RCMP mess needs sweeping

This is one of the first articles I posted at Northern Insight, written in April 2009. By the time the fifth anniversary rolls around, the article count will be about 2,000. I had another look at this first entry  because I talked with Ian Jessop on CFAX 1070 today about the beginnings of this blog and how the effort has proceeded and evolved.

Interestingly, the subject that caused me to begin almost five years ago remains topical. The specific Dziekanski issue is not finally resolved and I don’t think the RCMP has improved accountability in any significant way. Maybe that only demonstrates that we need more citizen voices in conversations about public policy.

The Braidwood Inquiry resumes and this make-work project for the pecunious – It was shovel ready! – goes forward with everything except the cost meter grinding slowly.

Robert Dziekanski’s homicide remains shocking. Even worse is the RCMP’s continuing failure to admit its blunders and take responsibility for the hapless man’s death. Instead, they focus on smearing the victim and concealing the misdeeds of those swarming officers. The RCMP even sent six people to Poland to snoop through Dziekanski’s life. We can only wonder how youthful behaviour decades ago might have affected that critical thirty seconds between arrival of police and the first of five taser shots. Would a 1979 schoolyard incident justify Corporal Robinson hindering resuscitation of the unconscious man in 2007?

Rejecting accountability is a considered act, over much time, by the highest levels of that police force. Outrageous. Canadian taxpayers are paying lawyers – at least fifteen, plus countless support staff – to defend the indefensible at the Braidwood Inquiry. Had the force dealt honourably from the beginning, they would have admitted to error and ensured that future procedures were corrected. Dziekanski’s death would remain unfortunate but system changes might have prevented other needless deaths from unrestrained applications of force.

It is not enough to charge the killers with manslaughter or criminal negligence. We should demand removal of every senior RCMP official that aided and continues to assist the evasion of responsibility. The first resignations should be Assistant Commissioner Peter German and Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the two most senior officers in western Canada. Next should be Superintendent Wayne Rideout, the supervisor of the “investigation” who decided that misinformation given to the public by the RCMP following the killing should not be corrected.

Strangely, a few months later, Rideout was invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Governor General Michaelle Jean. On that same day, Assistant Commissioner German was made an Officer of the Order. These Honors for the Dishonorable were recommended by RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, another worthy candidate for retirement from public service.

Gentlemen, with authority comes responsibility. Do the right thing. Leave now.

Vancouver writer Crawford Killian gets it right when he declares it is Time to Disband the RCMP. Worthy reading.

Thanks to Greg Perry for the inspired image shown above. It is copyrighted with all rights reserved.

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