In this Episode I sit down to discuss the State of Policing in Canada with 25 year veteran Police Officer Gary. We talk about the disconnection between the police and the people they serve and Gary cite causes that have led to this point in North America . He ties his Police career in with his philosophy background when offering insight into these areas.
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Hello, and welcome to Episode 29 of Coffee Breath Conversations. In this episode, I have a conversation with a veteran Canadian police officer. This episode is timely given the current situation facing police in North America. My guest provides excellent insight into this topic, and we approach this conversation with a solution based focus. With that being said, let's get started. Alright, everyone, welcome back to Coffee Breath Conversations. I'm your host, Russell and today I am in the studio with Gary. Gary is a police officer who is worked with police service for over 20 years. And we actually connected over Twitter. On a I think we were on a common sort of thread, they're making a couple of comments, and saw that you said that you're always willing to chat. So reached out. We did a bit of a pre interview. And here we are today. So Gary, welcome to the podcast. Well, thank you. Nice to be here. Tell us a bit about your career. My name is Gary. I'm 50 years old. I've been a police officer for almost 25 years now. I've been with the police for well over 25 years, I started back when I was in high school, went to university studied philosophy communications while I worked part time for the police and civilian employee. And then in 1997, I got sworn in as an officer. And I've been a police officer ever since one of my focuses almost from day one, based on my personality and education, but as to sort of engage in a concept, I guess it's called decriminalization, I didn't want to become a police officer to make arrests and lay charges, I wanted to solve problems without having to do that. So for 25 years, I've been focused on decriminalization, de escalation, restorative justice, and things like that. And it's been a struggle, because for the most part, I worked for an organization or a culture that that is more enforcement oriented, they see a problem, they hit it with a hammer, and I go, that might not be what's necessary. In fact, today, I really think that's what's being expected or asked for. So it's just interesting going forward, where policing is going, I always sort of considered it this way. I see policing as being 30 years behind the times. And I saw myself as being 30 years ahead of the times. And a lot of things I did almost 30 years ago are now starting to become what's expected. Tell us a little bit more about what you mean by decriminalization, type policing restorative justice, was that mean to you? So for me what decriminalization means is most police officers go to a call and they kind of refer to the Criminal Code as to how do I define this situation. And the Criminal Code says if let's say you take a chocolate bar from a store, that technically is a crime, and how police proceed with crimes is they make an arrest and lay a charge that goes to court. I think that is one process. And maybe that's the way things were done 50 or 100 years ago, but today, society isn't expecting you to arrest every person that steals a chocolate bar. But police haven't necessarily been instructed to to look at things from a non criminal perspective. So they're not wrong with their diagnosis. It's just that the tests that they use to make that diagnosis, I don't think are relevant today. Because ultimately, it's not about the process. It's about the results. And I think over time, especially in the area that I focus in right now, it's not we have issues because we're not charging enough, we're making enough charges, the system just can't handle the charges that were laying. So a lot of people are charged, but there's no benefit to the system. It costs a lot of money takes a lot of time for more important cases. And the offender who needs help and services, basically is just sent on their way. And they're no better off than when they started the process. Now with restorative justice, so you mentioned someone steals chocolate bar. So the police officer comes they do their assessment, they make the arrest, and they move ahead. With restorative justice. What What do you think that should look like? Well, for me, now, the chocolate bar is maybe a little bit of a trivial example, a lot of what we're dealing right now are people that unfortunately have mental health issues, and addictions issues. So they're out there stealing hundreds, if not 1000s of dollars, but it's not for their own personal gain. They're actually being in my opinion, handled by somebody, they're being trafficked by somebody. So this person may say, look, maybe 20 years ago, you would have taken this person and suddenly you into prostitution or stripping. Now I'll get you into retail theft, because there's a greater return on investment. And there's less risk because the criminal system hasn't really caught on to retail theft or shoplifting is being a problem. We have issues. We have that issues, but we have units that deal with human trafficking. We have very few units that deal Retail theft, so crime has now moved into that area. So the example would be a person that goes in and steals $1,000 worth of fragrance every three or four days, they're doing it because they just need that one, you know, sort of dose of fentanyl. And often when you look at their history, they access Police Services 1015 years earlier, in a sort of, you know, innocent way, they just basically said, I'm having a rough time, can you help me, but because the issue wasn't deemed criminal, we gave them a decent service, but not enough to help them and 10 or 15 years later, now, that issue that they had 15 years ago, has now manifested itself into an addictions issue, where they need to do crime to commit to get the funds to get to get the drugs that they need. When it comes to the police interaction in that way. How do you think the police could do things differently than they have been? The My suggestion is, and it's it's a difficult conversation that needs to be had. So I do not take the position that I'm right, and the system is wrong. It's difficult when an officer wears a uniform to half the time we deal with these offenders, probably more than half, probably 90 of the time we deal with these offenders, it's because they're in trouble, we're going to arrest them, we're going to charge you, we're going to make their lives a little bit more difficult. And that 10% of the time that we deal with them, where we're saying, we're here to help they go, how can I believe you're here to help and every other time for the last month, you were here to arrest me and charged me. And, and to a degree they're not wrong. And if we always tell them, you have to, you know, we give them their rights. We asked them to consult or recommend they consult with lawyers. And the lawyer says, you know, just don't cooperate. And I