Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive July 19, 2015)

From the cheap seats


By Bob Cooper

Two officer-involved shootings 3 days apart in British Columbia (yes, the entire province) have the usual suspects setting their hair on fire in true Pavlovian fashion.  I don’t want to minimize the loss of life because that is something we always try to avoid but two shootings hardly make a landslide.  As the old saying goes, “when it rains it pours” but anything to grab a headline (Advocates alarmed after second police shooting)

Little is known about either shooting but the BC Criminal Liberties Assocation and the Pivot Legal Society Society are already crowing, once again, about ‘de-escalation’ tactics and the use of Tasers (but no mention of the cop that was shot in the second incident much less any concern).  As far as expertise in the use of force, their reach far exceeds their grasp but the mainstream press believes that reaching out to the uninformed constitutes ‘balance’.   Kudos to the IIO for starting to provide some basic details on each shooting so these groups don’t get to completely monopolize the information the public gets.  

The BCCLA bemoans the fact that police in the province have received more mental health and de-escalation training in recent years - yet shootings of people in apparent distress continue to happen.  There have also been great advances in heart disease & diabetes but people still die of them.  Reminds me of the famous retort of Inspector John MacKay when asked by a reporter whether he thought the lack of victory in the war on drugs meant we should give it up. Without missing a beat, John dryly pointed out that we haven’t won the war on rape either.  End of discussion.  Regardless of your opinion on drugs it was a great line.

Their next stunning observation was that “Police are entrusted with the ability to use force and to use lethal force. With that comes a really high standard of accountability.”  Yeah, we knew that, move along.  They must have missed the story of Delta Constable Jordan MacWilliams who spent two years facing murder charges in a totally justified shooting only to have them stayed a short time ago.  Most of us believe that those charges were borne out of, at least in part, the hysteria these groups create. 

The Pivot spokesman pointed out that Tasers can be a more effective tool to disarm someone hoping that no one remembers they were part of the same mob that was shrieking about Tasers in the wake of the Dziekanski death at the airport.  Firstly, to be effective it has to be there and this can be a problem in rural areas where your nearest cover is 50 miles away.  Secondly, in the video shot by a bystander that caught the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the suspect appeared to be well within the recommended 21 feet of the members when he was brandishing a knife which he refused to let go of even after being shot.  His presence outside a public meeting made the situation that much more dangerous & they couldn’t possibly allow him to escape or even move from where he was.  Thirdly, like pepper spray and other options, Tasers will sometimes fail and you always have the lethal option present. 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion which is among the rights that the police protect every day but the public should be mindful that those offering these views have likely never been in a life-threatening situation.  Like Monday morning quarterbacks who could outperform professional athletes, those who don’t play the game want to make the rules and could always have done it better. 


Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.



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