Archive for October, 2011


Posted: October 31, 2011 by gcheema in Robert Dziekanski

In my previous post, I talked about how four RCMP officers were responsible in taking Robert Dziekanski’s life away. After his death, the RCMP was adamant that their officers had followed protocol. It was only after the video of the incident was released the public saw what had really happened; unknowingly, this video ‘opened the door’ to a host of RCMP’s problem. This video was the main catalyst behind the Braidwood Inquiry; this public inquiry was set-up to investigate what happened that unfaithful day. In this post, I will try to link the actions of these four officers to what we know about police deviance and police culture.

To this day some people argue that the police should be able to ‘bend’ or manipulate the law because they have “hard” job. The premise of this statement is fundamentally wrong in our society; no-one is above the law. Even though Dzienkanski’s death was clearly a criminal act perpetuated by the police officers, none of them were charged; even after intense public uproar, nothing happened. This lead to a fundamental debate in our society: should the police investigate themselves? Some emphatically support this notion because they feel police are ‘upholders’ of the law and will be objective to their findings. However, I feel this is ideology is flawed for three reasons: there is often a conflict with the official paradigm and operational paradigm, “blue wall” of silence inhabits objectivity, and often times it is a systemic institutional failure.

“[O]ffical paradigm is shaped to bolster institutional values, whereas the operational code espouses how things ‘really get done” (Maurice Punch 2009: 3). This situation is a classic example of this conflict. Immediately after the incident the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Team (IHIT deliberately released information that would have shown their officers in a favourable light (Braidwood 2010: 41). This was in direct violation of their institutional core values. Most RCMP officers still believe that the officers involved in Dziekanski’s death did the right thing under the circumstances because Dziekanski did not follow the officer’s orders. In my opinion, it is well-known that police officers are usually taught by the ‘book’ in the police academy, and when the recruit comes in contact with a field trainer, he is taught to ‘throw-out’ whatever he learned in the academy. When an officer is on the job, he is usually taught be his peers that if anyone challenges his authority he better put the ‘perp’ in his place; this is more commonly known as “contempt of cop” ( As much as police officers would like to think “contempt of cop” is a crime, the reality is that it is not; the courts have been firmly against this notion, as well. For example, a recent court decision by an Ontario Court found that “it is not against the law to be rude to an officer” ( The disparities between the official paradigm and operational paradigms need to be looked at, if we, as a society, are to move forward in the 21st century.

The public has often debated whether the “blue wall” of silence inhibits objectivity? In my opinion, the “blue wall” does hamper objectivity; in fact, this holds police agencies together (Punch 2009: 37). Entire police culture is based on this notion. Any officer that breaks this rule is dealt with severely. For example, when a NYPD officer, Serpico, spoke out against the wide spread corruption within his organization, he was vilified by his colleagues. Even when officers are take part in criminal activities, no-one says anything. For example, the four officers caught on tape tasering Dzienkanski for no reason were never charged. Not a single officer came forward to testify against the officers involved; these officers tasered another human being with 50,000 volts of electricity and were never charged. The RCMP was keen to argue that Tasers do not kill. However, the Braidwood Inquiry found that Tasers do kill people; the courts concured. The company that manufactures these Tasers, Taser International, stated that Tasers are safer than high school sports ( The only reason these officers were caught because we live in new era of ‘visible policing.’ “Video capture of images for mass dissemination, repeat viewing and popular debate enables mass mobilization of affect and discussion…” (Andrew Smith Goldsmith 2010: 925).

Some people argue that it is always a few ‘rouge’ officers that are to blame. However, I feel this statement hold no merit. History has repeatedly shown that the entire institution is usually to blame. Once a police officer becomes part of a police organization, his views start to transform into the institutions ‘views; no-one comes into policing with a deviant mind, it is over time that his views start to shift. For example, a newly sworn police officer will do everything by the ‘book’ at the start of his career. However, as his/her career progresses temptation and peer pressure will usually lead him/her towards deviancy. This is more commonly known as “inclusion.” Once an officer goes down this road the pathway towards a
deviant career becomes easier and easier (slippery slope). Therefore, it is ‘ill-advised’ to blame individuals for their deviant behaviours; it is the entire system that is corrupt.

