Friday, July 18, 2008

TO is No.1!

Toronto, so crowed this morning's Star, "Is the Safest City in Canada". Don't know exactly what aspect of safety they were looking at but it isn't shootings. The announcement was followed, within hours, by volleys of gunfire that killed three more people.

Last week Metro's Finest were moaning that nobody was 'coming forward' to give them the intelligence they needed to crack outstanding murder cases. The 'public' wasn't doing its 'bit.

Now, I'm up there with everybody else on law and order. But it's my take on things that to most cops, there's is a job - like any other job. They want to do their shift in safety and go home to get away from it all. That's understandable. But unofficially the police are divorcing, have divorced, themselves from the communities they're hired to serve and protect. They certainly, in large part, don't live in them - or were raised in them, preferring anonymity and 'security' in the suburbs. That's understandable as well, for organizationally they've developed a bunker-mentality that doesn't serve them well. Their press releases are either bombastic or pusillanimous, their stations are controlled-access FOB's. They've pegged themselves, if only in their own mind, as the centurions holding back a tide of chaos, defenders of the country even. And they can prickle more than most if criticized.

They're following the Baghdad model. Leaving the base at the beginning of a shift, armed and armored, to cruise through a potentially deadly environment. At least they can be sure that their shit's safe back in the access restricted and surveilled parking lot where perps can't be copying their plate numbers or bending antennas.

To-day's story featured a couple of stories about how the police are trying to become more of a presence - pulling the cruiser over, or pulling motorists over, for a little 'how's it hangin' and who's doin' the banging around here?'

I'd bet dollars to free glazed donuts that the only place that there's been a real change in the crime rate, is in those new police station parking lots. For the 'boys' were doing exactly the same stuff forty years ago, and asking for the public's assistance then as well. Difference is now they're talking to people raised to believe Police don't wish them much good.

Until they get out of the cruisers and start living in the communities they serve and getting to know their neighbours, they'll remain 'some guys doing another job'.

It is heartening to see ethnic groups among the police - that is a change. But once the 'old dogs' get used to it, they'll be passing on the 'p'leece' mentality to the newbies as well.

I'd like to think that Toronto, one day, might be Canada's safest city, but it's going to take a lot more creativity and real concern, than has ever been a 'qualifier' at police headquarters.