Whatcha Gonna Do?

When did we all start hating cops so much? Any time a member of the local, regional or national police allegedly sets a foot wrong, the media is all over it and citizens start screaming for blood.

Okay, we expect cops to be above reproach. We need them to be in order to feel safe. But they’re still human and they screw up. So why are we so eager always to think the worst of them rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt?

The current issue in Ottawa involves a  cop allegedly “beating up” on a taxi driver for no apparent reason The story the cabbie, his cabbie witnesses and the media are telling is that an SUV started following the cabbie down the highway, very closely, trying but failing to overtake him. The SUV followed the cabbie to the airport where a guy got out of the SUV and either pushed the cabbie to the ground or twisted his arm causing the cabbie to sustain some broken bones in his arm. At some point the SUV guy flashed his badge or ID or something saying he was a cop. Paramedics and other police officers arrived. Paramedics took the cabbie away and the police officers took the other off-duty SUV cop away.

The outrage over this alleged incident has leant itself to bold headlines in the media for over a week. The same story is told over and over with quotes from the cabbie and his friends and photos of the cabbie with his arm in a cast.

Letters to the editor shake their heads at yet another example of blatant police brutality. Bloggers vilify the Ottawa police for their corruption. Facebookers tsk-tsk vehemently over out-of-control cops. There are allegations of racism involved from the cabbies’ viewpoints.  Ottawa cabbies everywhere fear for their lives.

Of course, there were other witnesses to this incident at the airport, but their account is usually buried in one sentence at the bottom of every third or fourth article. Other witnesses say the cabbies swarmed the cop when he got to the airport; that the cabbies began the altercation; that the cop flashed his badge to get them to back off; that the cop was injured as well.

If the situation had been reversed and the cabbie had pushed the cop, it would:

  1. Not been much of a story; or,
  2. If it had made it to the papers,  it would have been slanted in favour of the cabbie anyway; or,
  3. If the story had been told favouring the cop as blatantly as this story is being told in favour of the cabbie, we’d have all the civil liberties people yelling about injustice, prejudicial reporting, innocent until proven guilty, etc., etc.

I don’t know what happened, but there’s an inquiry underway to find out. The cop’s record is clean – in fact, he has two letters of commendation on his file. I know that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an angel. And I know cops in general aren’t really Andy of Mayberry, but I also don’t believe they all spend all their free time chasing down random citizens to beat up.

I probably mentioned before that I’ve had a couple of jobs where I’ve had to connect with police on a regular basis. From what I saw, for the most part they’re just regular people with a really tough job. Lots of people think of them as doing nothing all day except harassing the homeless, responding to calls from old people who hear noises in their cellars and eating donuts.

And maybe they do have days like that, but a lot of their time is also spent doing stuff most of us wouldn’t have the stomach or cojones to do for one day, let alone day after day, year after year.

And maybe some of them don’t handle that stress so well after a while and maybe some of them are just assholes to begin with[1], but in my experience nobody in the police business wants someone like that on the force. If this cop in the story, is actually hunting down people in his spare time so he can give them a good pounding, then I’m pretty sure Ottawa police is going to find a way to remove him permanently from active service. Of course, if he’s exonerated, we’ll probably never hear about it because that’s not sensational news and it’ll just look like a big cover-up to those awaiting a verdict.

I think the police we have is all we have standing between us and the bad guys, so maybe we need more of a citizen/police partnership where things are a little more transparent on their end and a little more supportive on our end.

[1] The closest I’ve ever come in my life to being raped was by a cop. It was just pure dumb luck that I was able to escape from the situation. So I know very well there are some puffed-up macho whackos on the force. I’m just not going to tar them all with the same brush because of this one guy; or even because of a few other guys like him.


45 responses to “Whatcha Gonna Do?

