Friday, August 22, 2014

The Militarization Of Canada's Police

Much has been said recently about the "militarization" of America's police forces.  For those of us who live in Canada, let us not be fooled into complacency.

The National Post has an article about the same damn, dumb thing happening in Canada.

Let me be brutally clear on this.  Civilian police forces are not militaries, they are not paramilitary entities.  They are civilian forces whose duty it is to serve and protect the citizens who live in their respective jurisdictions.  

Their job, as it has been for centuries, is to reasonably enforce the laws of the land and to provide a degree of civil peace.  The job is not to walk around in heavy armour, carry automatic weapons and generally act like the "tough guys".

The first overt sign of this shift in Canada was in the G8/G20 protests in 2010 where the police used tactics such as "Kettling" to "contain" protesters.  These were situations where the actions of the police, and the orders given are profoundly troubling.  Officers were not wearing their identification badges, and it has taken years for some of them to be brought to account for their actions as a result.  These are not the actions of agencies who understand the public they are responsible to.
But police officials from Vancouver to New Glasgow, N.S., this week defended their acquisitions. Even if these heavy-duty vehicles are sitting in a garage most days of the week — some have not been deployed even once — they are necessary for dealing with hostile and potentially life-threatening situations such as hostage-takings, incidents involving barricaded gunmen or active shooters and the execution of high-risk search warrants, officials said.
Hmmm ... how often do police forces encounter these situations?  Not very often in Canada ... that much I do know - certainly not enough to warrant having heavy armour on tap 24/7.  I don't begrudge the police having the necessary tools to do their job.  I question whether heavy armour is necessary.  These vehicles are designed for combat situations, not police duty.

You're going to tell me that you haven't got better alternatives than this?  I think you need to go back to the drawing board and figure some options out.  Ones that don't involve acquiring hardware that very clearly puts you in a position where the public (of which this writer is one) is going to perceive that you are trying to achieve your ends through intimidation and bullying.

Heavy armour, bigger guns, riot gear and even the ever growing "equipment belts" that we see police officers wearing, all contribute to both an image and an attitude that the public is quite rightly concerned about.  Turn our police into military institutions, and they will seek an enemy out - the enemy is the very public that they are supposed to protect.

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