Cops Charged

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There’s a story that’s strangely quiet, and that if true, should fill you with disgust. Thankfully, Mark Bonokoski of The Toronto Sun has picked up on it, and hopefully more of our ‘Free Press’ will investigate.

In my recent blog entry on “Canadian Cops – Servants or Masters?” I was tempted to discuss the story of Jonathan Logan, but refrained from doing so. That particular blog entry was about my personal experiences – and I was not a witness to the activities of the police in May 2003.

However, I do know Jonathan Logan. I don’t know him well, I admit – but well enough to know that he does not seem to have a criminal mind or a propensity towards violence. In fact, he seems like a loving father and a typical Canadian law abiding type of person.

Therefore, it was with horror that I listened last summer to Jonathan’s story of his experiences with some OPP police officers.

Now, I realize there are two sides to every story. But I have no reason to disbelieve Jonathon’s side. And I am open minded enough to have my opinion changed and perhaps discover that Jonathon was outright lying about his experience.

But I do wonder why this story has not made national headlines. Or even headlines in Southern Ontario. If this were a complaint made by some special interest group against the police in Toronto, surely we’d be hearing more about it. Instead, this is a story about a man that owns guns, legally. Maybe law abiding gun owners don’t deserve the same column inches – we all know how much the leading newspaper in Toronto seems to despise folks who own guns. Would there be any bias here by chance?

Let’s get back to Jonathan. A young man who was asked by a local farmer to shoot some pesky groundhogs in a field. The police receive a complaint about a man with a gun. Fair enough. That’s a valid complaint to take very seriously, and use the utmost of caution.

But what happens next? There’s no dispute that they went to Jonathan’s home. That is where they arrested him. They did not find him doing anything illegal when they arrested him. His firearm was properly secured according to Canadian law. In fact, he was falsely arrested, according to Canadian Law. The police had absolutely no grounds to arrest Jonathan at this point as they had no knowledge that he had done anything illegal. All they had was a complaint which had not yet fully investigated, and there was no immediate threat. In other words, Reasonable Grounds had not yet been established. If this story is correct, it was impossible for reasonable grounds for a crime to have taken place to be established at this point.

And in fact, no charges have been laid against Jonathan in relation to the original complaint!

He was arrested as he left his vehicle. After handcuffing him, Jonathon claims he was strip searched in full public view. In view of his daughter and neighbours. Guns were pointed at his head and at his children. It would seem that Jonathon was coerced into giving the police permission to search his home. Permission that would not have been given if his son did not require life saving medicine for a heart problem – medicine that was inside his home – his home that the police would not allow anyone to enter unless the police were also going to enter.

You can read Jonathon’s version of the story here.

As Mark Bonokoski points out, it is very interesting to note that three of the police officers involved have now been charged in relation to those events that took place in May. And yet the news about this is awfully quiet.

I’ve been taken to task for my blog entry the other day, regarding the trends I’m seeing in policing. I’ve been told things like, “it’s a tough job…,” “…you should becareful about putting all cops into the same category as the bad ones…” etc etc.

But the fact of the matter is, how the OPP have handled this is further evidence of the trends I speak of, in my opinion. Their reasoning for not issuing a press release about the three officers being criminally charged is apparently because the charges were privately laid!

That’s not good enough. The OPP are employed by the people. I realize cops don’t like hearing that. Get over it already. Their actions and consequences of their actions should be no less under public scrutiny than any other public servant’s actions. And if a Justice Of The Peace agrees there is enough evidence to warrant charges being laid, that is significant, and transparency demands that our police services provide us with this information. Hiding this information, or attempting to keep it quiet is a diservice to the public to whom they serve. Citizens should have every right to know, so that if they wish to do so, may attend the court hearings and hear the evidence.

And if indeed the courts find these officers guilty, they should be punished even more severely than a non-police citizen. For not only are they guilty of the offence, they are guilty of abusing their powers that we have granted to them.

If this story is correct, the cops that pointed guns at children are criminals. They are no better than a criminal that points a gun at a convenience store owner while robbing him.

If this story is correct, that Jonathan was strip searched and left with his pants hanging for 20 minutes in full view of the public and his small children, then those cops are disgusting criminals that deserve full public scorn and anger.

As much as bad police officers give good ones a bad name, and it bothers good ones to be labelled with the bad, the problem is police officers acting badly can ruin someone’s life. And that carries more injustice than a bit of criticism does.

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