  1. An absolutely excellent article XUP! Thanks for your sanity as we await the results of the inquiry!

  2. At least part of the problem is the sensational nature of the media.
    No one reports or really cares about the 1000 planes a day that arrive safely, the story is about the crash.
    No one cares or reports about the cop,picking up after a crash, helping a lost kid or elder, stopping a speeder or drunk.
    No one cares for that matter about the cop out at 3am on a completely routine shift doing nothing but watching and having some doughnuts and coffee.
    But find some uproar, find some drama, and the media descend looking for the noise.
    I know 1 cop who is a bully and an embarrassment to the force.
    I know about a dozen who I would risk my life with.
    I also know the one who helped pick me up off the road after I was hit by a car while cycling and helped assure that I got my bike paid for and since it never went to court it was never reported anywhere except in his incident report.

  3. When I was in Canada for a short while, I did come across a few incidents where your policemen were criticised. For the most part, they deserved the criticism but with only a couple of exceptions, they did not deserve to be vilified. If you only knew the poor standard of police forces in many parts of the world, you would be grateful for the relative high levels attained by your own police in Canada.

  4. I read that story. The impression I got (I admit I quickly scanned the article) a car tried to overtake the cabbie…followed him to a parking lot, and the cop came out and pounded the crap out of him. Just like that.

    At least, that’s the sense I got, from quickly reading the article.

    Interesting, the other side of the story (which,as you point out) is kind of buried more deeply in other parts of the story. Like the cop also being injured, or the alleged swarming by other cabbies.

    Would be nice to hear BOTH sides of what happened, with equal media coverage for each side.

    Obviously we’re not getting it.

  5. You’re never going to get the whole story in the media. Don’t get me wrong, the media provides an important function, but before this story is fully told, they’ll be on the the NEXT big story.

  6. @Mike

    It think a big problem with the media as that they’re all journalists. Who studied “Journalism” in university.

    And I’m probably going to get yelled at by the BA’s out there for saying this….

    But people who study the Humanities tend to have a crunchy-granola left-wing point of view of the world.

    (As compared to us knuckle-dragging neo-conservative fascist engineers, for example).

    So naturally, this story about the injured cab-driver will emphasize the cab driver’s side of things (as the working class-victim). As opposed to giving equal coverage to the paramilitary authority-figure (cop’s) point of view.

    I think we get this with a lot of our media. Many of the news stories are skewed to the left.

    (Except for Fox…I dunno what’s up with that).

  7. My husband is a retired cop. He worked for LAPD for 23 years. When he joined, he felt like it was a calling. He loved his job and was good at it, and 99.9% of the guys he worked with were good cops.

    Of course, there are always a few who ruin it for everyone, but they are the exception, not the rule. Toward the end of my husband’s career, there were a series of high-profile incidents here in Southern California (no, he wasn’t involved in any of them), and it changed the way cops were viewed and it made it much harder to do their jobs. It got to the point where if a complaint was made, the cop was assumed guilty and reprimanded, even fired.

    A friend of my husband was a respected officer with more than 30 years on the job. One day he was involved in a high-profile shooting—thousands of rounds were fired on civilians and cops and when the police shot the guy who did it, his family sued the cops for violating their son’s civil rights.

    I don’t get it. Maybe I’m biased, but I think most cops get a raw deal. They put their lives on the line for us every day and they often don’t make enough money and many departments don’t have the money to even give their officers the equipment they need. We need to support our cops more because it’s going to get harder to get and keep good, honest people in uniform. And then we’re really screwed.

  8. Kathryn – That’s all I’m saying. Let’s wait until we get the true story before tarring and feathering anyone.

    Bandobras – I appreciate that input …especially coming from someone who is about as anti-authoritarian as they get.

    LGS – It’s good to get some perspective like this sometimes. We are lucky there are so many watchdogs and safeguards surrounding our police system — even if they tend to tend to be a little overzealous sometimes.

    Friar – Yes, if you listen or read the story hoping to see yet another case of police brutality, you’re definitely going to get that. If you read all the stories very carefully and ask yourself a few pointed questions along the way, the story is quite different And you’re quite right about the journalism thing. I was editor of our university newspaper and attended a few national university newspaper conferences/meetings. Most of the people involved were journalism students and they were so far left it was impossible to have a rational conversation with them about anything.

    Mike – What I was getting at here was not so much the bias of the media but that the majority of people seem only too happy to read and believe anything bad about the police these days. I’m reading the same stories as everyone else and am willing to wait for the inquiry to find out what really happened.