This blog post is not meant to entice hatred towards the police. The purpose of this blog post is to educate the reader on the ‘dark’ side of policing. Police services are an essential part of our society and we, as a society, need to find ways to improve our system.


1. Punch,  M. (2009). Police corruption. Portland, Oregan: Willan Publishing.

2. Goldsmith, A. J. (2010). Policing’s new visibilty. British Journal of Criminology, 50, 914-934.

The death of Ian Tomlinson (Analysis)

Posted: October 31, 2011 by jeffield in Ian Tomlinson


Provoked Undercover

Posted: October 31, 2011 by dhaliwal15 in Agent Provocateurs
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Police Agent Provocateurs play a vital role for law enforcement and other government agencies. Agent Provocateurs are similar to spies who infiltrate an organization. However, one main difference is that Provocateurs may provoke or influence a person or a group into committing an illegal action rather than just collecting as visual surveillance. This is done so arrests and convictions can be made against non-law abiding citizens. However, provoking someone to commit an act of violence is not fair, and angencies should not be allowed to try and force civilians into commit violent acts. By provoking someone to commit an act, law enforcement agencies are setting citizens up to fail. In these cases, people who are arrested, prosecuted, and sent to jail had no intent to commit any criminal acts until they were provoked by law-enforcement agencies. No individual person is greater then the law, therefore agencies that use agents as provocateurs do not have any speacial authority to break the law.

According to Gary T. Marx (1974), of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Center for Criminal Justice, agent provocateurs can range from all kinds of undercover officers, from Special Forces, to ordinary police officers, and even ordinary citizens. An agent provocateur could be considered an undercover spy who is pretending to fit into a certain group, in order to gain further intelligence.

After an agent has infiltrated an organization and become a member, after he or she has been accepted, the agent may be asked or have to do many immoral acts, which may go against his or her desires. Marx (1974) states that “the agent may go along with the illegal actions of the group, he [or she] may actually provoke such actions, or he [or she] may set up a situation in which the group appears to have taken or to be about to take an illegal action” (Marx, 1974, 405). Furthermore, Marx (1974)  states that an agent is not just randomly chosen by he or she must also fit a certain set of characteristics. An agent is carefully examined at how well he or she matches and fits into with a group. For example, age, race, and religion are just some of the characteristics that may be looked at.

Marx (1974) introduces an interesting point while discussing the characteristics of a agent who may be chosen. Furthermore, he states that civilians rather than professionally trained and sworn police are used as agents who act as informant.Po lice agencies may influence a civilian to take on the role of an agent provocateur for a number of reasons, including the promise of financial rewards or a reduction in a charge or sentence.  Also a civilian may share much more attributes of a group that he or she is asked to infiltrate. Furthermore, Marx (1974) talks about using police officers as agents. These police officers, who are chosen to perform such a task, are usually young inexperienced officer, who have just recently joined the police force.

In the United States of America, there been several interesting incidents involving undercover police informants. The Black Panthers have had their fair share of the police and other government agencies infiltrating their group. According to the New York Times, a New York Police Detective helped the Black Panthers open up a location in the Bronx. At the time, the Police Detective was undercover acting as a spy. This should be considered an act of deviance on behalf of not only the Detective, but also the NYPD as a whole. The NYPD as a department allowed one of their own Detectives to participate in illegal activity, and helping to expand the illegal activity. Furthermore, the FBI in the United State of America has been involved in several undercover operations.

Closer to home, in a Canadian context, according to a special new article written by “The Vancouver Sun” Mickie (Phil) Smith, who has relations to the BC Hells Angels was tricked into confession of a murder and the murder victims missing body by an undercover officer. He also told the undercover agent of how he disposed of the body, and who his accomplice was.  The officer in this case was posing as an undercover crime boss.

