Saturday, June 20, 2009

What Happened to the RCMP? by Louis Evan Palmer

We have always had problems with policing in democratic societies. Mainly because policing is a process that strips democratic rights from people and people don't like that. In fact, they strongly react to it.

Part of the malaise is perception. We didn't know about a lot of police corruption or brutality until fairly recently. (Other people did but kept their mouths shut) We wrongly thought it was a problem in other countries but not ours.

So-called conservatives heap blame on the media because if it wasn't reported the way it is then it wouldn't be a problem; and, by the way, criminals deserve less protection and respect. They will say that anyone the police suspect is probably a criminal and should be treated roughly.

Police services have generally made themselves more insular as they ensconce themselves in quasi-unions and nurture a siege mentality. Outreach and community store fronts are an attempt to deal with this issue but they often seem to wither away under relatively small pressures. The first loyalty of many police officers is to their fellow officers not society at large or the people that they claim to "serve and protect".

In addition, the corrupting effect of power cannot be discounted. Police can use force. They have guns, tasers, clubs, sprays, handcuffs and fists, elbows and boots. They're the biggest gang in town. Some officers get accustomed to using force first and discussion second.

Today, would we ever see the spectacle of two North West Mounted Police (NWMP) officers entering a Sioux camp filled with thousands of warriors? It has been reported that the NWMP had great respect for the Aboriginal tribes (deriving in no small part from the influence of the Metis) which was reciprocated. Nowadays, there is typically an air of grievance and menace emanating from the police.

If there had been no video of the taser assault on Robert Dziekanski, the RCMP would have lied it away as they continued to do even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Their conduct & testimony was embarrassing. It's hard to pinpoint when the unraveling of the RCMP became clear to even their staunchest supporters but the plot to burn down a barn in Quebec is as good a point in time as any. Then there was a plan to incriminate the FLQ, a violent Quebec-based separatist group. Familiar false flag propositions. This resulted in the creation of a new national intelligence service called CSIS. And now, even with an intimidating obstructionist complaint process, there have been several serious cases in the last few years.

For more on this, see wikipedia at RCMP scandals: Early controversies, killing of Inuit sled dogs, Theft of dynamite, break-ins, Barn-burning scandal, Theft of PQ members list, Excessive use of force at the 1997 APEC Summit, Killing of Darren Varley, Torture Scandal: The stories of Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Maher Arar, Pension fund scandal, Const. Justin Harris and the Prince George RCMP, Ian Bush Incident, Robert DziekaƄski Taser incident, Royal Inland Hospital Taser Incident, Allegation of political bias against Insite, Impaired driving causing death, Non-consensual cranial implants - Wiretapping the human brain.

Toronto Police Services have recently had a trial restarted that is poised to be one of the biggest police corruption exposes ever. Stonewalling and foot-dragging were the order of the day previously. Is it any wonder that respect for and cooperation with the police is shrivelling?

The OPP. The FBI. Scotland Yard. Etc. Etc. Other forces, other issues.

What is to be done? Well, one thing is certain, there's a problem and it won't go away by itself. There has to be more community involvement in policing and with the police. It has to be adequately and reliably funded and supported. There has to be better training and more emphasis on non-violent approaches and skills; and when force is required, on quick and effective physical techniques and tools that mark a return to hands-on policing. There also has to be a way for the voice of the ordinary officer to be heard in the community outside of a round of bargaining. There has to be strong fair civilian oversight over all key police functions. Less political correctness on all sides would be helpful.

Perhaps the most important requirement is being good at your job; that is, overwhelming competence including honesty, integrity, professionalism, demeanour, and comportment. This alone would solve almost all the problems and issues. Reasonable leeway and autonomy is given to this type of person by all concerned. This speeds things up; justice is still done but without undue delays and cost. And, it wouldn't hurt if we could find a modern day Sam Steele?

What Happened to the RCMP?, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2009 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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