Saturday, May 05, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

I'd say it's nice to be back from a spring sojourn to Hawaii. But it's not.

From Paradise to the reality of the nonsense that we seem to tolerate, without question, in our Deranged Dominion is a difficult transition.

First, news out of British Columbia that the three BC Ferry workers on duty on the bridge, that fateful night a year ago, when the Queen of the North ploughed into Gill Island resulting in the loss of the ship and two lives, were fired for not cooperating with the subsequent enquiries. And the oh-so-so-typical Left Coast response that their union will appeal.

While I would never attach the phrase ‘common sense’ and ‘union’ in the same sentence, have these idiots in this union lost whatever intelligence they were born with? Two innocent people are dead and a multi-million dollar piece of equipment they were responsible for is on the sea bed as a direct result of their actions. Who, if not the Officers on watch, are responsible?

They have demonstrated they have something to hide, hence their non-cooperation. BC Ferries have made them accountable for their actions. I would only ask what took them so long? The union needs to understand this is not the Hill they want to die on.

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And then there’s the story of Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman and his incredible tale that, while a Foreign Affairs intelligence analyst, he spotted something that suggested an attack was imminent on Air India immediately prior to the actual bombing in 1985 that took 329 lives.

Does he really expect us to believe that after being rebuffed by a Mountie he brought the intel to and being so upset when he learned of the downing of the Air India flight off the coast of Ireland as he loaded his family into a station wagon for their weekend trip, that he did absolutely nothing for twenty two years? He is either an idiot or utterly incompetent. Either should disqualify him for a job as Ontario Lieutenant Governor.

Well, perhaps not in Dalton McGinty’s Ontario.

Suffice to say his testimony before the Major inquiry into Air India does not stand a credibility test and certainly didn’t deserve the breathless headlines on the front pages of dailies across the country on Friday.

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And the kicker of the week is the knee-jerk reaction of the Chief Constable of Calgary Police Service after some cop-hating zipperhead shot some vanilla video of two Calgary cops arresting some uncooperative dopehead.

The video was sent to CPS Chief Constable Jack Beaton. A copy was sent, I am told, to Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and copies to CTV and CBC. Okay. So what does the video show?

Abuse? Excessive force? Beatings? Police brutality? Well, not really. It shows two cops dealing with a street dopehead who is uncooperative. Along the way he takes a cuff and a bit of a drag when he won’t get up.

Umm, Jack, are you kidding me when you called that presser yesterday announcing the suspension of those junior officers? Are cops in Calgary no longer allowed to engage street assholes in the course of their duties anymore?

I carry no brief for Jack Beaton as the Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service. In my opinion he is a lousy leader of a modern police service.

Cops he should be hanging out to dry, he seems to protect. People he should be protecting, he hangs out to dry. Why is that?

In my view Beaton is incompetent for the job he has. The Calgary Police Commission had every reason not to extend his contract in 2005. Why they extended him to 2007 should probably be subject to an independent investigation. But that is a separate matter.

The two junior officers in this video tape were doing their job. And in the real world, sometimes a cop’s job involves getting ‘hands on’. There are Use of Force provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. Were these officers in breach of those regulations? I don’t know and I guarantee you, neither did Jack Beaton when he decided to deny them due process and suspended them based on 41 seconds of video that simply does not tell the whole story.

Why not wait until an investigation is done to render judgement?

Why would a previously indecisive Chief do that? Well, that is interesting in itself. A serving Staff Sergeant is accused of defrauding fellow members of over a million dollars in a Ponzi scheme and Beaton twirls on his thumb. Two junior officers are caught on video trying to do their job and allegedly rough up a dope dealer in a minor way and he suspends them before the horse is even out of the gate? What is he up to?

Beaton is staring at a huge embarrassment in the face of the witch hunt he conducted to find out who was behind the web site Stand Firm that was very critical of his administration. I would guess that he is seeking a quick hit PR win to blunt that hit. To accomplish that he will need to trash the careers of two young police officers who were just trying to serve the citizens of the city of Calgary. And that is tragic.

The men and women who are prepared to get “hands on” with the criminal element who are permeating the city of Calgary in recent years of economic boom are deserving of the support of their Chief. Beaton has failed the brave men and women of the Calgary Police Service yet again. And in doing so, in my opinion, he has failed the citizens of the city of Calgary. Yet again.

