By Yvonne Sam
It has become apparent, that the right people in the right positions are seemingly not willing to do what is necessary to solve the problem. Some are afraid to go against the grain, some are hesitant, some are programmed, but all, or some, of the above are part of the problem.
So, what then will bring finality to police brutality?
Changing the narrative will certainly go a long way in bringing about change. The treatment of African-Canadians are in direct correlation to the perception of Blacks, by definition. We are not “black” and have never been that color, and lexicons replete with negative definitions of the word, “black”, are not a coincidence.
The current trend is to protect the police officer from the system, before protecting the citizen from it. This definitely has to change. In the meantime, what else can be done to end police brutality?
1. Immediate installation of an Undercover Special Investigative Field Units, designed to expose and remedy the system that protects corrupt cops, that is filled with White police chiefs, judges, police union members and fellow police officers. Remember if you protect a bad cop , you are just as guilty as he/she is.
- Render inoperative any support network that protects bad cops, and reduce police union authority and control. The police brotherhood has, for far too long, maintained a stranglehold on the justice system.
- Accountability and review by citizen agencies is absolutely necessary.
- Good cop performance rewards and incentives to deter bad behavior.
- Dissolve, limit and/or revise qualified immunity for officers. Qualified immunity suggests that police are above the law. The doctrine of immunity is a ruse, a license to abuse, and a not too subtle confirmation that some of us will always be above the law. It encourages people to do bad things. It promotes a sense of invincibility, superiority, entitlement, and outrage toward others, who forget to bow in the presence of their masters.
- Citizen Review Boards with teeth and authority,
- Legal consequences for cops, who help, support or cover for bad cops. This is part of how to disable the blue code/code of silence/wall of silence.
- Immediate and continued training of citizens on their rights and how to handle a police encounter.
- Regular verification of police department monthly performance standards that include severe reductions of police brutality cases. Rewards, incentives or penalties for the entire department.
- Pre-screening of officers that includes social media, membership affiliations and past statements.
- Swift, decisive legal consequences and punishments for bad cops (loss of performance, regular jail and prison, disable blue code, put these in their contracts). Making a legal and lawful example out of bad cops, just like the courts and police officers do with citizens, will make a huge difference.
- Better psychological screening of police officers before hiring, and automatic psychological assessments when they are involved in police brutality incidents.
I remain cognizant of the fact that all of the recommendations will not be effected by the same department. Attainment of these solutions calls for courage, real courage. I am not anti-police it’s plain to see; I am just downright against police brutality.
The bad cops must be stopped.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Chair of the Rights and Freedom Committee at the Black Community Resource Centre. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.