Monday, February 1, 2010

Police Misconduct

The VPD recently received some very bad press over an incident where someone was badly beaten over a case of mistaken identity.

The majority of police out there are good and risk their lives to promote public peace and public safety. However, as one witness described it, bad apples exist in any company. The only difference is that in a democratic society we hear about the misconduct while in other places it happens but we never hear about it.

Recently, two Vancouver Police officers responded to a call of domestic abuse. They were told a husband was beating his wife. No one likes a wife beater. They responded to the call, woke the guy out of bed and beat him to a pulp. Only they got the wrong address and beat up the wrong guy. Now he's suing:

There were a few mistakes made. Obviously the most blatant mistake is the mistaken identity. The brutality is the other. Even if the guy was accused of beating his wife, he deserves a fair trial. For example, in 80% of custody disputes there are false allegations of abuse. That in no way minimizes the fact that spousal abuse is heinous and is far too common in our society.

If the police caught him in the act and had to pull the guy off beating his wife, one could understand a certain amount of physical force being used to stop the attack. Human nature would cut some leeway if they gave him a few digs and maybe cracked a rib to leave a lasting impression. But give him the boots and cave in his eye? That was clearly excessive.

Covering such an act up is also wrong. Loyalty does not mean hiding abusive or illegal activity. Loyalty means protecting the public peace and safety by exposing and opposing all abusive violence.

Another disturbing case is where three off duty police officers robbed and beat an Indo Canadian newspaper delivery driver:

The first case was mistaken identity. The second case was bizarre and unprovoked. Even the famous taser incident at the Airport with the RCMP may have been excessive and an over reaction given the situation but the second case is most heinous and it appears that only one officer involved has been charged not three.
Nevertheless, I want to be very clear that none of these mistakes or misconduct excuses the misconduct of others. The Hells Angels are still a criminal organization that profit from the sale of drugs. Police misconduct does not change or minimize that. It just makes us more aware of the different faces and uniforms some criminals can wear. Especially the likes of Ken Huston and Rob Sidhu:

Perhaps this is what was meant when they were concerned that the security of the AG's office may be compromised when conducting an under cover investigation of the Hells Angels in Vancouver.

I'm not even going to comment on the RCMP investigation of the Surrey Six murder. Much:
An RCMP officer having a relationship with a witness is unprofessional but does not minimize murder of innocent people. Just like it didn't with Gillian Guess:


  1. . Because of the high level of trust placed in the police, they must adhere to a higher, not a lower, code of conduct.

    Think about the powers they have. They can "take away" at least four things:

    Life, and

    Nobody else in our culture is entrusted with that kind of authority.

    "He who has been given a trust must prove himself faithful..."

    Sheriff Ray Nash
    Police Dynamics Institute

  2. True but those are the very things protected by the constitution which is the highest law of the land. Or in our case north of the 49, the Charter of Rights. So if a judge or a police officer wrongfully denies any of those basic freedoms that can be appealed to a higher authority. You are quite right about trust and aspiring to a higher code of conduct and your blog is very appropriate.


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