Archive for the ‘Robert Dziekanski’ Category

Pop culture has long since glorified the deviant practice of the law enforcement officer who does whatever it takes to get the job done. This is predominant in many of our favorite movies and T.V. shows such as Bad Boys, The Fast and Furious, and even more so Walking Tall. All these of these movies are great examples of officers who put the rules aside for the “greater good”. Deviance is defined as the fact or state of departing from usual or accepted standards. To better understand the extent to which the media is able to normalize these practices, I will further explain using the film “Walking Tall”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X67H5J9ZMds

Walking Tall is the story of ex U.S. Army Special Forces sergeant named Chris Vaughn. After returning from duty to his small town in Washington, he finds that the local mill, once the town’s main source of economic sustainability, has been shut down. Looking for a chance to relax, his old friends take him to the casino which is run by former mill owner Jay Hamilton. After checking out the building Chris Vaughn plays craps and notices the dice are “loaded”. Making it publically known he causes an outcry in the casino with staff. This instigated a fight and after beating down several guards with a piece of lumber he is subdued by a tazer. Vaughn is then taken outside, beat down, and cut up on his stomach with a blade. He attempts to press charges with the local sheriff’s department, but they advise him it is not in his best interests because the casino is now sustaining the economy. A trial ensues and at the end of it Vaughn makes a statement about the town’s former self, and if he is cleared of his charges he will clean up the town and run for sheriff. Later in the movie we find out that Jay Hamilton has shutdown the mill to fund his drug dealing operation. He is moving large quantities of methamphetamine and cooking it in the mill. This is unknown to now sheriff Vaughn who knows the drugs are coming from somewhere and suspects Hamilton to be the number one suspect. While in charge as sheriff, he pesters Hamilton by pulling him over and has him watch as Vaughn strips every piece of metal off his truck. Although Vaughn had no right to search or stop him he did it anyway. After getting intel from a ex stripper at the casino Vaughn finds out that Hamilton is the source of drugs. Again Vaughn makes a road side stop and pulls over Hamilton in his new Porsche. Vaughn makes numerous threats about giving up the drugs and the manufacturing whereabouts, but Hamilton does not budge. On the way back to Vaughn’s vehicle he states that Hamilton should get his tail light fixed, then proceeds to club the tail light with the same lumber from the casino incident. Once the whereabouts of the manufacturing of the drugs is found Vaughn is set into action. In a sequence of events there is a barrage of bullets flying around where multiple of Hamilton’s henchmen die and ultimately Hamilton is arrested and jailed. In a later scene the mill is up and running again and the mill is shut down.

This film is an excellent representation of what (Punch, 2009) would call the “Dirty Harrys” of policing. These are the law enforcement officers who are committed to the cause of policing, but will implement any practices necessary, even if it means breaking the law. In Walking Tall Vaughn attempts to rid the town of drug use and drug trade. He does this my implementing practices that would question and break the laws of due process. Although he is aware of this practice his attitude is still that of “getting the job done”. A good representation of this is when Vaughn pulls over Hamilton in his Porsche, and proceeds to smash in his tail light, and then states that’s why he got pulled over. There is another scene in the movie where Vaughn, after finding out the sheriffs will not allow him to press charges , decides to take matters into his own hands. He charges into the casino and man handles many of Hamilton’s henchmen with his signature piece of lumber. This act certainly refers to what (Punch, 2009) would call a “Cowboy”. Cowboys are “highly aggressive officers committed to a macho police identity; undisciplined and action oriented” (Punch, 2009). Often times in the film Vaughn thinks with his muscles and not his head. This is the cause of many of his confrontations and fights that breakout. These definitions help us to understand further why some officers engage in what we know as deviant acts. Although in the end the officer may get the outcome desired, the route taken is not the correct in the eyes of the law and due process.

