Policing, look beyond the badge!

Posted: January 16, 2013 by duck19 in Cases - Individuals, Police Role in Wrongful Convictions, Policing's New Visibility, Robert Dziekanski

Growing up I always wanted to be a police officer. At a very young age I was drawn to the career, due to an event that took place at my elementary school. I was about nine, and we had a day where some parents of the kids came in to talk about their jobs. My friend’s dad came in with his uniform on and he explained to the class what life is for a police officer and the roles involved. He explained to us that the police are about integrity and values, from that moment on I was instantly attracted to the job like a young girl attracted to Justin Bieber nowadays.

As the years passed I began to understand what the duties of a police officer are and maintained a profile to best fit the job. However, I also came to realize that many things were occurring within this field of work that the average man would say are “not right.” Keeping updated with current events has made me realize that police officers do not carry the golden name that we would think they do. They are often called names such as “pigs.” Nevertheless, learning about police deviance and accountability will help me to better understand the nature of work that the police are involved in.

A definition we can get of police deviance is that it occurs “when law enforcement officers behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the officer’s legal authority, organized authority, and standards of ethical conduct” (Ross, 2012). Police deviance from what I understand includes discrimination, misconduct, intimidation, excessive force, and sexual harassment to name a few. We are taught to be obedient towards authority, however if our authority is doing unlawful things and is going unpunished than why is the average person being punished for committing the same acts. Why are the police allowed to get away with actions that are cruel and unjust? However, if I were to do the same thing I would have a criminal record and receive some sort of punishment. Examples of this can be as simple as not wearing their hats when on patrol or more serious incidents such as verbal abuse, perjury of police reports, and committing perjury when testifying in court. It is sickening that such behaviour is so common in many agencies that it has become the way of doing business and is no longer considered serious enough to warrant a formal organizational response” (Ross, 2012).

With the study of Police deviance and accountability I want to further explore this definition to get to the real meaning. This is a very important area of study because then we can deprive reasoning to cases such as the Robert Dziekański case. In this situation he was a Polish immigrant and did not know English. He was then taken into police custody and Robert Dziekański  “died after being hit with a stun gun at Vancouver International Airport” (CBC News, 2012).

As you see above four RCMP officers jumped on Dziekański, and tasered him to death. Police deviance and accountability is important to study to help explain such events. It is important to analyze such things so we can put an end to these types of events.

It is said that, “Police corruption is the lack of police integrity. It also constitutes one of the most significant obstacles to positive police-public relations in today’s society” (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2010). How can we live in a system where we need the police serving and protecting our communities, but we fail to have positive relationships with them. Police deviancy is an everyday problem for most police departments. There is a lack of police departments taking accountability for their officers’ actions and are shy of taking steps to investigate these matters. An example of this is the RCMP, for the last four years CBC has requested them to provide reports for all the misconduct that occurred. “The RCMP failed to track internal misconduct” (CBC News, 2013). This tells us that if the biggest police department is shy of its moral duties, then we must step up. Hence why this area of study is important.

References

CBC News. (2012, October 14). 5th anniversary of Robert Dziekanski’s Taser-related death. Retrieved January 12, 2013, from CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/10/14/bc-dziekanski-taser.html

CBC News. (2013, January 13). RCMP failed to track internal misconduct for years. Retrieved January 13, 2013, from MSN News: http://news.ca.msn.com/top-stories/rcmp-failed-to-track-internal-misconduct-for-years-1

Ross, J. (2012). Deviance and Corruption. In J. Ross, Policing Issues: Challenges & Controversies (pp. 131-148). United States of America: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (2010, August 8). Corruption in Policing: Causes and Consequences. Retrieved January 12, 2013, from Royal Canadian Mounted Police: http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/ccaps-spcca/corrup-rev-eng.htm

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Excellent post.

    A few questions:

    You present a definition of police deviance based on Ross (2012). Do you find that this definition is more helpful or less helpful than the definition offered by Punch (2009) in our course text?

    You use the death of Robert Dziekanski as an example of police deviance, and the need for accountability. How did the federal and provincial governments respond to this case, and did these responses demonstrate an effective accountability process / processes?

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