There are many cautious circumstances that law enforcement agencies have to be aware of when dealing with agents who go undercover in order to and infiltrate a certain group. Known as The Double Agent, the agent plays a role were he or she is truly an activist for the group which he or she is supposed to infiltrate. The purpose of The Double Agent is to trick and manipulate the law enforcement agencies by providing false information. Marx (1974) states that “He [or she] may enjoy a sense of power by deceiving everyone, experience cross-pressures, and be unclear as to which side he [or she] is really on”(Marx, 1974, 417). Another reason why many law enforcement agencies must be aware of when dealing with agents is that some may have mixed views and opinions. According to Marx (1974), if an agent shares similar characteristics of a group that he or she has infiltrated, he or she may convert and become part of the group, rather than just an undercover member. In order to first become an accepted member of a group an agent must build trust, and loyalties within a particular group. However, the more trust and loyalties he or she builds, the more his or her opinions may change about the group and the people within.

When a police officer becomes an undercover agent, he or she may be involved in dealing with many dangerous criminals and befriending them. Everett Hughes (1962), states that being an undercover agent and trying to befriend a criminal, while also looking for a conviction is considered to be “dirty work”. Hughes (1962) also goes on to say that leaders do not want direct involvement with criminal organizations, rather the leaders find someone who is useful enough to go and do the dirty work that is required of agents. When a police agent is doing undercover work illegal actions should not be permitted for the agent, as these actions would be going against many laws which are set out by the state. However, many undercover operations may end up being a total failure if some illegal actions are not to be permitted, because an agent may not be able gather enough evidence in a legal manner, therefore, an arrest or a charge may not be possible. This is very similar to the “Dirty Harry” phenomena, were the “means” are justified by a successful ending, such as catching the criminal (Punch, 2009, 24). As Marx (1974) states, some agents may contribute to violence, whether directly or indirectly, through these kinds of illegal actions one is able to entrap other committing illegal actions as well. Similar to the “Dirty Harry” phenomena, the term “Noble Causers” seems to fit in well with an agent provocateur. Although some agents may break the law and go agasint social norms, they however, are breaking the law for a greater cause. As Stated by Punch (2009),  Noble Causers, break the law because officers bevleice it to be for the good of the public.

Agent provocateurs do not only provoke criminal organizations and other citizens into committing illegal actions. Agent Provocateurs are also responsible for gathering vital information, which may possibly lead to further arrests of criminal organization groups. In addition, these agents are responsible for gathering a huge amount of intelligence from inside a secret organization. Throughout history there have been many incidents involving law enforcement agencies infiltrating certain groups, not only is this a dangerous role for officers and citizens to play, it is also dirty work as many people may be easily influenced.


Hughes, E. 1962. “Good People and Dirty Work.” Social Problems 10 (Summer): 3-11

Marx. Gary. T (1974) Thoughts on a Neglected Category of Social Movement Participant: The Agent Provocateur and the Informant. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 80 (2), 402-442.

New York Times. (1971, February 3).

New York Times. (1971, February 17).

Punch, Maurice (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. Devon: Willan Publishing (Routledge)

The Vancouver Sun. (2004, September 12). B.C.’s Hells Angels: Rich and Powerful. The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved from http://www.canada.c/vancouver/vancouversun/news/observer/story.html?id=f525bc8a-d80a-4ece-9ffc-f5a2a55a43b0

In Canada we are fortunate to have a stable criminal justice system. When people are accused of a crime they are presumed innocent, and it is incumbent upon the state to demonstrate their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law governed by rules of due process. Despite this, there are some instances where our criminal justice system may make mistakes that is detrimental to the reputation of policing and law organizations. Some that are less fortunate have to suffer under brutal and unfair situations which would seem unappealing to the westernized world that we reside in. Some countries in the world use cruel and unusual punishments as methods of interrogation and execution of alleged criminals. In these same countries they are no stranger to police deviance and corruption.

The web audit on Maher Arar showed many reliable sources such as, CBC, Vancouver Sun, and the Globe and Mail. These sites helped me produce my overview of this topic. Also article by Jules Lobel Review of Litigation gave some really good insight into the Arar case. But these website often reiterated the information that I already had for the blog topic. Also I came across one website with the caption “Maher Arar is a liar”, in which this blogger bashes Maher Arar about the ordeal he was in. It is kind to take this source seriously due to the fact they do not have any real sources about the Arar case.