    Lola – Is that what it is? We’re hungry for outrage? I wonder why?

    Mo – Thanks so much, and an excellent point. If everyone is viewing the police with distain and disgust, why would anyone good ever want to join the force? On a completely different scale it’s much the same with the public service. The media is always looking for someone or something to point the finger at and the public is gleeful when another public servant is exposed screwing the taxpayer. We’re seen as lazy, overpaid, over-benefited scammers. And we have a hell of a time recruiting any young people who have anything on the ball. All we’re attracting is lazy scammers who want to be overpaid and over-benefited.

  9. It’s a little known fact that cops and cabbies have been warring since the dark ages. This was nothing more than a glimpse of what goes on beyond the secrecy while we live our pointless lives. For hundreds of years these factions have battled to be the best at moving people from one place to another, and some believe that judgment day is when one group will take control of the planet. Each man inviolved in this altercation is probably behind closed doors receiving a real thrashing from his superiors about letting the humans see them battle and compromising their plans.
    They’re supposed to do it at the designated secret location. I think it’s a Tibetan cave or something, but I said nothing and I’ll deny it if you say I did.

  10. I bear no hatred towards police officers, but I abhor any abuse of power. It seems this officer abused his power. You’re right, we have all had bad days and we have all no doubt acted in ways we later regretted; but it is simply not acceptable to use physical violence as an outlet for rage. Hopefully the constable in question has been relieved of his weapon until the investigation is complete.

    If the guy screwed up he should have immediately owned up. That would have helped to diffuse the situation and allow the healing begin.

    I sure don’t know what happened and I’m also certain I never will. That’s how the police force in this city has earned the bad reputation it has.

    I continue to believe the majority of those who join the police force do so for the “right” reasons, and try to do a good job. I just hope the no-goods get rooted out sooner rather than later. The chief of police seems to know he has a problem and seems to be determined to take whatever action necessary to solve it.

    One can but hope…

  11. We’ve had a lot of media coverage lately about those “evil” police officers in Vancouver too, and reading between the lines of those stories is really important. There is definitely a journalistic bias in favour of the “poor victimized working man”, and it is sometimes really tough for the layperson to get to the truth of the story – if it’s even possible. As you say, we always need to reserve judgement until we know what really happened.

  12. There was an incident recently of three off-duty cops beating up a newspaper vendor and robbing him. The whole thing was caught in a security camera and also witnessed by a taxi driver. And then there was the case of the trigger-happy RCMP officers who tazered the Polish immigrant at the Vancouver Airport and killed him. Oops. They denied it until the video was released. And then there was the case of two cops who shot and killed a homeless man in Downtown Vancouver in a case of mistaken identity. Another oops. And then there was the case of the young man who was shot in the back of the head in Northern BC because an RCMP officer didn’t like the fact that the young fellow had an open can of beer. Big oops.

    I’m afraid I am one of those folks who thinks that something is happening, and cops are either burning out or they’re recruiting a lot of bad apples in the police force, both city police forces and RCMP, because there is all too much of this sort of thing going on.

    My grandfather was a policeman and a commanding officer in the police force, and if any of these incidents had taken place, the police officer(s) in question would have been drummed out of the force — asap. None of the police officers involved in these incidents have even been suspended.

    I know enough about police officers to know they scare the sh*t out of me and I want as little to do with them as possible.

  13. Police officers should be holding themselves and each other to a higher standard, yet they do the reverse, because they can get away with it.

    I originally went into Criminology because I had wanted to be a police officer. By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to do anything but.

    Their only tool is authority, and they use the hell out of it.

    – RG>

  14. There are assholes everywhere. For the most part though, i think cops are, as you put it, regular people with a crappy job. I know a few policemen and though they do tend towards the macho, I’m willing to bet my bottom dollar that none of them goes around beating up people for the hell of it.

  15. I’ve dated more than a few cops and worked in a police station for 10 years … so I know that they are just like the rest of us. Some good, some bad. Some both on the same day.

