What initiated this thread was some of the comments that I have heard and read about following the police incident at YVR last month. Many people have called for a complete inquest/investigation into police actions. The results of which could or should lead to criminal charges or other sanctions including losing their jobs.
The topic is not the police actions themselves, but the result and how this is viewed by authorities and society. This topic may have been covered already but I thought I would put my thoughts out there.
1. The police investigating themselves.
- many question the impartiality and quality of the police investigating other police. For those who don't support this, I wonder, who should? If we entrust the police to investigate robberies, sexual assaults, large-scale frauds, murder, terrorism and other crimes, who would be more qualified to investigate then? Would 'civilians' be any better at investigating it?
- we all care about our children and their safety at school, yet, because teachers actions in the classroom aren't videotaped or make for great 6pm news, most people ignore it. When teachers step out of line, only the most serious transgressions get reported (usually criminal charges). Who investigates teachers? Oh, the BC College of Teachers. Perhaps there should be a civilian body of regular 'civilians' instead of teachers who should preside over those cases. Teachers are paid by the public, why not?
An interesting link to a NP news story:
- how about lawyers? We all love lawyers and personally the Christmas card to my lawyer is in the mail as we speak...but I digress. Who investigates lawyer misconduct? Hmmm, the Law Society of British Columbia. Made up of lawyers perhaps? Maybe we should have a civilian body oversee complaints against lawyers given that many practice their profession in the public realm of our courthouses.
2. If we as a society are really concerned about public safety and well-being, then where is the public outrage about how many people are 'killed' in our hospitals in Canada EVERY DAY. Police have millions of human interactions every year. I couldn't find figures of how many people die as a result of those interactions, however I'm sure it is absolutely nowhere close to the 23,000 who die every year in our hospitals due to adverse drug reactions or 'adverse events' as they are termed by hospital administrations.
Think about that for a moment, even if you cut that number in half, that's 31 people/day being 'killed' in hospitals thorugh the 'actions' of medical professionals. If it is serious enough to warrant an investigation or discipline, who will investigate? oh, the College of Physicians & Surgeons. Made up of...you get the point... Should we allow them to investigate themselves given the apparent huge number of people that are being 'killed' every year?
Imagine of that was a police figure? 23,000 or even 1,000? People would be rioting in the streets. But because it takes place in a hospital environment, and the perpetartors are not 'cops', and it can't be packaged neatly by the media for the news clips, perhaps the public reaction is understandably indifferent?
EXAMPLE: Your 46 yr old father was arrested by police, resisted violently and dies as a result of police actions, there are a number of things that are set in motion (police investigations, media coverage, protetsts, coroner's inquests, public enquiries, vigils etc...).
EXAMPLE: Your 84 yr old father is admitted into hospital suddenly with a breathing problem. Doctors advise that is is XXXXXX and prescribe treatment. Unfortunately he passes away in hospital overnight. Doctors explain in medical terms what happened. What is the public, media, government, your reaction?
Should reactions (public and personal) be any different from the example above if both the police and physicians did the best of their ability, based on their training and experience?
My point is that we all have difficult jobs to do. Many of these jobs involve difficult interactions with the public the end result of which is not always pleasant. Perhaps we have a bias with police because our interactions with them is usually negative (victim of crime, receiving a ticket or getting arrested). Gee, my doctor hasen't killed me yet, he/she can't be that bad?
If we are going to hold the police up to an high standard of professionalism and accountability based on our heightened sense of morality, rightousness and indignation as expressed by many posters, letter-writers and radio talk show callers, let's apply that to all professions that deal with the public.