Maher Arar came to Canada in 1987 and is a full citizen of Canada. He attended McGill University where he obtained his bachelors degree in computer engineering. He and his family moved from Montreal to Ottawa where in 2001 he opened his own consulting company, Simmscoms inc.; Arar was detained for 12 days in the US and deported to Syria and spent another year in jail. How this case became such big deal to the media in regards to police deviance was Maher Arar was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC) during a layover where he was coming back from a family vacation in Tunisia. The officials in New York because he was “subject to lookout for” as being apart of a terrorist organization (Lobel, 2008) After his detention in the US he got deported to Syria. Syria is known to practice torture and it is apart of Syrian police culture to get information from their suspects (Lobel, 2008). What Arars’ lawyers argued was the US officials sent him to Syria because the US official’s knew that they practice torture and they wanted answer’s from Maher Arar about his allege ties to a terrorist group by the name of Al-Queda. During the one year he was imprisoned in Syria, he was kept in inhumane conditions and was beaten daily with cables by the Syrian officials (Lobel, 2008). At one point during incarceration he lied about being involved with Al-Queda to ease the torture that was placed on him. Also since he wasn’t an American citizen his request for legal aid in Syria was denied. Maher Arar was released in October. 5, 2003 and the media quickly got a hold of Arar’s story. There were many inquiries and investigation that were issued in this case. Most of the investigation was about looking into the involvement of Canadian and US officials sending an individual under extraordinary rendition, which means the illegal transportation of a person from one nation to another. After all the legal proceeding, what was ultimately concluded was that Maher Arar had no involvement in terrorism. He was cleared of all charges, received compensation of around $11.5 million from the Canadian government, and he received an apology from Canadian government. This topic is significant to the issue of police deviance because the US law enforcement illegally deported a Canadian citizen to Syria, where he was tortured for a year.

The people involved attempted to perform a noble cause for the greater good of the society by protecting their citizen’s from a suspected terrorist (Punch, 2009), but they did it illegally and inappropriate manner. Improper investigation and practice were involved in this case. Due to lack of information they had also contributed to the deportation of Maher Arar. Clearly They broke an International law by deporting Maher Arar to Syria knowingly that they do torture people to retrieve information (Lobel, 2008), especially information in regards to terrorism. During a time when 9/11 and terrorism is still fresh in the minds of the Government and the law enforcement officers, these agencies would do anything to get their hands on this type or lead and information to protect their country.


Lobel, Jules. Review of Litigation, Symposium2008, Vol. 28 Issue 2, p479-500, 22p

Punch, Maurice. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. Portland, Oregon: Willan Publishing.

Blog Post #1 Jean Charles de Menezes

Posted: October 13, 2011 by jas1002 in Jean Charles de Menezes

Jean Charles de Menezes was a 27 year old man who had been shot to death by several police officers. Mr. de Menezes who was a Brazilian electrician worked in London by the Metropoitan Police Service. On July 22, 2005 he was followed by the police from his home to the underground train. He had done nothing out of the ordinary but after he got into his seat on a Northern line tube train which was leaving Stockwell he was shot to death. The police shot him 8 times, 7 of those times were to De Menezes’ head. This all occurred because the police had mistaken Jean Charles for the failed suicide bomber Hussian Osman, who had attempted to bomb London on July 21, 2005.

This was the first and only time that the use of the Kratos policy of ‘shoot to kill to protect’ was enhanced. The force went against health and safety laws when they killed Jean Charles de Menezes. The officers failed to take advantage of a 30- minute window to correctly identify whether Mr.DeMenezes was a potential bomber. So, this was entirely the polices’ fault, whereas DeMenezes has done nothing wrong but was shot to death. After the whole incident occurred the Senior Met officers released inaccurate information about the shooting in the media. This was not done purposely; there was serious weakness on how the force handled critical information. Moreover, the DeMenezes family was delayed in being informed about Jean Charles death and their phone calls were temporarily restricted as well. No senior officer has been accountable personally for such catastrophic failures but, instead some key officers had been promoted. In the end, the family agreed on a compensation settlement which involved a lot of money given towards the family. But, the family still worries that this may occur again because no one has been accountable for their sons’ death.