    But I will say, the first time my home was broken into? It was a local police chief and his lead detective. WHILE a county sheriff’s deputy sat down the block and watched.

    So yeah, there’s that.

  16. There is always a danger of jumping to conclusions before due process has done its thing. This cop may very well be one of those assholes that most of us have had the mispleasure of meeting at least once in our lives. Or the “hidden” or less newsworthy story may be the truth of the matter.
    However this turns out – and I mean NO disrespect to those honest and hardworking professionals out there – and they ARE the majority – the job does attract a certain type of individual. One has to be confident to the point of cocky to do their job and it sometimes gets to a point where it’s over the top.
    When I consider a number of incidents in recent years – the Polish man in Vancouver is the ugliest of the bunch – and there does seem to be an increase in those confrontations where cops are crossing the line.
    Yeah Friar, I am admittedly one of those artsy-fartsy and overeducated lefties who should NEVER live in a place like Red Deer, AB, but even when I try to remove these filters, I can’t help but come to the same conclusions.
    Note that I’m not yellin’ at ya 😉
    And @Jo – yeah, they scare the crap outta me too and the less I have to do with them, the better.

  17. Just sharing a recent incident in Malaysia. A political activist was arrested for suggesting that people wear black T-shirts in protest of a government action. A small number of people then showed up at a police station to carry out a candle light vigil in support of this guy. They are arrested. Some lawyers came to see them in prison and to represent them, they were arrested. When other lawyers the arrest of their colleagues in the process of carrying out their duties, the police spokesperson accused the lawyers of preventing the police from carrying out their duties.

  18. It’s that whole one bad apple thing. We have the same problem here in the States. I think they have one of the world’s hardest jobs. You could not pay me enough to do their job. They’re definitely not all perfect, but 99.9% are just hard working people with their hearts in the right place. Damn rotten apples.

  19. Great post! Keep on ’em…get us the follow-up info! Get us THE TRUTH! (Although Mayopie, apparently, already has an inside track to all kinds of truth.)

    Honestly. Between the way everyone is so lawsuit happy and the media’s love of sensationalism, it’s a wonder ANYONE has the fortitude to work in public service anymore.

  20. Mayopie – Thank you for this. Why isn’t the government telling us this stuff? Why do we have to rely on random bloggers for The Truth yet again? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Nancy – You start your comment by saying “it seems this officer abused his power”. How do you know that? As far as I know the investigation is not yet complete and the witness accounts tell two completely different stories. Of course abuse of power is dispicable and yes, it happens in the police force. But it seems that’s all we ever hear about in relation to the police services. So it’s what the public focuses on and we get the impression that the whole force is a bunch of thugs.

    Pinklea – Very tough indeed. The isolated cases of apparent abuse are what hit the front pages. There’s rarely any follow-up which makes me think that in a lot of these cases the officers were exonorated – but that’s never what we’re left with.

    Jo – And what happens when you get into trouble? When you’re robbed or assaulted? Are you going to be more afraid of the cops and just slink home and forget anything ever happened or are you going to be counting on them to get the bad guy and help put him away. I don’t know the whole story behind most of the incidents you mention, but I could certainly assume several other scenarios other than cops who, for no reason at all, decide to go around shooting, kiling or beating up innocent people. And if this is indeed what they’re up to then they’ve got serious psychological issues and don’t belong in that job. However, I don’t think police forces back in the early part of the last century were squeaky clean either. I’m sure I remember a few rather nasty stories from back then.

    Grouchy – I think you’re very wrong. Police officers do hold themselves and each other to higher standards. You’ve allowed a few isolated incidents to colour your entire perspective. Did they teach you in Criminology school that you should take every opportunity to flaunt your power? To beat on the weak and vulnerable? To push people around just for the hell of it? I don’t understand why you decided not to go to police college? What would you suggest to replace the current system? Should we not have any law enforcement? Or law enforcement without any sort of authority? What other tools do we use against criminals? Talk to them? Reason with them?

    Jazz – I have to agree with that Jazz. I mean, these guys (and women) are pretty carefully screened. It’s hard to believe so many total psychopaths make it through the process.

