The commish: sorta, kinda sorry

“As the iconic police service undergoes a sweeping wave of reforms, it must realize that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.” RCMP Commish William Elliott said, while coughing discretely, to members of the Senate of Canada.

We asked Elliott to be more specific about the changes.

Q – Discipline for the YVR Dziekanski four?
A – No, transfers and new jobs, although one of the guys is resting at home for reasons involving another completely unrelated death that may become public some day.

Q – Discipline for the cover-up organized by senior officers?
A – What coverup?

Q – Change in Taser policy?
A – Yes, we deleted warnings about multiple Taser use from our training manual and we’ve asked Taser International to provide us with new independent research proving their devices are invariably safe to use, unless the subject deserved to die anyway.

Q – Any other changes?
A – New cadets are learning first to defuse tense situations. Older members probably can’t change but we should see a gradual reduction of unnecessary in-custody deaths, if this new policy takes hold.

Q – Does the RCMP admit responsibility for Dziekanski’s death and apologize?
A – No, but we are sorry if anyone is bothered by his death. Actually, we’re mostly sorry the event was captured on video and we somehow failed to deal with culpatory evidence in the time honored way. We’re still investigating how that occurred.

Q – Have you made any other changes to avoid more unnecessary deaths?
A – No, but we’re still listening and evaluating and considering and discussing and we almost all agree that we should nearly always remain open to the possibility that we should be willing to consider new ideas and procedures. This public accountability stuff is not simple and nobody here knows quite how to deal with it.

Q – Is this truly a wave of reform?
A – Well, it is to us.

Q – Any other comments?
A – Certainly, the RCMP has an outstanding record and we are confident the agency will continue to be held in high esteem around the world. Our people have never been mocked or disrespected and we don’t intend for that to happen now.

Susan McCarthy, Salon.com, talks about apologies:

“I’m sorry I was rude” is good.

“I’m sorry if I was rude” is not. It weasels. It implies that maybe you weren’t rude. It implies that the person being apologized to has a twisted little worldview…

An apology should give the sense that you actually feel some form of regret. “Sorry if” is a conditional apology. Conditional apologies make things worse, not better.

Categories: RCMP

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