Friday, November 16, 2007

Have the Mounties Hit Rock Bottom?

They've burned barns in Quebec, screwed up the biggest terrorist attack in Canadian history, shot a young man in the back of his head in "self defence" and now brought international ridicule on their force by the apparently unnecessary execution of an innocent, confused man pleading only for their help. Surely it's time to say "enough" to these people and get someone in charge who will rein them in and curb their excesses.

What's needed at the top of the RCMP is one very tough, very straight cop - not a bureaucratic insider with lifelong ties to the Conservatives.

This garbage has got to stop.

I have always respected the RCMP even though my admiration for the force got dented every now and then over the years. The homicide at Vancouver airport was the straw that broke this camel's back. I'm not saying it was murder or even manslaughter but it certainly was a homicide. That man was killed and for no good reason and there are people, including those who were nowhere near that airport that day, who should answer for it.

Something went horribly wrong. Were these officers not trained properly or did they ignore their training? Were they not fit to be trusted with the weapons we gave them and, if so, who chose to give them the weapons?

For my money, the cops involved ought to be treated as though they had drawn their service revolvers and shot that man to death. They ought to be in the prisoners dock. We also need to ensure that whatever infected them and made four fit, highly trained police officers believe they had some right to use that level of force on this man hasn't spread to the rest of the RCMP. It's time to call the cowboys into the corral for a long, blunt talk.

This is Canada and we act to a higher standard than others, including our closest neighbour. We're reluctant but not unwilling to have our police use force but, when they do use force, we expect it to be cautious and measured. We're entitled to expect nothing less than that standard from our national police force and they disgrace us when they abuse the trust we repose in them.

The same goes for our military which has been drawn into the American mentality of "kicking ass and taking names." The last I checked there was an abundance of ass-kickers and name-takers on this planet. They don't need our soldiers to swell their ranks. We expect our soldiers to at times use force but we also expect them to be cautious and measured in that. We should be entitled to expect that our soldiers won't call artillery and air strikes down on the innocent civilians in villages. We're entitled to expect that they will not surrender the suspects they apprehend into the hands of torturers. We're entitled to all of that and they too disgrace us when they abuse the trust we repose in them and do those things.

So let's hear from Hillier and let's hear from Elliott. Let them tell us why the services they oversee have brought disgrace onto this country. Let's hear them tell us what they will do to restore our trust in their services. Better yet, let's hear them do what honourable people in their situation are expected to do - take personal responsibility, apologize and resign.

Let's stop playing America's favourite game, "shoot'em up". Only in America could 9/11 happen and a needless, groundless invasion and occupation of a nation happen and an entire region be set on fire and no one take full responsibility for their abject failures. Tens, probably hundreds of thousands have died and many more will because of the hubris and incompetence of a few and yet that few refuses to accept any consequences for their acts. I don't want my country to descend into that mentality. The only way to avoid it is for heads to roll and offenders to answer for their actions.

It's going to be a lot easier to clean up these stains now than it will be down the road if we do nothing for by then they will surely spread.

We have to salvage some good from these miserable disasters. Otherwise those who've already fallen victim have endured their suffering for absolutely nothing. We can't bring Robert Dziekanski back but we don't have to let his name get tossed away in the garbage either. Let's not strip this guy of his dignity in death as we did in life. This is way past some lame review of how we use tasers. It's about standing up and being Canadian again.


Fish said...

Before I comment on this posting, let me first declare my bias. I was raised by a family of police officers. I don't think it makes me biased per se, but I do think it gave me a different perspective on policing. I am not so naive as to believe that there are no corrupt police officers, and that they do not occasionally use excessive force.

I've seen the portion of the video that's been released as well. I'd like to hear the officer's side of the story before casting judgment though. Remember the Rodney King fiasco in L.A.? It turned out that King himself had actually attacked police before someone turned on their camera and taped the beating he received in return (which was still rather excessive if you ask me).