    Debra – It’s too bad we only ever hear about the exceptions – and only the bad exceptions at that. It’s coloured everyone’s perspective which makes their jobs all that much harder to do. And at the same time, we demand “someone” do something about all this crime.

    Trashee – Yes – in order to even want to be a cop you have to have a certain black/white – right/wrong mentality. You’re strutting around with a gun and a club and handcuffs and 40 pounds of other crap every day. That’s not for the faint-hearted or for bleeding heart liberals. Add to this increbile stress every day; putting your life in danger frequently. Things are bound to go wrong. Even in the Vancouver airport incident, I can see mitigating circumstances. I don’t believe for a minute that a bunch of RCMP officers just decided to get together and kill an immigrant with their tazers. These people see things of which most of us are never aware. So they’re maybe more than a little paranoid – especially at airports. Add to this the fact that they were never properly trained on the use of tazers… well…ya, it was excessive and unnecessary and very unfortunate, but I’m pretty sure these cops aren’t out yucking it up over how cool it was to abuse their power that way.

    LGS – They must have full to bursting prisons there in Malaysia? I think a lot of people keep an eye on the police services here to make sure it never gets as out of hand as what you describe. And that’s good. It’s good to have watchdogs, but as with anything criticism has to be tempered with something constructive as well or the whole system will become ineffective.

    Kimberly – We can’t blame it all on the rotten apples – also on the media who focus so much on the rotten apples that they become the entire police force. And blame ourselves as well for so gleefully buying into what the media is selling.

    Lesley – I’m telling you, it;’s going to be a big problem if this public attitude keeps up. The only people who are going to be attracted to the police force are thugs who thing all the police do is beat up people for fun.

  21. I have a lot of respect for people in certain careers-Cops, military, firemen, paramedics-but it really is unfortunate when you do hear about cases of arrogant abuses of power like this one. Most cops I agree are good, hardworking people who deserve more respect, but there is a percentage of police who should not be on the force or should be forced to take stress leave.

    Its another case of one egotistical, power hungry, racist, macho asshole ruining the image of the rest of the force and that is sad.

  22. Panhandlers are not criminals. Drug addiction is not crime. The mentally ill are not criminals. Urban Indians and Inuit are not criminals.

    Consider that the next time you ask “what other tools do we use against criminals?”

    When I politely approach a police officer, as I did in my most recent blog post, if a police officer is so friendly, why does he stand so close to me to intimidate me, before he even knows what I’m going to ask him about?

    The “bad apples” thing is a myth. All apples are bad, it’s just that every now and then a few of them get revealed, and everybody acts in surprise. This isn’t limited to police misconduct, it’s the same for crime. How many people do illegal things, yet AREN’T given the “criminal” label?

    If police were held to a higher standard, then when they are convicted of wrongdoing, they would lose their job AND go to prison, like everyone else. Often they’ll just get docked a few days’ pay. It’s not about the players, it’s about the game.

    And why is it that police budgets skyrocket every year, even when crime is declining?

    – RG>

  23. Hannah – I think you’ve missed the point of my entire post. How do you know this is “another case of one egotistical, power hungry, racist, macho asshole” Were you a witness? Have you seen the results of the investigation? Have you heard both sides of the story and made an informed decision about this incident or have you just read the headlines?

    Grouchy – And what exactly was your purpose in approaching those cops? If you are being completely honest, you will admit that you approached those cops hoping they would do something – anything that would get your ire up so you could point to this as yet another case of police throwing their weight around. You didn’t go there out of concern for the panhandler. You made a big show of posturing, hoping the cops would notice you keeping your eagle eyes on them and when they didn’t, you followed them. You make assumptions in your telling of the event – they “pretended” not to notice you or hear you. They stood “too close” to you in order to intimidate you. One guy’s shoes were shinier. Then you say you hoped they could read your mind (which was saying “go fuck yourself”). I bet you were extremely disappointed that nothing actually came of your encounter. You accuse the cops of being aggressive and intimidating and harassing, but in my opinion, your actions that evening were all that and more – just silly. Really, what did you hope to accomplish aside from a blog post out of that?

