Y’know, it’s interesting.

Not the fact that a perjury case involving two police officers was tossed out of court. Not the fact that one of the city’s most reputable lawyers made an error (although that certainly had tongues wagging in the city today).

What’s interesting is how far some people believe police should be allowed to go to put the bad guys in jail.

A selection of comments from CBC today on the sudden end to the O’Kane-Zebrun trial illustrates this:

QueenEII:

Let’s not lose focus here. These two police officers took a lot of drugs and a scumbag off the street that night! They did not hurt anyone, they did not kill anyone, they did not cause harm to anyone! They did their job!

Justice was served today, we need these two men back on the streets protecting us.

winnhome:

So just so I’m clear… there WERE drugs and there WERE the profit from crimes and there WERE criminals in the hotel room….

Maybe the crown should better use my tax dollar on real criminals…. drug dealers behind bars saves lives…

shrekk:

I see this from a more pracitical angle. The ‘Crown alleged the officers illegally entered the room prior to obtaining a search warrant.’ — So the officers went inside, discovered the drugs, obtained a warrant and were able to charge crack cocaine dealers.

If what is alleged is true then the officers had a choice – tell what I would consider a ‘white lie’ and the dealers stay behind bars – or give an exact timeline and the dealers go free. They weren’t trying to frame anyone – they weren’t lying to protect another officer – they tried to ensure that we were protected from some pretty vile people.

In what world does it make sense to say – ‘we saw the drugs, guns, child porn, rape kits, suitcases of cash…….but we didn’t have a warrant so those things don’t exist – sorry our hands our tied.’ And if an officer bends the truth so those things do exist – and everyone’s upset and saying the cops are the bad guys.

Sometimes the ends justify the means.

wyatt4

we the people just want to see all the dealers and suppliers of crack cocaine locked up,off the street. these 2 police officers had to move fast because the lawyers sure do.

JohnSavard

It seems obvious to me that despite the irregularities in obtaining a warrant, the “alleged drug dealers” really were engaged in drug trafficking. So they should be behind bars. If the police officers made mistakes, they should not get off on a technicality – instead, what they did should be judged against the urgent necessity of getting drug dealers off the street.

So they would get off with a warning – and a criminal record, which would mean they would have to find another line of work.

And as a society, we would find a way to enable the police to sweep all the drug dealers off our streets – without taking any of this kind of “shortcut”.

Now don’t get me wrong. This by and large was not the viewpoint that was flouted most often. That must be reserved for the anti-cop posters and conspiracy theorists.

But it does go some length to show that a sentiment exists in society that mistakes one public good for another.

On one hand, you have ‘putting the bad guys away at all costs’ and allowing law-enforcement to do whatever’s necessary to achieve that goal.

I can see the attractiveness in this position: Don’t cause trouble, and there’s naught that can go wrong.

On the other hand, you have the more foundational (and easier to forget) necessity that there have to be rules of engagement. Otherwise there’s chaos.

I’d submit that once you wind up in the jackpot for something you did (or didn’t) do, people in the former camp would soon change their tunes. Remember, the officers now cleared in this case had some of the best city lawyers working on their behalf. There’s a reason for that. There have to be rules, and there have to be people trained in the rules to advocate for each and every one of us.

Justice Keyser tossed the charges out today because the Crown broke the rules of the law.

The officers were charged on suspicion that they broke the rules of the law.

The officers suspected a known drug trafficker broke the rules of the law.

We can wish for times where the law doesn’t apply, but without it, we’re hooped.

-30-

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

8 thoughts on “The ends and the means

  1. “On the other, you have the more foundational (and easier to forget) necessity that there have to be rules of engagement. Otherwise there’s chaos.”

    In a similar vein, I am reminded by the sheer number of comments outright congratulating police, or otherwise expressing pleasure, in the very first hours of the story about police shooting Lance Muir. The number of people willing and able to congratulate police for killing a man, in the absence of almost all details and any investigation, based solely on a police statement that they believed the man was breaking and entering is very discomfiting.

