What is a police officer’s role? It can be many things. It can be in a community liaison capacity; a traffic control officer; involved with criminal investigation; part of a team tactical squad; drug and customs issues and a host of others. Truly a multi-foliate occupation, most people would agree and not an occupation for everyone.
In the performance of their assigned duties, they are subject to the laws of the land as are we, the local citizenry. These individuals have taken an oath to enforce the laws of the land as stated by their motto: “Maintiens le Droit or Maintain the Right!” For the most part, the RCMP law enforcement officers do that and do it quite well.
There are some who seem to experience situations outside of the law, to some degree. When these transgressions happen there is usually a statement issued regarding individuals involved. This is as it should be, as it would be for anyone else. If we were to look at transgressions of professional athletes, we would find such things as boards of governors or owners, league officials and neutral boards of inquiry not involved in sports as such, and not players or coaches unless called for.
Unlike a public inquiry, most police-on-police investigations are closed-shop investigations with outcomes given later. In the last two or three years, there have been numerous infractions/transgressions on the part of some RCMP officers. After investigations by other police agencies, many of these issues were less than satisfactory in outcome. In a given situation, in all probability, ordinary citizens would face far more severe consequences than some of these officers who were investigated “by their own”, if you will.
Why is this? It is simply because it is the way that was chosen. Are these officers above the law? No, certainly not. Yet, they seem to fare much better, for the most part, than “Joe Citizen” who may have done something far less serious and yet suffers a harsher fate than many officers do.
When a police officer is accused of misconduct, another police force is called in to investigate, the goal being to take the probe away from those too close to the officer in question. When a police officer is accused of breaching public trust by breaking the law, it is a serious allegation that requires serious thought. However, this latest accusation against an RCMP officer is far more fact that allegation, it seems.
It begs the question be asked that: How does this outcome bear up under “Maintiens le Droit?” The simple answer is that it doesn’t bear up. Police investigating police seems to be the order of the day. Attorney-General Mike De Jong has stated that there should be an independent investigation component by summer 2011. Ontario and Alberta have had these independent investigative units for a while now. B.C. is dragging its heels, again. Gordon Campbell always referred to this province as a being progressive, being a leader and being fair to all. Northern Alberta ocean front land for sale, anybody interested?
Ron Barillaro Penticton