    And, as I commented on your blog, the police aren’t responsible for finding homes for the homeless or rehab for the addicts or medical assistance for the mentally ill. Go talk to your municipal, provincial and federal governments to get these people the help they need. The police, however, have to deal with all sorts of people, these included. If there are complaints from citizens or business owners, the police have to find a way to respond. Moving a panhandler from the sidewalk near a shop front may very well be the only response available to them. They didn’t go through police training to shuffle panhandlers around. They know very well it’s a pointless exercise that doesn’t address the real problem. I’d be very interested to know what you would do if you were ever a victim of a crime – a real crime? Let’s say you’re walking home one night and were raped and beaten to within an inch of your life by a bunch of gang members. Do you report the crime to the police? Or forget about it since they’re all criminals themselves who are only interested in knocking around the vulnerable?

  24. Alright. Its another “alleged” case of an evil cop. But honestly, its like that Polish man at the airport, sure there is the other side of the story, but there is strong evidence that the cops in both cases overreacted.

  25. The cops arrest panhandlers on false, trumped up charges. Judges give them strict bail conditions that include staying away from many parts of downtown. When they go to these places (which they often must), they get arrested on breach of bail conditions, charges which stick because they are technically accurate, even though the original charges (which created the bail conditions) would have been thrown out.

    This is described in the Access Now newspaper article I posted at the end of my blog post at http://realgrouchy.blogspot.com/2009/04/mayday-2009-public-space-under-attack.html

    It’s all nice to say “I know a number of cops and they’re all nice people,” but do you only know them socially, or have you actually walked the beat with them? (or perhaps they aren’t beat cops)

    It’s also nice to say “poverty/etc. is not a police problem,” but when these people are vulnerable, it IS a police problem when the police are kicking them when they’re down, just so that us white folks don’t have to suffer the pain of looking at them in the street.

    Challenging a cop’s perception that he has ultimate and unquestionable authority is not trying to intimidate him. If you are such a staunch believer in democracy, you’d acknowledge that checks and balances are there BECAUSE of the possibility of corruption. It is our duty as citizens to question authority and hold it to account.

    – RG>

  26. And yes, the police can be useful for some things if you’re on the same side as they are.

    But they should not be used as corporate janitorial staff.

    – RG>

  27. Two words: Robert Dziekanski.

    According to the proceedings thus far, the cops involved dramatically misrepresented/misreported how he behaved when they arrived on the scene, misrepresented/misreported the number of times they tazed the poor guy, misrepresented/misreported what they did keep him alive before the EMTs showed up, and misrepresented/misreported how they interacted in the station after they returned from the call.

    The RCMP then instituted a publication ban after RCMP misrepresented/misreported how Dziekanski was acting in their reports to the media. Which they subsequently broke when the EMTs report came out.

    In your words, “we expect cops to be above reproach[…] But they’re still human and they screw up.” Screwing up is fine. Making occasional mistakes is okay. Misreporting a death under police custody in a manner that dramatically changes the light in which we view the officers is not.

  28. XUP, you suggest there is another side to this story, but I haven’t heard it and I don’t know what it is. Could you tell us please? The off-duty cop did drive into the taxi area and beat up a driver. If not because of road rage, then why?

  29. A quick search through google finds about 60,000 police in Canada. That all by itself means there are liars, drunks, bullies, thieves, wife beaters, and probably even murderers on the police force.
    Yes the cops in Vancouver tasered a guy resulting in death, and yes they lied later to save their asses about what they had done, and yes they should be brought to justice for that. I think that was about 6 of the 60,000.
    Yes everyone knows about a cop somewhere throwing his weight around and misbehaving. When it happens they should be brought up on charges and dealt with properly.
    And everyone should know about cops cleaning bodies off the road, and taking in abusive husbands, and trying to stop speeders and drunk drivers, and in general trying to keep our communities safe.
    Certainly complain about them if you think they are abusive or improper but don’t forget the other side of the story and be ready to aid them if they need help.
    All cops are not good but all cops are not bad either and I think you’ll have a tough time finding better policing anywhere in the world.
    I know I’m not terribly worried about the 60,000 or so we have on the job here in Canada. Now if someone would just point out which 6000 are the dubious ones we’ll be all set.

