Imagine a common-sense justice system that frowns on police brutality

"Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game"

—Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"

Imagine, if you can, a justice system where justice is, in fact, part of the system.

Imagine a country where those in a position of power and authority can actually be held to account when they abuse it. A place where cops not only can't get away with beating on innocent people, but also where those innocent people can fight back in self-defense without finding themselves in prison convicted of "resisting arrest" and "assaulting a police officer".

Imagine a place where the relationship between the police, the public prosecutors, and the courts is not so incestuous as to make justice almost impossible to attain whenever it comes to dealing with cases of police brutality.

Imagine a far-off, distant, almost-mystical land where cops are not given a free hand to wail on and/or taser anyone who they claim "scared them" because they, for instance, "had a stapler" in their hand, or, say, enraged them by not immediately obeying a command.

Better yet, imagine a land where, if you were to find some cop illegally beating on you, you could turn around and punch him in the face and the courts would find this to be a reasonable response.

Well, as anyone who has followed the dozens of stories of police brutality in this country over the years clearly knows, this seemingly imaginary land sure as hell ain't Canada. The Robert Dziekanski case may, of course, be the most infamous, but it's only one of dozens, if not hundreds, of cases from the past few years. And it, like so many other cases of police brutality, only came to light because there was a video to contradict the cops' truth-challenged version of events.

So, no, we're most definitely not talking about Canada here, but this fabled land does indeed exist. It's called England: Teacher cleared of assaulting policeman at arms protest: Court rules man who punched officer in face after being hit with batons acted in self-defence

It's sure good to know that there is a reasonable, common-sense justice system out there some place in this world—even if it is on the other side of the Atlantic—because it means there's still hope for Canada down the road.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but...

Maybe, just maybe, the courts in this country will someday give up their incessant, infantile infatuation with the police and start to take serious all forms of police brutality, assault, excessive use of force, and abuse of power.

Perhaps someday the system will no longer be such a farce, a joke, a game.

Perhaps someday regular people won't have to fear running into a thuggish cop in a bad mood. Or a macho cop dealing with ego issues. Or a disturbed cop high on the power of fear and intimidation.

Perhaps someday the good cops will have enough self-respect and courage to stand up and testify against their thuggish colleagues.

Perhaps someday, in the not too distant future, the system will put more of a priority on protecting the public than on protecting rogue cops.

Imagine a future like that.

It isn't hard to do.

Mike Cowie is a freelance writer who writes about politics, music, film, travel and much more. You can read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.

Comments (27) Add New Comment
ezekiel bones
Great article. It is so disturbing to see people like Ian Bush shot in the back of the head - to see people DIE and cops not getting even the smallest charge - many get promotions after committing atrocious acts! It boggles the mind.
1
5
Rating: -4
Bobby
Grow up and realize it's a big bad world out there with way too many big bad people. Spend one night shift with officers in the inner city and you will understand
10
13
Rating: -3
Alien
Yes Bobby, "it is a big bad world out there" and we need true professionals to face it. Not a bunch of cowards that are afraid of a stapler.
6
6
Rating: 0
dhabums
I'd like to see the cops speed up evolution and start shooting a lot more people.
7
7
Rating: 0
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
police exist to protect business and government from the public.they were created here in london england due to fear inspired by the french revolution.2 years they pumped 7 bullets into the head of an obviously unarmed man sitting, minding his own business on a train.the 8th bullet missed because there was not enough head left to be considered a hit.as in the houston BC rcmp headshot killing of a helpless teenager,no charges were laid.i have overnighted in jail many times in london and vancouver and came to the conclusion that police are representative of the poor quality of people in general....regards cam
9
9
Rating: 0
Rod F.
Nearly two years later and I'm still waiting to hear about any action on the Paul Boyd case. Two years ago he was shot and killed by Vancouver police after an alleged chain vs. gun standoff on Granville street. At the time, witness statements were immediately refuted, and the police chief essentially cleared his own officers before any investigation took place.

The "investigation" that was subsequently announced was supposed to have taken six months. Here we are two months shy of two years later. Since there was no video of what happened that night, I can only assume that the cops are once again counting on the public's amnesia, doing nothing at a leisurely pace without a lick of fire anywhere near their feet.

The even sadder part is that, even if there were any actual investigating going on here, I have already been conditioned to expect a stacked deck and its inevitable self-clearing on the part of our wildly unaccountable cops.



4
5
Rating: -1
beelzebub
Well, in my day you went to jail for B&E of someones home. You did not spit at, knife, shoot, push, slap, throw beer bottles at, finger, swear at, ignore police officers because YOU felt put upon. The courts did not expect the officers to "take few" during any arrest as part of the job. You did not have 4' 9" cute little blond female officers patrolling the bars with electric weapons hanging off their leg. You did not have impaired drivers getting off on technicalities unrelated to the fact they just crashed their car, were the only one within 15 miles and too drunk to stand up. There were no "dial a dope" operations delivering drugs to your door. Traffickers in heroin, cocaine, LSD, MDA actually went to jail instead of a Conditional Sentence Order where you got to stay home for a few months to run your operation. There were no "drive by shootings" as a regular course of the year. There were no press releases passing off another gangland murder as only "a targeted hit" the public need not fear. People did not drive their kids to school even though they lived 5 blocks away. Judges were not involved in "judicial activism". You had physical requirements to be a firefighter. Sports day meant competition, not a ribbon for everybody for coming out. A degree from a university meant something. Grade 12 students could read, write and comprehend. University students did not think just showing up earned them a passing grade. Nothing is anybody's fault, we have failed them as a society...... Admitting you were sorry did not end up costing you in civil court. Why does everything take so long? The processes we created to avoid responsibility with lawyers are now so complex lest we offend the accused, or shortcut any Charter rights, such as taking a minor drug possession charge all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, because the lawyer welfare system know as legal aid pays with my money, regardless of the inanity of the case. Why is there a 700% increase in the time it takes to get a drug trafficking charge to court? Why does it take 350% longer to get an impaired to court? Why is the conviction rate about 3 out of 10? Start looking in the mirror for your answers because we have seen the enemy and it is us. I would suggest that if you have "overnighted" in jail many times you cannot spell and probably drink too much, and are part of the problem because it was obviously not your fault, it was those damned cops again picking on you. You should be glad it was not in Chiang Mai Prison in Thailand.
11
9
Rating: +2
Rod F.
^^
Nice screed and all, but besides rooting for the presumably more brutal and fearsome Third World-type cops, you forgot a couple of other classics, like, "give 'em a taste of ol' hickory" and "round 'em all up and put 'em on a boxcar outta' town."

