Canadians’ Faith in Police

Posted: January 16, 2013 by dougheffernan91 in Uncategorized

The moment I saw that Kwantlen offered a class on police deviance and accountability, I knew I wanted to get into it at all costs. As a student pursuing a career in policing, I believe this class will help me get a better understanding of a career in policing by studying the issues of deviance and accountability within the police force in greater depth. In today’s society, I believe, the police are equally liked and hated amongst the public. The police force has many things on their plates on a day to day basis; some of these include upholding order within society, preventing crime, and allowing individuals to exercise their rights and freedoms as long as they are acceptable and within the norm of society without interfering with other individuals rights and freedoms in the process.

However in the last few years the police have started to receive a lot of negative attention from the public from cases in which it seems as if excessive force was used. The police can thank the use of social media and smartphones for being the primary reason for being caught doing things out of the norm which they have to own up to and be held accountable for. Police accountability involves holding both individual police officers, as well as law enforcement agencies responsible for effectively delivering basic services of crime control and maintaining order, while treating individuals fairly and within the bounds of law (“Police Accountability,” 2013, para. #1). Although the public, along with the media showering the public with one sided stories, never seem to think what may have happened before the person started filming the incidents on their cameras. Things like these can have a huge effect on the public’s opinion towards the police and recent polls find that the public’s faith in policing has decreased tremendously. Canadians’ faith in their police has plunged by more than 50 per cent in the past 15 years, and British Columbians have by far, the least confidence among Canadians in local and provincial policing, according to the findings of a new poll (O’Neil, 2012). Incidents such as the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport and recent reports of female RCMP officer’s allegations of being sexually harassed by fellow male RCMP officers have definitely played a role in the public’s faith in policing dropping here in British Columbia.

With the public beginning to lose faith in policing, it makes this area more interesting to study because it gives us students an opportunity to look at these issues in far more depth to see why the negative incidents, very few at that, by the police seem to largely overshadow all the positives the police forces in British Columbia seem to be doing. Do people love to hate the police and therefore strive to see them be put in a bad position? I believe so. From personal experience, I know when someone has had a bad experience with a police officer they tend to have a full on hate towards all police officers. It may just be something as small as receiving a speeding ticket or getting a ticket for drinking in a park to something a little more serious such as assault. Al though the police are good in my books, I would gain more respect for the police as a whole if not as many officers abused their power of authority over us regular citizens. I am not the type to judge and color all police officers the same just because I have had bad experiences with a few here and there but I have noticed that a lot of them do tend to think they are better than everyone else because of their status in society. Over use and abuse of power by police officers is one thing I really look forward to bringing up in this class and discussing what kinds of measures can be taken to handle these situations without the public losing faith in our police forces in Canada. Another thing that really bothers me about the way police incidents are handled is that they are investigated by other municipal police forces, for example Abbotsford Police can be assigned to investigate an incident to do with the Vancouver police. The reason I am skeptical about this process is the so called bond all police officers share in which they always stick up for each other no matter what. This can obviously lead to bias decisions in favor of the police officers in hot water at the time being. This sort of ties in with a discussion I had in a philosophy class previously in which we discussed if you had the ability and power to be invisible would you still act with integrity and do the right thing or would you do things you couldn’t normally do because of the chances of getting caught – it is safe to say a lot of people agreed that we would take full advantage of the opportunity and do unlawful things because we know we aren’t going to get caught. This could also apply to police officers as they unfortunately do have that extra power over the rest of us to do things we regular people can’t and get away with it without facing any consequences. Love them or hate them, we still require a police force as they provide for a balanced and stable society in which individuals are held accountable for their actions.

References:

Police Accountability. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_accountability

 

O’Neil, Peter (2012, April 25). Canadians’ faith in police has plunged, poll finds. Post Media News. Retrieved from http://www.canada.com

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Generally, a great post.

    A few observations for you.

    First, you mention that “the public, along with the media showering the public with one sided stories, never seem to think what may have happened before the person started filming the incidents on their cameras”. I hear this often. What evidence can we draw on to help us understand these events captured on video, and to make sense of the public reaction they generate? How do we determine that the stories dealing with these events are one-sided?

    Also, you write:

    “Although the police are good in my books, I would gain more respect for the police as a whole if not as many officers abused their power of authority over us regular citizens.”
    I would invite you to consider what it means to state that an institution – any institution – is ‘good in your books’. Do we do ourselves, our institutions, or democracy justice when we associate ourselves with categorical positions of this kind (positive or negative)?

    I look forward to your second and third posts!

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