  30. Grouchy – True, we all have a responsibility to help keep our communities safe.

    Erigami – I don’t think anyone is disputing that the situation you describe was terrible. That’s one situation. There are probably more like it. But that still doesn’t mean all our police are thugs and should be feared and lambasted at every opportunity.

    Robin – As I mentioned in my post, there have been brief mentions made of other witnesses (not cabbies) who say the cabbies swarmed the officer and that the cabbies started the physical altercation and that the cop got injured and was defending himself when he pushed the cabbie. If you search around the news stories you’ll see tiny references to that. I don’t understand why an off-duty cop would chase down a cabbie for no reason and just start whaling on him. I’m not saying it’s not possible, I’m just saying I don’t like jumping to conclusions just because the media tells me to.

    Bandobras – Only 60,000? That includes all levels?

  31. Tension can be healthy. Trusting our police too much can be dangerous. Between what happened to Robert Dziekanski, Maher Arar, the occasional starlight ride, and an AWOL Taser policy, we have good reason to keep an eye on the police.

    I’m not suggesting that we form a neighbourhood watch committee to keep an eye on our local beat cop, but I am suggesting that we take allegations against them seriously.

    10 minutes of googling found: Maher Arar, Helen Betty Osborne, the young girl tased in her jail cell for peeling paint, the (lack of) investigation into the Air India bombing, the lovesick (and goofy) teenager because he walked out of traffic. There are plenty of good reasons to watch the people who watch us.

  32. they need to get over it. shit happens. people have bad days. had he not been a cop and just a random, say, pier 1 employee, it would have been in the sun flashes.

  33. Erigami – Yes of course there should be checks and balances. And yes there have been botched investigations and misconduct and cover-ups and unnecessary force, etc. ,etc. I’m just saying that the armchair experts who form their opinions by reading Sun headlines, might not be the best people to set themselves up as judge, jury and executioner. There are organizations in place who are supposed to be looking after this stuff and if they’re not doing their job properly maybe we should be doing something constructive to change things at the top.

    Jobthingy – Ya, nobody cares what Pier 1 employees get up to – except maybe Pier 1 management and only if you do it in the store or near the store during business hours.

  34. The only reason I can think of (that we are hungry for outrage) is that when we are outraged about someone else, we feel better about ourselves. Like “look what they did, I’m so much better than that.” Maybe. Or maybe it makes us feel like we are taking up a cause together, or maybe outrage gives some of us a platform to speak from. or or or.

  35. XUP,

    The issue is not so much about an off-duty cop beating up a cab driver; but the allegation that when his colleagues showed up they refused to arrest him, and that he has not been suspended. You are asking what would happen if a cabbie had tried to beat up a cop? I could imagine he would have been shot to death, or otherwise arrested and taken to jail. Obviously our off-duty cop has been treated quite differently and that has justifiably outraged the public.

    You also stated: “The cops are the only line between us and bad guys.” Wrong. They have this privilege because, by law, we civilians are deprived from the right to carry a weapon. This right has only been given to cops, and with that right should come a great deal of responsibility. Otherwise, I would rather carry my own weapon to shoot down any dog who attempts to harm me: be it a mugger who wants to take my wallet, or an off-duty cop who is outraged because I did not let him overtake my car.

  36. that’s a mixed bag i think, bad eggs in every profession/group/religion/etc. i’ve known some dirty cops and i’ve known some clean ones.

  37. Good post, Xup. Although I do think this investigation will reveal that the off-duty cop attacked the cab driver, I agree fully with your view of the police and their role in society. They’re out there every day taking heat from the bad guys, the almost-bad guys, and the occasional obnoxious little pissant, so that regular citizens like us don’t have to.

