COMMENTARY · 17th February 2011
Let this be the breaking point for all British Columbians. An R.C.M.P. member lining up and kicking a fellow citizen in the head while that citizen was on his knees and complying with the officer's directions. Let this be the breaking point B.C.!
We need to stand beside the families of Ian Bush, Robert Dziekanski, Orion Hutchinson and countless others who have been recklessly killed by R.C.M.P. officers.
We need to stand behind Buddy Tavares and every single citizen who has been maliciously assaulted by police officers in this province!
The R.C.M.P. has been caught in lie after lie while attempting to "position" their officers' actions as justified even though witnesses, cameras and common sense speak otherwise.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is advocating the Solicitor General NOT renew the R.C.M.P. contract when it is up for renewal in 2012 and we need to echo this position. When the R.C.M.P. no longer serves with integity, compassion or basic honesty then it is time for them to go.
The world has been witness to R.C.M.P. killing innocent civilians with the Robert Dziekanski case and the world has seen that the R.C.M.P. seem to be above the law as the four officers that directly caused his death walk free!
I encourage all to support and participate in the upcoming protest against police brutality in Kelowna on Feb 20th. Let this be the breaking point!
Comment by Blueline on 25th February 2011
Criminologists study crime from a behavioral standpoint. They usually have no investigative background or skills. They would not be any better at conducting investigations on police than any other civilian. Why would they have to be highly intelligent academics? Are you suggesting that average citizens wouldn't be able to determine if police actions were acceptable once provided all of the facts?
To Sheldon....... I have no idea who you are, which leads me to believe that you don't have as many negative interactions with police that you would like everyone to think. If you want to know who all the members are in town because we have guns, just come down to the detachment and ask. It's not secret information. Also, we don't convict people the courts and judges do. We just get the facts and arrange the meeting. There truly is no quota system. We do care about traffic safety and reducing the number of fatal collisions we have to go to. Your rant clearly shows that you've never had to be on the scene of a collision where people have died in a very violent way. I'm not even going to bother to describe it to you. Oh, and we get the job of notifying the next of kin in person. Watching these peoples world fall apart in front of our eyes is enough motivation to write traffic tickets. We don't need a quota, we want to do it.
As far as your GPS track-an-officer idea, I would be willing to do that if every member of the public would be willing to be GPS tracked by the police. Do you know how much crime would be solved and prevented with this technology? It is however a huge violation of civil rights and privacy, but you seem to be ok with that considering you want us to be subjected to it.
Comment by Ray Spencer on 24th February 2011
Police work by its very nature is a confrontation business. While it would be nice to have a "Yellow Brick Road Theory" that all police officers do is walk done the street and hand out ice cream cones and cotton candy to citizens while enforcing the laws of Canada is not reality. There are times when a police officer has to be confrontational to deal with an issue and then there are situations (in the majority of cases) where the confrontational approach is not needed.
The problem with the Mantler - Tavares incident was that the arrest situation went beyond being in my opinion as "confrontational." Here you have a young constable that probably attended his first gun complaint and over reacted in what appears to be a degree of force that was unnecessary in that situation. The issue I have here is why is a young constable attending such a call without adequate supervision. Where was the supervisor? The other issue I have is that this constable is the subject of an earlier complaint of aggressive force near or at the Kelowna Bridge the year before. A reasonable person would assume that if you have an complaint of an aggessive constable then his behavior would be managed before he was set loose on the public.
As for not renewing the RCMP contract I don't feel that is the solution to the problem. No matter what police force you have policing the province there will be these type of problems.
What is needed if anyone actually listened to what Deputy Commissioner Souccar was saying to the Commons Committee on February 11 was that what the RCMP, besides a commissioner with better people skills, is a better and faster disciplianry system to deal with these types of issues. The RCMP realize this fact but are hamstringed by the current fedeal government. Any changes to the RCMP Act have to have government assent.
I believe that what is really needed is a better Human Resources testing policy. The RCMP would probably be better able to weed out unsuitable candidates by the use of psychometeric testing such as the Holland Personality Test or the Briggs-Meyers Personality Test. The scope of such testing determines based on scores in what occupation that candidate should actually be in and if the candidate has the personality for a given job. It would appear that these tests are not currently used by RCMP Human Resources. A civilian human resources manager would probably be better in the position than an RCMP management officer.
Better managment of junior constables in the field would be a good starting strategy also, particularily if you have a young constable that is overly aggressive. The first complaint should have been a warning sign either to send him elsewhere or perhaps suggest he seek employment elsewhere.
The problem I have with this situation when you get down to the nitty gritty is that is slaps all of us in the face that have served in a police uniform without a complaint on our records.
This incident should serve as a wake up call for better management in the field. At the moment the public and many police officers serving and retired are extremely disappointed.