go, Well, how do we help somebody if they're not prepared to tell us the truth? Because they're afraid if it tells the truth, that might just make their situation worse. And I kind of look at the the medical community doctors, and it's do no harm and I go Are we in our process is actually creating more harm than we're solving or eliminating? The person says that they don't trust you. I've seen it on the show cops before where the person says, Hey, man, do me a favor, tell me what's going on? And the guy says, Well, if I tell you what's going on, you're going to arrest me. And you're going to charge me. He says, Oh, you know, we just we just really want to find out what's really happening. So the guy admits to what happened, and tells a story behind what happened, what led to it and the cop says, okay, that's nice, put your hands behind your back, you're under arrest for and they kind of the person kind of has this look on their face, like okay, well, I did what you wanted me to do. And I'm, I'm still getting arrested? And do you think that contributes to it at all? Or, of course, I mean, I, and this has to be careful. It's my philosophy background that's talking more now than my police background. But yeah, when when you have to worry, like when you're sort of risk averse, and you go, I'd rather sort of suffer in isolation than reach out for help and suffer even more. And that's often what happens with when you reach out to police, if you're on the other side of the law, when most of your life unfortunately, is committing crimes, because you just need to commit a crime to feed yourself or supply your habit, or you're being taken advantage of. And when you contact police, because you might need help. But you know, there might be outstanding warrants for you and the officer comes to help you but also arrests you, or when the officer kind of is fishing for more information. Because within the world of policing, there is we don't go out of our way to charge people. But if we can charge somebody, we feel it's our responsibility to charge them. And there is some currency and laying charges or laying or having what we call street checks or carding. So officers were incentivized to do things that perhaps solve crimes and perhaps made communities safer, but it also made communities less trust less trusting of police, because they saw that somehow we were using them as an ends to to some sort of goal for either promotion or transfer, or that's just what our our training kind of led us to do. Do you think there's a balance that can be struck? I understand that policing has some discretion to it? I've heard the argument in the past if I'm if I exercise discretion here, and some further harm arrives from it, then I'm going to be liable for it. guy and his wife are fighting. Someone neighbor calls the police, they hear yelling, police show up, they do the usual thing. They separate they talk and they say you know what? guy you're a little bit drunk today. We're going to take you to your aunt's place. You're just going to kind of rest for tonight. Tomorrow. You can talk with your wife again, and hopefully work everything out. Bring the guy to the aunt's place. Everything seems to have calmed down. You think you're doing a good service because there's no need for an arrest. It's only an occurrence report then You're getting a call for hours later that he's back at the house and he's murdered her now. Did you? Did you do a better public service by doing that? Or did you cause further harm? And do you think that's kind of something where it's, it has some trouble balancing out. I think in situations like that what's necessary or needed is better training, better evidence. The example that I use is a hospital in Chicago Cook County Hospital, they had this process to try and diagnose heart attacks, it was very expensive. And it took a lot of time, they were maybe right, three times out of four, a doctor said, could I find a simple four question test and get the same result and he was able to do that. So while you'll never be perfect, there may be ways to better detect people that need to go to jail, versus people that don't need to go to jail, you'll never get perfection. You You may be able to if you use evidence, and studies and science to basically say, These are the questions I asked, this is what I look for. And I don't think he needs to go to jail. So it's easy. If you want to basically prevent all murders, you lock everybody up, you basically order them never to be around somebody else. But that's not realistic. Because most people that get upset at their husband or their wife, they won't kill them. But our system has this zero tolerance and example that I use was I think it was in Minnesota, women's groups, and rightfully so at that time, were saying they wanted more enforcement when it came to domestic violence. And the police said, Well, for the most part we're pretty damn on when it comes to to enforcing domestic violence. But the women's group said no zero tolerance, you can't tolerate any of it. So what happened was, the number of men being arrested went up slightly, the number of being rescued, went up dramatically. These women's group more women, and they go, but we were already arresting most of the guys that we arrested, we gave women breaks. So then these groups that are demanding zero tolerance, and yeah, but there's there's sort of a nuance or a threshold that you have to kind of now consider. So often it's just the lack of information, or the lack of evidence, or the lack of asking questions that might determine what decision you make. So offers is quite often not wanting to take any chances, we'll make arrests and say, you know, it's easier to make an arrest and justified than it is to not make an arrest, and then try to articulate later in court or an inquiry that you thought about it used evidence you use experience and hope that the system can say, yeah, we're not asking for perfection. We're just asking that at least you gave it some some consideration. What do you think the state of policing in Canada is overall, based on your experience, in your opinion, compared to the States, I think we're pretty well off. I think there's a lot of trust overall between the police and the communities, we do have our issues. But I think there's enough trust there that we're not going to see a lot of violent demonstrations that we see in the States. However, many, many years ago, a police officer said to me, whatever you see in the States, give it 510 or 15 years, you'll see it here. So for me, I think it's just a matter of time before we see those types of things up here. So for me, it comes down to there has to be more dialogue, more conversation more sort of less us versus them and more wheat. And when I want to put what does that look like? What does that look like? Sorry, I don't want to cut you off. But I hear that a lot. We need more dialogue, we need more, more just kind of what you said, Well, what does that look like to you? For me, what it looks like is to be honest about who you are. So to basically put yourself out there and just say, I'm