From officers giving “tips” to other officers as they faced charges, to allegations of sexual assault and the entire Don Dunphy debacle, it’s been a rough go.
It’s these types of incidents that have tested the public’s faith in the force and the leadership that dealt with the aftermath of those problems.
Did recently retired chief of police Bill Janes show the required leadership to instill the public’s trust in the force and give the populations of Labrador West, Corner Brook and the Northeast Avalon comfort in knowing problem officers would be dealt with using the same heavy hand shown to those with more colourful rap sheets? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
So Tuesday’s announcement of change at the helm was imperative.
What new chief Joe Boland has to do now is show the public internal issues will be handled swiftly and without prejudice, while public safety and security remain paramount.
The leaves him with an interesting paradox. For now he must inspire the rank-and-file officers to be better at their job knowing that a percentage of those same officers are the ones causing the public to lose faith in the force to begin with.
Being a police officer must be a tough job. They carry with them the responsibility for enforcing our laws and therefore are met with vehement disdain with most every encounter. But while most people have a story of dealing with “bad cops,” we also must keep in mind the bad ones are the minority.
We can’t assume that because one officer is looking to push his weight around with an air of invincibility that everyone on his shift acts the same way. While one officer may not act with fairness and integrity over an issue he or she feels strongly about for personal reasons, it’s not right to assume all officers share that biased judgment.
What Boland must to do now is nothing short of momentous. The force and the public are keenly interested and awaiting change.
Let’s hope he succeeds where others fell short.