Leo Knight
leo@primetimecrime.com

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leo, Leo, Leo! You're frightening me! I know, because I have had the privilege of numerous conversations with you, that you were a much better cop than you are displaying in this commentary. Unless you have some inside info on the matter, I am of the opinion that you MAY be making assumptions about the arrestee. I do recall reading somewhere that the individual was known to police. Okay, what does that mean though? Known for what? Speeding tickets? Dope dealing? Making "frivolous and vexatious" complaints against police? It could be said that I too am known to police - but not because I am a criminal! The fact that no charges against the "bad guy" have accompanied the story may tell us something. Having said that, even if a charge(s) was levied, from what I observed in the video, the officers already had the guy face down on the ground and contained. If there was any sort of struggle displayed on the video, well I guess I missed it. As for what happened earlier, before the "cop-hating zipperhead" started the camera rolling, none of us really know at this point. Irregardless, the video, in my opinion, shows the bad guy under police control. So was it really necessary to give the guy a couple shots to the head and the like? You're right, there was no audio but so what? What are you trying to say - audio would have possibly revealed the bad guy calling the cops names or swearing at them? That may well be the case. But so what! I personally believe that police officers deserve our respect and support. We all know there are a lot of scum out there who do not share that opinion. Unfortunately, dealing with these individuals is part of an officer's day to day duties. If officers are permitted to take "shots" at these mouth-pieces every time they come along what does that do for the fundamental principles of justice?
I do agree with you, however that Beaton over-reacted by suspending the two. Personally I do believe in "innocent until proven guilty". These two young officers should have been reassigned to a desk position pending the conclusion of the investigation. Again I agree, Beaton seems to protect some while hanging others out to dry. The application of discipline within the cps seems to be rather selective at best. You are likely correct when you say there could be some hard hits coming his way and that this is simply "posturing" to some degree. Sad, isn't it?
Does the fact that I can not condone or defend the actions of these young officers make me a "cop-hater". Surely not!
I have several friends who are cops, some of which I am very close to. I know the horrors they have faced on a day to day basis and my heart goes out to them continually. Their job is a difficult one. But quite simply wrong is wrong.

Nancy Killian Constant

Anonymous said...

Leo,

Your comments on Calgary are bang on, Jack is going to sacrifice these 2 members on the alter of public opinion in a desperate attempt to try for some good media coverage for a change.

As far as the S/Sgt with the Ponzi scheme goes, he was never going to be convicted, from what I hear his number one supporter for promotion over saw the investigation, several key items of evidence never went to the Crown and rumour has it Jack got all his money back!, throw in the fact that he and Jack are good friends is there any surprise at the outcome?

Adding to Jacks current problems is an epidemic of guys leaving the sinking ship, is the Tof Shah case, the Marsh Case and the McCumber case all of which have and are showing the very real holes in Jacks regime the forum of LERB hearings and the courts.

And further the Police Commission wonders why no one attends thier open houses for input in what the citizens want from a new Chef of Police, well lets see.......could it be the repeated Memos Jack has put out telling the sworn and civy staff that they can't talk to the media / commish without his permission?...welcome to a third world junta....

Leo Knight said...

I don't disagree with you Nancy in that wrong is wrong. What I am saying is that there are times when a police officer is forced to put his hands on a person and indeed, is allowed to do so by law. And, in doing so is responsible for any excess therof. Do you or anyone other than those two officers know what led up to that piece of video tape? Did Jack Beaton? And it doesn't show the guy under control in the manner you suggest. What I am saying is that these two officers are entitled to the same presumption of innocence that is the Golden Thread, to paraphrase John Mortimer, that runs through our justice system. The Chief Constable's knee-jerk reaction and immediate suspension and press conference does not seem to provide that. And, I am not making any assumptions about anyone in this piece save and except the speculation about what (and why) the Chief is doing in this matter.

Anonymous said...

What we have here is a tape that shows a small portion of a much longer incident, and can be interpreted in many different ways, which is a prime example of why folks shouldn't jump to conclusions before an investigation takes place. Nancy has already decided that the suspect was "face down on the ground and contained" and that she observed the police "give the guy a couple shots to the head and the like."

Well, it looked to me more like the police officer may have simply applied a distracting technique in order to get him handcuffed if the suspect wasn't co-operating by allowing himself to be handcuffed. The "kneeing in the back" allegation" could simply have been the officer kneeling down beside him and losing his balance. Either way, the minimal force that was used here obviously didn't cause any injuries, and in fact looked pretty tame to me. Of course we don't know the officer's side to this story yet, but that hasn't stopped everyone (like Nancy) from assuming the worst.

Does my explanation for their conduct sound plausible? Well, look at how this tape has been edited by the anonymous source. He cherry picks the "highlights" in order to presumably show that the officers were wrong, but why not just submit the rest of the tape? Perhaps there is much more to this incident, facts that would have exonerated the officers, but we'll never know until we see the entire tape.

