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´╗┐Yet another man, this time in Langley, shot dead by the police. Of course this not so, but this seems to be a daily occurrence. Polish immigrant killed by Taser. Accused in Air India case acquitted (though, in fairness, the judge goofed). Police Chief in Vancouver apologizes for bad investigation into the Picton case. Civilian head of RCMP deemed to be aggressive and boorish. BC government looking at reviving the BC police and ousting RCMP. All calls for a Royal Commission into policing shunted aside.

It is obligatory to say this so I will – no one, least of me, has anything but admiration for the rank and file police personnel.

For a police force to be effective – that is to say making communities safe through proper police methods – it must have the confidence of the public it serves. This cannot be said by far too many communities.

Why not?

That question cannot be answered by the police themselves any more than any other professional body can effectively judge itself free of bias.

I feel that the first misstep was the federal government making the Commissioner of the RCMP a deputy minister in the Solicitor-General’s office. While someone has to appoint this office, the placing him in a political setting, right next door to the prime minister, in appearances, was a serious mistake.

The first manifestation of this error was during the APEC conference in Vancouver in 1997 where despite what the reality may have been, it sure as hell looked like the RCMP were taking orders of Prime Minister Chretien as the police pepper sprayed and handcuffed people at will. (An amusing aside. When they arrested Craig Jones, then an articked law clerk, for holding up a cloth banner saying “FREE SPEECH – DEMOCRACY” he was handcuffed behind his back and thrown into the police car. Turned out that the RCMP officers were from elsewhere and Jones had to direct them to the police station!)

I believe that one of the difficulties police have is balancing civil liberties with keeping order. What sort of guidelines should prevail? But that’s just one area of examination.

My old classmate Tom Braidwood did a terrific job in the Taser killing of Polish visitor Dziekanski as all of us who know Tom knew he would.

I suggest that he be given a Royal Commission to examine police forces in Canada on the widest of terms of reference. There would be screams of anguish from the police forces but I believe that would come from higher-ups not the men and women in the firing line.

Canadians do not have confidence in the police and that confidence must be restored.
A person like Tom Braidwood is needed for the task at hand.

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