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EDITORIAL: Change attitudes toward police


There are good, bad and mediocre employees doing police work, just as the there are good, bad and mediocre corner store employees, computer programmers, teachers and hairdressers.

And of all employees, in every sector, there are good people and bad, those who go out of their way to lend a helping hand and those who care nothing for anyone but themselves and whose sense of decency is lost in their own goals off self-fulfillment.

When a police officer is convicted of a crime, almost without fail, the public comes down on the entire force. It’s an issue that police officers everywhere must contend with. In most cases, of course, the incident is isolated to the individual officer who committed the crime and others are implicated unfairly, and good police work becomes tarnished.

In some instances, such as the one in court this week concerning Sean Kelly, the handling of these matters leaves a lot to be desired. During a news conference following the court appearance, Chief William Janes said Kelly's actions fall far short of the RNC's core values. That’s promising.

However, what strikes a chord in the opposite way is that he is not concerned about any mistakes from other police officers involved. Two other officers were identified as speaking to Kelly about his case. This is a problem. Yet, the chief says a review of the investigation determined no need for further action.

If the chief wants to send a message to the public that these incidents are taken with the utmost seriousness and there isn’t a culture that those enforcing the laws can excuse those very laws themselves, he would use a heavy hand here.

It was only six years ago that one of the force’s former superintendents, Bob Garland, was charged with sexual assault. The Ontario Provincial Police was brought in to investigate. Why then was the RNC investigating the RNC on this matter? And if there was no agreement in place to use the OPP, why not the RCMP?

If attitudes toward police are to change, it must start within the force.

Instances such as these only make people assume the worst and that it’s another case of the police protecting their own.

This is unfortunate, especially for the police officers out there with the best of intentions — those who want to lend that helping hand and are guided by a true sense of decency.

 

* Typo fixed Feb. 22

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