sexual assault, death or serious injury cases should, in some cases, be turned over to outside investigators to ensure independence.” Absolutely. And though the RCMP are balking at some of these recommendations, there shouldn’t be a problem if an investigative body was set up. These situations are still relatively rare and no matter where a death or sexual assault happened in the province investigators could fly there within two hours.

It will be extremely rare where there could be two cases at once. The RCMP should welcome a nopartial investigation. As well, as I’ve said before they need to look at themselves and their training all over again. New drivers in BC have to display an “N” for a year or two and have certain restrictions. Perhaps rookies in the RCMP should have the same and not be allowed out on their own or maybe even carry a gun until they know how to handle themselves. (Ireland actually runs with no police officers carrying guns.) And some retraining in nonagressive means needs to be carried out. A friend who was once a police officer said that officers are not given much training in martial arts or even negotiation, which means they’ll often go for weapons before negotiation.

I hope the RCMP will see this as a way to buff up their now very tarnished image (especially in BC) and accept the recommendations gracefully. I hope they’ll look at retraining and extended training in peaceful negotiations and in disarming someone without escalating violence. And I hope they will be able to live up to the former image of being Canada’s finest and noble security force.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under crime, Culture, health, history, life, news, people, security

Police Recruitment: Beat a Brownie

Here’s a new recruitment poster for police forces in BC. Something that more fits the bill.

XYPD (fill in your favorite force here)  is looking for a few good white men. You must be in great physical condition and have good coercion skills. A narrow-minded attitude is an asset. You should have failed your degree in criminology or have no education beyond high school. Blind obedience, anger and a need for power are why you want to join the force.

 Considered an asset:

  • bigotry
  • beating innocent people
  • racism
  • drunk and disorderly behavior while off duty
  • stupidity
  • bullying
  • prolonged and unprovoked use of a Taser
  • able to swear more colorfully than a sailor
  • will dump drunk people in cold and inhospitable places
  • creative excuses
  • a criminal record (physical violence, bribes, blackmail, drugrunning)
  • will shoot instead of subduing
  • will shoot and ask questions later

If you think you have the wrong stuff and know you can prove you’re a tough rookie, join XYPD today. Going places with power. Judge Dredd is our hero.

Who is Judge Dredd? A British comic book character in the future Britain who is strict, harsh and follows the letter of the law. In this future world police are also judge, jury and executioner. Though in fact I believe Dredd does have some scruples. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd

Police in BC are fighting a marred image that has come after such cases as the drunk Native man dumped in an alley and found frozen to death, the highly publicized death of Robert Dziekański (5 Tasers to the chest) Cases of corruption and now the latest public relations nightmare hasn’t helped the sinking ship of a police force that is supposed to uphold the law, not abuse it and use it for their own means.

Last Tuesday, January 20, three off-duty policemen took it upon themselves to beat up a man who delivered papers to the hotels. Phil Khan had been delivering papers for seven years, was well known on his regular route and was only doing his job, when  a guy started asking for directions, verbally abusing him. Khan is a Muslim and of brown skin.

The guy proceeded to beat him and when a cab driver dropped of two other guys, they joined in on kicking and beating the man who was crying out for help. When the cab driver and others told them to stop, they said they were the police and told the guy they were beating that they had a Taser and would use it on him. One of them said that they didn’t like “brown people.”

Obviously they’d been drinking but three off-duty cops, one from Delta, one from New Westminster and one from West Vancouver who were stupid enough to beat a person and then tell everyone that they were cops really shouldn’t be on the force. Let’s not mention a racist hate crime here. And this is the police force. Whether on or off-duty they’re supposed to uphold the law, not abuse it.

It used to be that you couldn’t get a job on the police force if you had a record. These days it’s becoming par for the course. Two of these cops are now on desk jobs awaiting word of the investigation while a third still patrols the beat, (and perhaps threatens other people). The investigation by the Vancouver police department has yet to net charges but there were witnesses: two city workers, a MacDonald’s worker, a cab driver who tried to stop it until the guys said they were cops.

But someone did call 911 and when the police came they handcuffed Phil Khan. Of course, if in doubt as to who to incarcerate, go for the colored guy. Now probably these three stooges who decided to boot the guy about also told the cops that they were cops, which went well until the witnesses said, no you’ve cuffed the victim. Then the three were arrested. All I can say is with the rep the cops have it almost makes more sense to trust the criminals these days. But then they’ll soon be hired to be the new police force.

2 Comments

Filed under crime, Culture, life, news, people, security