not afraid of you. And then I don't mean that as as a dare or a taught meaning I trust you. I'm not afraid to let you know who I am and where I live. I would love to attend your community functions. I would love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with you. But the problem with policing and it starts almost a police college is they basically tell you, the hiyc be afraid of everybody be worried about everybody. Don't go to a place where you can't see them. Make your food, don't accept coffee, if you walk into somebody's house and I go with a lot of the communities that we we deal with. It's and I've learned this through community policing, the the offering of a coffee to a police officer is a sign of respect. And the accepting of the coffee is also a sign of respect. So police officers don't accept it because they were conditioned. You don't know if he put anything in it. But they offer because they go if he accepts my coffee, that means he trusts me and if he trusts me, I can trust him. And it's those cultural things that we as police officers don't appreciate. And I've been to many community events where they basically said Gary, we love you as as Gary. But as Gary, the police officer, you need to be a little bit more humble a little bit more approachable. So to me, that's where it's not the us versus them. A lot of police officers refuse or don't want to patrol the communities they live and I go, No, I would rather patrol that community I live in, I would rather see my neighbors, because, you know, hopefully I'm there on their worst day and I can help them have a bad situation. And I always had this attitude or I developed it, perhaps a few years into my career, I go, I often deal with good people on a bad day. And most officers don't realize that we are dealing with, for the most part, good people who just happened to have a bad day or a bad moment. And we judge them based on that bad day in that bad moment. And that basically, is how we see them. So when they talk about systemic racism and systemic discrimination, to a degree, they're not wrong, because we don't see people, we're not invited to people's birthday parties. I was lucky as a community police officer to be invited to people's birthday parties, I was invited to a lot of community events, but the average patrol officer is only there when somebody has to be arrested and go to jail, then after a while, I think you develop this sort of this, this, I don't want to say, well, you almost you develop this, this psychological response where you go, I can't become friends with this guy, because I have to see this guy as my end. Because if I don't see him as my enemy, I can't treat him the way I'm going to treat him. I can't walk up in a cell because the cells that we have, they probably meet the Human Rights Code, they probably meet the UN minimum, but I go, that is not a place I would ever want to be. And I would never want to put somebody that I respect into a jail cell. But sometimes the system requires that. And and it's just that for me, it's sort of I call it a crisis of conscience for me, and I go, how do I treat people that I sort of took an oath to protect, but yet know what they're about to go through. And I go, in some cases, I'm only doing it because policy and procedure dictates I do it. And that's where the conversation I'm not saying I'm right, and the system is wrong. But I think people need to have higher conversations about what they expect from the system. Everyone talks about their rights, but all rights come with responsibilities as well. And on that, I kind of go back to my my philosophy days, and I look at utilitarianism, which is you kind of the decision you need to make is what promotes the greater good. Then you have you know, manual cat he talks about? Well, the rule is a rule that must be enforced. And I go well, often the enforcing of a rule, if it doesn't serve anybody, there's no, I don't think rules exist to be enforced just for the sake of them being enforced. I think you look at the total situation you go, what's going to promote the greater good so often, the greater good is you minimize any harm that might happen, you take a guy that you could throw in jail, or you say, I'm gonna give you a ride home, and and I'm going to use my instincts, I'll use my training. And I'm pretty sure if I give you a ride home, and based on the knowledge I have, nothing bad is going to happen. But in some cases, officers don't want to take that chance. So you know, you're going to jail, you're going to the hospital and the go, the guy may say all I need to do is just go home, I want to go to bed. For for me sort of speaking, you know, personally, and I try to speak personally, that's where I think the dialogue needs to be up until I turned 33. I didn't drink at all, I was not a drinker until I turned about 33. And then when I turned 33, isn't it so for about five or six years of my career, I had no tolerance for people that were drunk, my my dad drank. And that kind of upset me a little bit. So I kind of perhaps took that frustration on people that were drunk. And when I turned 33, and I realized when I got drunk, maybe one or two nights, and I go, you know what, now that I've experienced what it is to be drunk, and for the most part, most drunk people just just when they have to drink, just want to go home. And all they want to do is if they come to a police officer and say, Look, I had too much to drink inside that bar, because it's my friend's birthday. And I had one too many shots. Could you drive me a few blocks? The younger me would have said, No, you're a drunk call a cab. I'm not a taxi service. The guy that now that I am, you know, hop in the back because I've been there. And that's the problem. I think there was a time where police officers, but go to school, and in some ways you became a crook or a police officer. And the dividing line was very, very, it was sort of you were on either side of the fence. And often that's why police I think old school police were somewhat effective because the crooks they were arresting they went to school with they grew up with and there was a respect. Now the people that we hire as police officers are coming from probably middle class or upper class neighborhoods go to university never associated with the bad kids, because that would have been sort of a black mark on their the record. And now we have a whole group of police officers that really don't know what the other side is experiencing the other side is facing. And I mean, if you go to I've never done drugs, I can proudly say you're not probably saying that's just my upbringing. But if I was to go and apply as a police officer and admit that I did drugs when I get hired, probably not. But I go How do you deal with somebody who is has a drug addiction if you yourself having somehow experienced it, and a police call it the same thing they pepper sprayed us and what I learned from it was pepper spray is not pleasant and you when you pepper spray now You know what the person who's going to receive it is going to feel. And you may think twice about administering. So