Lorne Gunter wrote an excellent piece on his lost faith in police, and how it all started with the murder of Robert Dziekanski by 4 RCMP members in 2007.
I’m actually surprised that Lorne’s loss of faith in our front-line police started so late. I’m surprised, because Lorne is well-known to be a man who looks into these sorts of things and does his best to get to the bottom of them.
Like Lorne Gunter, I too have lost my faith in front-line police. But my loss of faith began far earlier than his.
Let me give you a little background… I grew up in a house filled with RCMP constables, practically on a daily basis. My father was an RCMP auxiliary constable, and my parents had a lot of police friends. They were always around. I grew up respecting the police. They were my childhood heroes.
So coming to a place where I lost my faith in them was a pretty hard fall. It’s not easy to take your childhood heroes off their pedestal.
Because of my interest in firearms, I naturally heard about a lot of cases that probably most Canadians never hear about. Some of them really disgusted me.
My loss of faith in the police probably began in 1999 or 2000, with the Allen Carlos case in Whitehorse. There, Constable Wayne Gork took it upon himself to destroy Allen Carlos, and did a pretty good job of “apparently” concocting witness statements and other things to build a case against the Yukon prospector.
It was further tarnished that same year in Saskatchewan, when Dave and Amanda Lind were pulled over by Swift Current RCMP. After tossing Mr. Lind into the back of a police cruiser, a male RCMP constable pulled Amanda Lind’s shirt up over her head and strip-searched her on the side of the road, claiming to look for weapons.
Dave Lind was arrested and charged with unsafe storage of firearms, after Swift Current RCMP were told by Ontario Provincial Police that Mr. Lind was in full compliance with the law. Because they had illegally searched his entire family and the old school bus they were using as a moving van, the RCMP charged Mr. Lind instead of releasing him immediately with an apology. The judge threw out all charges against Mr. Lind because of the violation of his rights, but Lind never ever got an apology from the RCMP who violated his rights so badly.
Then on an October night in 2005, 22-year-old Ian Bush was shot in the back of the head inside the RCMP lockup. The constable who shot him to death claimed self-defense, a claim that the leading blood spatter expert in the nation said was impossible.
Constable Paul Koester has never been charged with the murder of Ian Bush. The RCMP seem to have managed an effective cover-up of Bush’s untimely death, but at great cost to the RCMP’s reputation and integrity.
Yes, I agree with Lorne Gunter… I too have lost my faith in the police of our nation, generally speaking. It seems every day we hear of another case of police brutality, and the day after we hear about it being covered up and swept under the rug.
It’s easy to start thinking all police are like the thugs who strip-searched Amanda Lind on the side of the road in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. It’s easy to think they are all thugs like the four who pounded on poor Robert Dziekanski and killed him without ever even trying to speak with the man or calm him down.
Or like RCMP Corporal Benjamin (Monty) Robinson, the leader of the gang of four in the Dziekanski murder, who a year later [allegedly] was drunk when he hit and killed 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson. Instead being a man, Robinson ran home and drank more so he couldn’t be charged with drunk driving. To this day the only thing he’s every been charged with is obstruction of justice for lying to his fellow police officers who were investigating his killing of Hutchinson. He’s never been charged with killing the young man, and at last check, was still on paid vacation.
When over a hundred police make sure they cannot be identified when they get out of line at the G20, it’s really easy to think this behaviour is a systemic and institutionalized problem that stems from the very core of our police forces.
But, like Lorne Gunter, I too see some very good police men and women out there serving our nation. And not just our nation either.
Not just men like Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell either, although he is the latest example, to be sure. There is Jeff Alderdice, a member of the Toronto Police Service currently serving overseas in Afghanistan, who, when hearing of his fellow officer’s death, asked and was granted permission to fly the TPS flag at half mast at the US military base where he is stationed.
South of the border was one of the most heart-wrenching examples I’ve seen of an off-duty policeman doing everything he could to save a complete stranger, knowing full well it would cost him his own life.
Patrick Sirois, a Nolanville, Texas reserve officer and full-time Fort Hood civilian police officer, was on his way home for Thanksgiving. He came upon a motorist who was broken down on the side of the road. He had stopped to lend a hand when a car driven by a 17-year-old swerved out of control at them. Sirois, without hesitation, pushed the complete stranger out of harms way and was killed by the oncoming car.
Or the case of Deputy Suzanne Waughtel-Hopper, who was investigating a lunatic who’d been shooting up the trailer park where he lived on New Years Day. She was newly married. She had two young children. This scumbag shot her in the face with a shotgun. She never stood a chance.
They were all just cops doing what they were trained to do, help people and they paid the ultimate price for it
So, despite my loss of faith in our front-line police in general, thankfully I still find it easy to see shining examples of the good men and women who do everything they can to keep our society safe.
What disgusts me is the all-too-common examples, like that thug in Kelowna, RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, who was caught on video kicking Buddy Tavares in the face after Tavares was already on his knees and compliant.
What disgusts me even more is the RCMP’s attempted cover-up of Mantler’s actions by fabricating claims of domestic abuse… It disgusts me when our “national police force” intentionally issues false statements just so they can try saving face and protecting the likes of Mantler.
When the RCMP pulls crap like that, it gets harder and harder to think it’s not an institutionalized and systemic problem.
Thankfully, there are the cases like Ryan Russell, Jeff Alderdice, Patrick Sirois and Suzanne Waughtel-Hopper and others that remind me that even if the problem with our police forces is systemic and institutionalized, we still have a lot of great police men and women who don’t care, who refuse to fall prey to that garbage, and who do the right thing instead.
Even when it costs them their lives.
It is those fine men and women I thank every day for restoring, even if it’s only by tiny steps, my lost faith in our front-line police.
It is those fine men and women that I pray to God that He keep safe as they do their jobs.