Hollywood loves to portray law enforcement officers as action packed hero’s who always save the day. Their daily events involve running around the city, shooting their guns, beating up bad guys, and making arrests. Films involving these scenes create an illusion for the public that this is very similar to that of real policing. Although these events do happen, the average officer rarely uses their firearm. (Crawford, 1999) Says, “Police in all cities kill rarely, but at widely varying rates. The average Jacksonville police officer would have to work 139 years before killing anyone. In New York City, the wait would be 694 years. It would be 1,299 years in Milwaukee and 7,692 years in Honolulu, all based on the 1980-84 rates of killing”. So therefore Hollywood isn’t 100% wrong in depicting these scenes, they are just wrong with how frequently they occur with individual officers. Another misleading fact popular culture provides to the public is that it is the often the regular beat officer who engages in many investigations and makes all the arrests. While this is true in some cases, most crime is solved by investigation teams, about 95% actually (Crawford, 1999). Misconceptions from popular culture have the ability to skew the minds of the consumer. Because of this many individuals have an unrealistic reality of actual police work. I myself have even been victim to this. Before starting to investigate on many of these topics covered I always assumed that police had the power to do almost whatever they wanted. After recently attending a few ride alongs with local RCMP I found out just how much procedure is involved with stopping, arresting, and detaining a person. I also realized how different a regular beat officers day to day is. It often involves driving around, checking license plates, and responding to calls with no real suspect. This shows just how far popular culture will go to create an audience.

Popular Culture depicting law enforcement has long since been on top of the film world. With the “Dirty Harry’s” leading the way, I can’t see this changing anytime soon. People love a hero who can get the job done no matter what it takes. So where we can go from here is to accept the fact media is one way and real life is another, and in time with any luck, the public will be able to separate fact from fiction.

 

 

 

 

Bibliography
Crawford, C. (1999). Law Enforcement and Popular Movies: Hollywood as a Teaching Tool in the Classroom. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture , 46-57.
Punch, M. (2009). What is Corruption? In Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. 18-52.

Destroy police brutality!

Posted: April 5, 2013 by kiratmatharu92 in Robert Dziekanski

“By law the police have the right to use legitimate force if necessary to make an arrest, maintain order, or keep the peace. Just how much force is appropriate under various circumstances can be debatable. When an officer uses excessive force he or she violates the law (Jerome Skolnick and James Fyfe) define police brutality as a conscious and deliberate action that a police officer undertakes towards suspects who are usually members of a powerless social group (For example racial minorities or homosexuals)” (Cliff Notes 2013). I propose a research or a study upon police brutality in B.C. by seeking the public’s response about how police brutality should be decreased in many situations and doubt with civil manners, it should be done in a legal way not forced upon any civilian. Also my study will show how to prevent police brutality and how it has briefly increased or decreased within the years. For an example ever since the Robert Dziekanskis case where four RCMP officers used a lethal weapon upon Robert Dziekanski which was an incorrect use of a taser machine and excessive force upon the civilian. Before this incident there was a lot of misuse of legal weapons that the authority has power to but this caused damage to many civilians that experienced police brutality in B.C. After the incident of Robert Dziekanski the percentage of legal weapons and excessive force and decreased with the amount of 87% as the legal recommendations say. “Mr. Dziekanskis death appears to have galvanized public antipathy for the force and its members.” “That is regrettable because the most important weapon in the arsenal of the police is public support.” (Braidwood commissions of inquiry)(Goldsmith, 2010). My study shows the specific ways and reasons towards what happens within the police organizations and how brutality is cruel and incorrect to force upon the society or the police organizations itself. To get at this brutal phenomenon there will be serious circumstances taken towards this action, such as running a campaign for who is against and for police brutality and spread the word out to the public or having to limit police powers for the public to be safe and be protected By running this campaign the public  and myself will go out and try to find ways to change the police policy or conduct ways that the “Bad cops” or who cause excessive force will need extra training , or even approach the police academy’s to conduct a new way for their police trainings and have the instructors show better ways to train the new recruited officers so that they do not have to be involved in police brutality in the future. “To curb brutality, police administrators must be proactive. Departments in some cities, for example, have adopted special training programs to reduce incidents of police brutality. Other departments have formulated rules that limit the use of force by the police. Preventive control also requires supervising officers (for example, conducting surveillance of officers’ work) and disciplining those who violate departmental standards. A growing number of cities, for instance, are developing early warning systems to identify officers with high rates of citizen complaints. These incidents should be investigated, and if verified, the officers involved should be charged, disciplined, restrained, and/or counseled.” (Cliff Notes 2013) For another Example the Braidwood commission’s inquiry under the public inquiry act within January 2009 and which were concluded in June 2010 show two phases. Phase one shows the focus “ On the use of conducted energy weapons (CEWs) by provincially regulated law enforcement agencies in B.C.. commissioner Braid wood identified a lack of consistency in provincial police policies, standards, and training regarding the use of CEWs and an inappropriately high degree of dependence on the training materials provided by Taser International. The Commissioner also found B.C. police increasingly called upon to deal with emotionally disturbed persons and that the best practice in such situations is a strategy of de-escalation, as opposed to aggressive confrontation (Including taser use.)(Braidwood Commissions of Inquiry)(Goldsmith, 2010).” And phase two focuses more upon the death of Robert Dziekanski and the misinterpretations between RCMP police officers and the civilian himself because of a language barrier. “The phase two report also leveled strong criticism at the RCMP’s internal investigation into the incident, citing it as a problematic example of police investigating the police. Commissioner Braidwood recommended that an independent investigations office be created and empowered to investigate police related incidents and make recommendations regarding criminal charges.” (Braid wood Commissions of inquiry) (Goldsmith, 2010).  The nature around police brutality shows how it is or seen as of force only from many police officers. Additionally this is a common nature that happens quite often within the police organization. When videos go viral on media websites it shows how brutality is and how the audience perceives this visual force that has been taken upon many innocent individuals that do not deserve this type of action from the police force. When the audience perceives this information automatically they can make judgements about many of the police officers, or there organizations which are always intentionally negative judgements or feedback most of the time. There for to reduce this type of action in my research I thought to propose something that could possibly decrease police brutality it would be by taking away certain lethal weapons away from the police officers, change in police policy. For an example within the Robert Dzeankzi case the biggest impact between 2007 and now it took 5 years to rearrange the police policy and create an independent investigations office this department only deal with police related situations that happens within police themselves. The public raises a huge saying upon changes towards many police officers, or police organization, or even the police policy or even having the police officers have more strict training that they do not cause any sort of brutality. In conclusion my campaign should receive a funding because my proposal to the public was to decrease police brutality and have the public protected from the excessive force that the police lay upon the many of the civilians. The funding will go towards the change in the organization, public satisfaction, and it should cover the cost of as a campaign the particular things we want to have an impact on would need a little bit of cost devoted to it. I am positive that my proposal and my team will make a huge change within the police organization and police officers them self and the society.

