The recent reaction by Winnipeg Police to the actions of an idiot (and that is being kind) shining a laser beam at the police helicopter is an example of a poorly conceived media strategy.
The incident, although deadly serious and with grave potential for serious consequences for the helicopter crew, is of the type that is best dealt with in a low-key manner.
By expressing such immediate and public outrage at the incident, the police are exposing their raw nerves to other potential fools. An isolated incident that could have been effectively dealt with and without fanfare has instead resulted in a media furor – one that has spun out of the control and out of the hands of police. It has grown legs.
When police over react, the media will over react, which is what we are seeing. One news outlet actually featured a rambling interview with the suspect marvelling at how by simply using a two-bit laser pen, he was almost able to bring down a 3 million dollar helicopter. This only serves to sensationalize what is a serious issue. The suspect was nabbed quickly and efficiently by the police. No fanfare was needed.
Police officials have provoked a media circus with the potential of rousing other fools in the possession of two-bit laser pointers who may now feel the urge to tear themselves away from their video games and play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with police.
…Not to mention all of the lesser fools who now know they can divert the helicopter from more serious crimes in the same way – as if they didn’t know how to do that already.
It’s worse than being an ill conceived media strategy, because IMHO it involves ‘charge overkill’ – an abuse of the judicial process.
Not that it isn’t a serious issue, BUT the physical effects of the ’99 cent cat toy’ lasers being aimed at aircraft is more an issue of flash blindness, an annoyance rather than imminent danger, even with night vision googles.
It’s probably something the obviously ‘net savey Sheldon Friesen is aware of since he’s claimed in the media that it was an E-bay purchase.
He likely understands that what he ‘supposedly had’ is a class 1 laser device, and the Crown may have a hell of a time proving anything other than perhaps a relatively minor incident. See http://bit.ly/PuI2z
What the hoopla in the United States that lead to passage of a bill about lasers as a weapon had to do with the very real dangers of the use of Class IV lasers, which are being marketed to the public for roughly $300.
Is Sheldon Friesen a jerk with a cat toy, or have the WPD broken trail while walking down the garden path – time will tell.
PS I wore the buffalo before you – LOL
[…] more than he bargained for with his eBay purchase. However, while former dep. chief Menno Zacharias makes a point in his blog about how police responded with a heavy hand to the incident, there’s an argument to be made […]
James: I think you may have misinterpreted the point I was making. I think that identifying and charging the person involved was certainly called for and the appropriate thing to do. The issue I raised had to do with how the police sensationalized the incident to the point where it developed a life of its own. The interesting thing about the interview with the chief that you reference is that at least two other serious issues brought up by the host (ICE Unit staffing and the the perjury case) were essentially blown off while the laser incident got front and center treatment.