Like the Rodney King tape, I'm guessing this video will be used by police critics in order to make a political point. The Rodney King tape was hardly ever shown in full (because the full tape tended to make Rodney's actions look much worse, and the police reaction much more reasonable) and never put in perspective in MSM reports because the reality that Rodney was involved in a dangerous high speed chase while under the influence of drugs/alcohol and was definitely violently resisting arrest detracted from the MSM police brutality storyline. Instead, Rodney was portrayed as an innocent motorist who was attacked at random by the evil LAPD because that made a better story, and served a useful political purpose at the time. Don't forget, the LAPD officers were first acquitted by a jury of their peers, and only convicted subsequently on federal charges after they were mercilessly sacrificed for the 'greater good' of civil rights and race relations.

Is it right that the careers, reputations and futures of individual police officers should be sacrificed just to make a political point? These two Calgary cops deserve more than just the presumption of innocence. They haven't been given a chance to defend themselves, and under the system and rules they are governed by they can't. They should not be vilified in the media just because there's a video tape of their actions, which in and of itself is enough to give the MSM story legs and create a self-sustaining firestorm of indignation. IMO this rush to judgment by people who should know better has already led to a gross injustice against the officers, making the investigation and subsequent disciplinary proceedings almost irrelevant.

Gary

Leo Knight said...

Exactly right Gary.

In fact, if you look at the first of the two photos on Prime Time Crime's story on this, the officer has his knee on the suspect's back and clearly he is not handcuffed at this point. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have placed my knee in a suspect's back to control them in the hand-cuffing process. It's a control technique.

Anonymous said...

these cops will never be charged and I pity the fool who videotaped the cops -his life will be hell in this town-at least Calgary cops don't beat handcuffed women

Anonymous said...

A very interesting discussion. I would like to add to this, if I may.

First, the entire video is actually 4 minutes and 17 seconds in total length, and can be accessed from CBC Calgary news. The author of the tape decides to start the camera rolling after the suspects are apprehended. The anonymous camera genius opts not to show the viewer anything that led up to the arrest, including any physical altercation that ensued prior to the one crackhead being placed on the ground.

What we do see in the 4 minutes 17 seconds of video is an event that is pretty innoccuous at best, as far as arrests go. All of the control tactics that the officers are seen using in the video are
taught by the CPS Skills and Procedures Unit.

Yes. Thats right. You are reading that correctly. Everything that the officers are seen doing in the video, are in accordance with skills training given to them by the CPS Skills and Procedures unit.

The supposed "knee drop" to the back of the subject? Absolutely in accordance with training. CPS recruits are taught to place a knee in between the shoulder blades of a prone subject, while controlling one arm; the arm is extended upward with the wrist bent, and one handcuff ring is applied to said arm. This is designed to keep the subject from moving and becoming a further threat. Exactly what we see in the video.

At minimum, the bad guy is an "active resistor", also evidenced by the video. The so-called "victim", though being restrained by physical control techniques, is refusing to comply and keeps moving his hand in a potentially dangerous fashion. The video does not display audio of the subject swearing, spitting and/or verbally threatening the officers. But, this could have been part of the overall dynamic. The bad guys' legs are also free to move and he is capable of kicking. We also see a form of "pat down" search of the subjects pockets.

The bad guy also appears to refuse lawful commands to stand and walk. With subjects under the influence of heavy narcotics (and this was a drug arrest), pain-compliance techniques are often ineffective. Therefore, in order to get the subject to move, its possible that the subject may have to be pulled along - which is also seen in this video. Eventually, the subject stands and is taken to the cruiser.

The only thing that looks questionable in the video are the 2 apparent closed-fisted shots to the head of the bad guy while he is on the ground. This seems to be the main bone of contention. HOWEVER, CPS Policy and Procedure -as well as the Criminal Code - do NOT expressly 'prohibit' closed fisted strikes against combative subjects. In cases where a subject is concealing his hands from officers (may be hiding a weapon underneath?) or is making threatening physical movements - this may be required. Although open hand strikes (ie. brachial stuns) are recommended, there is also a place for what is commonly known as "punches". However, as a general rule, the guy had better be in a highly assaultive/ high risk category in order to justify that option.

Overall, there is nothing in there that necessitates suspending the 2 officers. The last part of the tape shows the officers appearing to cover the subject's mouth. What do you do when the bad guy spits on you, or tries to swallow the crack rocks? Guess what. The officer has to keep the guy from spitting and/or swallowing evidence somehow.

I am also told that the officers report of the incident may not have been the best quality as far as articulation of the use of force is concerned. This may possibly have been a factor in the decision to suspend (?)

Had the tape in question not been sent to the Mayor's office and 2 media outlets, this would be a non-issue. Jack Beaton's knee jerk reaction to the issue and his phony-ness in wanting to maintain "public confidence" is the epitomy of deception and hypocracy. I agree with Leo's assessment that this is Jack's way of earning some public relations "brownie points" in advance of being plastered with fecal matter in the next few weeks over the StandFirm stuff (which is subject of an upcoming QB hearing next week). Unfortunately, Jack's media grandstanding is already backfiring in the workplace, and most cops and citizens see Jack's knee jerking decision for what it actually is.