Ray writes in from Edmonton
reply to Jeff Leggatt Post
Comment by Sandra Laushway on 24th February 2011
The RCMP and all police forces are basically
damned if they do and damned if they don't.
They can't win for losing in some peoples eyes.
Yet they are still out there doing what they are
trained to do on a daily basis, 24 hrs a day, 7
days a week, 365 days a year -- Time to give them a break and appreciate what they do
every day. Perhaps those who aren't happy
with the police should try doing the job themselves.
Sandy writes in from Wabamun, Alberta
Comment by Christie Brown on 22nd February 2011
I think the best, and possibly the only people who should investigate allegations against the police are criminologists. This type of organization SHOULD be made up of highly intelligent academics who have scientifically studied all types of crime from all angles for years, and have come to be regarded as the experts on crime and justice issues.
Support for independant oversight
Comment by Sheldon Davidson on 21st February 2011
Independent oversight is definitely needed.
I would support live internet video feeds of outside and parts of inside of RCMP detachments. This would be cheep and simple to do. In lots of instances the infrastructure to do this is already in place.
Non-real time public GPS tracking of RCMP police cars (also non-realtime tracking of officers themselves) I would also support.
This way when the RCMP commit crime we can look up in a public database of where each officers was at any given time. It would be best if the data was released in a 24 hour or 48 delay as to not compromise any police investigations or elements of surprise. With all the money going towards technology for the RCMP this should be simple to implement. Unless I am mistaken, the RCMP use cellphones as a "secure" means of communication and most new smart phones have GPS capabilities.
I suggest this because as we all know there is a serious problem with accountability with the RCMP at the moment.
Also a public registrar of all officers in any given community should be publicly available on the internet. They are the ones who carry around guns in our community so why shouldn't we be aloud to know who they are? Not to mention they are public servants!
I have had my rights violated one too many times while living in Terrace to tolerate this BS any more. As far back as I can remember myself and people who I know have been subject to illegal searches and when complaints were filed we were told "Sorry, we cannot process your compliant because we think you've made too many complaints already." This is sickening.
There are lots of instances where police have to break up domestic disputes and occasionally deal with violent offenders and for this I thank them greatly, but I do NOT thank them for convicting people of immoral statues where there are no victims to their "crime".
Cops will swear up and down that the quota system does not exist. This is a lie.
My challenge to any cop who says that the quota system does not exist: Try to not give out a single ticket or citation for a month or two and see how well you stay in the force.
Making income for the government is NOT the job of the RCMP but it seams that's what they're doing every single day.
The REAL issue at hand here is the Prison Industrial Complex. It is an industry that feeds off of victimless crimes. These "crimes" stay crimes because the RCMP lobby for more statutes to lock people up. After its all said and done a cops job depends on stupid things like keeping harmless plants like marijuana and ticket violations for not wearing your seatbelt for a job.
Do you really think that cop who pulled you over cares about your safety? To the RCMP officers reading this response: ask yourself the next time you pull some one over for not wearing their seatbelt if you actually care for that persons safety or if you're just trying to fill your imaginary quota so you wont look bad to your superiors.
Something needs to be done yesterday about the RCMP and it needs to be done about 20 years ago. I suggest massive budget cuts to the RCMP. Less cops running around in cars and more walking around on the street. I very much welcome beat patrolling police officers during the day as well as night. To the RCMP officers reading this: don't fear massive budget cuts; when the Prison Industrial Complex ends there will be plenty of other jobs that dont involve risking your neck every day.
Their waste of your tax dollars is so staggering that it literally makes me dizzy.
Support for independant oversight
Comment by Blueline on 19th February 2011
Many police officers, myself included, are supportive of the idea of independant civilian oversight. Why? Because the vast majority of the civilian population are supportive of the police. They believe in what we do and I trust they will use common sense when dealing with complaints from unhappy clients. I call them the silent majority. That may not be the best description for them since I seem to be approached daily by decent people in the community offering words of support and encouragement for the RCMP. They just don't feel the need to splash it all over the media. I'm also strongly in favor of holding officers accountable for breaking the laws that we are sworn to uphold.
Civilian oversight may be doomed however, because the vocal minority who dislike the police will never be happy with the decisions that are made. Those decisions and findings likely won't be much different with sane civilian oversight than whats happening now.
I'm still not sure who the vocal minority would have do the investigations. Outside of current and retired police officers who would be capable of conducting these investigations? Unqualified investigators conducting incomplete investigations on police officers would get eaten alive in court. Charges likely wouldn't get approved by crown counsel in the first place. Police officers too have the option of suing civilly for malicious prosecution.
I just don't think that we are going to satifsy those who like to complain about the police, regardless of what we do.
Independant Commission Exists
Comment by Paul Evans on 17th February 2011
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP
It just hasn't been particularly effective has it?
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 17th February 2011
I wrote my earlier response before I saw Gary's contribution. The first step is always to admit there is a problem.
