Thursday, June 9, 2011

Media and the Cops

This week, the life of an innocent bystander was unfortunately taken at the mercy of a stray bullet from a Montreal Police force service weapon.

A man (Hamel) was found ripping bags of garbage apart with a knife, in a busy area, in downtown Montreal. He had been engaged with threatening behaviour with a knife. Police interposed, shots were fired. The man in question fell, but also someone else, a 36 year old man, who just happened to be passing by at the wrong time.

And then the media circus began.
As you know, I'm married to a downtown-Montreal police officier. My brother, also is a cop for the RCMP, so yeah, I have an opinion.

Limoges' passing is unfortunate. It's unconceivable that he lost his life, at the hands of a policeman simply for passing by. However, prosecuting the police force for this occurrence serves no purpose. Never are they thanked for a job well done, but when one cop, out of 4000 Montreal policemen fires his service weapon, in a situation we'll never know the scope of-medias are the first to inflict the first casting  stone their way.

Perhaps unecessary shots were fired-but there is still no confirmation whether this was the case, or if Limoges' hit was the result of a richochet bullet. Yet, judgement has already fallen on the police force.

And then, if it was ricochet, medias will still be first to point out that the officers in question should have used a different type of constraining method. Were they there? Of course not. Have they ever been faced with a situation, an individual that is unfamiliar, and perhaps unstable, and menacing? Of course not. The police officers in question however, know that the ideal positioning is 21 feet away from a man armed with a knife. They know that statistics show it takes 1.5 seconds for an armed, healthy and motivated individual to breach those 21 feet to plunge his knife in his victim. They know that 45% of all knife stabbings are fatal. The cops reasoned with Hamel, he was in a busy area. They didn't care about the garbage, they cared about disarming him, but mostly, they worried that he might attack someone, since he was certainly unstable.

Next, there will be the argument  that Hamel, was just that, unstable, and shouldn't have been shot, since he wasn't in complete control of his acts, and wasn't completely ''there". Well, it's sad to say, but perhaps if this man is out on the streets, with a knife-then it's not the cops that aren't doing their job properly, but rather health centres, institutions, government funding and family-letting him about in this state. Food for thought?

Cops have to make quick decisions in a matter of seconds, and they don't have the time or luxury, unfortunately, to pass everyone in an interview-to establish whether or not they are stable. If security is at stake, they have to do, what they must. Again-we weren't there. Medias weren't there. Some drugs have for effect to make a man as strong as four grown man, that, and take away his rationality- if he was running towards you, with a knife…. Would you wait till he made it near you, to possibly have the opportunity to restrain him with other means, having no garanties he wouldn't stab you first, or would you shoot….?

Two men shot their weapon, not an entire police force. Perhaps it was uncessary, and if that's the case, those individuals will have to live with that fact. It's not the entire force that has to take "a bullet" for those shots. But then again, perhaps it was necessary, we don't know. We can't blame on one hand, and expect the cops to serve and protect on the other.

Let it be noted that in high-stress-level situations, it is impossible to dictate what should have been done, versus what has been done, unless one was there, in the moment.

Let it also be noted that attacking the force with criticism will only strip them of their capacity to assure security, where agents will feel insecure themselve to use necessary force, even when truly necessary, for fear of being reprimanded, by the force, by the medias, and by society.

But again, Limoges passing, is in all this, is absurd, and truly very unfortunate.

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Anonymous said...

so annoyed with the medias too, well said.