The Importance of Honesty, Integrity and Credibility in Policing
Should we have an honest police force? Perhaps, there is a benefit to corrupt police work we are ignoring.
These police officers under oath, who swear they are telling the truth, then cover up, twist and fabricate facts, do so in the name of justice. That is what these police officers would have the public believe. In pursuit of the ‘bad guys’, they stop citizens with the guise of a routine traffic stop, such as speeding, or running a traffic light, then discover something they can arrest them with – or not. Sometimes, they get lucky and find something.
Toronto Star reporters, Jesse McLean and David Bruser, report that Toronto Police Officer, Scott Aikman did fabricate facts. In court, the judge stated that Aikman, “either fabricated or concealed evidence” to justify a van search. The four suspects accused of leading an international credit-card-data-theft ring, walked free. No justice served. Officer Aikman claims that if he had done anything wrong, the force would have investigated his conduct.
If Officer Aikman believes he did nothing wrong by stopping suspects on alleged traffic stops, then fabricate facts in court to help the justice system convict the suspects, no one in our community is safe. Our human rights are not safe and any police officer, without impunity can allege anything, then back that up in court with fabricated evidence that is then accepted as truth. Rather than the lawmakers serving justice, the individual police officer becomes the sole judge, manipulating the justice system to his whim.
If the justice system is manipulated rampantly, the public will lose faith in its system. We must remember that the justice system serves us as a community. If the justice system is not reliable, does not seek the truth, then any one of us could be framed, convicted, end up in jail at the whim of a police officer with a biased opinion, enraged with the last traffic stop that did not go well, stressed from repetitive work that alters his outlook on humanity by viewing society as a dangerous place to live with everyone surely a criminal of some design.
Reporters, McLean and Bruser write, Chief Blair would not be interviewed and his spokesman, Mark Pugash, accused the Star reporters of bias and said, “your story can not be taken seriously. A judge can comment on anything he or she wishes. Such comment, however, does not amount to a finding of guilt.”
Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, Barrister and Solicitor, author of ‘The Politics of Judicial Diversity and Transformation’ referring to court transcripts sums it up this way, ’ …in the final transcripts, contentious words or statements which had been uttered in open court during a trial…when the transcripts arrive, those words are no longer in the transcript.’ Hamalengwa adds, ‘It cannot be emphasised enough that obstruction of justice by anyone leads to miscarriage of justice for one party or another.’
McLean and Bruser refer to statements made by Alok Mukerjee, Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, ‘while officer discipline is controlled by the chief, as spelled out in the police act, Mukerjee is seeking legal advice on whether there is a punishment the police board, on its own, can levy to deter lying under oath: blocking promotion of officers caught doing it.
In the meantime, there seems to be no legal remedy. If the police chief, under the Police Services Act, does not find the officer guilty of obstructing justice, that police officer is free to stop another citizen during a routine traffic stop with suspicion of criminal activity. The trouble with this, is a rogue cop who believes he is right, can destroy an ordinary citizen’s life. Having committed no crime, even one incident of carding or racial profiling destroys the credibility, integrity and character of an individual, perhaps making it impossible for that citizen to find work and support his family. This injustice, run rampant, has the power to destroy a whole community.
One rogue cop did more than destroy an individual’s character and integrity. On February 3rd, 2012, this police officer shot and killed Michael Eligon. Curtis Rush, a Toronto Star reporter refers to a video shot by a French television crew, writes, ‘two SIU (Special Investigations Unit) investigators suggest to witnesses to the Eligon shooting that they don’t realize how dangerous the situation was, and one of them is seen making a stabbing motion with his arm.’
Certainly, the witnesses thought the stray bullets from the officers revolvers, that punctured a porch window and nearby garbage can were more dangerous than the blunt end scissors held at Michael’s sides. Although police are inferring that Michael could have raised his arm to stab an officer, Milverton Ave. residents watched as Michael Eligon walked calmly wearing only a hospital gown, toque and socks towards the police officers without a word spoken. He was then shot, dead, with 12 police officers surrounding him who could have used any other method of altering the outcome and chose not to.
The SIU with their police badges and insignias have not earned the trust of the public while they do everything they can to support the very police they are supposed to be investigating.
A call for action requires immediate correction to this power imbalance. The police chief must not be the only responsible party to discipline the police force under the Toronto Police Services Act. The SIU, investigating police misconduct, must not include former police officers as members. There must be a shift away from this power imbalance, bringing justice for all concerned.
A request is being made by the Never Again! Coalition and The Black Action Defence Committee to re-investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Michael Eligon.
This re-investigation should not include the police, should be conducted with an unbiased, impartial, and knowledgeable group of concerned citizens. Only then, could the truth be realized.