How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police

Well known comedian Chris Rock performed a  public service when he put out the video that outlines in a humorous manner how to “avoid getting your ass kicked by the police”.

Although based on the American experience, most of Rock’s ‘hints’ are as applicable in Winnipeg as anywhere else. Following  these common sense  suggestions might save you time and aggravation if you were to have an encounter with the police.

Hint #1  Obey the law

Most law abiding citizens have fewer  negative encounters with police than those who break the law.  Most people have a pretty good idea as to what is and is not legal.  If you don’t,  find out what the law is (in most cases a quick Google search will tell you) and obey it.  That way in the event you are stopped you know what the outcome is going to be.  You will be leaving on your own and end up at home as opposed to the Remand Center courtesy of  a black and white taxi.

Hint #2   Stop Immediately

If the police are attempting to pull you over they usually have a reason for doing so.  Perhaps you violated the Highway Traffic Act or you (and/or your vehicle) match the description of a person or vehicle wanted for a crime recently committed, or you are riding in a stolen car.  Once you see the flashing lights – stop.  Your encounter with police will be less traumatic it they don’t have to chase you down.

Hint #3 Be Polite

Most police officers, when they stop you, will be polite.  Be polite in return.  Do not give the police a reason to not be polite.  If your car is bouncing up and down with the music, take Chris Rock’s advice and ‘turn that shit off’.  If you are asked for your drivers license and registration (which police are entitled to do if you are driving a car), produce them.

Hint #4  If stopped stay in your car with your hands visible

With the number of illegal weapons (guns, tasers, peppers spray) on the street, police have a legitimate concern for their safety when they stop you either as a pedestrian or driving a vehicle.  If the police pull you over while driving your vehicle stay in the vehicle and keep your hands where police can see them.  Don’t be reaching under the seat or your glove box as police walk up to your vehicle.  They may think (and legitimately so) that you are reaching for a weapon.  Stay in the car until police ask you to get out.  If you are stopped as a pedestrian, don’t reach into your pockets, or inside your coat.  If police want you to pull out your identification, they will ask you.

Hint #5  Respond to questions when asked and avoid being verbally abusive

Most times when you are stepped by police they will advise you why they stopped you.  If they don’t, politely ask them for the reason.  Yelling and screaming at police during the first stages of a stop will not work in your favour.  If police are going to ‘detain’ you even for a short period of time, be aware that every citizen has the right under Section 10 of the Charter of Right and Freedoms to being informed of the reason for the detention.  So if you are not told up front, ask –  politely.

Hint #6  Be aware of what passengers in your car have on them

If you are going to give someone a ride and you know that they usually carry a gun, drugs,  other contra ban such as stolen goods or have outstanding warrants for their arrest, you are asking for trouble.  If the police see such a person in your car you will be stopped and the stop may well be treated as a high risk take down so you and your passenger(s) may find yourselves out of the car quickly and spread eagled on the street without a lot of questions being asked.  If you don’t want that have your friend take a taxi or a bus.

Watch the video.  Chris Rock says it so well  and he’s so right.

How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police

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Taser Cams

What is a Taser Cam?  Quite simply it’s a digital audio and video recording device that’s attached to the battery that powers the Taser. 

What does the Taser Cam do?  Once the Taser is removed from its holster and activated it starts recording.

What does the Taser Cam cost?  $400 to $500 (USD) per unit.

Which model of Taser will accommodate the Taser Cam?  Model X26

Which model of Taser do the Winnipeg Police use?  Model X26

How many Tasers does the Winnipeg Police Service have?  In the range of 175

What would it cost to equip the Winnipeg Police Service with Taser Cams?  Between 70 and 90 thousand dollars

Why don’t the Winnipeg Police use Taser Cams?   That’s a question worth considering.     

Based on the 2010 capital budget submissions it seems that the Winnipeg Police Service is preparing to spend a fair bit of cash on digital recording technology.  The 2010-2015 preliminary capital budget contains $523,000.00 for digital recoding devices in interview rooms in 2012.  It also contains $1,000,000.00 (yes you read that right, it’s one million) for an officer mobile video system in 2015.  These preliminary capital budget figures would seem to suggest that capturing the actions of officers and suspects on video is of some importance. 

Capturing the actions of officers on video is especially important in circumstances where force is used.  This became very apparent as the Braidwood Inquiry into the RCMP use of Taser at the Vancouver airport unfolded.  The Braidwood Inquiry was able to rely on some video recorded by a by-stander but in most cases police use of Tasers is unrecorded.  Unrecorded, despite the fact that the technology to do so exists, and is relatively affordable.   Using an estimate of 175 Taser units the cost of equipping the Winnipeg Police Service with Taser Cam would be under 100 thousand dollars. 

With the existing climate in Canada regarding Taser use it is in everyone’s interest to record their use.  A video of each and every Taser deployment would establish an unbiased record of what took place.  It would serve to protect both the public and the police.  It would curb any misuse of Tasers by police, and it would nullify complaints against police about Taser use in situations where they were clearly appropriately deployed.  

Perhaps this is any area where Standing Committee on Protection and Community Services could ask the police to do a study and submit a report.  Careful examination might reveal that although the police have not asked for and perhaps don’t want Taser Cams, they may actually need them.   