This topic is significant because it shows how the police may make mistakes and those mistakes can cause someone’s life. Just this incident impacted the public’s view of the police tremendously. People were terrified of being killed themselves for no reason because it could have been anyone innocent.

When searching to find information about Jean Charles de Menezes there was a lot of information over the internet. When searching over google there were 4,300 results; many of these results included reports form media. There were different news sites that covered the death of DeMenezes which shows how much the public was interested in this news report. Moreover, there was a journal on the internet about the death of DeMenezes which includes everything that had occurred on that day ( Most of the sites found on the first page dated a couple years back mostly from 2005. Also, most the sites were from the UK and not from Canada this was clearly because of whereabouts this incident occurred. Wikipedia was the first site to come up as a result on google. Wikipedia had details on how everything took place that day; also it included pictures of DeMenezes, the shrine to Jean Charles de Menezes which was located outside of Stockwell underground station and a picture of Jean Charles de Menezes Mosaic outside of Stockwell station and a picture of Coroner Sir Michael Wright, a former high court judge ( Moreover, there was one cite which appeared on the first page of the google result which just had a bunch of pictures of DeMenezes and the station where everything occurred; Furthermore, most of the websites that came up were in the favour of DeMenezes and against the police. I did not find cites that were in the police side and said anything should have been changed for this not to occur again. Most of the cities are from the media who aren’t always the best resources to find information.


Click to access gb21072008_risk_innocent_lookingguilty.pdf

Systemic Racism in Canadian Policing

Posted: October 12, 2011 by rtatla in Systemic Racism

Systemic Racism in Canadian Policing

Systemic racism, although vehemently denied by various public figures, such as Police Chiefs and even government officials, has become an increasingly notorious issue within the context of police deviance in Canadian policing. The issue comprises of the mistreatment and discrimination of individuals simply based on their skin colour, race, or ethnic background, with those of African descent seeming to be of main focus.

Visible minorities are more likely to be arbitrarily pulled over, stopped and questioned while merely walking down the street, or detained, just to name a few examples of this type of discrimination. For example, in an article written by Wortley & Tanner (2003), focusing on the Toronto Police Services response to the Toronto Star’s series on race and crime, it is noted that black offenders are often treated more harshly after arrest, are more likely to be detained and taken down to the station, and are also more likely to be held in custody for bail hearings; just to name a few.  Blacks alone are often over represented in many charge categories and come into contact with police officers far more frequently than those individuals of a Caucasian background, and are likely to continue to come into contact with officers based entirely on their skin colour – regardless of age and social class (Wortley & Tanner 2003)

Individuals of ethnic minority communities are being forced to face the challenges of systemic racism on a day to day basis through objectionable cultural biases, ignorance, insensitivity and racist stereotyping imposed on them by their local police. And yet, the issue of systemic racism seems to yield various opinions amongst our society, with some in complete disagreement of it even being an existing or serious issue. I quote Toronto’s Police Chief, Chief Fantino “we do not do racial profiling… There is no racism… We don’t look at, nor do we consider race or ethnicity, or any of that, as factors of how we dispose of cases…” (Wortley & Tanner 2003).

Entering this topic into a public online search engine as “systemic racism in Canadian policing”, more specifically, in Google, yielded high search results (1, 940, 000 to be exact). Of these results, none were government websites, a couple of sites lead to purchasable books based on the Canadian justice system and racism, and several sites which discussed institutional racism in various different organizations  as opposed to just policing. Wikipedia defines institutional racism as “…racial bigotry by the existence of institutional systemic policies, practices and economic and political structures which place non-white racial and ethnic groups at a disadvantage in relation to an institution’s white members”.  I found some of the results to be very useful, well referenced, and simple to understand whereas others were not much use at all as they were too broad and focused on racism in Canada as a whole, and not specifically on the policing aspect. On the other hand, what I found to be the most interesting were a couple of sites that discussed racism in policing and were based out of Ontario – one in specific which was from The Toronto Star which ran a series of articles on race and crime –articles that were seen to be quite controversial.

