June 7, 2010
Michael Staples, The Daily Gleaner
Everything from taser use to media perspective on police and public confidence will be on the table for discussion as professionals from across Canada gather this week in Fredericton.
The Canadian Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement is holding its annual national conference in the city. It gets underway today and runs through Wednesday.
The national non-profit organization is a collection of individuals and agencies involved in the oversight of police officers in Canada.
It's dedicated to advancing the concept, principles and application of civilian oversight of law enforcement in this country and abroad.
The three-day event at the Delta Fredericton Hotel includes a variety of panel discussions designed to tackle issues and concerns before the public.
Peter Seheult, chairman of the New Brunswick Police Commission, said the conference represents a great opportunity for professionals to get together and compare notes and to develop ways that police and civilian oversight can work together.
"It's understood by the public more and more that police, because of the extraordinary powers they are given by society, have to be very careful to maintain the support of the public they serve," Seheult said.
"Most police officers are quite cognizant of the fact that civilian oversight plays a role in strengthening their support from the public."
Seheult said it's important to explore new initiatives and ideas because acts that govern policing and its oversight are often updated in other jurisdictions across the country.
Highlighting proceedings will be an examination Tuesday morning of tasers as a policing tool.
"The use of the conducted energy weapon (taser) by the police continues to be an issue affecting the public's confidence in the police," stated the conference agenda.
"The manner in which taser usage is assessed will depend on the point of view of the various players involved."
The panel is expected to examine the state of police policies and public confidence in this area from the perspectives of the police, civilian oversight and human rights.
"The goal is to build an appreciation of the variety of issues raised by this weapon, including where opinions overlap or diverge, depending on the role and interests of the player," further stated the agenda.
Other areas slated for examination during the conference include: the changing landscape of civilian oversight of police; media perspective on police and public confidence; police perspective on civilian oversight; and how members of the public view civilian oversight in Canada.
Michael Boudreau, a criminology professor at St. Thomas University, said he likes the fact the conference is bringing police together with members of the civilian oversight body, but wishes there was more input from the academic community.
Boudreau, who's participating in one of the panel discussions, said it's important to have that point of view.
"Hopefully, the conference will help to change some people's perspective on things like tasering and the need for more civilian oversight of police," Boudreau said.
"But I would like to have seen more participation from people within the academic community who study policing issues from across the country - whether that's studying police professionalism, tasering or human rights."
WELCOME to TRUTH ... not TASERS
Monday, June 07, 2010
June 7, 2010