This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Serve and Protect?  Or Swerve and Neglect!

"It's definitely happening, there's no doubt about it."
"[In 70 percent of all responses police display] limited to moderate to intensive de-policing. ['De-policing is defined as] an officer choosing not to engage in discretionary or proactive aspects of police duties."
"There's a massive downside to [proactive policing], and I think they can clearly realize that."
"That [responding to 911 calls for service] is the core function of their job. When the computer [inside the cruiser] beeps, you respond to the call, go and address the call. You do what has to be done."
"If an officer responds to the calls they're responsible to respond to, they're doing their job. The rest is gravy."
"There's really no way to police de-policing."
Greg Brown, Carleton University doctoral researcher

"What you were trained to do is no longer acceptable. What is the immediate reaction? Cease any activities that would be conducive to exposing yourself."
"The results that [Brown] is experiencing throughout the entire country is what we've experienced here in Ottawa."
"The dialogue starts to have a racial component to it. It impacts the officers when they see agencies taking political positions against police officers that compounds the jeopardy a police officer already faces when they're dealing with the public. The officers feel very second-guessed."
"There seems to be an expectation that a police officer is going to driving around for ten hours of their shift, without realizing that there's a significant amount of paperwork involved for every call for service."
Matt Skof, president, Ottawa Police Association

"I would agree that officers are likely more mindful about the implications of their interactions with the public. As the saying goes, 'Once bitten twice shy'."
"However, I don't think this is creating a culture of police that are neglecting their fundamental duties of protecting the safety and security of the community. It has added another level to their decision making process, an increased awareness."
Eli El-Chantiry, chair, Ottawa Police Services Board
Officers are weighing the costs of engaging with the public and for many, the cons outweigh the pros. Photo by Ashley Fraser Ashley Fraser / Postmedia

Bollocks! Police everywhere now encounter the outrage of the public, the censure of social agencies, the backtreading of politicians and the pointed questions posed by news coverage of events where police have been tasked with dealing not only with the criminal element in society, but with its social problems, handling out-of-control people with mental illness whose instability has created public threats, requiring police to apprehend potential crimes by recognizing the presence of threats posed by visible minorities.

In their introduction to scenes of emergency responses to public threats if police respond to physical violence by matched, often controlled physical force in the execution of their duties to protect the public while also protecting themselves, the expected unexpected can occur, and the police are called to the carpet. Police experience and intuition in dealing with criminal gangs, with drug pushing and prostitution committed by an overwhelming number of Blacks, Aboriginals, Muslims, is characterized as 'targeted' against the vulnerable.

Greg Brown, the doctoral researcher was in his prior career an Ottawa police homicide and drug investigator. He knows the profession from the inside out. And it is the 'outside' of the profession that is compelling the 'inside' of policing that has created a situation where police officers have a double mission; to protect the public and to protect their own reputations and professional life in the bargain. Political correctness and self-serving victimhood on the part of civil groups disproportionately represented in crime sprees and incarceration rates have found a new voice in public support.

Decline in Ottawa proactive policing
Their over-representation in criminal gangs, in drugs and violence, the use of firearms, and targeted killings is the sole issue that alerts police to investigate them in suspicious circumstances in hopes of preventing the commission of yet another crime. But this proactive and generally successful approach to policing has been identified as 'profiling' and has been condemned, irrespective of the fact that it represents an integrally required and useful part of the profession of serving and protecting the public.  A public which, within the target group clamours for protection but fails to cooperate with police investigations.

A useful initiative undertaken in Toronto had a mitigating presence of a police officer assigned to a specific high school to familiarize students with lawfulness, the project having a high degree of interactive success. It has been suspended by the Toronto Public School Board, however, because Black Lives Matter denounced it as primarily targeting black students. Who just happen to be responsible for most of the gang crimes. That suspension occurred despite that most students found the presence of a police officer who connected with them reassuring, including most black students.

The issue of 'carding' by police officers encountering visible minorities in potentially incriminating circumstances received wide condemnation by special-interest groups exerting enough political pressure to have the practise censured; yet another useful tool set aside in the generalized trend toward neutering policing. Greg Brown's study, the first of its kind in Canada, measuring the F.I.D.O.
phenomenon among police ("F**k it, drive on"), was undertaken with a wide survey of front-line officers encompassing 18 police services.

Police from Halifax to Vancouver, including five departments in New York State were all included in the survey of 3,600 police services personnel. In Ottawa alone, 382 police participated from 18 patrol platoons, representing close to the entire front-line. It became clear that officers weigh the costs of public engagement, finding the negatives to outweigh the positives. Interactions carrying the potential of racial profiling allegations that could end up before a disciplinary tribunal or human rights body, media scrutiny, a YouTube video or judge deliberating breach of Charter rights has become anathema.

The more mature officers happen to be in their career path, the more careful they are not to ruin their careers, let alone their lives by bringing down censure upon their law-and-order professionalism.  No longer is it automatic to pull a driver over for a Highway Traffic Act infraction, to approach a suspicious-appearing individual lurking about in an area known for high residential break-and-enters, let alone attempting to seek out wanted offenders on warrants; all considered to be proactive in nature which officers cannot to be coerced to perform.

This is the danger zone to be avoided. Self-preservation is a powerful survival tool. A wait-and-see attitude toward deployment has become the norm; initiatives in the fulfillment of policing duties are no more and where many years ago this type of attitude would have been viewed as disinterested lassitude, it is now a calculated decision related to colleague experience and the wish to avoid the misfortune visited on colleagues seeking to perform their duties in full measure.

If a racialized individual with mental health issues is behaving violently, as a threat to public security, officers approach with especial caution in the knowledge that from somewhere someone will be videotaping any confrontation so that if officers respond with force to restrain violence they will be liable for criticism should harm come to the offender. Sexuality and gender represent yet other interactions that have the potential to result in problem explanations for outcomes.

New legislation now regulates practices such as those that saw racialized young men stopped by police wanting their personal information. That new legislation altered protocol such that officers are now reluctant to act after a personally thoughtful introspective cost-benefit analysis has persuaded them through analyzing others of their colleagues playing the price for extending themselves in reflection of their mandate, paying the consequences of matters turning awry. Police now look to play it safe in public order and security and still deliver their mandate.

Toronto Police Service: Woman pulled from freezing water.

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