Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stupid Is As Stupid Does - CPS Get "Rough Ride" at Stampeders Game

When the lovable Forrest Gump finds himself constantly being asked if he is stupid, his pre-loaded retort in effect asks the questioner to judge him by his actions...he's only stupid if he behaves stupidly.

By that standard, there was a whole pile of "stupid" on display at the recent Calgary Stampeders vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders football game when a group of apparent rowdy 'Rider fans got introduced to what is becoming an all too frequent CPS modus operandi of police-initiated escalation of risk based on some warped interpretation of a peace officer's role in society.

There is little doubt that "stupid" aptly describes the fan(s) getting so drunk or rowdy that police even needed to address them in the bleachers in the first place.

However, there is equally little doubt that "smarts" were not part of the police officer's assessment that the best peace-enforcing, respect-commanding, protection of the public option to deal with the situation was to not get any of the over 30 other police officers in the stadium for back-up, impulsively engage the crowd of unruly spectators, forcibly grab one by the throat and then begin to haul him away with back turned to the remainder of the crowd.

As for the second spectator, "stupid" is about the only word for his attempt to grab the police matter what his reason or intention.

But that said, when the second spectator attempted to grab the officer from behind (maybe to plead to leave his buddy in his seat, maybe to obstruct, maybe even to grab a weapon...which I accept, the officer in the video could have thought was happening) it was just plain "stupid" for the police officer to release the suspect he was forcibly removing, turn, and close a gap of 7 to 10 feet for the purpose of punching the second guy with such lack of control and awareness of the surroundings that he tumbled head first down the stands on top of other fans and into the group that included the very person who might have been attempting to do a "gun grab" (although I think 20/20 hindsight allows us to say it is pretty unlikely that is what the fan was doing).

Eyewitness Bert Bartake's quote to the Calgary Herald sums up very concisely why I so strongly criticize how the officer behaved in this incident:

"It could have been a very dangerous situation...[H]is gun was completely exposed and vulnerable in the crowd."

And perhaps more to the point, this whole incident results because of "...a Roughrider fan allegedly throwing objects and pouring beer into the crowd..." Unpleasant for sure...but I would much rather have to wash beer out of my favorite sweatshirt than to be struck from behind by a flying police officer who didn't restore order to this situation in any way shape or form but instead played a significant and active role in turning this from a nuisance into a violent altercation.

But much to my dismay, the "stupid" doesn't stop there. Normally media-savvy Chief of Police Rick Hanson in a misguided attempt to smooth over the incident on behalf of his officer is quoted as saying:

"You're in the stands, you're surrounded by drunken louts who have lost all semblance of sanity in many cases..."


With all due respect Chief, I would suggest that your officers were actually surrounded by in excess of 30,000 lucid, law-abiding citizens of sound mind...with a minuscule minority of troublemakers salted therein. I might even go so far as to suggest that this incident got out of hand as it did because the officer approached it as a group of insane drunken louts in need of a dose of authority as opposed to a group of over-eager but otherwise law-abiding football fans.

But wait, Calgary Police Association President John Dooks goes further and says:

"The officer had to react and I have no concerns. His actions were appropriate and defensive."

What!?!?! (again)

No concerns? Seriously? This incident played out how you would hope it to? A repeat of this at the next game is fine by you?

Look...I'll give the officer that he was defensive and that he had to react. If we cannot be reasonable in giving police officers significant benefit of doubt then we cannot expect them to react decisively in the heat of the moment when we need them the most.

But how can Mr. Dooks not see that the officer had to react defensively to the situation that he created? And how can the CPA President, himself a seasoned veteran police officer, think that tumbling uncontrolled with virtually no ability to maintain any order (or protection of his complement of weapons, including his firearm) amounts to "appropriate action" by a police officer?

Much like the RCMP tazering of an immigrant in an airport after mere seconds on the scene, this incident and many other examples of police conduct these days leaves many members of the public wondering if the officers even know that by virtue of holding their public office that they are peace officers as well as police officers.

The use of powers of arrest and prosecution is far less desirable in a democratic society than the use of powers of dialogue and persuasion. If the CPS were to attempt to implement this idea, I think they'd find themselves getting much fewer "rough rides" in their day to day operations.

At risk of making more of this incident than it really is, I think it astute to close this commentary with an attempt to minimize stupid behaviour by otherwise honorable, well-intentioned public servants:

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."

- C.S. Lewis

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector."

- Plato

Food for thought.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone really decided to put on their thinking cap, great going! It’s fantastic to see people really writing about the important things.

Dui Prevention - Dui Penalties

10:23 p.m.  

Post a Comment

<< Home