Already in my early years I learned that supporting police officers was a civic duty (British common law, self-interest) and a Christian virtue. That’s also what I taught my students.
In recent decades, however, my commitment has lost some fervor.
My bulging files show that police officers often get treated much more leniently than common offenders. Consider the statements taken from the Vancouver Sun unless otherwise indicated.
Police officers are often given “administrative duties” or “suspended with pay”.
“Police who beat man into coma should keep jobs, judge says.” (National Post Mar.4/00)
Four RCMP officers “facing a total of 20 criminal charges” in connection with the Surrey Six case “have been suspended with pay”. (June 24/11)
On Oct. 25/08 RCMP Cpl. Monty Robinson, driving his jeep, killed a motorcyclist. “He admitted he had been drinking.” (Mar.25/09) “He was suspended with pay”. (Mar.25/09)
Do officers get off more easily? After Cpl. Robinson killed Orion Hutchinson his superiors in law and justice decided not to charge him with “impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving or an accident resulting in death. He would be charged only with the lesser charge of attempting to obstruct justice.” (Dec. 3/09)
Two Maple Ridge RCMP constables, Pat Hughson and Steve Frazer, “by their own admission…drank heavily one night last May…and began an evening of criminal hooliganism.” (Sept. 20/07) For these actions they got “a reprimand and a ten-day suspension without pay.” (Sept. 20/07) “Mickey Mouse penalties compound officers’ despicable behaviour”. (Sept. 20/07) “RCMP holds officers to a low standard” (Abbotsford News Sept. 27/07)
On Sept. 18/08 Mission RCMP Cpl. Mike White responded to a 911 emergency call about a house shooting. He drove to the house but “didn’t get out of his car to investigate”. (Abbotsford-Mission Times March 22/11) He “left the scene after…about 10 minutes and didn’t follow up the next day”. (Abbotsford News Mar.24/11) “Four days later”a neighbor found Guthrie McKay dead in the house; Lisa Dudley was clinging to life “but died en route to hospital.”(Mar. 19/11) For his despicable behavior Cpl. White was “given a written reprimand and docked one day’s pay”and was reduced one rank. (Abbotsford News Mar. 24/11)
These few examples from my thick files may explain why “Only 56 per cent of B.C. respondents…said the RCMP is an accountable organization.” (Apr. 26/11) How sad!
John H. Redekop