Each loss of a police officer is a tragic indictment of social failure

Policing is fraught with physical dangers that most of us never see. Then there's the psychological trauma

Each loss of a police officer is a tragic indictment of social failureThe attack on the United States Capitol in Washington and its aftermath have taken a toll. Unfortunately, the Jan. 6 incident will remain remote and extraordinary for most. The incident has been politicized, sensationalized and reconstructed, but its tragic impact on those on the front lines is undeniable. Metropolitan Police Officer Kyle DeFreytag was found…

Rather than defund the police, rethink its core functions

Less of an officer's time should be spent on functions that don’t involve protecting the public

Rather than defund the police, rethink its core functionsRising crime rates have required Canadian police forces to reconcile managing their budgets with fighting crime. It’s not an easy balance to strike. Yet there is a simple way to save hundreds of millions of dollars: re-think the division of labour for police. Modern police officers receive extensive training to carry out tasks requiring an…

The huge challenge of holding police accountable

Too many police officers across the U.S. have been complicit by failing to intervene during their colleagues’ egregious misconduct

The huge challenge of holding police accountableThe trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd exposed Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and forced him to give evidence and account for – or, more correctly, reject – Chauvin’s actions. The televised trial, with testimony from other police officers, including Arradondo, was an extraordinary event. Chavin was found guilty on all…

Why I do not support the Black Lives Matter movement

Why I do not support the Black Lives Matter movementThe phrase “Black Lives Matter,” as I understand it, can be interpreted in three ways. First, one can consider it to be a philosophical statement affirming and acknowledging that, in the face of current and historical oppression, there is inherent value in the lives and experiences of people of African descent. Second, it represents a…

Alberta’s rising crime rate begs more policing, not less

'Defund the police’ movement does nothing to address the root causes of criminality

Alberta’s rising crime rate begs more policing, not lessThe year is not yet over, and Calgary has already recorded more than 26 homicides, after 20 in 2019. Edmonton has witnessed a 90 per cent spike in assaults with weapons or causing bodily harm. Unbelievably, rather than tackling this escalating violence head-on, officials have joined a utopian crusade against police. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson…

We’re too quick to condemn policing and its officers

The ugly realities of humanity are the realities police officers encounter daily

We’re too quick to condemn policing and its officersThere has been a tremendous scrutiny and criticism of policing in recent months. Policing has been the lightning rod for widespread protests. The scrutiny has provided a window into the failings of policing, specifically the systemic processes and structures that have sustained marginalization. It has also highlighted the incompetence and misconduct of a few, which…

The war on drugs is costly and off-target

A report on drug abuse released by police chiefs is less about reducing drug abuse and more about protecting police budgets and jobs

The war on drugs is costly and off-targetThe Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) recently released a 14-page report on the decriminalization of drugs. The report points to a large body of evidence illustrating the efficacy of safe consumption sites in achieving a number of health and social objectives. That’s especially true when clients are offered access to integrated health and…

Race-based police data won’t end systemic issues

Examining use of force by race or counting arrests and charges by colour isn’t about to change police culture

Race-based police data won’t end systemic issuesAfter years of resisting the recording of race-based statistics by police, there has been a sudden change of heart. Now, advocates and those seeking police reform want race-based data collected by police. In Ontario, the authorities hope that by collecting officers’ perceptions of suspects it can expose any racial biases or stereotyping within police services. The…

Forensic anthropologist helps police identify unknown victims

For Pamela Mayne Correia, the most satisfying cases are the ones she helps solve with the scarcest of skeletal remains

Forensic anthropologist helps police identify unknown victimsForensic anthropology requires guts of steel but there was one disturbing case even Pamela Mayne Correia found hard to stomach. The University of Alberta anthropologist was called in to help reconstruct and identify human remains after one of Canada’s worst mass murders, the 1992 bombing of nine replacement workers during a strike-lockout at the Giant gold mine in…

Canada is not a racist country, nor are its institutions

People want to live here because Canada is a welcoming country where all races and creeds live together without persecution

Canada is not a racist country, nor are its institutionsPrime Minister Justin Trudeau recently publicly contradicted RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki for saying there’s no systemic racism within the RCMP. Actually, Lucki said she didn’t know what “systemic racism” is. In her words, “I have to admit, I really struggle with the term ‘systemic racism.’ I have heard about five or 10 definitions on TV.…

The overblown panic of COVID-19

We trampled, in fear, over memory and institutions, obsessively protective and morally dismissive of dignity and human life

The overblown panic of COVID-19The schizophrenic aspects of Canadian culture and their influence on governments’ behaviour are increasingly evident. The most palpable example lies in how we trampled, in fear, over memory and institutions, obsessively protective and morally dismissive of dignity and human life simultaneously. The COVID-19 lockdown has been a strange time for people who are struggling to…

Police failures begin with bad leadership

Policing, despite its facade of altruism and professionalism, remains incredibly insular, self-promoting and conservative

Police failures begin with bad leadershipDespite several decades of celebrating community policing, certain communities have been over-policed, discriminated against and abused by systemic inequalities. The inequalities loudly and persistently decried are proven by the statistical realities of arrest and incarceration rates, and by the video evidence of victims of policing bias. Countries like Canada, Australia, Britain, France and the United…

Defunding police requires understanding the role of policing

Demystifying police work is needed to increase public support for major reforms, argues U of A sociologist

Defunding police requires understanding the role of policingTwo contrasting perspectives have emerged in response to recent calls to “defund” police. One perspective – espoused by some activists on the political left – holds that policing is fatally broken, can’t be fixed through any reforms and ought to be cancelled outright through financial asphyxiation. The second perspective argues that policing takes an outsized…

Bad leadership at the heart of police brutality

There’s no place for cowards, racists, sociopaths or murderers in a police department. And yet such officers are detected with alarming regularity

Bad leadership at the heart of police brutalityThe wave of protests across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd follows a lengthy list of protests against police misconduct. The list of misconduct includes: Rodney King, beaten by police on a freeway after a high-speed chase in Los Angeles (1991); Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant sodomized in a New…

What an Indigenous force can teach us about policing

Adding more weapons, equipment and officers doesn’t provide a straight line to happier and safer communities

What an Indigenous force can teach us about policingPutting more force into our police forces might seem intuitively like a logical way to more effectively fight crime. Real-life experience suggests that’s not necessarily so. Experts say when using force is available, then it’s human nature for a trained police officer to fall back on that option when the going gets rough. Too often,…
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