Policing the police

Photo by Patrick Sison

Can we stand up against brutality without looking in the rearview mirror?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. November 18, 2015

On October 24, acclaimed director and writer Quentin Tarantino stood up at an anti-cop brutality rally, supported the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, and expressed his views on the damaging results of trigger-happy authorities.

When unarmed citizens are being shot down, it’s worth speaking up. It’s not a matter to be brushed away as collateral damage. The fear that many experience when being approached by a police officer is genuine. They have guns! Tarantino goes on in his speech, labeling officers who have killed unarmed civilians “murderers.” And perhaps that was what made the Fraternal Order of Police union put Tarantino in their crosshairs.

Jim Pasco, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, in mafia fashion, issued this statement in response to Tarantino’s rallying speech: “Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element. Something could happen anytime between now and [theHateful Eight premiere]. And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable. The right time and place will come up and we’ll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that’s economically.” It’s a little freaky. It’s almost as if Pasco is an evil character in a Tarantino movie.

When a police official makes a threat to a public figure, it cannot be ignored. When I think of those people protecting and defending me, I don’t appreciate the fact that they use intimidation as one of their tactics. In addition, to say the police are going to “hurt” him economically is a petty attack. Apparently we are living in a world where we have the freedom to talk about whatever we want, except we aren’t allowed to criticize police. Apparently we live in a world where the police can act above the law and face little to no repercussion, and when civilians take arms and speak out—especially those in the public eye—they get accused for being slanderous. Then they get outright bullied.

The facts are there. There is no denying that unarmed citizens were killed. Instead of opening up and saying that the policing efforts will work to prevent these incidents from ever reoccurring, the police union—or rather the police mafia—in all boldness goes and threatens the work of an artist. In another example of this, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, announced that “it’s time for a boycott of Quentin Tarantino’s films.” Guess what? Boycotting a film is not going to stop cops from overreacting. It’s such a childish knee-jerk reaction to target the person who speaks up against the corrupted powers working to “protect” us. That is always the response police give when anyone questions policing methods. Civilians don’t understand how dangerous the job is for cops. But guess what? When you start turning against us for asking questions and demanding a response, we might start believing that you did all those awful things on purpose. So you tell me: whom am I supposed to believe?

America’s most-watched

Opinions_filming policeWhy police officers on duty should be filmed

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept. 4, 2014

Security cameras are an integral part of many organizations, from low-level retail to big brand manufacturing. Whatever is recorded is rarely shown to the public or even kept for long periods of time, but when something occurs it’s always good to have video evidence, especially in this day and age when it’s essential to justice.

So if the barista at Starbucks has to be on camera all day long while serving coffee, why shouldn’t police officers be on camera all day long while serving and protecting citizens? Law enforcement is a tough job—I don’t deny that; however, I’m convinced that often the coercive measures taken to enforce the law might be overly drastic.

Recently, several police brutality videos have been shared on the Internet to ensure that the citizens being detained receive at the very least an apology for the forceful way in which they were apprehended. It’s sickening to see a police officer throw furious jabs at a man who has his arms behind his back, or worse, see a 200lb man wrestle down a woman and continue to pummel her while she’s on the ground. Whether the victim deserved the physical punishment or the police officer overstepped bounds is beyond me, but what I am sure you can agree on is that transparency is the key to establishing harmony between the law and the people the laws are meant to protect.

In the States—California specifically—there are initiatives for police to wear cameras when they are on duty. Instead of having spectators film police when a wrongdoing occurs, the police should just include that in their operations. If they have done nothing wrong in the course of action, then there is nothing to worry about.

The argument is that if certain people see a police with a camera attached to them, then a certain level of fear is omitted, but I don’t believe that to be the case. After all, I sure as hell don’t want video evidence of me showing disrespect to a police officer. Nevertheless, I would want even less to have a video of me being assaulted by a police officer. Moreover, why the hell should citizens, who have done nothing wrong, fear cops anyways?

Well, that’s because 90 per cent of people are law-abiding, but 99.9 per cent of people are unnerved by the unpredictability of law enforcement officers. Simply put, people just aren’t educated in what the police can or cannot do to us. The RCMP, and other departments in charge of our safety, need to meet us halfway. Certain public places are constantly under surveillance. It seems to me that wherever a police officer happens to be, that is a good place for an extra eye.

