RCMP Spin

I was listening to the radio a couple of days ago and they were interviewing the new RCMP communications officer about the information that the Force had issued immediately after the tasering and death of Robert  Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport. The officer was pushing the story that the information the RCMP had initially issued to the public was an honest mistake and was insistent that even if the video hadn’t been made of the incident that the true story would have eventually come out, reiterating numerous times that “truth would out”.

It was not a very convincing interview – at least not from my point of view. The police are well known for protecting their own. The ranks close.

But even if it was an honest mistake the decision was made to not issue a correction.

An RCMP spokesman said Wednesday that top police brass made a
deliberate decision not to correct misinformation the Mounties had told
the media about Robert Dziekanski’s death, and also admitted the RCMP
didn’t want a damning bystander video of the Tasering released.

and that

the misinformation about Dziekanski wouldn’t be corrected until the file was closed.

The media spokesman that I listened to on the radio said that it was important for the police to be truthful and factual about information that they give out to the public in order to maintain their credibility and the trust of the public. Unfortunately they seem to be recognized this truism a little late in the game.

However it appears that what police may have learned from the Dziekanski affair is more about making sure that no one is allowed to take any pictures where they are involved in an incident.

In this case seizing equipment from a professional photographer working for the Province newspaper:

Vancouver’s chief of police has apologized for the seizure of a newspaper photographer’s camera following a police shooting on Sunday, and clarified his department’s policy for seizing cameras and video equipment.

And this from a man using his cellphone to film the police shooting of a Vancouver homeless man:

Smolcic said he was across the street when he saw Hubbard slowly pull a knife from his backpack, and then one of the two officers on the scene pulled out their gun and shot the man.

Smolcic said he did not see Hubbard advance toward the officer before he was shot.

“No, absolutely not. He was very shaky, but he wasn’t making any moves toward the police at all that I saw,” he told CBC News.Maybe a different lesson was learned.

Smolcic said he continued to film the incident after Hubbard was shot, until he was approached by an officer.

“He saw me filming and he came up to me and he asked to see my cellphone. He had my cellphone for a few minutes, and it appeared as though he was previewing the film. He gave me back my cellphone, probably about four or five minutes after he took it, told me to get lost, and of course, I did.”

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2 Responses to “RCMP Spin”

  1. Gary Says:

    Gee. Would the RCMP lie? Or mislead journalists or the public?

    How far they have fallen: from the symbol of our country to the Keystone Kops in need of rehabilitation.

  2. thenonconformer Says:

    Public complaints against the RCMP climbed by almost 35 per cent in the year ending March 31, the force’s watchdog said in an annual report that also cited continuing concerns about the Mounties’ use of Tasers. The Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP said the most common public gripe against RCMP members during the last fiscal year–one in five — involved allegations of rude, dismissive, biased or non-responsive behaviour by an officer. Bad attitude was closely followed by complaints about the quality of RCMP criminal investigations, ranging from allegations of improper witness interviews and improper handling of evidence to concealment of facts or misleading reports. These accounted for 17.3 per cent of the complaints. The report by the independent review body, which was released Thursday, said the number of public complaints increased to 1,692 in 2008-09, up from 1,258 the previous year and 956 in 2006-07. The commission, which is headed by Paul Kennedy, took credit for issuing a report a year ago that has pushed the RCMP to rethink Taser use, training and reporting. The commission said, however, it still has concerns. Among other things, it said it is conducting an investigation into all in-custody deaths up to February 2009 involving the use of a Taser by a member of RCMP. It also said it plans to release its final report by Sept. 7 into the death of Robert Dziekanski, the Polish man who died after being Tasered by RCMP officers at Vancouver’s international airport. Based on the commission’s analysis of the 2008 statistics, the report said, the Taser is increasingly being used as a deterrent. It said the weapon was taken out of the holster but not fired in almost 50 per cent of the cases it was used. Still, the commission said, it’s concerned that calls involving “mental health” or “suicide” resulted in more Taser deployments than any other incident type, especially when there was no evidence in the usage reports that mental health calls were any more risky than other incident types. Kennedy warns there is a growing perception of a trust deficit with the RCMP that must be addressed. “The trust deficit can be eliminated by increasing transparency and accountability of RCMP activities by means of an enhanced regime for civilian review of RCMP activities,” he wrote. “Failure to address this issue increases the risk that distrust will become the dominant characteristic of the public-police discourse.” http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Gripes+against+RCMP+jump/1688792/story.html

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