in my entire career I've ever used my pepper spray. And I use that lesson of having that experience myself. And I think that's where the conversation has to happen. We're police can't be seen as these perfect people, you need police officers that have their imperfections. But they have to be people that had their imperfections, recognize their imperfections, and overcame their imperfections and not been have empathy for people with those same imperfections. People apply to be police officers, and quite often if they're young, they hear the words, go get some life experience, but they never really say What does life experience entail? They they say, Okay, well go volunteer somewhere. Okay, but where do you volunteer? Do you volunteer in a board of directors? Or do you volunteer at a soup kitchen? It seems like there's a lot of people that are getting into law enforcement that, that I agree there, they they're the ideal candidate. They're the I call it the Globe and Mail test. They're the one that if the Globe and Mail research their background, they'd say, absolutely, look at that, that's going to be a stellar candidate. And then they go see someone who is absolutely strung out on the lowest of low living in a cardboard box, with mental health issues, issues from their upbringing, they don't really know how to deal with them except for like, like you said, within within the policy and procedure that says, Okay, if they're like this, then I'm going to do this, because it's not, they can't empathize with them. But they, they can't really see how this person ended up here, they can't see the process that led to this point. And I sort of see it like at work right now, because of COVID. And everything, people are wearing their masks their glasses, and to me, a lot of it is sort of, I don't think value singling. But it's sort of done for show, it's done, because I'm your supervisor, and I have to show you how I take your health and welfare safe the concerns, and I go, so it's almost like we sort of have people that are, you know, perhaps thinking they're part of the the royal family or whatever. And I go, but how do you deal with somebody, if you if you are put on a pedestal perhaps, but yet, you're dealing with the not the lowest of the low, but people who are, you know, I don't think the queen is kind of dealing with, with the homeless guy that has a drug issue, like she might go and have a nice little chat with him, but she's moving on. And I know the problem with a police officer is if you want to help that homeless guy, you got to get down, you got to get dirty, you've got to understand where his position is. And you may have to listen to his stories and realize, he's not just going to be a source to give tickets to or a source to arrest or a source to get information from, he's just going to be somebody that you need to listen to his story, you need to be empathetic, you need to hopefully give them a helping hand and guide them somewhere. And I think what you need to do is you need to basically say, here's my name, here's my phone number. And if you need to reach out, give me a call. And the problem with policing today is a lot of officers. And it's not the officers fault, it's the system, it's being asked to do too much. So officers show up, they do the bare minimum to satisfy that requirement, because there's 10 calls waiting. And then when the next officer shows up for the same problem, the complainant, the victim or the suspect has to start all over again. And it's nice if we could somehow have the same officers and that's where the community has to basically say Do we want our officers busy making arrests and laying charges and issuing tickets or who want to free our officers up so they can have conversations with community members, because the problem with the system is when you take anything to the court level, all of a sudden, you need to do a lot of paperwork, a lot of notes. So a five second call that might have taken place 30 years ago could now become a five hour call. And the court system i think is starting to it's slowing down because especially now with technology and everything is recorded, your your cell phone is recorded your tax record your email is recorded. There's video everywhere. So So now you have to disclose that and that can become hours and hours and hours defense lawyers are getting mountains of documents for simple files. And they go I can't process this in time for the next court case my client can't afford me to read this. And the system is what we don't want to do right now because we have to give your client sort of a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves but we have overwhelmed you guys with with evidence and the courts have kind of created that that issue I guess the problem we have as police is that we don't we it's not easy to separate the good guys from the bad guys that I know that's a spectrum and there's no clearly one guy that's completely good and one guy but what happens is the bad guys will somehow mix with the good guys and we don't know so often in trying to find the bad guys. We're catching a lot of good guys and to a degree they have a right to be upset because if they're going to the corner store to pick up a bag of milk and they get stopped by police two or three times a week. Just for going to the corner store, I'd be pretty upset too. But we don't know there. We don't know if they're a good guy or a bad guy. So if we're in the area, and we got a call for shots fired, well, the normal police responses, you stop everybody, because you might be stopping the shooter. But chances are, if you stop 10 people, one, maybe the shooter, but nine aren't. And if those guys because they live in an area that has a lot of calls for service, they're likely to get stopped over and over again. So after a while, they feel they're being targeted. And the average officer goes, Yeah, but I kind of you know, when in doubt, stop everybody get their names, and then eventually we'll see a pattern. But if you live in that neighborhood, and you feel you don't, you don't have that sense of safety, that if I leave my door to go to the corner store, and the police are there, they might stop me and I can see why they're upset or concern. And I don't disagree with them. And then also with carding, too, is you know, to a degree, there was sort of an incentive, not that we ever had any quotas, when it came to cardi, there was never that was never pushed on us. But but there was this expectation that on your normal tour of duty, you would probably come across enough people that you could at least stop and talk to a couple of them. It was it was there. So a few years ago, there was a shift in the province. And and that was that was frowned upon. And I think rightfully so it did provide or did provide a lot of benefit. But there was a lot of harm that came with it. And I think that the harm didn't justify the benefit. state of policing. Another thing to kind of ask about is do you think that there was any specific precipitating national incidents that have led to this kind of shift in policing where