I’ve had enough!

The recent plethora of protests, about the death of George Floyd, the latest black man to die as a result of police brutality, raises the key question – how do we stop this pestilence on civil society?

Police brutality appears to be the result of institutionalised police training and control methods. Despite the lethal result of “restraints” choke holds and neck suppression still abound in takedown operations.

However the underlying premise behind these protests is not only that black people are dying at the hands of police operations but the way that police departments run their operations. Increasingly militarisation of police services is the norm, especially in the USA where military equipment is recycled into police departments. Do not think for a moment that Cobourg is immune from this movement. I remember being shocked by the appearance of our local police department turning out for a Remembrance Parade escort and traffic duties armed with fully automatic carbines slung across their heavily padded chests.

There is a better way – some have called for it in the simplistic slogan – “Defund the Police” but few have fleshed it out. In Cobourg we have a police service with four platoons of front line officers – all armed to the teeth – tasers, pistols (glocks) and with access to automatic carbines and shotguns.

The question to be asked is; do we need fully armed officers to respond to every single response? How do we start the debate about the future of policing in our community?

The previous police chief instituted an major increase in part time police, he expanded the number of part-time officers and auxiliary police people. He replicated the full time force and used the part timers to reinforce the front line officers. But he only expanded the existing police ways of doing business!

With incidents requiring a police response being of a non-violent dispute do we really need a fully armed officer to conduct the investigation. In some cases the presence of armed officers may intimidate, especially in family dispute situations. The time has come to send in social workers not armed officers.

It is time for police services to examine the records, just how many incidents require the services of properly trained interventionists as opposed to fully armed officers who may have a smattering of social service training?

If we are able to define the actual operations of police services we can assign the correct response to situations. I understand that some incidents can turn violent and require the reactions of officers trained to respond to violent situations. But a lot don’t.

“Defund the Police” is only a slogan – let’s take it one step closer and actually examine the way we police ourselves. If we do that and establish a police service that ALL members of society recognise as working for ALL then BLM protests should become redundant!

  2 comments for “I’ve had enough!

  1. ben
    June 5, 2020 at 6:00 am

    A snippet from a G&M oped from Alok Mukherjee was chair of the Toronto Police Services Board from 2005 to 2015. He is the author, with Tim Harper, of Excessive Force: Toronto’s Fight to Reform City Policing.

    “There has been a long-standing demand to control, if not reverse, this escalating cost of policing to ensure the proper funding of child care, recreation, social and public-health programs, housing and so on. It has been argued that investment in these areas would reduce the need for expensive reactive policing – which too often produces severe consequences for marginalized and vulnerable populations – while fostering true community safety and well-being.
    However, as dramatic as the call for defunding is, there are statutory and political barriers to doing so in Canada. Provincial police-services acts require municipalities to have “adequate and effective policing” and pay for it. In Ontario, failure or refusal to do so can result in the province deploying the provincial police and recovering the cost.
    Then there is the wider pro-police political culture. As proof of their concern for public safety, federal and provincial politicians have, from time to time, funded the addition of thousands of police officers to municipal police forces, with no demonstrated need.

    Governments have given money for so-called community safety programs, such as Toronto’s infamous and highly militarized anti-violence intervention strategy (TAVIS). Routinely, they enact legislation but leave the responsibility for its implementation to the police. The best example of the failures of this approach can be seen in how mental-health crises are handled. These political choices have only pumped air into the ballooning costs of police services.
    About a decade ago, in response to growing public concern, a national consensus appeared to emerge among police boards and commissions and their respective municipalities – that the current model of using a highly paid, uniformed and armed police officer for all functions was obsolete, expensive and too often produced dire consequences.
    In 2013, Ottawa convened a national summit on the economics of policing. Provinces such as Ontario followed up with their own initiatives on the future of policing. Governments and organizations undertook efforts to find alternative, more community-responsive approaches to public safety.
    It was widely understood then, as it is now, that a multidisciplinary, integrated model based on an accurate assessment of a community’s actual needs – a model that relies significantly less on the armed uniformed police officer as the virtually exclusive provider of all services – is a preferable choice. Many police boards and commissions across Canada began their own reforms, adding more civilian participation and oversight as well as technology.
    However, even this limited promise of change proved to be short-lived. The years since have marked a return to business as usual. Toronto, for instance, is hiring hundreds of police officers every year, and the police service is more militarized than before.
    The call for defunding is a worthy one, even if it’s not new. It opens the door to a serious, urgently needed conversation about alternative models of community safety and well-being. The question now is the same as it has ever been: Is there the political will?”

  2. mike wladyka
    June 13, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    Nice to see this forum breathing again.

    In Port Hope de-funding our police department

    would be an odd irony seeing how hard many

    fought to keep it.

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