Monday, December 15, 2008

RCMP - Well Deserved Contempt

The Globe's Gary Mason has skilfully dissected the RCMP's handling of the Robert Dziekanski homicide at Vancouver airport in October, 2007:

That the Crown wouldn't charge the RCMP officers involved in last year's airport death of Robert Dziekanski was inevitable.

That the Mounties would stoop so low in attempting to explain how and why Mr. Dziekanski met his demise, well, I don't think anyone quite imagined that.

He didn't die because he was tasered five times by three RCMP officers in October of 2007 in an arrivals area at Vancouver International Airport.

He died, we've been told, because he drank too much and had a fear of flying. And when you mix those two things with 50,000 volts of electricity, terrible things happen.

As Mason points out, the verdict of British Columbians is plain. Robert Dziekanski died from the unjustifiable application of excessive force by no less than four, burly RCMP officers who were neither attacked nor realistically threatened. We watched the video. The world watched the video. We saw an unarmed man who died at the hands of the police.

I've talked to many British Columbians about this killing and I haven't found a single person who says they believe or believe in the RCMP any longer. People now see RCMP officers as cops to be feared, not trusted. And when they do kill someone and they do investigate their own killings, we don't buy their facile excuses any longer either.

There's something terribly wrong with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Harper appointed his own Tory apparatchik to head the force, to clean it up, but whatever Bill Elliot may have done or may be doing, it needs to be out in the open, in the plain view of the public.

It's up to the RCMP, its officers and its leadership, to begin the enormous task of repairing the public's trust. They've gone well beyond the point where time alone will heal these wounds.


Anonymous said...

A military regiment (they are NOT a police force) relying on PR for the past 80 years, and whose mission creep into the US-led war on drugs from their days as simple union-busters is now facing a barrage of bad PR.

Fitting, isn't it. Disband them now.

Anonymous said...

"Disband them now"......and do what?

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree with Anon 4:08. Disbanding them would be throwing the baby out with the bath water. The RCMP is in dire need of top down and bottom up reform while there's still a chance for them to restore public trust. The trouble is there's no discernable interest at either end in doing just that. To write off this man's death with the lame excuse proferred is unacceptable. We do not deserve to live in a society with that sort of police service.

This is a problem that has to be acknowledged and redressed promptly. If the force and its members fail to regain the public trust this situation can rapidly worsen.