We all might be missing a few important points about this bizarre traffic stop in Vernon the other day that has garnered so much attention.
This isn’t the most egregious example of police using a little coercion or even retaliation to get what they want. In Kelowna two years ago, an officer was caught on camera pulling over a vehicle because a driver expressed some frustration that the Mountie was blocking traffic while typing away on his computer. When the cop pulled him over to ask him what his problem was, the passenger asked if the officer was distracted driving.
“Distracted driving?” the officer said. “Okay. Well we will have a look at your paint job, your rims, make sure they are high enough from the ground… I have to make sure your car is roadworthy.”
That’s not cool.
In the Vernon situation, the officer told the passenger that if he didn’t stop filming, he would give the driver a ticket. Not such a big deal beyond correlating with the Kelowna situation above and nearly establishing a troubling pattern.
But look at the video again. The vehicle that pulled in behind the civilians was an unmarked black SUV. The cop in the video looked nothing like an RCMP officer you expect in Vernon, he looked like a heavily armed member of the military, dressed in black, his POLICE identification barely visible.
The cop was not an RCMP officer. He was a New Westminster officer seconded to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, the province’s gang task force. He chose to try intimidating the young man from a lawful activity then followed him for no reason.
This officer shouldn’t be randomly pulling anyone over to check licences and registration — this is not a police state and we as citizens must guard against any steps towards that. What’s next, the RCMP Emergency Response Team doing roadside sobriety tests?
Sure the young man filming could have simply been more polite. But keep that camera rolling.
While we are on the subject of police and the astounding, frightening lack of accountability, look no further than Kamloops RCMP. Again.
On June 29, North Shore residents woke to a large police presence in the neighbourhood, random police tape and search and rescue vehicles.
It wasn’t until 2:30 p.m. that they explained what was going on. They said an officer tried to arrest a teenager at 2 a.m. for suspected bicycle theft but she escaped custody and disappeared into the Thompson River. They clearly had no idea what happened to her.
A 16-year-old girl was missing for a full 12 hours at that point and they wouldn’t provide any description of her, not her age, not her hair colour, approximate height — nothing. Did they presume she was dead? What else explains why they didn’t seek public help finding a teenage girl and let this languish?
The real irony though is that she was reported missing before this incident. The missing persons report was out there.
They held that information until July 4 when they said the girl was found in Prince George. How did she get there? The bus? Hitch-hike? Walk? Surely someone from Kamloops would have seen her, had they been given the opportunity. Thank goodness she didn’t die in the river but she could have been in just as much danger on her own.
Police still haven’t explained themselves and why would they? Until they end up in a courtroom, they don’t have to answer for anything and are immune.
I support the police and you should too, but not blindly. Never blindly. We should demand better than this.
— Marshall Jones is the editor of iNFOnews.ca