Thursday, 14 May 2009

A few notes on Canadian law enforcement

Having been around here for a while, I've been taking a few mental notes about how the RCMP and Canadian police forces do things. It's nothing startling, just stuff I see done over here that works.

I think the major factor is visibility. Mrs S and I were dining in a restaurant the other night, and in pop four armed-to-the-teeth RCMP Officers, for an alarming moment I thought they were after someone, but no, they simply sat down and ordered a meal. Presumably on their break. Before now I've been sitting in Coffee shops locally and five minutes later there's an on street beat meeting between four or five bicycle cops. My thoughts on the matter? Hey, they pay for their own coffee, so why not?

The guns make me a bit edgy, but that's just me. In the past (In the UK) I've had 12 gauge (12 bore) shotguns waved around under my nose, and on one particular nightmare inducing occasion a Smith and Wesson .38, so yes, someone else having a gun when I don't automatically makes me a leedle bit twitchy. However, I'm getting used to the idea of having armed cops around. In a way I find it reassuring.

The main part of the reassurance factor comes from having Police Officers behaving just like regular folks in public instead of simply swooping from unseen heights down to confront evil doers like some comic book superhero. The fact that they are armed with batons, Glock automatics, Tazers, and I think Pepper spray is merely a sign of what they are up against. When one hears of automatic weapons being found at a Cocaine dealers stash in Extension (About ten kilometres south of town) recently, you understand what they have to confront on a day to day basis.

I have always been of the opinion that Law Enforcement is best done at a personal level, and cannot be done at a distance by cameras and other automated devices without alienating the very people it is meant to serve. For law is meant to support the peaceful activities of those it serves, because law should be the servant, not the master. To do otherwise would be to retreat into a kind of modern day feudality where the political classes have the power to remotely manage the day to day lives of the people, and that approach has been tried, tested and found wanting.

For the most part I think, the balance over here is right. It's one of the reasons I like it here in BC. There's something so, well, human about it all.

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