A badge but no gun?

Comedian Chris Rock once suggested we should outlaw bullets, not guns. But, either way, guns and bullets are a lethal combination.

“If we keep enabling deadly police confrontations, we will be forced to keep justifying deadly outcomes.”
This is from Desmond Cole’s Toronto Star column of December 3rd last year, “Time to disarm the police”. He’s become a weekly contributor to the newspaper’s op-ed page, his work centering on racial, policing, and social justice issues.

Desmond argues that Toronto police are too quick to resort to deadly force, resulting in multiple fatal shootings. He makes an unfavourable comparison with Montreal’s more progressive police service when dealing with people in mental health crises, citing examples which “proved that police often do put their lives on the line, and can do so without needlessly jeopardizing the lives of the people they serve.”

The Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, http://www.tpac.ca, goes even further in its Bulletin No. 95 of March 21 this year. Noting not only the number of police shootings, plus the budgeting for a “substantial number of new weapons”, and the increasing use of CEW weapons (tasers), the TPAC concluded that “it is time to talk seriously of taking weapons out of the hands of rank and file constables.”

One telling observation came out of the trial of Constable James Forcillo, who was convicted of attempted murder in the death of Sammy Yatim, one of Toronto’s more infamous police shootings. Sammy Yatim died on an empty Toronto streetcar on the evening of July 27, 2013. He was in mental distress and carrying a small knife when confronted by several police officers at a distance who were outside the vehicle.

One, James Forcillo, fired nine rounds within seconds of coming on the scene, hitting his target eight times. The first three shots were fatal, the other five were for what, “good measure”? Not only that, another officer subsequently tasered the prone and almost dead man.

After the trial, CBC’s Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway briefly spoke with a British police officer who had reviewed the evidence. Under similar circumstances in Britain, he said, the police there would probably not have deployed weapons.

The police in Britain would probably not have deployed weapons.


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