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Friday, April 12, 2013

Bad apples behind badges


I don’t trust cops.

No, I’m not in a gang, I’m not writing rap songs, and pretty much the only illegal thing I’m doing these days is forgetting to turn my blinker off after I change lanes, old-man-style. Nevertheless, cops spook me. I see one drive by, and I imagine the cruiser is driven by a hawk-eyed fanatic just waiting to catch me going 52 in a 50 zone, or stopping a foot over the thick white stop-line at a light. He’ll drag me from the car, treat me like Rodney King, and in spite of my protestations over my civil rights (or maybe because of them), I’ll end up the lone nerd in a jail cell filled with Brandon’s worst. (Do you have any idea how long a guy as sarcastic as I am would last in prison? A count of three, I’m thinking.)

Oh, sure, the cop is going to (maybe) be in all manner of trouble over abusing me. He’ll be suspended (with pay, likely - what kind of world do we live in where suspension with pay is considered a punishment, anyway? But that’s another post, frankly.). Maybe up on charges, maybe lose his job, maybe just get passed over for promotion for the rest of his life. Or he might get away with it, defended by his fellows in the “Guys with Badges Club” we read about in the papers. Either way, it doesn’t much matter to me, as I’ve already been beaten, humiliated, abused, and given a half dozen mental scars that will take decades to heal.

They have the power, you see, and that’s what is scary about them. If they take it into their head they don’t much care for the way you’re talking or behaving, they have clubs, guns, pepper spray, and tasers (with batteries that last for WAY too many uses - just what are these stupid things designed for, anyway? Tasing riots?). Childhood experiences taught me that the police services attract a lot of bullies into their ranks, and all the intellectual truth of the average cop being a decent person doesn’t do much to wash away those lessons learned as a kid. Nor does it help when you read about cops covering up crimes for their fellows, or embarking on systematic harassment of their female peers.

Now we have Rehtaeh Parsons. If you’re not familiar with this case, look it up. If you’re too lazy, here’s the tragedy in a nutshell (most of this is “allegedly,” meaning it’s never been proven, but I’m not going to write the word fifty times - consider it inserted wherever it belongs):

At 15, Rehtaeh was raped by four boys during a party. Pictures were taken. She then suffered two years of teasing, harassment, and bullying before finally attempting to kill herself; she died a few days later in hospital on April 7. No charges were filed against her attackers because the police called it a “he said, she said” case and had no compelling evidence.

As you can imagine, there has been something of a justified outcry this week about bullying, police incompetence, violence against women, and how we can best protect our kids. Today Halifax police announced they were reopening the case. “New and credible information has been brought forward” in the last few days, according to them. That may well be the situation, but I don’t buy it for a second.

Don’t misunderstand. The cops should be doing their job here. Catch the rapists, please. There is no justice in a case like this, but when humans do something this wrong, even if they’re kids, there should be life-changing consequences. You don’t have to be over 18 to know that gang-raping a drunk girl is wrong. But what I’m saying is that the cops sat on this thing and did nothing. Maybe they didn’t believe her story, I don’t know. The thing is, pictures of the rape were available on Facebook! Surely the police are familiar with this mystical on-line confession room. And can you honestly tell me if the cops snatched up the four boys involved, put them in separate rooms, and played them against each other, at least one of them wouldn’t crack inside an hour? I’m not talking about pistol whipping interrogation; just get detailed stories, compare them, find the inconsistencies, more questions, find a crack, pursue it… this isn’t rocket science, people. If Rehtaeh was the daughter of the local police chief, you’d better believe the cops would have found the truth. Without the media frenzy, the cops would never have done a damn thing, proven by the fact they sat on this case for TWO FREAKING YEARS!!

What I smell is the same sexist attitude I grew up with: she was drunk, she was asking for it. Why should four good boys suffer for one mistake? Let’s just forget about it and move on.

Not so easy when you’re the victim, I suspect.

The worst part now, in the aftermath, is that the rapists might get punished, but the police officers who let Rehtaeh’s case drop will just get to carry on being assholes.

Still more cops that don’t deserve our trust.

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