References

Goldsmiths A. (2010) “Policing’s new visibility”, British Journal of Criminology 50: 914-934

Anatomy of an inquiry: The Braidwood Commissions of Inquiry (Article)

http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Police-Brutality.topicArticleId-10065,articleId-9975.html

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120116115854AAO7tlS

http://usefulresearchpapers.com/research-proposal-on-police-brutality/

Charges Dropped Against Woman Framed by Cops

Alexandra Torrensvila, 23 is a victim to police corruption. She was arrested by four cops for a DUI  due to an accident that the officers had caused themselves. As of now, the charges against her have been dropped by the Broward State Attorney’s Office.  Thankfully for Alexandra, the attention moved from her to the four cops. Prosecutors are now looking into the Hollywood police who made up the entire story to cover up a February traffic accident involving a cop car. The interesting thing about this case is that it was all caught on tape by one of the officer’s dashboard cameras. This video shows Alexandra handcuffed in the back of a squad car as the officers try to decide on a story to explain what had happened.

Watch Video Here

Officer Joel Francisco, 36 is an 11 year veteran. He was the officer who crashed into the back of Torrensvila’s vehicle on February 17 at midnight. Francisco then radioed the other cops who arrived at the scene to try to find a way to bail him out. Officer Dewey Pressley arrived on scene after and questioned Torrensvila. She told him that she had been drinking and Pressley takes this information to his advantage and arrests her for DUI. If you listen closely to the video, you can hear the officers brainstorm ideas for excuses of the accident. In the video one of the cops acknowledges that what they are doing is illegal but decides there is nothing wrong with bending the law for a few cops.

When taking a closer look into police corruption we can classify these officers into three typologies. Typology one is from the Knapp Commission. These officers would be described as Meat-Eaters; this is when officers abuse authority for self gain. In this situation, these officers used Torrensvila to take blame for their own accident. Although these officers did say, “I never lie and make things up ever because it’s wrong”, they did however not mind “bending” the law for a fellow police officer. These officers took advantage of their authority and believed they were above the law. Instead of protecting civilians like police are suppose to, these officer framed Torrensvila for an accident she didn’t cause.