"Excessive force", says Jack? Not if you consider that the members basically did everything the CPS Skills and Procedures unit taught them to do. For Jack Beaton to hang these 2 cops out to dry in order to grab a quick "credibility bonus" with certain groups, is very, very disengenuous on Beaton's part. Given Beaton's history in office though, pretty much everything Beaton does falls into this realm anyways. I think that if we were to take a peek into Jack's career closet, we would probably see some interesting sights that may be much worse than those that the 2 officers in question are suspended for. Unfortunately, Jack's escapades on the street probably aren't on videotape.

Anonymous said...

All so of interesting note is the I.A. policy of not investigating third party complaints, which is also very interesting here because the third party sent a tape but apparently no complaint was attached. So who's the complainent? sounds like it's the Chief, which in my opinion puts him and the CPS in a conflict of interest situation...maybe a outside service should be brought in to investigate in everyones best interest.

Old Sarge said...

What is this wholesale trend of throwing your cops under a bus? This is just the latest case. In Los Angeles cops are attacked by a bunch of lawless thugs, most of whom shouldn't even be in the country and Bratton sells his own guys out on the basis of a video.

We've had a number of similar recent cases here.

Bratton said in a news article he considered members of the news media his friends.

He'll suffer the same fate as every other 'media friendly' Chief that sells out his own guys. And he'll deserve it.

Leo said...

Interesting point Old Sarge. But what you don't seem to have a clear understanding of is that in this case the Chief is on the verge of being outed as a small, vindictive man in another case that is ongoing under the provincial Police Act. Nothing would be better for him at this point in time, than to be seen as being strong and decisive. Which, of course, he has not shown much sign of thus far in his tenure as Chief Constable. In my opinion, he is going to sacrifice these two young police officers on the altar of his own ego. I hope I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

Leo,

your 100% bang on, the Chief has had a history of doing things on the basis of what may make him look "right" not doing the "right" thing.

Another good question is why our less then uselesss police commission which for all purposes is supposed to be the weatch dog here has proven to less then willing to reel in the chief, to the detriment of the 1600 members and the city as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, it has been the CPS policy for some time that third party complaints not been accepted - basically if the victim does not lodge the complaint there is no complaint. A recent LERB decision changed all this. The case that apparently forced this change was the Elbow Dr. raid. The cps attempted to have that appeal dismissed arguing that since the wife was not named on the warrant she wasn't really a victim and therefore had no right to appeal to LERB . . .

Lawrence Oshanek said...

No one has broght up either reasonable or probable cause which these police officers did or did not have to arrest said suspect druggie, well no one except the Crown who immediately dropped the charges made against this person by the arresting policemen ... Beaton may have accutaly seen the documents produced by these two policemen which showed that they never had any lawful right to take this person into custody in the first place, which is exactly what the Crown told me about why the police charges were dropped.

Yep, administrative suspention is better then the criminal assualt charges which should have been laid ... and the crap about the video recorder waiting to record until these police officers started to use excessive force ... sure ... Oh yes Virgina, there is a Santa Claus and I am him and I know that everyone on the street always tapes police actions all day long. Perhaps the truth is that this person takes out his camera because he cannot believe that the police are using as much force as they were using and he sends this video to the major without atttaching his name because he wanted his 30 seconds of public fame ... Oh yes he didn't give his name or allow himself to be interviewed on camera because he sat there all day, day after day, week after week and maybe year after year just looking to prove that some Calgary cops are bad cops! Oh no ... he did not use his name because he (or she) thought he or she would be punished by the current crop of other bad cops in Calgary.

Perhaps some of your writters on this blog would explain to me why I see citizen after citizen who is charged with resisting arrest and whose face and body are bruised and battered, noses broken and whose crown disclosure police statements say that he beat his own face and body against the trunk of the police car or upon the plastic "police buddy" between the rear and front seats all by his little own self (with no assistance from our very clean living and upright police of course). (I was told by one client that the police did not understand just how difficult it was to put his hands behind his back while police were still punching him in the face .... well I admit that those were my words but my client whole heartedly agreed with my words).

Please ... you cannot enforce the law unless you can obey the law. Let the arse holes go.

Lawrence Oshanek

Anonymous said...

You have to realize Lawrence that the CPS is run by "Old Boys" and I know for a fact that alot of CPS cops believe in "Old Boy" justice.

Beating bad guys is better than laying meaningless charges.At least this way they'll think about re-offending.

I have a simple question: Who dare stop them?

We can babble until we're blue in the face.This place will not change.