people aren't really trusting the police or we have a whole movement that's growing mostly Oh, the states right now? They say a cab all cops are bastards? Where do you think that that's come from, where's the disconnect happened? When I sort of look at the history of that I'm probably wrong. And I hope maybe one of your your viewers can can correct me. But Black Lives Matter, I believe that sort of started to get some attention with the the incident Trayvon Martin in Florida and Zimmerman. So he wasn't a police officer, but he was sort of acting in a pseudo law enforcement capacity. So I think that kind of gave Black Lives Matter some some sort of relevance, then you had Michael Brown in Ferguson. And that kind of added to it. And then, as I was struggling and struggling, I was I was sort of informed that again, conference often what happens in the States, especially now with social media, what happens in LA at 12, noon, in some ways, is now viewed live in Ottawa, at 3pm. Like, it's literally viewed live so often an incident anywhere in North America could could basically become viral within seconds. So I see incidents in the states that have made their way up here, there have been incidents in Canada, that kind of, you know, have certain parallels that give sort of legitimacy to the groups here in Canada. And what's happened is, I think over time, we we now have people and maybe it's just sort of how our generations are how our young people are being raised where they're being raised to be advocates for social justice, and they're being advocates to, to rebel against authority. And perhaps that's how I was raised to, but now it's become an us versus them, it's become, yeah, all cops are bastards, I go, well, the cops, the people that are police officers aren't bastards, the system that they operate in might be something that needs to be changed. And I don't think any chief in this country would say the system doesn't need to be changed. We're just not quite sure what that change looks like. And we're reaching out to the community to ask them to help us identify what change they want to see. Because there are some members of the community that want close to zero tolerance. They want people arrested, people charged, who put in jail, and we are risk my responses. We've tried that. And that doesn't work. It's not a matter. It's not a it's not a lack of arrest, and a lack of charges, not a lack of putting people in jail. It's a lack of social services and mental health. It's a lack perhaps, of education. And I might also be to just the way we're raising people to perhaps be rebellious to to reject authority. That might be a good position to take, but you have to sort of say to young people, yeah, you reject authority, but you rejected when the rejecting of authority actually achieves a greater good and doesn't cause chaos, for the sake of causing chaos. I remember learning that in the philosophy of law. And it brings back memories from like 30 years ago, protests are necessary, but you have to remember that when you protest, you're causing harm, you're causing issues, so you better make sure the harm you cause as a protester, justifies benefit is going to outweigh the risk. And I think right now people just a lot of them, they have frustrations, they have anger. They're they're being mobilized by a gun. government that perhaps is looking to divide people, agencies or groups that are looking to divide people. So you have a whole army of people ready to protest anything. And they go, and they protest, and you started to ask them, What do you protest? And they go, we're not quite sure. But we're angry about something. I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore. But I don't know what they're mad as hell about. And and then when you go to them, and then we have a police officer and I sort of I, I've tried to live this experience when I go to people, and I go to them, and I go, okay, you're angry, why are you angry, and I, I don't, I don't try to create a situation where now I have, we're now I can arrest him or charge my go, tell me why you're angry. And then of course, they're expecting this response that would be adversarial and that escalates to confrontation. And then after about five minutes, we kind of realize that for the most part, we agree on almost everything. And and our issues aren't with each other our issues are with with things that are sort of beyond our control, being they are within our control. But at that moment, it's sort of like, those are sort of moral problems. And then after a while, like, I always believe that a lot of these sort of protests, and it's sort of you know, how I see the world. I like to watch a lot of rock concerts on TV and I, at some point, you watch a rock concert, and everybody is sort of waving their hands a certain way, you can have 50,000 people in a stadium, and they'll all eventually start doing the same thing. I go, pose a police officer going to a protest, I might just get a giant speaker and play the police. I mean, the police say that just came out, because it's a concert. And in Buenos Aires, I'm thinking play music, and all of a sudden, people that might be enemies, if they're hearing the same song, all of a sudden, though, this music is fun, it brings us together. And maybe our issues aren't as as important right now. And I always had this sort of, I was gonna write a book one day that the police will spend a million dollars to solve a murder, but they won't spend $1,000 to prevent one that was a bit extreme. But it was, but sometimes we'll spend a lot of time and energy after the crime has been committed. But we don't spend a lot of time and energy before That's right. We try to but we just don't know where to put the money or the energy into trying to prevent the crime? Well, I think that kind of ties back into some of the concepts that are being talked about a lot in the United States, and they're starting to creep up in Canada as well. And those are the concepts of like defund the police and not defund the police to get rid of them. But the idea that the police officers expected to be the mental health professional, they're expected to be the social worker, they need to know how well you're a non terrorist need to know how Ontario Works, works and odsp. They're expected to know how the Mental Health Act works. And, and they're expected to deliver almost mental health service, all within a few minutes, because as you said earlier, there's 10 calls lined up, and that are that are pending, there's an expectation where the police are supposed to do all these things, and somehow pull that miracle off in the span of 10 to 15 minutes before they go their next call to work their next miracle. What are your thoughts about taking like social workers on calls and victim services and kind of community volunteers that are specialized in some of these areas? My understanding of defund the police I mean, some people use it as a synonym for a balls, the police, I do not advocate abolish the police, the police aren't necessary. However, the police are sort of missing or our mandate has has