Thursday, December 02, 2010

Brute Force

If you're reading this post, you can't fail to be well informed about the recent complaints levelled at Ottawa police, after videos have been released that show officers assaulting people in custody. There is some hand-wringing going on in the city, and a number of "just a couple of bad apple" letters have appeared in the Citizen.

As a resident of the area, I'm just going to chime in with my own observations. As anyone reading the rest of this blog could deduce, I'm a pretty conservative, traditional, law 'n' order kind of guy. I was brought up to respect the law and especially to respect the police. Since we came to Canada in 1996, I've had a few encounters with police - some OPP, some Ottawa police. Full disclosure: some of those encounters involved traffic tickets, all but one of which were deserved. Some were reporting crimes, like my car having been broken into. Some were calling for help on behalf of someone else. Some were just in passing, or watching officers deal with someone else.

While dealing with OPP officers, I've had some very good experiences - they've always been polite, and for the most part intelligent and helpful. I wish I could say the same for the Ottawa Police Service. But without exception, I have found Ottawa Police officers to be rude, unhelpful, laissez-faire, and often on the wrong side of the situation. Indeed, I was threatened myself with arrest once, after complaining about nearly being hit by a left turning motorist while crossing a street with the light in my favour.

Policing in Canada seems to attract a certain kind of male - often suffering from Short Man Syndrome, these are men who probably would never achieve authority in any other walk of life. So I don't think it's a few bad apples who need removing from the barrel; I think it's time to take a much longer, harder look at what's going into the barrel in the first place. This should be job number one for Ottawa's new council.