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Played by the cops: A not entirely puerile lament for the RCMP

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It sounds childish, but I don’t really like cops. I’m not all NWA about the whole thing — even though I like that song — but, just the same, encounters with the law typically make me want to break it in very serious ways.

When I was a kid, my hockey coach — for the one year I decided to embarrass myself like that — was also a cop. He used to park his cruiser across the sidewalk in front of his house at lunch hour; you could see him on the couch like some beached whale in official regalia. He used to call me a stupid little girl when I missed a pass. He wasn’t very nice. Like, this one time, I fell into the middle of the Ottawa River at four in the morning and I got hypothermia. When I finally got to shore, he rolled up in his cruiser, called me an idiot — which was beside the point — and then drove away. I nearly died, but, aside from the heating blankets the doctors swaddled me in for a few days, my hatred for him helped warm my blood.

By the way, I’m not some rinky-dink anarchist. I understand the need for law. All I have to do for that is examine my own psyche: The urge to steal, kill and maim is not exactly a constant, but it certainly factors into the odd thought process. Meanwhile, some cops are actually nice. I say that because some of them have let me get away with things of sometimes significant illegality. But those cops aren’t doing their jobs. Looked at a certain way, they’re worse than anarchists. Not fair, is it? Such is life.

Lots of cops don’t do their jobs. And some of them do their jobs with a bit too much fervor. To exemplify: the RCMP shooting Ian Bush in the back of the head in Houston, B.C. Like, I thought we lived in Canada, a country generally opposed to giving handguns to inexperienced people with obvious inferiority complexes.

Come to think of it, the RCMP is a brand in worse repair than that of the Liberal Party of Canada. In the past two years, the Mounties have found themselves absolutely mired in scandal. In January 2006, Gary Stevens went to jail for just 18 months after he pled guilty to sexually assaulting two girls while off duty, one in Vancouver and the other in Terrace. That same month, in this same province, a female constable won a lawsuit for harassment suffered at the hands of her detachment commander. The following month, an inexperienced cop shot a wasted and unarmed robber to death in Vanderhoof.

Between then and now, various members of the RCMP have withheld information of public interest, helped send a citizen to Syria to be tortured, intimidated journalists, had sex with teenage prostitutes, sexually assaulted female prisoners, killed people with Tazers, and totally mishandled the force’s pension fund. Most recently, they commissioned a report on Vancouver’s Insite, thus wandering from the field of law enforcement to that of health care, right in the closing days of an election campaign. Nice one, lads.

I’ve never had it that bad at the hands of a cop. Close, though. Once, in Quebec, where the provincial police are like fascists, a friend and I were driven out to the middle of nowhere and made to walk back to Ontario. It was intense, what with all the bloody cow pelvises in the fields we cut across. You can’t hitchhike across an irrigation ditch, either.

In Squamish, my biggest beef with the cops is wrapped up in similar beefs with ICBC. I could make all kinds of arguments against school zone speed limits, but I won’t. What I will argue against is the lie that it’s all about safety. Recently, I got my third or fourth school zone speeding ticket. It was about two in the afternoon, so I must have been totally drunk and high, right?

“You’re pupils are dilated,” this guy kept saying. “What do you think a roadside test would show?”

Probably just that you’re an idiot. Of course, it wouldn’t do to say that, not now that I’m over 15. So I flipped down my visor, looked at my eyes, looked at his, and saw that our pupils shared the same dimensions.

“Well, I don’t know what’s causing it, but they’re huge.”

That ticket means I’ll lose something like nine points, all of which can be bought back from ICBC before my birthday. If it were really about safety, wouldn’t you just pull my recidivist ass off the road for good? Of course not, because then I’d have no incentive to pay my so-called dues. I’m not saying I don’t deserve the fines; I’m just saying you insult my intelligence by pretending it’s about anything other than money.

Whatever. I can deal with that. The drunk and high thing, though, and this guy’s mindless insistence that my pupils were huge, still pisses me off. I called the detachment to file a complaint, but the officer in charge hasn’t called back. This after covering the recent commemoration for the late Corporal Wael Audi, during which all members were exceedingly nice and available.

Generally speaking, the police too often forget who employs them, who they serve. Rather, they look at a good portion of the population as revenue-generating marks. And sometimes, as Ian Bush’s family will no doubt tell you, it gets much, much worse.

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