To narrow down my search to focus more on racism in policing only, I typed in “racism + Canadian policing” into Google which yielded around six million results with the first link leading to an article in the Toronto Star titled “Police racism alleged”. The top results were mainly various foundations within Canada which focus on racism and racial profiling, while latter results were more newspaper articles and the last of these results, an article on police brutality by Wikipedia.

From a bit of background reading and from other courses, I have found that systemic racism in policing is an enormous issue in Ontario and more specifically in Toronto, concerning the TPS. The Toronto Star had published a series of articles based around race and crime in October of 2002 that initiated a vast response from various sources, the most attention grabbing source being the TPS and the comments made by their Chief, as noted above, which I will discuss in a future blog.

First of all, what is the APEC? APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. It is a forum consisting of 21 countries, which promotes free trade and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC was established in 1989. Canada joined APEC in 1989. An APEC meeting is held yearly and attended by the heads of government of each member country. In 1997, this APEC meeting was held in Vancouver at the UBC campus on November 24 and 25. During this summit, a protest was held at a designated protest area at UBC.

These demonstrators were protesting against the heads of state that were responsible for human rights violations in their respective country. In particular, Indonesian President Suharto and Chinese President Jiang Zemin were singled out by the protestors as being violators of human rights in Indonesia and China. In fact, Indonesian President Suharto threatened to boycott the Summit if the demonstrations embarrassed or offended his dignity. Some of Suharto’s comments regarding the protest can be found here.

Protestors eventually knocked down a security barricade in the designated protest area and RCMP officers responded with pepper spray, police dogs and arrests. Even a CBC camera man was hit with pepper spray. Many allegations of police misconduct were alleged against the RCMP. One such allegation was made by Craig Jones, who was reportedly arrested, held for fourteen hours and released without charge for displaying signs of “Free Speech,” “Democracy,” and “Human Rights”. Due to the many complaints filed against the RCMP, a Commission or Inquiry was held, which investigated the allegations of misconduct by RCMP officers. The Commissioner of Inquiry found that the conduct of individual RCMP officers, in some instances, were inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that members of the public were affected by RCMP misconduct. The final report of this commission can be found by clicking here. Also, a chronological timeline of events relating to the incident can be found by visiting the this website.

After I typed in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit into the Google search engine, a wide range of websites relating to the topic popped up. The first website that comes up in the search is the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website. The federal government website details the 1997 Vancouver APEC Summit. There is no mention of the protest or abuse of police authority on this website.

The second link that came up was a Wikipedia link which described everything about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Under the heading of meeting developments, there are couple sentences that deal with the controversy that occurred with the RCMP using pepper spray against protesters in the 1997 Vancouver Summit. Other conflicts and threats to the other summit are also touched upon.

There is also a link to CBC archives. After clicking this link, a video of a news report taken after the UBC protest is shown. The video shows a heated conflict between RCMP officers and protestors, in which pepper spray is seen to be used. In the end of the video then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responds to the question of the use of pepper spray by saying, “For me, pepper spray, I put it on my plate.” I thought this remark was very interesting. Here is a link to the video:

The fourth link linked me to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP website. Here the details of the Commission that resulted from the police misconduct at the protest are found. One link titled Fears of APEC-style Clash in 2010, referred to  protests and even had the following picture of the 1997 protests. When reporting on the fears of a conflict at the 2010 APEC Summit, plenty of mention was given to the Vancouver Summit. This website had interviews of some of the protestors and even with the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. No RCMP representative was interviewed and it seemed to me that the article was written in favour of the protestors.

Overall, after typing in Vancouver 1997 APEC Summit, all but one link on the first page of the google search engine has some mention about the confrontation between protestors and RCMP officers. This one website without any mention of police deviance is the first link and is a government of Canada website.