    Even more discomfiting, as I watched that discussion unfold, was the fact that anyone suggesting that immediately absolving police of wrongdoing was extremely premature at best was roundly derided as being anti-police or “soft on crime.” And the scariest thing of all is that the threat of being called anti-police, I think, is an effective silencer.

    Whether comments on that issue or this one reflect the opinions of the majority, we can’t really say. But if it exists in any number, it is extremely worrisome to me; attitudes such as this are where sprout the early seeds of a willingness to look away from the erosion of civil rights, so long as one isn’t personally at risk. And to paraphrase my favourite blogger of all time, when rights are eroded from a few but not the many, they are no longer rights — they are privileges. And privileges have a funny way of being taken away.

    That’s the message that some don’t seem to understand — so long as there is an outcome that matches, or is even perceived based on limited information to match their beliefs, they are willing to look away from the greater issue of what happens when we begin chipping away at the protections that are in place to balance power and prevent abuse.

    1. “attitudes such as this are where sprout the early seeds of a willingness to look away from the erosion of civil rights, so long as one isn’t personally at risk”

      Hits the nail on the head, Melissa. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. “Do it to Julia!”

      1. Another letter in the freep today:

        �ñº
        In his Feb. 26 letter, Police obligations, John Hutton of the hug-a-thug John Howard Society bemoans the loud applause and sympathy of Winnipeg police officers at the dismissal of charges against two of their fellow officers. He calls the dismissal of charges against them “a failure of justice.”
        Why didn’t we see a letter from Hutton when the man these two officers arrested got acquitted on a technicality in spite of the fact he was in possession of a kilogram of cocaine and $18,000 in cash?
        I say bravo to the supporting officers, as well as to the two who were acquitted. The vast majority of citizens want these punks off the streets and behind bars. We don’t really care how the police do it, so long as we feel safe and secure on the streets and in our homes again.

        Clarence

  2. Interesting comment “that must be reserved for the anti-cop posters and conspiracy theorists”.

    Not everyone that is critical of our police is anti-cop. Some of the people who have been or are currently cops, are more than a slight embarassment to their co-workers, along with some of the general public.

    Nor are they necessarily conspiracy theorists. Life is filled with ‘strange’ events that sometime have a connection that is not immediately evident.
    For some people the word conspiracy invokes a vision of a clandestine cabal.

    For others the term conspiracy means nothing more than two or more people in agreement to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage.

    Of course you’re perfectly free to feel O’Kane and Zebrun weren’t involved in a conspiracy, and that everyone else critical of the matter is a conspiracy theorist. C’ est la vie.

  3. One other point: ‘Justice Keyser tossed the charges out today because the Crown broke the rules of the law.’

    No, the Crown committed an act of omission not an act of commission i.e. he neglected to do something rather than overtly committed an act.

    The practice of civil law and criminal law in a court from a defence/prosecutor point are completely different matters. The use of Tapper as a special prosecutor is more than slightly suspicious, and stinks to high heaven.

    He is a more than capable defence lawyer in civil matters covered by the Court of Queen’s bench Rules, and given that most criminal cases are resolved by plea bargain by lawyer schmoozing could probably perform adequately as defence in a criminal matter.

    But using him as a special prosecutor in a one off high profile criminal perjury trial says to me the playing field was completely level and everyone but Tapper knew it.

    Oh and one other point…the absence of blow by blow media reporting of the trial was noted. Of course there was no deliberate attempt by the media to ignore everything but the verdict – no burying the lead – as Dan Lett is fond of saying – only a conspiracy theorist would make that claim.

    1. Remember – most of the media’s courts reporters were in the Mark Grant trial which wrapped up last week. The Freep sent an extra body down to cover the case when Mike McIntyre wasn’t available, as did The Sun for Dean Pritchard. Unsure about any other outlets.

      I didn’t say most commenters were anti cop. I simply suggested there’s a large amount of that opinion that finds its way into the comments sections of news sites.

      And again – the Crown broke the rules of the law a.k.a: identify the accused in court through some means. Act of commission/omission – the rule got broken and Tapper paid the price.

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