Re: the letter Sad saga ignores good police do (Jan. 16).
The police do a lot of good that doesn't come to the attention of the media. Recognition is a good thing when it occurs.
When an individual crosses the line and breaks the law, the writer appears to believe it is up to the media to seek out positive stories about the offender's profession to balance the scales. The writer then asks the question: "Who caused the problem in the first place?" In fact, the "problem" was an assault on Buddy Tavares committed by the officer, and he subsequently pleaded guilty to the offence before the court.
Tavares had been employed to fire his shotgun to scare geese from a golf course.
It was later learned that his employer's permit had expired and that Tavares was unaware of this on the day he was taken down with violence. He was afoul of the law only due to a technicality.
If the officers had that information when Tavares was stopped, I believe they would have responded differently.
If the permit had not expired - and given that the officers apparently did not know the history of a permitted shooter on site, it would have been handled the same way, would it not? Even though he would have been fully within the law.
The video also confirmed that Tavares legally transported the firearm when it showed an officer removing a shotgun fitted with a trigger lock from his vehicle.
The writer further states "the RCMPâ€¦ was unable to manipulate the media as Tavares did because of the restrictions they have during an investigation." This is untrue. Statements from the police described Tavares' shotgun as "a weapon," while the pistol pointed at him by police was described as "a firearm."
Further, when the brutal act was in the media, it was strongly implied by police that Tavares was engaging in spousal abuse and intimidation. When his former spouse stood up for him, it still didn't stop. There were other statements that damned Tavares with vague insinuations, and this was enabled by a veil of "confidentiality."
There was considerable innuendo in police statements about Tavares that would serve to raise doubts about his character and history.
It is important that the press be unrestrained in reporting police brutality.
A few months ago, we saw the spectacle of an injured, unarmed and thoroughly subdued mentally-ill citizen in the same physical position as Tavares - on his hands and knees on the ground and no longer resisting. He was surrounded by five armed officers, one of whom then drew his "firearm" (good thing it wasn't a "weapon") and shot the citizen in the head, killing him instantly.
This was an act of assassination, on camera, of a citizen who was not in a position to endanger anyone. Are there charges pending? Where is the Crown? Where is the attorney general?
Was this OK because there was "a high level of stress" for police? Is it possible the man may have uttered something the officer didn't like and was killed for it?
Should the TV station have decided not to air that because it might hurt the image of the Vancouver police? Or is the media's duty to report accurately to the public?
It is up to the attorney general to make police officers accountable for their actions. We have a national police union that is concerned with officers' safety. This is well and good, however, it would like to see police authorized to use pre-emptive and potentially lethal violence on citizens who have not yet broken any law to minimize the risks that go with policing.
There is movement toward shifting that risk to the public, and we don't do that in democratic societies. The police must not brutalize or execute citizens, and the government must act decisively when that occurs.
Respect for police is rooted in the public's confidence in their trustworthiness, training and ability to act with professionalism in highly stressed situations. It is also based on recognition that, like other first responders, police officers accept risk is part of the job.
Those who show careless disregard for the law and cause injury or death need to be held accountable.