Still from what we've seen so far, the officers in question will have to have a damn good reason for immediately using their tazers. It didn't look like they tried to talk to him at all! It's my understanding that devices such as tazers or pepper spray are only to be used to prevent physical harm coming to the officers, and only in unusually dangerous situations.

Even so, you seem to have one hell of a bias against the RCMP, not to mention some difficulty in keeping your opinions from conflicting with one another. You briefly claimed to respect the RCMP,and yet in almost the same breath you condemn the entire service and its history. You also claim in another post that "They can't be trusted". Please try not to forget the countless other murderers, rapists and others who have been brought to justice over their long history.

You are being rather unreasonable to suggest that the situation be treated as if the police had pulled out their guns and shot the man. This is quite a different situation, though I do concede that it was most deffinately a homicide. Whether or not it was a criminal form of homicide is for the proper authorities to decide. When you pull out a gun and fire it at someone, even if the intention was only to injure, it is hardly the same as using a device that you have been trained to believe will only stun the person you are using it on.

Our national police force is not made up of supermen, they will make mistakes, some of them will even break the law, and when this happens they MUST be held to an even higher standard than the rest of us. This does not mean that the mistakes of a few officers should condemn the entire force. Nor does it mean that officers who are accused of breaking the law are not entitled to the presumption of innocence. You might want to wait a while before casting judgment.

The Mound of Sound said...

Fish, this isn't about corruption but about plainly excessive use of force. It's about cops using potentially lethal force against a guy who, it turns out, was merely pleading for their help.

By the way I just did a Google Earth on Fauteux Hall. Is the Father & Sons restaurant still in existance as the picture indicates? Spent a lot of time there over three years.

Fish said...

I wasn't suggesting that this was about corruption, I only used the word to in that particular sentence to explain that I am not blind to the flaws of police services. Some people tend to immediately write off whatever I have to say about the police the moment they find out my Mom and Dad are on the O.P.P., so I tend to go a little overboard sometimes in an effort to be heard.

It certainly looked like plainly excessive force, I have no trouble agreeing with you on that. All I'm saying is that sometimes the video doesn't have the full story and I'd like to hear from the officers before I make up my mind.

As for the use of force being "potentially lethal", as you must know any amount of force can be potentially lethal if the victim is vulnerable enough (I obviously don't have to explain the soft skull theory to you, so I won't bother). I haven't read the coroner's report or anything like that, so who knows how vulnerable the victim was. If he had a weak heart, would a violent scuffle with police have been any better for him? This assumes of course that the police had a good reason for using force when they did, which I think is they key question here.

As I mentioned before, it didn't look like they even tried to talk to him first, and he didn't appear to pose any kind of immediate danger to anyone. But as I said before the video doesn't always tell the whole story, and I think the officers have the right to be heard before they are judged. That's all.

And yeah, good old F&S is still very much alive and thriving! I had a beer there with a few of my buddies just Wednesday night! I did my undergrad at Ottawa U as well, so I've spent a good amount of time there myself over the years! The entire campus sure has changed just in the seven years that I've been there. How did it look to you from Google Earth?

The Mound of Sound said...

Glad to hear F&S continues to thrive. As I remember it, the place was owned by a terrific Lebanese family who doted on their law school regulars. I couldn't tell much about the campus but I did see that my old house beside Christ Church cathedral on Queen St. is gone. Tempus Fugit.

Anonymous said...

Was it not reported that Dziekanski became upset from having waited for six hours to join his mother? For simple things as reporting a social insurance number stolen, a wait of three and a half hours insued on Vancouver Island. What is so ludicrous about these long wait times is we don't hawe the whole of Canada's population in one area. I would dislike to see a population of three million or even a million living in Victoria..(the social insurance incident) how long would the wait lines be then? I have often wondered why it takes so long to get through immigration lines just in Vancouver Airport alone. Could it be that people are not trained well enough or does it involve the cost of hiring more people to handle the traffic. The wait time Dziekanski went through would have caused any sane person to become exasperated....that needs to be address as for it lead to the demise of Dziekanski. When a country like South Korea can move people through its immigration in twenty minutes I wonder why we can't.