  38. With my respect for all the comments here …but I worked as a part time airport- taxi driver during my full time study at Carleton University . I drive at the Airport Parkway almost hundreds of times every week and let me tell you guys what those drivers are facing every time they drive a customer home or on their way back to the Airport ..it is not about the guy was a cop or ordinary person , it is a the stereotype that being created in this society ! Although I am a peaceful , quite and well educated person I involved in a big fight on the road with people I never met before …all the drivers have the same complaints everyday …we do never harassed by Italians , Chinese , Latin’s , blacks , , aboriginals , Indians or any other immigrants . The fact we have problem with the white people, or they have problem with us. The City and Social institutions are do nothing about it, they try to ignore because they do not want to admit that we have a discrimination issue here …and it is growing along with the economic crisis

  39. Lola – I think maybe outrage is the only time we feel any real passion about something outside of ourselves?

    Jo – No, I don’t expect you do.

    G.Lobe – That all seems a little drastic. I can’t see that allowing regular shootouts to be very productive.

    Leah – Agreed.

    Rodionx – You could be right about the outcome of the investigation. It’s nice that some people are still willing to wait until that outcome before passing judgement.

    Ayad – I’m very sorry to hear about your experiences with discrimination and I don’t disagree that there are still many issues underlying all the nice talk and slogans and policies. Thank you very much for your perspective

  40. Ok I have read your article but being a victim of a severe beating by Ottawa Police last year where my arm and wrist were broken and my other hand burned I would like to say something. I recieved so many injuries the doctors couldnt count them all my son who is a teen saw me in this condition. The reason these things are happening is because us as a society is allowing them to do this. I did not break the law, I was at my own home when the thugs came and violently assaulted me , the reason? I lived with a buddie of theirs who told them to do it as I didnt want to be with him. I am not a criminal , I am educated and have worked for some top corporations. I come from a well to do family my only crime was knowing the person I lived with. THe officers who came that day were snarling violent and cruel with no regard for the fact that I am a women and a mother and a human being and a small one at that. When I was taken to the station they beat me again and stripped me naked of all my clothes where they left me in a cell for 8 hrs naked, broken and bloody. 5 male officers beat me at my house and 7 more in the station so tell me why? The answer for this is because they could just as that day with the cabbie they could… they told me on my day that they were paid gangstas and that they could get away with anything they wanted. Does anyone out there understand what it is like to be a victim of police brutality? There is no greater violation of our social structure or societys law then when police abuse for no particular reason except they can. They are humans and yes they have a shitty job but it isnt like they arent aware of the details of their job when they go to school first for it then get hired. Lots of people have high stress, shitty jobs but they dont go out when they are off and beat people or go to peoples homes and beat them there. To serve and protect is the oath they take so someone please tell me then how were they serving and protecting society and taxpayers on the day they beat me or anyone else?? I am someones daughter and a mother and a human being so again WHY… I have had countless tears and so much pain over this because I still cannot understand why they hurt me so bad if this was citizens male who did this 2 me they would be in jail and their would be a cry for justice so tell me why because they are police they arent?

  41. roc, i hope you are sharing your story with others too. i realize it can be dangerous but it’s so important to put it out there. i understand your situation and hope that you are continuing treatment of some kind. this type of abuse doesn’t just go away, but you can rebuild your life and become stronger than you ever were before.

    i had a friend in the nice/friendly town of amherst, massachusetts that had a very similar experience. except she was arrested for a DUI and the police tortured and raped her. she had photos and in the middle of a lawsuit. not sure what happened, i lost contact with her when i moved back down south.

    i’m actually going to try and look her up, she was an amazing person with courage that i am not sure i’m capable of especially concerning the police b/c they can be very, very bad as you know.

  42. Leah – Don’t feel too sorry for Roc. This story is some kind of fantasy. Searching back through “her” coorindates tells me that “she” is a gamer lost in some sort of virtual reality game. I suspect this comment is somehow part of it. As to your friend, I’m shocked and appalled that this happened.

  43. seriously? that makes me very sad. especially considering the folks out in the world that have this actual experience. folks that fake it turn the tables in a bad way for the real victims. i have experience with this particular type of person. one who claims that almost everyone they’ve been married to have beaten them and molested them. it’s sad. at some point, if everyone you’ve ever known beats you up, is mean to you or the like, you have to wonder if maybe the problem is actually you. just sayin.

    thanks for the heads up xup.