sort of ventured into areas that I don't think we've ever meant to deal with. But we're one of the very few 24, seven agencies that you can call. And we can be there within a few seconds if necessary. So often people at two o'clock in the morning, when their grandfather with Alzheimer's is becoming violent, and there's nobody else to call they call us and now you have a 20 year old cop six weeks release was coach officer trying to deal with this issue. And he has no idea how to deal with it. He does the best he can which is he uses police college training, okay, we're going to apprehend you. But as soon as we apprehend the policy is, well now that he's in your custody, you have to handcuff him. So now you're putting a 75 year old guy in handcuffs in the back of your cruiser, because that's what you were trained to do. And you don't want to have to answer any questions. If your Sergeant Why was he in handcuffs? Sometimes you may get the ambulance to come and transport but then often they're in handcuffs as well. And, and that's the issue and then the fabulous Why is he in handcuffs and you go well, because you call the police when you call the police. This is our process. Ideally, there could have been another agency that would have come but a two o'clock on a Sunday morning. Nobody else is working right now. So that's the best you're going to get. And that's where there's this defund the police. Let's take money away from the police and give it to those agencies. Because as a police officer, I never wanted to go to a mental health call. I went only because the people that should go weren't able to. I would rather say you know what, if we can give you a small little chunk of our budget, and you can do that This job better than we can probably do it for even less, because you'll have better trained people, perhaps people that maybe get paid less. Not that that's a good thing. But But economically, it may make more sense to have a team of 24, seven crisis workers available and to a degree, we do sort of have that here in the city. But we don't have it at the level that that can replace us, and often with police to is when we get the call, we sort of have this this attitude or position that, well, if we get it somehow, it's going to be our responsibility. And we're not so good at passing the ball to somebody else. We operate as a concept that's quite often discussed in policing, we operate in a silo, we don't play well with others, we have our way of doing things. And we don't want to bring somebody else in because if we bring a social worker to a situation, and all of a sudden that person gets violent. We are the ones that think we own that. But I have a good friend who's a social worker, and she goes, No, we as social workers are trained to deal with violent people. We often deal with violent people, and we don't need police. So they'll often go to a situation with a violent person. And it's just one one person we often with police will have on our unit or the premise history, three officers minimum that goes to why is it as a girl, that's five foot five, and 120 pounds, I can deal with a guy by myself, but you need three police officers. And I go, good question. But that's just the way we're conditioned. The way we're trending. Everybody's a threat, everybody's an enemy. And it's better to sort of go overboard, and hopefully nobody gets seriously hurt or killed. But then what happens is, is sometimes people do get seriously hurt or killed because you went overboard. I have a family member who is a PS W and she's been spit on she's she's she got pushed down a flight of stairs by someone with Alzheimer's wasn't on purpose. They just the person forgot who she was at the moment thought they were intruder thought they needed to defend themselves. And she's dealt with all all types of situations. She's had all types of bodily fluids thrown at her. She's been bitten, she's been punched, kick, slop, you name it. And she's still dealing with these people day after day, for much less money than then someone that's in a uniform has. And she continues to go to work and do that job. I understand. It's a lot different than responding to a media crisis call. She's working in an environment where she knows the clients and the expectation of working with those clients. Yeah, that was something that she brought up with me. I'm dealing with these people all the time. There's someone that's in mental distress, and the police show up and they have six cars, and they have people with a to her assault rifles pointed out them and, and it's a big ordeal. But she's dealing with that day in and day out with none of those things, no body armor, no spit masks or anything like that. And that's that's the reality. And it's not the fault of police because we're we're trained to do a certain thing. And we do that thing very, very well. The problem is, is we're being asked to do things that perhaps we're not really meant to do. So if you go to your mechanic, and he's a great job at fixing your brakes, great, but you don't ask them to come fix your sink, he may because he's your friend. But he may do a crappy job at fixing your sink. The problem I think, with policing is we're great at fixing bricks, we're not so great at fixing sinks, but we don't like to say no. So we try and do everything and officers. One thing I've learned about officers is an officer doesn't want to admit that he can't do something he that is beyond his ability. And I think as police officers, we have this sense that if we can't fix it, nobody can, even though we know other people can. But at that moment, if we can't take care of it, then then somehow we felt like we failed. So it comes from a good place. It comes from wanting to get the job done and be result oriented. But it also I think officers need to realize at some point, they have to say, this is beyond my ability. I wasn't trained to do this. I'm not an expert. And I think in good conscience, I really shouldn't get involved in this. I have healthcare practitioners that are part of my life. And they tell me, this is what they're good at, this is what they're not good at. And if you need something that they can't offer, they'll refer you to somebody else, please, we don't have that luxury at two o'clock in the morning. Often it's us. And that's it. So we have to become sort of, you know, many experts on everything. And often that's where the controversy happens when the conflict happens when we're trying to, for example with me, I have no kids, but often parents will call me to discipline their kids and I go How can I discipline kids when they have no kids myself? Right now I'm single, so I don't really have a wife to worry about. So I'm getting kind of called into messages. Well, how do I deal with this marital issue? It's not a criminal issue. It's just Yeah, he won't he drinks a little too much at night when he comes home from work. I can't help you with that. And there's no one where you can turn around and say, but I'm I'm able to call this person Who can because it's two o'clock in the morning on Sunday, on Easter Sunday, when most public