….on policing……for now.
Long, long ago, in a land far, far away……., well actually, it was the United States of America in the late 1980s……….
……the U.S. print and broadcast media highlighted stories of judges dismissing what were often serious criminal charges against defendants who were more often than not guilty of the crimes for which they were accused. The police and/or prosecutors and/or defense lawyers and/or lower court rulings were cited in these orders to dismiss. Media was sometimes objective in its reporting, sometimes critical.
There came a moment when an eminent retired jurist, whose name wasn’t recorded at the time, made news with a relevant comment. If all involved in the prosecution of the law and administration of justice did their jobs properly, he said, miscarriages would not arise. That signaled a shift away from a focus on criminals who escaped punishment to a closer look at civil servants who avoided accountability in a less than transparent process.
The camera’s had a major impact on justice in the last many years. Video technology has fed social media across North America with a proliferation of images of police officers behaving badly. To be sure, we also see film of cops dutifully doing a difficult job, pictures of officers going beyond routine, angels in uniform. But, pictures have too often put a stark reality right under our noses. Law enforcement is not what it’s made out to be by ‘spin doctors’, bureaucrats, politicians, and sometimes the courts. And, there continues to be a conundrum we see in all this film…..and it’s not pretty.
We all want to be at our best when someone’s watching, or if we think we’re under scrutiny. If we mess up, even in a small way, our mental reflexes kick us in the right direction. We look for redemption, and barring a mental or emotional imbalance, the reflex is inborn. We’ll look to cover our trail too when there’s no alternative….the panic that comes with ‘fight or flight.’
Pictures of our police officers going where they cannot go, and doing what they cannot do, aren’t an invention of the camera. The camera captures what has always been, but the increasing number of cameras everywhere results in a moderating of past practices, the impact of ‘someone is watching’. That we continue to see what we see, despite video, is alarming.
September 15, 2017
Mark Saunders, Chief of Police,
Toronto Police Service,
40 College Street,
Toronto, ON M5G 2J3
Re: A bad apple
Dear Chief Saunders:
You command about 5,000 men and women on the TPS force, and most perform according to mandated standards.
The Toronto Star, your favourite newspaper, recently published a column by one of its journalists addressing the use of ‘bad apple’ as it applies to some police officers reportedly not living up to their code of conduct. He pointed out that the term is only part of a whole, being “A bad apple spoils the lot.”
The camera, a boon to social media, is not always a friend to the police, citing, Officers Amanpreet Gill, Adam Lourenco, Sharnic Pais, Dusan Dan Provica, and Corey Sinclair as examples. Media attention has targeted Brian Davy, Joseph Dropuljic, Benjamin Elliot, John and Michael Theriault, and Bradley Trenouth, among others, using various sources without video backup.
Then there are the reports of civilians such as James Bishop, where there is some film, or Tyrone Phillips, Josh Odorico, and the family of Kevin Simmonds, to name a few, who complain about their police contacts, and just so as with Waseem Khan’s experience.
One source notes a staple of Sunday morning sermons in 19th century America was: “As one bad apple spoils the others, so you must show no quarter to sin or sinners.” You and your management team would be well-served to protect the integrity of the force and its members by expelling the “sinners.”
Charles H. Klassen
Remember the August incident on video in a Utah hospital when a nurse calmly explained to a police detective why she couldn’t draw blood from a unconscious patient without consent or a warrant? She was aggressively arrested and briefly detained. “This cop bullied me. He bullied me to the utmost extreme. And nobody stood in his way,” is how nurse Alex Wubbels described her ordeal.
September 12, 2017
Chief Mike Brown,
Salt Lake City Police Department,
P.O. Box 145497,
Salt Lake City, Utah,
Re: “Utah police apologize after arresting nurse in blood-draw dispute”
Sally Ho & Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press
Dear Chief Brown:
When detective Jeff Payne arrested nurse Alex Wubbels for doing her job properly on July 26th, he forgot one important principle.
Every morning, your detective gets out of bed and dresses for the day. Ms. Wubbels’ tax dollars pays for the underwear he’s wearing.
Detective Payne must remember who really is in charge.
Charles H. Klassen
We leave the policing file here for the moment, and move on………