Cops are people too, and they perform a tough role in our society. Wearing a camera on the job is not an expression of mistrust. Instead, it should be seen as how guns, Tasers, and other technological advantages are used to help them perform their job. It’s an affordable measure that can save a lot of people from injuries and stop officers from stepping over the thin blue line.

Why You Will Never Win a High Speed Chase

Posted by  | October 16, 2013 | 

Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan
Formerly published in Unhaggle.com 

vwtouareg-road-blockFirst off, you’re not Vin Diesel and life is not a movie. In our unscripted world, there are just too many things working against you if a high-speed chase is your choice in escaping the law. Plain and simple, you won’t win. But if you dare tempt fate, turning your speeding ticket into a felony might be your best-case scenario. A car can be after all a dangerous weapon.

What You’re Up Against, The Pursuit Vehicles

At a glance, there is nothing spectacular about a RCMP pursuit vehicle. Yes, they have the common police paint job, flashy lights and sirens. But it’s the interior that makes pursuit cars superior to civilian cars. First off, they have engines with more horsepower to compensate for the additional equipment and also to keep up with suspects’ cars.

The common (yet declining use in service) second generation, Ford Crown Victoria has 4.6 L Modular V8 engine. The Dodge Charger Pursuit (the likely replacement to Crown Victoria) has 292 hp, 5.7 L and V8 Hemi engine. The Ford Taurus, another common pursuit car used by the RCMP, can have up to 3.5 L EcoBoost V6, 365hp. Also, an external oil-to-engine-coolant and heavy-duty radiator help pursuit vehicles reach up to 211 km/h (131 mph). Pursuit cars are constantly being reviewed to get the most benefits for taxpayer dollars and reduce carbon footprint… even a smart car?

Pursuit vehicles might have advanced modification, but the real reason you won’t escape them isn’t because of the speedy cop car, it’s also everything else on the road. Even if you are driving a speedy new car with the ability to outrun a Police Interceptor, odds are, someone will see your erratic driving and inform the authority. You’ll hit roadside debris, another car or a pothole—that’ll end your escape pretty quickly.

High Speed Pursuit Strategies

North American authority takes pursuits seriously. With 350 death in the States every year caused by high-speed chases (30% of those innocent bystanders), most pursuit protocols call for the officer to avoid this dangerous form of arrest as best as possible—but often it only works with the suspect’s cooperation. Multiple techniques are used to stun the driver.

A common one is known as The Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) also known as The Tactical Vehicle Intervention. This technique requires the pursuit vehicle to make contact with the fleeing vehicle, by striking it behind the rear wheel. With enough force, the pursuit vehicle will cause the suspect to lose control and spin out. The road must be cleared for police to execute PIT safely, or in the safest way possible.blockade

There are several methods police use to avoid and halt high-speed chases. And if you are like me, you will remember all those blockbuster movies you’ve seen. You know, those with police cars barricading, creating a roadblock causing the fleeing vehicle to stop or to turn off the road, damaging the car in the process. Although this is becoming less popular pursuit intervention technique as it puts several officers in harms way.

Another Hollywood approach to stopping a runaway vehicle is with spike belts. The 35 to 75mm spikes are strategically built to puncture tires, allowing air to slowly expel. Tires don’t burst when they hit the spikes, but soon suspects will be driving on their rims, turning the chase into a slow crawl. Spike belts are effective, yet notoriously dangerous. Since 1973 approximately 20 police officers lost their lives deploying them. Due to the risk, this method of attaining fleeing suspects is banned by numerous North American police departments.

Helicopters also play a large role in high-speed chases, but in Canada there is a more reserved usage of aerial surveillance. The RCMP simply doesn’t see the value in having them. Instead, they rely more heavily on radio communication. Even though they don’t have an eye in the sky, modern vehicles are equip with a built in GPS—so it’s not really a game of hide and seek anymore.

Lesson of the Day

With vehicle, technology and authority aside, driving is still a complicated undertaking. Wrong turns, constructions, detours, dead ends, school zones, traffic jams and everything else that you see on a daily commute will become an obstacle for anyone on a high-speed chase. Overwhelmed with stress, confusion and lack of rational thoughts—a driver on the run is bound to make a mistake. And one mistake is all it takes.