In typology two from Categories of practice by Barker and Roebuck, Francisco and Pressley would fall under direct criminal activities and flaking and padding. These officers committed a crime in clear violation of criminal norms. In the video, the cops acknowledged several times that what they are doing is illegal. I would also consider that these officers committed flaking and padding. They constructed a false story against Torrensvila to ensure a conviction against her. In the video, a cop debates with Pressley on who is going to write the false police report and they go over different stories they can use to put the blame on Torrensvila.

In this case, the camera on the dashboard of the cop car caught the incident on film. But there are numerous incidents in which cops abuse their power that unfortunately go undetected. If we refer to history, we can see many cases like this in which cops have failed to follow standard legal procedures. For example, in the cause of Robert Dziekanski, the cops failed to communicate with Mr. Dziekanski properly which lead to his death. It is quite unfortunate that incident like these occur because officers overuse their authority. One of the main responsibilities of cops is to ensure that citizens are following the law accordingly. However, cops need to understand that the term citizens involves everyone, including other cops. Cops should not and are not immune to the consequences of breaking the law.

References:

Former Hollywood Cop Gets 90 Days In Jail. (January 13, 2012). CBS Local News. Retrieved by

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2012/01/13/former-hollywood-cop-gets-90-days-in-jail/

Charges Dropped Against Woman Framed By Cops. (July 29, 2009). NBC News. Retreived by

http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Cops-Set-Up-Woman-After-Crash.html

Former Hollywood Cop On Trial For Alleged Cover Up. (November 28, 2011). CBS Local News. Retrieved from

http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/11/28/former-hollywood-cop-on-trial-for-alleged-cover-up/

Understanding Police Deviance and Accountability

Posted: January 17, 2013 by pmaharaj91 in Robert Dziekanski

As I was registering for my classes one night for the spring semester, I stumbled upon Police Deviance and Accountability, not to mention that I had no idea Kwantlen offered this class. Nonetheless, as an aspiring police officer, I knew that this class would be extremely beneficial to me because it would give me a better insight into how police deviance and accountability behaviours work that is inconsistent with the norms and values, or ethics from a societal standpoint. Moreover, the “ethical” and “ideal” police force would be one with integrity and there would be nothing puzzling about it. However, today, the police are evenly despised, or respected by the general public. I believe that not every single encounter with the police is a positive experience; some individuals usually come into contact with them when they are in trouble, or if they have been a victim of a crime. I hope to expand my knowledge on the topics of corruption and excessive force by the end of this semester and as well as the rights and freedoms that individuals possess as citizens of Canada.

The Robert Dziekanski Taser incident has received a lot of media attention over the years and on the topic of “use of force”. He was a Polish immigrant who died after he was hit with a “stun gun” by the police at Vancouver International Airport. He did not speak English, the RCMP found him acting strange and on the aggressive side, mainly because he was lost in the airport’s international arrivals area. I think due to the fact that most individuals carry smartphones with cameras in it, a lot of more footage of wrongdoing by the police is caught on camera. Furthermore, according to http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/10/14/bc-dziekanski-taser.html, a two-part inquiry into Dziekanski’s death set out recommendations for the use of Tasers and cautioned against multiple stuns. A report indicated that Taser use in B.C. declined by 87 percent since his death. The province has also introduced the Independent Investigations Office, a civilian-led oversight agency that reviews police incidents involving fatalities, or serious injury. I think holding the police accountable for things they do wrong is important, using their discretion wisely and respecting the rights and freedoms of individuals is extremely substantial. No human being deserves to be attacked and killed for an illegitimate reason. Nevertheless, there also is the media who over analyzes specific events and “twists” stories around and the general public seem to believe it and this is where confidence in policing goes down.

With many pros and cons facing policing, it definitely is a fascinating area of study!

References:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CR_k-dTnDU

5th anniversary of Robert Dziekanski’s Taser-related death. In CBC News. Retrieved January 16th, 2013 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/10/14/bc-dziekanski-taser.html.

