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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More on police brutality during the G20, and institutional response

Thoughtful piece in NOW magazine, and my initial response:

All good stuff, but ultimately the fight isn't with the Board, the chief, or any discrete police force, be it municipal, provincial or federal. What's at issue here is a dysfunctional organizational and occupational culture that isn't going to be fixed by any institutional response or individual inquiry or review.

Consider: what is it about policing that makes individual cops think it's OK to beat the shit out of peaceful citizens exercising their fundamental rights? Or abuse the power of preventive detention, knowing that whatever charges are filed will ultimately never stand up, but also knowing that there won't be any individual or organizational accountability for the abuses visited upon people? As bad as the police misbehaviour during the G20 was, these questions go far beyond that weekend.

Which is why any anticipation of a meaningful institutional response is, in my submission, ultimately misguided and futile. The Board isn't going to do anything that seriously ruffles police feathers. They all saw what happened to Alan Heisey. Moreover, the fog and confusion arising from questions of overlapping jurisdiction, and just how far the Board's mandate extends, and the continuing distraction arising from the debate over policy versus operational matters, pretty much guarantees that the Board won't be able to accomplish anything meaningful.

Deputants will have their say. Recommendations will be made. Fingers will be wagged and tuts will be tutted. But as long as cop culture itself persists as it is currently, well ... don't hold your breath.

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