My news intake has admittedly been reduced to an almost ignorant level. A few snippets in the morning and then nothing else for the rest of the day. A prescription for a blissful day and for the most part unabashedly content in that ignorance. No t.v., no Twitter, no Facebook, no radio intruding on rational thought. The world, or at the least the world of large capitalized headlines, temporarily pushed aside.
Yet, the continuous carousel of causes swirls around and around, constantly exposing us, albeit inadvertently, to the special interest punch lines. The catch lines are designed to instil a reaction of fear or outrage. In turn the politicians continuously seek public affirmation. Constantly chumming the waters for us to bite and be hooked.
Frustratingly— you once again find yourself having fallen into their trap.
The bellowing cry to “Defund the Police” is one that has garnered the herd following, and like almost all of the ideas born by protestor insemination it seems to lack any real substance. There is no specifics on how this would work or any articulated policy flowing from this fragile concept. Of course this does not deter the politicos. Form and function is irrelevant.
In New York City, which commands the largest city police force in North America, the city counsel just “defunded” the police to the tune of a $1 billion. N.Y of course, is an enclave of democratic power, so it is not much of a surprise that they have reacted with knee-jerk reflexes and near sightedness. The polar fringes reacted with those on the left saying that it was “not enough” while on the other end of the spectrum, usually portrayed as “red necks” saying it was “too much”.
Nevertheless, this fashionable debate forces one to ponder what started this process, this lack of confidence in policing? How did the police manage to ostracize so many? Did we help to create this? Is it wrong to look inward when things go awry? Should we just assume that all who level criticism at the police are by definition fools?
How did we get here and how do the police get out? After all the police practise and policies during the last number of years has been driven by the need to be “liked. Is it possible that the police in their attempts to be everything to everyone has completely backfired?
Managers of the various police outlets all adapted and were co-opted to the theory that the way to improve policing was to be accommodating, to be all encompassing to special interest groups. The new school of management preached in public administration that government bodies needed to be more imbued within “the social fabric”. All the problems that that would entail could be surmounted by an understanding police department. This was the birth of the politics of “inclusion”.
It’s explains how when the police hear the recent cries of “systemic” racism that it all seems so ludicrous. The police can not relate to these allegations. They have been living through this “new”age when the RCMP and other police forces have been extolling the virtue of the police being all good, all present, and all connected.
Police departments sought out affirmation and were being directed to the goal of being loved by everyone; to be one with all members of society, no matter where you appeared on the economic or political spectrum, we wanted to see through your eyes. The police began hugging everyone in their immediate vicinity, crying when deemed appropriate by those that demanded empathy and conceded the need for retribution for all of the historic real or even perceived “wrongs”.
If you want the gay movement to like the police, march in their parades.
If you want children to like you, let them climb around your cars and hit the siren button. (That was learned that from the fire departments actually)
If you want to relate to teenagers, put officers in the schools where they can be one of them; play basketball with them, or dance with them at school fund raisers. After all, officers dancing in the streets to some neighbourhood rap has become one of the favoured youtube draws. It plays.
Recently, a video showed a female officer in full uniform going down a “slip and slide” became a viral video; clearly aimed to garner love and “likes. The police have been feeling the need to demonstrate to all that they are in fact humans too; we feel, we rejoice, we are sad. Or so was the theory.
This love and acceptance would lead us into a better policed world and therefore a better society, a “just society” to intone former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. They wanted to grow beards or wear tattoos as it would show that we were just like them. We would be “cool”.
The events of the past few weeks has proven that this theory which was to drive the police to a utopian acceptance –was entirely wrong.
In the love/hate relationship with the media the pendulum has also been swinging with abandon. Modern thinking was that if you want the press to like you, then answer all and every question. Be at their constant disposal. Twitter out events as fast as you can— god forbid that the press didn’t have the latest police sound bite. In this quest the police have issued tweets that were about events before the police even got to the scene.