servant workers are on holidays, every so often once you become sort of connected with the community, and you know what services are out there, our city does provide a lot of services and they're great services, it's just that the average police officer doesn't have the opportunity to connect with those services. And often it's a sort of your a one size fits all response. And we're not really expecting you to go beyond your, you know, our our sort of silo. So I've learned that there are ways to, to basically deal with it more humanely, let's say. So one of the things that I've done with with certain people that I've dealt with, I said, here's my phone number, if you have any issues that aren't an emergency, just give me a call, and I'll talk to you over the phone, I might be on a day off, I might be in my backyard, or in a friend's backyard, and maybe a five minute conversation might take care of that situation, versus turning into a situation where now becomes a three or four hour call, or I'll say, here's my email. So often I say to people, you can access me for advice. And quite often most people when they access the all they want to do is just tell me something. But our system is if you want to tell us something as officers, you got to make a report, we have to have an officer come out and go. But that's not what they're looking for. They're just looking to talk to somebody who knows their history. It's like going to your family doctor, just imagine if you went and saw a doctor for an ongoing issue. And every time you went it was a different doctor, like no appreciation for your history, or didn't even know your name. At some point, you go, Well, how does this help me win every time I come I have to explain from zero what the situation is. What are some quick wins here that you think would work as quick wins, and then maybe a couple of things that we have to invest as a society for more long term, the quick wins, the thing that can actually happen, like literally like right now is dialogue and conversation on my Twitter handle, I would love to sort of advertise and promote the fact that I'm a police officer. But there may be issues internally with my organization, if I say something you don't approve, and then some people may seek me out and just, you know, try to antagonize me, I would love for people to have conversations, I would love for something to happen. And somebody basically just can have a police officer they can connect with and just say, like what's going on, and the officer isn't talking from the politically correct. The organizational approve playbook, he's talking as an honest individual, or she's talking as an honest individual. So dialogue is number one to the people that want to change the system need to become part of the system, they need to apply to be police officers, they need to get involved. And they also perhaps need to realize that that change takes time I was hired 25 years ago, because I was supposed to be sort of that group that was going to bring about change. The problem is for me to bring about change, I need the previous generation to to retire every so often we do get somebody who can bring change about quickly, but it takes time. So and that's just the nature of policing is is that things take time and have a sort of an organizational culture that you just can't change on a dime. But if you want it to change, you need to basically say to today's generation become police officers. And in five or 10 or 15 years, you may be in a position where you can start influencing change. The problem is that people that are on sort of the cutting edge of change today, and 10 or 15 years will be sort of seen as the enemy by the new generation, that that looks at them as being the the cause of the problem. When I was growing up, I was sort of brought up to believe that my generation is going to fix all the world's problems. Now my generation is being blamed for all of the world's problems. And I go, I didn't really change as a person. But society changed. I think maybe people in society have to realize that where they are position wise, they have to maybe sort of see the other side. And that's where the communication and dialogue comes in. And our meetings that I work for is very, very community oriented, we reach out we, I'm very proud of the fact that we do do that. And we try to have conversations and dialogue. It's somewhat difficult to get the average police officer to participate because when they, you know, pardon the expression punch in it's literally called a call to call. And when they punch out, they need to go home and decompress. And then it's hard for a police officer that goes into a community and he's there every night making arrests to go there on a day off to go to a community barbecue. Does the community want him there? maybe perhaps not. Does he want to be there? maybe perhaps not. And I go well, we need to create an environment where the officer that that serving your community can be part of the community and the way the system is now. I don't know if that can be done comfortably. I'd like to see that happen where it can be done comfortably. And and I think also to like, as a police officer, as a person studying philosophy, one of the things that I learned in philosophy is you should always be questioning always be challenging. And you should never take it for granted that you know the truth as so a few years ago, they brought up the concept of recently of systemic racism. And I didn't understand what they were talking about. I thought that was just some sort of nonsense that was made up. But as I looked into it more and more I go, you know what, there's something to it. I may not give them complete acceptance, but they're, they're perhaps not wrong. Like, for example, let's say systemic discrimination. The RCMP, I think, admits it. They go, they're trying to be diverse, and they go, Okay, so you're trying to be diverse, our Inuit population is a part of our country. What do you do to recruit anyone? Do you have any recruiting officers up north? They go, No. So how can an intimate person join the RCMP, if you're not up north, recruiting them and also to a new person can't join the RCMP if they can't speak English. So that's a systemic barrier. I don't know how that can be overcome. But you know, to a degree, they're not wrong. So when I realized there's certain systems we have in play, that that require, maybe, you know, to access Police Services today, you have to speak either English or French, we do have access to languages of life. But that may not be convenient for the average person. And I sort of non emergency situation. Also, a lot of police services now are done via phone, or internet. What if you don't have access to a phone or the internet? How do you access police services. And in some cases, you need perhaps an address to access certain police services. So when I realized there's a lot of members of our community that I never thought about this until recently, that can't access the services that I can certainly talk about white privilege. While I have questions about what that concept