I thought this was about basic police accountability, but now I indeed see how it has become but another trampled memory from the glittering pre-PC era Utopia we once enjoyed.

5
4
Rating: +1
visigoth
Quit whining minority. We are where we are because we made it this way. You cant blame just the cops. Every bottom feeding shyster fanangling the system to get somebody off is no better or worse than us allowing it. Its the era of ME, and my God given right to do whatever I want. The chickens have come home to roost. How do you like it?
13
8
Rating: +5
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
A NASTY DOG USED FOR PROTECTION BY A COWARD INVARIABLY TURNS ON ITS OWNER. IS MY SPELLING OKAY BUB? regards cam
4
10
Rating: -6
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
for bub i went and actually read your rant. you seem to be a past extremely strong offender looking for cleansing by swinging towards severe punishment for similar miscreants.i suggest you read many classic texts(illiad,bible,homer,dante,)that could set you STRAIGHT on this issue. regards cam ps let me know what they said.
9
9
Rating: 0
Rod F.
Looking at these agree/disagree votes is alarming. Some are voting "agree" on cops shooting a lot more people and voting "disagree" on accountability with the death of Paul Boyd?

When did the blog become a loon magnet?

5
8
Rating: -3
beelzebub
Maybe they are tired of the whiners and the bullshit Rod. Screw with the bull and you get the horns. Why is it most people can go about their daily business without any problems with the police? By statistics its only the fringe that have problems with the police. 20% of the pop doing 90% of the crime and all that. Perhaps my post, referred to as a"rant" by some, touched a nerve. Maybe its parents pissed off that some dork is selling E to their kids high school in the parking lot at noon. Or maybe its just some people wanting a little personal accountability by the general population, and they do not see a communist under every bed.
13
7
Rating: +6
visigoth
Good point RF, but its not loons. If you believe in contributions to these blogs you may have to accept that yours is not a majority opinion and that anybody that disagrees with you is not a loon.
5
2
Rating: +3
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
as the iranian police begin slaughtering ripped off taxpayer voters beezelbub will wring his hands with delight at the carnage that his jackbooted philosophy perpetuates.dog bites man. blondie bites adolf. i am ashamed so many still believe in a bigger gun. regards cam
10
8
Rating: +2
Rod F.
Visigoth - I enjoy a healthy smattering of differing opinions and accompanying debate, but sorry, anyone who wants to see cops "speed up evolution and start shooting a lot more people" is a loon. That's not exactly a good base for healthy discourse, and is the kind of ignorant redneck tripe I'd expect to find in a Province newspaper comments section.

5
4
Rating: +1
visigoth
I think you misread the signs RF. I would say that the amount of red ink attributed to cameron basically says he is wingnut, and your ink says the cops are doing alright, albeit with a bit of hyperbole. The voters just do not take the tome to write, only vote, so if you make more invalid points to them you get bombed. If you make more valid points or come close, you get preference.
4
5
Rating: -1
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
recalling news footage some years back of rcmp gleefully pepper spraying ubc students at a human rights protest against a chinese leader's visit,it saddens me to read of police seizing cameras from the media and public.it not only demonstrates their admission of impropriety, it is an embarrassingly pathetic and ineffectual waste of time.if police are hiding their behavior as official policy, then we need to change their mandate.they can become a respected and dare i say,well loved part of the community if we have the courage to redefine their role.first, the notion of public service is a myth.like doctors,politicians,soldiers or insurance salesmen the criminal justice system is a business. the reason we need to think outside the box is that any business is essentially an enemy of society.if if our current theory was correct we would have progressively less prisons,police,politicians and insurance salesman.when we accept that the UN, WHO , WORLD BANK,THE INTERNATIONAL COURT,WWF, GREENPEACE,SALVATION ARMY,THE VATICAN etc are merely businesses then we can relate to the constable who just wants to arrest a kid with a bottle of beer outside a small town's ice rink and go home.next week;what the war on drugs and the cancer cure search have in common and why our governments could not stop us trafficking fully inflated zeppelins . regards cam
6
10
Rating: -4
visigoth
Are you contributing from a cosy cell in London?
6
3
Rating: +3
cameronjamesmcarthur@live.co.uk
well vissy, it is true that flats here are small by your north hollywood standards,but since it rains 2/10 rather than vancouver's 7/10 days we can go out more., the film industry moved to L.A.from N.Y. in the early 1900's for light as artificial was in it's infancy.it is said the move north was to take advantage of the perpetual grey to reduce the glaringly obvious in paparazzi photos. regards cam p.s. i like police.they merely need to have their role redefined by us....their masters.
5
12
Rating: -7

Pages

Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.