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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

EDITORIAL: RCMP must deal with taser incidents honestly

March 3, 2009
Keremeos Review

The Braidwood Inquiry, investigating the tasering death of Robert Dziekanski got underway in Vancouver last week.

The testimony has not been complimentary to the RCMP involved in the incident, at least not so far.

From police claiming that they feared for their safety, to a video shot of the incident that contradicts police statements, the police are doing little to enhance their own reputation, or put the public at ease regarding the legitimacy of taser use.

In conjunction with the Braidwood Inquiry, we are also hearing disturbing things about possible excessive use of force regarding Sergeant Gary Macahonic of the Princeton RCMP detachment.

There was a pubic outcry recently when Princeton’s Victim Services Manager’s contract was suddenly terminated. Members of the public labelling themselves “Operation Rosemary” began looking into the past history of Sergeant Macahonic and found that he is facing at least one lawsuit as a result of “excessive force.” In several instances uncovered by the group, it would appear that his trouble comes from a rather liberal approach to the use of the taser. Internal RCMP investigations were performed in each of three taser use incidents, including one involving a handcuffed, disabled man, and the internal investigations exonerated Sergeant Macahonic in all instances. In the meantime, he was promoted from Corporal to Sergeant.

For the most part, we have no issues with the police, most of whom do an excellent job under continuously difficult circumstances. But when incidents like the take place, it is counterproductive for the RCMP to protect its own when evidence is so damming. The public will judge these affairs based on the evidence, in spite of any spin or coverup the RCMP might attempt. And in spite of the need for an officer to conduct himself with conviction, self assuredness and assertiveness, there can be no room for bullying or brutality in the conduct of our peace officers.

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