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In this tale of two police forces, I'll be delving into two cases of police suspensions and examine what constitutes grounds for suspension without pay in an American city police force, and then what constitutes grounds for suspension with pay in the RCMP.
First up, the Oklahoma City Police.
I was horrified a while back when I read about the case of Oklahoma Police Captain Paul Fields, who was suspended from duty without pay for refusing to order the men and women under his command to attend a religious event at a local mosque.
Under the politically-correct name of "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day", the Islamic Society of Tulsa was hosting the event ostensibly to thank Tulsa police officers for their handling of a threat against the mosque.
While describing attendance at the event 'voluntary", Deputy Chief Daryl Webster said "but should voluntary response not be up to task, assignment would be the next alternative."
Voluntary just doesn't mean what it used to, does it?
I remember with fondness the days where it meant, just like Webster's Dictionary defines it as:
1. proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or consent;
2. unconstrained by interference;
3. done by design intention
4. having power of free choice
I guess Chief Webster goes by some other dictionary... one completely unrelated to the one that goes by the same name as he does....
Religious freedom used to mean the freedom to choose which, if any, religion you would attend or participate in.
Can you imagine the outcry if Chief Webster had ordered Captain Paul Fields to attend the local Baptist Church's Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, for example?
First, that order would NEVER be given.
Second, in the twilight-zone world where such a thing could happen, the ACLU and every other lunatic fringe organization would be screaming about how unconstitutional it is to order anyone to attend any [Christian] church! (non-Christian churches appear to be an exception.)
Captain Fields certainly would never be suspended for two weeks without pay for refusing THAT order, would he?
Not in a million years.
Now, technically he was not suspended for not attending the mosque event. No, according to the official documents in his case, Captain Paul Fields was suspended for not obeying an order and for conduct unbecoming an officer.
Both charges are, of course, absurd and stupid. They are also the only way for this moronic police chief to save face.
Fields said in correspondence with a superior that he considered the order to be "an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with (his) personal religious convictions, as well as to be conscience shocking."
He also told his superiors that he would not require any of his subordinates to follow the order "if they share similar religious convictions."
Thankfully, Paul Fields has filed a lawsuit claiming his First Amendment Rights were violated. It should be a slam-dunk win for him as long as political correctness doesn't rule the day.
My second example comes from our very own and less-loved-every-day Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
RCMP Corporal Monty Robinson has been on paid suspension for over three years now. He's killed two men, one while on duty, the other while off-duty and [allegedly] driving while drunk.
He was one of the four infamous RCMP members caught on tape murdering Robert Dziekanski, and who is, along with the other three members, been charged with perjury for their [allegedly] false testimony before the inquiry into Dziekanski's death at their hands.
A year after that tragic event he killed Orion Hutchinson while, as I said, he was [allegedly] driving drunk. He [allegedly] hit and killed Hutchinson, then left the scene of the crime to go home and pound back a couple more shots of vodka so he couldn't be nailed with impaired driving causing death.
By having a few drinks after killing the young man, he made it impossible for investigators to know what his actual blood-alcohol level was at the time he killed Orion Hutchinson.
Corporal Robinson has never been charged with killing Orion Hutchinson. The only charge he's ever faced for his part in that death is obstruction of justice, because he refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Why am I relating these two cases?
To show the bizarre and unacceptable ways we treat police officers on both sides of the border.
For the "crime" of not being politically correct Captain Paul Fields was handed a two-week suspension WITHOUT PAY.
Here in Canada, Corporal Monty Robinson has killed two people and we're still paying him his RCMP salary... while he sits at home doing God knows what.
That is clearly unacceptable on pretty much every level I can imagine, and just one of dozens of examples of why the RCMP, particularly here in British Columbia, has such a terrible reputation.