Monday, January 17, 2011

Kelowna Police Brutality

Here's a story that a few people do care about. It's another case of police brutality in BC that generated an angry rally of not thugs but concerned citizens. A Kelowna rally of concerned citizens expressed their outrage over a video of a Kelowna police officer kicking a compliant suspect in the face while he was on his knees.

Now there's three points I'm going to make. Fist, responding to a call of shots fired in a public place is an obvious concern. What kind of shots and who were they aimed at? For all we know this could have been a wacko shooing innocent civilians.

However, it wasn't. Thus the lofty goal of innocent until proven guilty. Thus the role of the courts to hear evidence. The bottom line is no matter what the possibilities were, the suspect was on his knees and compliant.

This video is just one of many that show the bizarre nature of policing in Canada. It's a plague of kick the cat. Kicking suspects when they are on the ground being compliant while they refuse to face or confront gang members who are the real threat to society. No disrespect to the Gang Task Force. They are sincerely trying to address the gang problem. Yet it's hard for the public to overcome stereotypes when they see regular officers fail to confront gang members but kick other suspects in the head when they are on the ground.

The good news is that the public rallied and protested. It's about time. Practically Every police force in BC has been caught doing this lately. We had the delta cop with the New west cop in charge of use of force training get hammered drunk before they assaulted and robbed a newspaper delivery driver in Vancouver.

We had the VPD give the wrong guy the boots in Vancouver. We had the Victoria police officer caught on tape kicking compliant suspects on the ground and we even had an Abbotsford police officer caught on video kicking a suspect in the head while he was on the ground. This kind of arrogance needs to stop.

Seeing this video makes me wonder about the APD investigating the Kelowna assault. The public concern is good because something needs to be done. The Ottawa incident shows us how large the problem really is.

This is why it is important for us to squarely address the organized crime problem in BC without over reacting and creating some bizarre kind of "Patriot" act that will empower the wrong people to continue abusing their role.

Nevertheless, the fact that people cared enough to show up and protest peacefully was a good sign. Rioting and looting is just insane. This protest was very credible and received instant attention. The other cases haven't but at least it's a step forward. Nevertheless, there still needs to be a greater role by a civilian body to investigate alleged crimes by police.

On that note, NDP MP Nathan Cullen has introduced a private members bill to create an independent civilian oversight agency for the RCMP. The bill has not yet been debated in Parliament.

I do however think it's very said the police publicly claimed that their recommendation of assault charges had nothing to do with the rally. It perpetuates the arrogance that the police feel they are above and beyond public accountability. If something happens that angers the public enough for them to hold a public rally, one would hope that in a democratic society where the public pays the wages of the police, the police would listen to the public concerns. Perpetuating the whole arrogant stereotype that the police don't care what the public thinks because they are not accountable to the public is very undemocratic.

Turns out the second Kelowna police brutality complaint was against the same officer. The cop who kicked the guy in the face while he was kneeling on the ground was the same cop accused of a wrongful arrest where he dragged a guy out of his vehicle and punched him in the head. Const. Geoff Mantler.

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