A man was arrested at the G20 last year, was stripped naked and then paraded before a female Toronto City Police constable. Predictably, Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair says,
"The video may not entirely speak for itself. And there’s a lot of circumstances and facts that are not yet evident in that video. It’s important to get all the facts before I make a comment on it or even before anyone rushes to judgment about what was transpiring in that event."
You'll have to excuse my pessimism Chief Blair (Bliar?) for not being able to find any regulation that says stripping a man naked and parading him past a female constable is "standard procedure".
Unwilling to make any comment until "all the facts" are in, Chief Blair did his very best to whitewash the incident. Standard Bill Blair Media Handling 101.
Sean Salvati was held without being allowed to contact a lawyer for approximately 11 hours before he was eventually released. Salvati's lawyer, Murray Klippenstein, had to file an access to information claim before the Toronto Police Services would release video clearing showing his client being paraded naked before a female Toronto Police Services constable.
Can't imagine why Mr. Salvati would be upset... can you?
He had his civil rights violated, was stripped of his dignity by police who clearly had no other motive than to degrade the 33-year-old man. The reasons for their atrocious behaviour is still unknown, but will be discovered now that a civil lawsuit has been filed.
Murray Klippenstein said in a recent media interview:
"Sean is asking for a court declaration that his civil rights and constitutional rights were violated. He's asking for a court order that removes all of these police records and he said 'I did nothing wrong whatsoever and I was brutalized.'"
The lawsuit was filed after police responded inadequately to the complaint lodged by Salvati in this case. He is now seeking $75,000 in compensation in the Ontario Court of Justice, where he lists four Toronto City Police constables as well as the Attorney General of Canada.
Salvati wasn't involved in the G20 protests at all, but was "caught up in seemingly out-of-control police security operations."
Toronto City Police were certainly on a rampage that weekend, and by all credible accounts, simply decided to tear up Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if only for the duration of that event.
To this day Chief Blair defends the actions of the men under his control. It's atrocious. Just because you put a badge and a gun on a thug, it does not magically transform everything that thug does into "correct police actions".
For many reasons Canadians seem to have lost the ability to control their police forces, leading those forces to believe they are accountable to nobody, and are themselves above the law.
It's that attitude of police and especially police chiefs like Bill Blair that have led some to question why we keep these "official thugs" around at all.
Frank Hilliard, on his blog Mesopotamia West, wrote the following the other day:
In an earlier post I suggested the Western policing and justice model is broken. It's broken for two reasons:
- We have given the police too many powers, and they have assumed more
- We have abdicated our responsibility for policing ourselves, have failed in our own duty
Indeed what has happened on the domestic front is what happened to the Roman and Ottoman empires on the international front. They both hired mercenaries to look after their defence instead of manning their armies with citizens. In effect, by hiring police to do our work, we have created a monster that now not only doesn't prevent crime but has turned against ordinary citizens.
Hilliard makes a very valid point. As Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Policing so clearly state in number 7:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
Did you read that? Did you catch what Peel says?
...the police are the public and the public are the police...
They are not superheroes. They are ordinary flesh and blood human beings, just like you and me. They've had some training (fatally flawed these days) that makes them believe they are somehow above the very laws we good citizens have hired them to enforce on our behalf.
That's right... ON OUR BEHALF.
Frank Hilliard rightly points out the following:
Canada needs a complete revision of its policing model and, I have argued, a return to the previous model where policing was done primarily by citizens. Here are some principles of citizen policing.
- Individual members of the public have the responsibility to enforce the law.
- Where individuals are not enough, they should be formed into temporary groups led by an elected or appointed official (the English and American model is a posse led by a Sheriff).
- Where temporary groups are not enough, the Militia, made up of citizens who receive annual military training, should be used to enforce the law.
Think this is a little extreme? Think I'm going too far? I ask you to read the paper and the on-line news sites and ask yourself if you think the current policing model is working.
I know what you'll find. You'll find what I've found; that it isn't.
Let's take policing back into our own hands, where it was originally and where it belongs today and in the future. We've tried hiring others to do our own work.
The results are failure, corruption, incompetence and crime.
Anyone regularly reading my articles will know Hilliard is correct. Our hired police are, generally speaking, flawed and incompetent much of the time. To list just a few of the cases in recent history that show this in stark relief are:
- RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, who was caught on tape brutally kicking Buddy Tavares in the face for no valid reason;
- RCMP Sergeant Douglas Smith, who had an illegal handgun and then felt his conditional discharge and being docked a few days pay was too harsh a penalty for the crime that would send you or me to prison for five years;
- RCMP Constable Jack Cunningham, who beat the crap out of Les Lattery for kicks, and then pretty much lied about it in court. The judge tossed all charges against Lattery because she simply didn't believe a word Cunningham said.
- RCMP Constable Matt Wright, who stole drugs and money from the RCMP station where he worked, and then was found illegally in possession of an unregistered firearm;
- RCMP Constable Nick Sharma, who was caught stealing $400 from a casino patron. Nick was a member of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit at the time;
- RCMP Sergeant John Roskam, who lied in memos to both Crown and Defense lawyers, causing a high-profile case to be tossed. In what's become standard operating procedure in the RCMP, Sergeant Roskam never faced any disciplinary measures for his misconduct.
- RCMP Constable David Clarke, who was caught dealing dope and possessing unregistered firearms; and let's not forget
- Toronto Police Services Constable Babak Andalib-Goortani, who was caught on film beating the crap out of a woman attempting to flee his wrath during the G20 fiasco.
These are just the most recent cases that come easily to mind of police forces that are completely out of control. The G20 showed us that with crystal clarity, unless you're Chief Bill Bliar... I mean Blair, that is.
The good citizens of Canada are now the enemy of our police forces. We didn't get to this point in a single step, but we got here nonetheless.
Integrity, honesty, respect, trust... these are all vital to police if they are to effectively do the jobs we hired them to do on our behalf.
If they are not willing to act honourably and with respect for their employers, the Citizens of Canada, then maybe it's time we do as Frank suggests, get rid of them and start doing the job ourselves again.