 

 

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

I had always shied away from criticising the police because I erroneously believed that anyone who criticizes the police is against policing. Anytime someone showed me advance of wide- spread corruption, I ‘closed my eyes.’ I honestly believed that anytime a police officer is caught for his/her deviant behaviour only that particular police officer is at fault; not the entire police subculture. Even though I am not ready to completely shun the “rotten apples” theory, I have started to ‘open my eyes.’ I have found an umpteen amount of evidence that shows police subculture ‘breeds’ corruption. We, as a society, need to start asking ourselves tough questions about the ‘dark’ side of policing. Policing is a great profession; we must find ways to improve it.

On October 13, 2007, at 3:15pm Robert Dzienkanski arrived at Vancouver International Airport (YVR); his flight had been delayed by two hours. He had made plans to meet with his mother at the baggage claim. Sadly, that plan never came to fruition. Since Dzienkanski spoke no English, he needed help in filling out an umpteen amount of forms. After he had completed the formalities, his whereabouts remained unclear, however.  He was seen around the baggage carrousels at several points acting irrationally. Due to the language barrier Dziekanski was forced to wait in the immigration area for seven hours. When he decided to leave, he was re-directed to secondary immigration because his visa had not been approved. After spending some time in the secondary immigration area, he became visibly agitated and distraught. The staff was unable to calm him down due to the language barrier; the RCMP was called to the scene soon after. Four RCMP officers arrived shortly thereafter and took charge of the scene. The police officers tried to communicate with Dzienkanski in a foreign language, he could not understand.  The officers had only been on scene for 25 seconds, when, the supervisor, Corporal Benjamin Robinson ordered the use of the Taser. The RCMP alleged that the Taser was deployed because Dzienkanski tried to attack one of the officers with a stapler; Dzienkanski was Tasered five times, and fell to the ground. Shortly thereafter, he began to convulse on the ground. At no time did the officers render first-aid or call Emergency Health Services (EHS). Finally, when EHS arrived on scene 15 minutes later, Dzienkanski was pronounced dead on arrival. The RCMP claimed proper protocol had been followed, however. A video shot by one of the witnesses poked holes into the RCMP’s theory; much to the RCMPs disapproval. This video was only released after a court order. It was this video that captivated the entire nation against the use of police brutality.

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.

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]fficial 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). When the officers were asked by the Braidwood Inquiry to give their version of events, the four RCMP officers stated that “they felt threatened.” The officers also claimed that Dzienkanski became “aggressive and moved towards [them].” However, after looking at the video anyone can tell that this was a lie. As a result, the officers were eventually charged with perjury. This lie 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 concurred. 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 erroneously believe that it is always a few ‘rouge’ officers that are to blame; just like me. After doing some extensive research, I have found that this statement holds no merit. History has repeatedly shown that the entire institution is usually to blame. For example, when Ian Tomlinson was killed in the 2009 G20 riots in the UK, the police stated that Tomlinson was to blame for his own death. The police had stated that he died due to a sudden heart attack, however. After several post-mortems, the police’s theory on how he died was shown to misleading. The report concluded that Ian Tomlinson died because of “blunt force trauma.” There was public outcry once a video of the incident had been released. Evidence has shown that 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.

The Dzienkanski incident was a PR ‘nightmare’ for the RCMP; they failed miserably in trying to fix their ‘broken’ system. The RCMP even took the Braidwood Inquiry to court saying that had to right in “issuing findings of misconduct” because the provincial inquiry was outside its jurisdiction. However, the court ruled against the RCMPs favour. Under the RCMP Act a provincial government does not have any powers when it comes to holding the RCMP accountable; any disciplinary actions against the RCMP must come from Ottawa. Even though a new twenty year agreement has been signed with the B.C. government, this was one of the main reasons why province wanted the RCMP out.

The Dziekanski incident was just the ‘tip of the Iceberg’ for the RCMPs problems. Just recently, an undercover RCMP officer in Kelowna was caught on video kicking a suspect in the face while he was in the process of surrendering. Also, a female RCMP member stated that she had been sexually harrassed by her superiors. With a new RCMP Commissioner getting sworn-in on the basis of “accountability,” the force needs to ‘look’ seriously at the issues at hand. The RCMP has tried a civilian as its commissioner. I think it is time for the RCMP to try a civilian investigatory body other than the . This is the only way the RCMP will gain back the public trust which they have lost over last ten years.

REFERENCES:

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

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

TASER, TASER, TASER!!

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” (Washingtonpost.com). 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” (politicsanditsdiscontents.blogsopt.com). 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 (Taser.com). 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.

Refrences:

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.