Pictured below (left) is the Taser Cam and (right) a Taser X26 gun.  (Images retrieved from the Taser International website on 09 11 24) http://www.taser.com/products/law/Pages/default.aspx

 

Peel’s Sixth Principle

Principle Six

To use physical force only when the  exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order; and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

This principle can be divided into two sub-principles.  The first deals with the hierarchy of approaches that should be used by police in securing observance of the law or to restore order in situations where the law has been violated.  The second deals with situations where a decision has been made that the use of physical force is appropriate and deals with the degree or amount of force that should be used. 

Peel makes it clear  the initial approach by police should be to use methods such as persuasion, advice and warning in preference to physical force.  This implies a rational approach to situations.  The corollary is that police are dealing with rational individuals.  Irrational individuals are not likely to respond positively to a verbal exchange. 

The majority of situations involving exchanges between police and citizens are rational exchanges.  This is reflected in the National Use of Force Framework promoted by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.  A visual representation of the framework is presented here to add clarity. 

  05-Nuff

 Source:  Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.  Available at: http://www.cacp.ca/media/library/download/266/Useofforcemodel.pdf 

This framework assists officers in their decision making process in terms of ensuring the approach they use is not only appropriate but also effective in the given situation they are facing.   

The chart is read starting from the 12 o’clock position.  The center of the chart represents the situation faced by a police officer and may vary from friendly/passive encounters to life and death scenarios.   

The first police response is simply a physical presence.  In many situations the presence of a police officer is all that is required to quell a situation.  The second response (the 2 o’clock position on the chart) is communication.  In many situations a conversation between an officer and a citizen(s) is all that is required to ensure compliance with the law and/or to restore order.  This second response can be related to Peel’s ‘persuasion, advice and warning’. 

The subsequent responses in the use of force framework rely on an ever increasing use of force in the form of hard physical control, intermediate weapons and ultimately the use of lethal force. 

The principle goes on to state that if non-physical measures are not adequate to secure observance of the law or to restore order then only as much force as is necessary should be used by police. 

This is an area that often causes  conflict between police and the public.  Many citizens when arrested claim that the amount of force used against them was excessive based on what their intention was.  They may have known what their intention was but the police officer did not and cannot assume what the citizen’s intention might be.  For that reason most use of force polices in Canada employ the ‘plus one doctrine’ which sees police officers use force that is one step above the force or resistance they encounter.  This approach is taken to ensure the safety of the officer. 

One of the shortcomings of the use of force policies of most policing agencies is their failure to educate the public as to what the policy is.  Proper education and perhaps even publication of the use of force policy would address the issue of people not understanding what the police are likely to do in a given situation, and why.  Using the plus one doctrine, police are justified, by policy, in using lethal force when confronted by an aggressive suspect with a weapon such as a knife,  if the suspect does not drop the weapon when ordered to do so.  Perhaps if suspects were aware of this they would be more likely to drop the knife when ordered to do so by police.

Racial Bias Exists in the Toronto Police Service

Does Racial Bias Exist within the Winnipeg Police Service?

Proposition 1     Racial bias exists in society at large.

Proposition 2     Police agencies hire employees that are representative of society.

Conclusion          Some police officers hold racially biased views.

The question should not be,” does racial bias exist?” but rather, how prevalent is it and how does it affect the delivery of police services to the citizens of Winnipeg. 

The first step in effectively dealing with racial bias in police agencies is recognition from the very top of the organization that it exists.  No organization is able to take effective steps to address an issue until it first recognizes that the issue exists.  If a police chief does not recognize that racial bias exists within a police service, then there is no need to address it.  Racial bias is not an issue that lends itself to change percolating up from the bottom of the organization.  It requires decisive leadership from the top. 

 As recently as 2002, then Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino took the position that racial bias did not exist within the Toronto Police Service.  The police union followed up with a $2.7 billion class action libel lawsuit against the Toronto Star. * Seven years later current Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair not only recognized that racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service but also recognized that racial profiling is a problem.   

The recognition by Chief Blair that racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service demonstrates true leadership.  It makes it easier for other police chiefs to admit the obvious.  If racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service it’s hard to imagine that somehow Winnipeg and other major Canadian police agencies are immune. 

In Toronto, Chief Blair has followed up with action that has created positive results in the area of female and visible minority recruitment and hiring. The hiring of women and visible minorities has increased dramatically.  Recruit classes used to have from 10-15 percent female and visible minority representation.  Women and visible minorities now account for 30-40 percent of recruits in typical recruit classes.   The Toronto Police Service has also invited the Ontario Human Rights commission to conduct a review of its policy and procedure. 

Some measures that the Winnipeg Police Service might consider to improve race relations and address the racial bias issue are:

  • Public recognition that racial bias exists within the Service and a commitment from  the top to address it;
  • Employ innovative recruiting strategies to boost the hiring of members of minority groups;
  • Revamp the mandate of the existing Race Relations Unit, and staff it appropriately;
  • Provide meaningful training and education on racial bias and racial profiling at all levels of the organization;
  • Develop partnerships with minority communities;
  • Fully investigate all race related complaints and demonstrate that race motivated misconduct will not be tolerated;
  • Develop a partnership with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and invite a review of the Service’s personnel policies and procedures;
  • Form research relationships with the two local Universities and engage in proactive research to establish the extent of racial bias within the Service and approaches to address it.

 

*The lawsuit was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada which upheld a previous Ontario Superior Court decision.