Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Jan. 26, 2009)

A sense of balance

By Bob Cooper

 

 

The effect of last weekís incident outside the Hyatt Regency involving 3 off-duty police officers on the publicís trust in law enforcement is indisputable.   The spectre of a drunken, vicious attack on a seemingly innocent man minding his own business is bad enough without allegations of robbery and racism. Frankly, were I a Chief Constable Iíd be hard pressed to conjure up a worse set of circumstances.   The thing takes on a life of its own and concepts like the presumption of innocence are swept aside in a tidal wave of hysteria, deadlines, and speculation.  In the media fuelled court of public opinion the convictions have already been registered not only against these 3, but every other cop in the province.

Although my instincts tell me we havenít heard the whole story, I am not attempting in any way to justify or minimize what took or didnít take place.  Until this goes to court though, the facts are immaterial.  Rather itís about opportunists having their 15 minutes of fame.  Like Vancouverís new mayor who couldnít resist sounding off about the police complaints process.  Iím not sure what it is he would like to see.  The Detectives of the Robbery Squad worked this case around the clock and put it down in record time.  Charges are recommended, forwarded to Crown, and approved within a week.  I somehow donít see the problem here but according to the mayor "ÖÖ. it would probably comfort the public a lot more to have [an independent body] looking over these things."  Someone should perhaps familiarize him with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC).

Similarly, when the mayor greeted the contingent of police officers, led by Chief Chu, who were participating on their own time in the Law Enforcement Torch Run to assist the Special Olympics he couldnít resist commenting on the case instead of staying on message and showing some respect for the occasion, as well as the cops.  Thanks for the support Your Worship.  I note that the mayors of West Vancouver, New Westminster, and Delta, who are also the Chairs of their respective Police Boards have wisely chosen to remain silent despite the fact that their interests are arguably larger.

Perhaps the scariest aspects of this appear in the on-line comments sections that follow news stories and are currently giving vent to every cop-hater in the province.  Allowing that the allegations are dreadful, I havenít seen this much hatred and vitriol directed against the police since the Dziekanski case.  Not that thatís a big coincidence with most media outlets linking the two.  In fact, it struck me that most of the postings would qualify as the same sort of hate/bias crime the posters are ascribing to the police in general, if the police qualified as a Ďspecialí group.  Equally frightening is that these people vote, which may explain a lot of things.

All things considered, it could have been be worse.  The speed and efficiency with which the matter was dealt with by both VPD Detectives and Crown has gone a long way to maintain the publicís trust and restore a sense of balance.  To sane people, in any event. 

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Something thatís puzzled me over the past several days has been the VPD posting a photo of Chief Graham's infamous target on their website, apparently in response to an FOI Request.  Today I got my answer in Alan Garr's column in the Vancouver Courier as he describes his lengthy quest to obtain a photo of the target.  Most people would have better things to do or more current or topical things to write about.  Rather pathetic really.  In any event, at the end of his odyssey, VPD Public Affairs outfoxed him and rendered his trophy worthless by posting it on their website.  Nice work guys.

Garrís reaction?  WAAAHHHH!!!!

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Contributing 2009