It is this incessant need to accommodate that led to the questions as to where was the Amber Alert in Nova Scotia? They want the press to love them, to come to some understanding of how hard they work, to not misunderstand them. They are doing good work, so how can you possibly write bad stories about us.
This too clearly is not working. That damnable ungrateful press has now turned on them.
This overall theory founded on the need to be “liked” is clearly and universally flawed. The counter argument being suggested here is that the police do not in fact need to be liked by everyone and not all the time.
But, they do need to be “respected”.
The way to gain and achieve that respect is to be seen as being objective, fair; both in their investigations and in their decisions. A police force should never be seen as being on one side of an issue no matter what the issue. The police can not be “political” and survive in a society made up of disparate and diverse groups.
It is impossible for the police to be seen as independent, fair, or objective if they are seen as being influenced by their political masters or favouring one political entity over another. They are there to enforce the laws, not to influence or pander to variations or interpretation and enforcement of those laws.
In all areas of policing, the police having been enamoured with inclusion and affirmative action politics have by necessity become political on multiple levels. The once arms length approach to the role of government and the political executive arms has disappeared.
In the RCMP Ms. Lucki and her mandarins have proven conclusively that they are under the direction of the current government. One does not have to look any further than the recent flip flops over “systemic racism”. But, there are numerous examples, some far more damaging in their outcomes.
Does anyone believe that the RCMP will investigate with any fervour the corruption that is implicit in the recent awarding of almost $1 billion to the WE organization and its connection to the Trudeaus. Does anyone believe that any corruption on the part of the Indigenous would ever be investigated? Does anyone believe that SNC-Lavalin was investigated without prejudice?
The general population of Canada, watches and sees this clear political influence being exerted on an almost daily level on the police. They roll their collective eyes and shake their collective heads. The confidence of the public is wavering in the ability of the RCMP to conduct any investigation, not just the ones that require some level of sensitivity.
So, if they want to defund the police, lets throw them some bones. Let’s defund the sections that are solely aimed at being “liked” and instead reinforce the investigative mandate.
Let’s get rid of all community policing officers and let’s get rid of all school liaison officers. Give that money over to the hiring of another school counsellor or some other community program. Let’s shut down those child safety programs, like the bike rodeos, or the pretend officer training programs. Let’s get rid of any program that are echoes of social work. Let’s get rid of the Safety Bear.
Let’s get rid of all those media relations officers and all their respective units, including the “strategic” media units. From now on, officers on a case of particular importance can issue a one page press release if there is a need. (Believe it or not this was easily done in the past). Let’s get rid of the Twitter and Facebook feeds. We should not be part of the social media universe with all its frantic and frenzied radicalism on both the right and the left. It’s an internet conversation and therefore those conversations are mostly ridiculous.
Let’s not react to any 12 second video clip without conducting a full investigation.
Again, remember the public wants confidence in your fairness and your thoroughness. Prove through investigative results your case for the value of objective policing.
Investigate all in a timely and fair manner.
If undue influence results, then the leaders of those investigative units must step forward and publicly call out any attempt to influence. The police leaders have to re-establish their independence from the legislative and administrative arms.
There is little doubt that this would take tremendous courage, which is admittedly in very short supply in these off-kilter days. The managers need to lead and not just post on Linked-In their leadership skills. There would be some “hills to die on”.
The public would eventually be on their side if that trust could be re-established.
Chief Adam Palmer of the VPD recently stepped forward after some hesitation to address systemic policing. It was a dangerous move with the left leaning NDP Mayor of Vancouver watching from a safe political distance. Maybe Chief Palmer was still angry over having his police budget cut by the bike lane loving mayor, but in any event he stepped up. He will likely pay an eventual price, but he did what was right.
The people just want to have faith in their police force. It is really that simple. It will be difficult and will involve facing numerous hurdles, but it can be done.
The public wants to be assured of the police arrival, confident in the job that will do in a fair and impartial manner, without regard for race or community. The public want the police to be professional and above all else immune to all the faces of favouritism.
We do not need to like them.
Photo courtesy of Carole Raddato via Flickr Commons – Some Rights Reserved