No, I don't condone face kicking
Comment by bill braam on 17th February 2011
No, I don't condone face kicking as I'm sure 99% of the RCMP doesn't condone it either. Nor do I condone shoving disabled pedestrians as the Vancouver police officer did. Firing the RCMP will not prevent future occasions of bad behaviour by individual police officers.
A better way
Comment by Terrance E. Hudson on 17th February 2011
In response, I am of the opinion that if you simply do not renew the RCMP contract and go with a provincial police force, much as they have done in Ontario, you still have not addressed the underlying problem.
The problem is that we need an independent body charged with reviewing complaints of officer misconduct. The present system requires you to report the alleged misconduct to the RCMP who do an investigation and determine without fail that there was no misconduct - in my experience that is.
We need an independent agency made up of lawyers, former judges, and regular people with an investigative arm of trained professionals who will provide a truly independent review of whether or not there was misconduct.
Our local MP Nathan Cullen is working on this issue. Support his efforts by letting your politicians know that we all want the RCMP and every Police Agency to be held accountable to a "higher authority" than themselves.
I can't believe what I'm reading in response.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 17th February 2011
If the Buddy Tavares case is to be used as a platform to instill respect for the RCMP, you loose guys. Every time I see the video I am outraged that one individual can so tarnish the RCMP. So rather than use this case as a platform to preach on the lack of respect in society you would make more sense to deal with the fundamental problem it illustrates.
Society does question actions of those in authority. There is no going back. Look at the video and then deal with that issue. If you think the RCMP needs help in their public relations then there is another time and place for that. Doing it here make you look silly.
One member blew it. If you can't accept that, your comments aren't worth reading.
Comment by Gary Mills on 17th February 2011
You are both right but haven't really touched on the problem, let alone the solution.
If one looks at the true history of policing attempts in North America one can see the true face of policing. The marshals and sheriffs in the old west were almost all criminals and cold-blooded killers. They were hired by powerful interests to eliminate competition. I know we have been propagandized to think they were all good guys cleaning up the west but that is not the truth. There are books in the library which describe this reality.
During the early part of the 1900's the police forces were all corrupt and generally did not even bother to hide it. Needless to say, the general population did not trust the cops one bit. The movie "The Gangs Of New York" makes an attempt to show this reality. This feeling towards police remained relatively unchanged through Prohibition and the Depression.
This perception changed after WWll. Probably after all the death and destruction corrupt police did not seem that bad. But then television came along and the cop propaganda started with all the cop shows full of hero cops fighting crime and keeping us safe.
After decades of this garbage filling the brains of the population, we now have a situation where even when video is presented to people where they can see for themselves the actions of these violent thugs, they refuse to believe what they are seeing. They keep trying to convince themselves that these are isolated incidents even as they keep happening over and over and over. Corporate media will keep pumping this cop propaganda garbage into the brains of the population to keep them fooled. People need to wake up and stop watching this shit.
That's the general environment we find ourselves in. Why the problem has gotten to the level of hundreds of citizens being killed every year at the hands of police is because we as a society have not dealt with the problem. We allow them to investigate themselves. How stupid is that! The offender is given leave with pay (in effect a paid vacation) while the situation is "investigated". After a sufficient amount of time has passed they are exonerated and come back to work. What message do you think that sends to these people? It sends a message that they can do what they want and get away with anything. We should abolish this right away. Cops will be more motivated to obey the law if they run the risk of getting suspended WITHOUT pay.
This is the core of our problem. We have not held the police forces or the individual members accountable for their actions. For decades we have allowed killers, thieves, liars and bullies to remain on the various police forces. There is an old saying about even one rotten apple will destroy a whole barrel of apples. This is certainly what has happened to our police forces. So much so that for me, the only organized criminal gang I am afraid of in this country is the police forces.
The solution to this problem is simple. Police should not investigate themselves. Complaints need to be investigated by citizens who are not ex-cops, DA's or judges. These people are biased and should be excluded. Cops need to be charged where charges are warranted and fired from the force for any and ALL transgressions and abuses of power. We NEED to get the criminals out of the police forces.
Still the best choice?
Comment by Eddy George on 17th February 2011
I don't call being on your hands and knees, complying with what an officer is telling you to do, a show of disrespect. There's so much things going on with the RCMP as of late, people are afraid to show any form of resistance. Makes you wonder.
Comment by Adam Kirkwood on 17th February 2011
RCMP still the best choice.
Comment by bill braam on 17th February 2011
Ok, what about all the other police services in North America who have similar problems. Firing the RCMP will not fix the problem. Any other police force taking the RCMP's place will enjoy a short honeymoon and then be faced with the same problems. The problem, as I see it, is society's lack of respect for any authority and authority's attempt to still function. Ask any long term school teacher about being able to assert authority over students, there is a generational deterioration of respect in our society. The RCMP can and will evolve to meet the policing needs . Thank You