Wednesday, February 20, 2008

RCMP Goons (in the making)

We discussed a recent ruling, limiting police powers of search and seizure, here.

Now we see the results:
Surrey RCMP made sure they not only knocked and announced their arrival at the million-dollar home of a suspected pot grower this week, but they blared a police siren as well.

The innovative approach to executing a search warrant was in response to a B.C. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month in which police were blasted for not giving enough warning to a pot grower before breaking down his door.

Justice Catherine Bruce dismissed the charges against Van Dung Cao, who was found with 700 pot plants, because police waited just two minutes after knocking before using a battering ram on his side door.

The controversial ruling left police flabberghasted and wondering what more they didn't to do to execute search on suspected drug houses.

So this week, they arrived in a marked police car at another suspected grow op at 85th Ave & 171 St. As they knocked and announced their arrival, they also turned on the police siren before entering and finding 1,600 pot plants.

The double-barrelled warning seemed to alert the residents, RCMP Sgt. Roger Morrow said in a news release.

"The two combined appear to have garnered the attention of the residents, one seen coming to a set of Venetian blinds, seeing police and then quickly retreating back into the confines of the home," Morrow said.

"Once getting through the barricaded front door, police located two further reinforced doors on the upper floor. While clearing the home looking for occupants, police located a rope ladder ready for use at a second floor window. The occupants, two Asian males and one female were subsequently found hiding in the attic having pulled a step ladder up behind them after accessing a hole in the ceiling."

Morrow earlier told The Vancouver Sun that Bruce's ruling did not give appropriate consideration to the fact police could face violence if they give too much warning to suspected drug traffickers.

And Solicitor-General John Les said a longer lag time would essentially give organized criminals time to "lock and load" before police entered.

Morrow said the house entered this week was worth at least a million dollars and that the grow op found inside was "extensive."
We need to keep in mind the larger picture behind all of this. When our legal system consistently tells police officers that they are not to be trusted to use professional judgment in cases like this (or in more serious matters dealing with organized crime, or even terrorism, the two being sometimes linked by the drug trade) and that in order to protect citizens from the potential for a police state, we will throw out cases of clear criminality, just because police have not met requirements for some arbitrarily-defined two minute plus warning, then we are demeaning the members of a profession that is essential to the integrity of a civilized form of society. This is not football.

Police need to be accountable for their actions, but to make them accountable to some peculiar judicial ruling that does not allow for the necessary freedom of responsible professional judgment, as determined by officers on the scene, officers who will be held accountable for their screw ups, is to belittle the policing profession; and this will only likely mean that fewer people with skills and integrity will consider joining the profession. If certain judges are prone to see cops as toxic males with guns, there is no surer way to realize this prophecy than to treat cops accordingly. There once was a time, a couple of generations ago, when police brutality towards presumed criminals was not an uncommon thing, or so my reading of history leads me to believe. There was a good argument then for toughening up the rights of suspects, even throwing out cases where evidence had been gained through police violence, so that cops might know it was fruitless to use heavy-handed methods.

But there is a law of diminishing returns for every revelation and truth about our humanity that we hold dear. And we have surely realized it now in regard to treating police like dangerous thugs who can't be trusted to do their job in the face of an epidemic drug criminal culture in British Columbia. If we let our fears of a police state rule our every consideration about police conduct, we will just be making life easier for organized crime and, possibly, terrorists. Those judges who hold our police in such low regard that they throw out cases against clear criminals, as if that were the only way to insure police are responsibly policing their own members, need to hear that they are not a special elect who know what ordinary police good sense cannot. I hope someone will tell Justice Catherine Bruce that her apparent high regard for our rights as citizens in a free society should not extend to making asses of good cops.

We may yet return to a violent time when it is up to us, and no one else, to do something about the drug dealers next door. Such was the world before the rise of professional police, in the nineteenth century, that great and much maligned institution of modern civilization.


Vancouver visitor said...

We may yet return to a violent time when it is up to us, and no one else, to do something about the drug dealers next door

Weren't there already a few cases of vigilantes targeting crack houses in the Lower Mainland in the last few years?

truepeers said...

I don't recall hearing about that; something along those lines occurred in Nova Scotia, I think

Dag said...

I'm very big on "law and order." I don't give a damn what people do in their own lives, it not being my business how they live, my own life not qualifying me to claim any expertise in even that. "Mistakes? I've made a few." And then one could begin the finger-pointing and the recalling and the so on. I don't know. I keep finding out as I go on, and I'm always surprised and often disturbed, sometimes elated. But I don't know, and I couldn't enforce it if I did. I wouldn't. Freedom is too important to substitute for being right. So I shy away from the police. I prefer the ambiguity and the strangeness of the way of it all. But I am dead keen on law and order. How so?

I do not have to shoot anyone in the course of my day. I live in a crime-infested city where the law is scoffed at on a continuous basis by nearly all. And yet there is some order still. For now. The law is trashed but the order is still in the neighborhoods. The police are still honest. They still do their jobs as professionals. The police still keep order, even while the courts make a mockery of the law. I like order, and I want law as well. It's not too much to ask for.

When the balance is extremely out of balance, when the police are the social order and there is no other law, then we find terror. That utopia with law but no police? Maybe in law school classrooms. Here the law is not legal but legalistic. It is a Scholastic exercise in counting angels on the heads of pins. So far the police and the general public have not gone loco. But things are wrong, and the traditional Canadian is not the person who resides in this nation any longer. Now there are people from nations where the law is an evil menace, where the police turns out to be "a 17 year old psychopath with a grade four education and an M16." Our police are good so far, but it cannot last.

The word "police" comes I think from the word polis, or city. The word Gendarme, as we discussed recently, coming from "the armed people." We need that, whether experts or not, professionals or simply people in the neighborhood with shotguns. We cannot continue to have hippies smoking pot and passing laws for the lot of us and scolding us for being stupid or bigoted. Law and order is for the people, not for the state and its bewigged nesters.

I might well live a ridiculous life, but it's within the bounds of common decency, within the Human order, if you will. I think I follow the laws of common Humanness to a fair degree. It is when the state can't do nearly as well as I that we'll find outrage and violence committed privately. I don't ask for much, just law and order. It's pretty simple.

Dag said...

The link above takes us to this:

Feb 25, 2008
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Greg Felton
Library Events - VPL
Location: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch 350 W. Georgia St., Alma VanDusen and Peter Kaye room
An event held in conjunction with Freedom to Read week. Greg Felton presents his book "The Host and the Parasite: How Israel's Fifth Column Consumed America." A journalist since 1993, Felton has won several awards for investigative reporting and column writing. (Free admission)
Date: Monday Feb 25, 2008
Vancouver Public Library
Contact: Programming Office (604) 331-4044

Thanks for that. Hope to see you there.

Vancouver visitor said...

This trashing of a crack house from 2002 rings a bell. It happened in Victoria though, not the Lower Mainland. While researching this, I came across quite a few comments on various forums, on how seedy parts of Victoria are.