LETTERS: Canada’s policing model is overreaching, inefficient

Editor:

Re: New vision is needed for policing in Canada, June 11

As outlined in Matthew Claxton’s column, the existing model for policing in Canada seems to be both overreaching, inefficient and not the best use of our tax dollars.

The use of armed officers, who are not trained to deal with homeless, addiction and mental illness issues can also escalate a situation when the offender is faced with an armed and uniformed response.

The recent example in New Brunswick, where armed officers were dispatched to do a ‘wellness check’ on an Indigenous woman, had unforeseen and tragic consequences when she apparently wielded a knife –was that because she saw a uniform and officers with guns? The response, when a 911 call is placed and assessed, should result in the correct abilities, knowledge and equipment being deployed to de-escalate the situation and provide the care or force necessary.

Before the George Floyd incident was met with tragic and unnecessary force in Minneapolis, there have been a number of efforts in the U.S. to redesign police forces. One other main difference in the U.S. is the 2nd Amendment-based ability of everyone to carry a firearm.

The well-known redesign was with the Camden, NJ force which initially resulted in a more responsive, measured and cost-efficient force which more effectively represented the various ethnic groups in the Camden area.

However, in that case, and in response to many other initiatives both in the U.S. and in Canada, the big stumbling block seems to be the negative reaction of union leaders to any considered changes and to any response to deal with recurring bad behaviour by officers.

Rather than ‘being part of the solution,’ unions see this as a threat to their members, the ‘status quo’ and the revenues coming from highly-paid officers when many situations could be addressed with more efficient resources and fewer officers.

Wayne G. Mercer, South Surrey

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