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Opinion stories

KNIGHT: Police leaders meet to pander to social justice issues, not real issues

Leo Knight says there is no such thing as systemic racism in Canada's policing communities, but there is systemic poor leadership – starting with the RCMP.

On Friday, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki hosted a video conference with policing leaders from across the country.  A media release said the conference was put together to discuss key issues facing the policing community. 

The statement went on to say issues discussed were things like “systemic racism and discrimination, mental health, civilian oversight and investigation, and digital policing, among others.” 

In other words – a big wank to political correctness. 

Evidently, day one of the conference focused on issues like, “tools and techniques for de-escalation and crisis intervention. This collaborative work will include a review of current models, and related policies, procedures and training to allow all Canadian police officers to respond to situations in a consistent way to reduce conflict, minimize use of force and prevent injury.”

All noble enough I suppose. Conflict de-escalation to reduce the use of force is important. But this tends to ignore the realities of the streets in our communities, especially in the cities. 

There is a shooting gang war going on in the Lower Mainland of B.C. Shootings in Toronto are at record levels and the violence among minority communities in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton are at mind boggling levels. But sure, let’s talk about systemic racism and conflict de-escalation. Never mind the actual problems facing our police. 

In the media statement, Commissioner Lucki said, “It’s clear that we share a common goal to be responsive to community concerns and calls for action.” 

Really? Did I mention the shooting gang wars in our largest cities? How about being responsive to those community concerns?  

Also participating in the conference was the Akwesasne Mohawk Police. Their reserve straddles the U.S./Canadian border and is the single biggest smuggling point in this country. Illegal guns, illicit drugs like methamphetamine and  fentanyl, illegal cigarettes and stolen vehicles all come through that reserve on a large basis. I’m not sure how much of that would be possible without police willful blindness or complicity. But sure, let’s talk about de-escalation instead.

Then there was the participation of the chief of the Ottawa Police Service. There is almost a mutiny within that police service over what they call the inherently poor leadership they serve under. Rank and file officers have even taken to openly mocking their leadership, especially Chief Peter Sloly.

The complaints claim police leaders have lowered the standards for officers of colour much to the detriment of the majority white officers. 

I don’t believe there is any such thing as systemic racism in our policing communities. I do believe there is systemic poor leadership in many of our police agencies starting with the RCMP. 

Commissioner Lucki is currently under investigation for obstruction of justice by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). Also included in the allegations are Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr (Ret’d), Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens (Ret’d) and Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass (Ret’d). And, former Commissioner Bob Paulson also retired. 

Those allegations arise out of the response of the leadership in the wake of the taser death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski and the hanging out to dry of the four members involved. 

The RCMP have also paid out more than $100 million in taxpayer funds to settle complaints of what can only be called systemic harassment and the organization turning a blind eye. That is the very definition of systemic poor leadership. 

It seems to me police leadership in this country have serious and significant issues to deal with in their communities. Engaging in social justice hand-wringing talking shops does nothing to keep their communities safer and sparks mockery from front line police officers. 

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