Sunday, April 19, 2009

Servants, Not Masters - What a Novel Idea

With our own police controversies boiling over, it's been easy to lose sight of the killing of bystander Ian Tomlinson by British police responding to a rowdy protest at the last G20 summit in London.

Taking a page out of the RCMP handbook, the British cops made up a story about how Tomlinson died and why. Like the Vancouver airport quartet, there happened to be a bystander, an American, who used his cell phone camera to video the final police assault on Tomlinson determined that the man's family know the truth.

Britain's police watchdog says it's time for a shake up in the way police wield their power. From The Guardian:

Nick Hardwick, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), called for a national debate over how police maintain public order and demanded much tougher political accountability, warning that police should remember they were "the servants not the masters" of the people.

He made clear his concerns about incidences of officers disguising their identifying numbers, which should always be displayed on the shoulders of their uniforms, arguing that colleagues should have reported such wrongdoing.

"I think that raises serious concerns about the frontline supervision," Hardwick said. "Why was that happening, why did the supervisor not stop them? What does that say about what your state of mind is? You were expecting trouble?

"I think that is unacceptable. It is about being servants, not masters: the police are there as public servants."

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