Final thoughts on Robert Dziekanski

As the media blitz dies down, I doubt if we will ever know all of the facts as to where most of the blame lies in Robert D Dziekanski’s death at the Vancouver airport.

From the beginning, I thought that once the investigation got underway we would find that much of the blame would get passed back to Customs. Dziekanski spent at least nine hours in that area and if he had passed through there into the main area in the normal amount of time there would never have been a confrontation.

But when you read the details of his time in the customs area and what transpired there the view gets a little fuzzy. He did get processed and he did have an opportunity while being processed to talk with someone who had at least a working knowledge of the Polish language. But once processed, he went back to the baggage area inside the secure section. Not only did he have a language problem he was also a very inexperienced flyer who had no knowledge of how the traffic flow went.

There have been comments made in the media that the Airport ‘lost’ Dziekanski, but in the time he was in the Customs area, 4,000 other travelers passed through. One person doesn’t even register.

The Airport management has said that they will add more surveillance cameras etc., but technology will not solve the problem. You need more intelligent communications between the various organizations and that did seem to be lacking, or perhaps more to the point, a lack of responsibility to follow through on any communications received. Not an uncommon problem in large organizations: no-one takes ownership of the problem.

Which of course brings us back to the taser issue.

There seems to be no question that the RCMP officers were far too hasty with their use of the Taser gun. There appeared to be no attempt to make any verbal contact with Dziekanski. They went with what appears to be the new police philosophy when dealing with disturbances: Taser first and defend your actions afterward. In this case, they added to the problems by piling on in the aftermath – which also seems to becoming a standard technique. Whether Dziekanski’s death was caused by the multiple shocks the RCMP officers gave him or by the physical trauma is something that hopefully will be determined by the medical examiners.

Regardless, the tasering and death of Robert Dziekanski is only one incident in many that have been recorded across North America and the use of the Taser is very much being questioned by the media and politicians and is being vigorously defended by police spokespersons.


I have always thought that that the use of the Taser by police had great promise for certain situations where, with no other option, they would have to resort to the use of deadly force. Unfortunately the Taser seems to have become the police go-to tool for any and every situation short of using deadly force. In fact in reading of some of the incidents I get the distinct impression that it is being used as a punishment tool.

It’s not that the Taser is a bad tool for police work, it’s just that it is being used far to casually by police and in many cases its use would appear to border on abuse.



One Response to “Final thoughts on Robert Dziekanski”

  1. Wilson Says:

    Very good article. I would only add that it’s unfortunate that the RCMP officers had to lie about the incident.

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