means I do understand the concept of privilege when you live your entire life with a phone with an address with computers, and you have things that are designed to make it easy for you, you think everybody shares in on those benefits. But when you realize a lot of the people you're dealing with as as victims or as suspects, and in some cases, victims and suspects are the same person, you realize they don't have the same access. So you blame them for not accessing services. But then when you listen to their story, and truly listen, you realize, but the services were really weren't made accessible to them on their terms, because in some cases, you may get a person that wants to talk to police, but they go, the officer comes to my front door, I can't talk to a police officer in my neighborhood, because everyone's going to see me as the rat, and they both want to come and talk to me, don't come to my front door. Or if you come to my front door don't come in uniform. And don't come to me like a cop. And, and that in some ways is a simple request. But we as police don't see it that way we go, this is our uniform, this is our identity, you have to accept it, take it or leave, but they go, you know what we're leaving it. And then now we sort of criticize them for not accessing our services. But they go, we just made reasonable requests that if we want to mix, we have to mix on equal terms. And as an example, the Somali community that I've worked with closely here in my city, they I was able to build a relationship with them based on trust. And it took time and I understand where their issues are. And one of the things they basically said in the beginning, would you mind not wearing your uniform because the uniform was a trigger for a lot of our members. And I, I didn't disagree, I understood where they were coming from. Internally, that was a bit of an issue. Because my position required I wear uniforms, there was a bit of sort of disconnect. And then I see over in Edmonton for this was years ago, they were having a number of issues involving Somalis that were getting murdered and the evidence and police were saying, we're getting very little cooperation in the community and I go, Well, maybe you're getting a little cooperation, because they make the simple request to attend their events. In normal clothes, you refuse to do so. So when you want a favor from them, you expect and criticize them, they don't give it to people, they want a favor from you, you know, you have to accept our uniform. And I might be sort of out of bounds with that. But but that's kind of how I see things happen that we sort of want things on our terms and don't necessarily understand that the community has their legitimate expectations and demands. And if we just took a step back a good example here in the city, not that I'm thinking about it, we had this event where our community outreach team wanted to get youth to come in and talk to police. So they invited a whole group of youth to come in it was an open invitation. So a lot of youth came and a lot of youth that were bright, intelligent, wanted to make positive change in the community. A lot of officers attended, but every officer wore a uniform. So one young member youth member basically said, we were invited with the sort of understanding this was going to be an event where we're all going to be equal. So we came dressed as normal people. But yet every officer here chose dressed in uniform for we equal When clearly you are making a point just to be different than us. And I go, I agree, how are we do when police sort of make a point to be different? Do you think it would have been better, let's say if the officer showed up in polo shirts with just their organizational symbol on it, anything that sort of sends a message to the community, that we are listening to your concerns, respecting your concerns, and we will at least make a symbolic effort to change the way we present ourselves. And I think that's really what it comes down to is the community every day some members are testing us say, Will you at least give me this? And often police we dig our heels in? No, this is the way we do things policy and procedure if you don't like it tough. And then they they basically, well, I made a simple request, you can't respect that request. So maybe we're we're not at a point where we can trust each other. And I look kind of like even within policing, because my sort of chain of command always said, Well, our uniform is our uniform, and I go well, I use the example in Star Wars. I saw a lot of Imperial Empire, whatever. And they all had different uniforms. I go, maybe we can have another softer uniform, a uniform that that kind of says the community. We're not the the stormtroopers, let's say. But I would do this when I was sort of pressured to wear my uniform to go to a Christmas dinner. And I go well, if I'm being required to wear my uniform, and I don't want to go with my gun baton because that's kind of a symbol of I don't trust you and stuff like that. I go well, one of my uniforms is our number one formal dress. So I would show up in my number one formal dress with the gloves. And you know, I look pretty snazzy. And the respect I got from the community it was it was just night and day if you put police officers out in their ceremonial dress, and at one point that was kind of the way police officers dressed. The community I found treated me so much differently. They were so they were kinder, they were more appreciative and gentler, I had a number of Merry Christmas, because they see a police officer in his regular uniform. They're basically he's here, something bad's happening. I want to stay away when they see you in your ceremonial dress. It's, I can approach this officer. When I was a young officer, I was walking down one of our streets wearing my my police hat. And back then police hats weren't commonly worn even today, they're not commonly worn. But back then I wore the hat because that was the expectation. And the number of people that said good morning, and sort of like it was, well, all of a sudden you wear this hat and people treat you differently. So officers have a certain image, whether or not they realize that's the image they portray. And when people see that their instinct is go the other way, because either something bad's happening, and I don't want to get involved or they're coming for me. But when you change that image by wearing the hat or wearing your ceremonial dress or having a softer uniform, it sends a message to the community. I'm not here because something bad's about to happen. I'm here because something good is about to happen. There's been a lot of disconnect when it comes to COVID. There's an expectation from one group of the population that if someone is in complying, that they need heavy fines. I've seen all sorts of ridiculous stuff, as I'm sure you have on Twitter and Facebook, you know, 20 years in jail, $100,000 fines, that sort of thing. And then you have another group? These are public health orders. They're not the law. Why am I being you know, arrested? Why am I being given a ticket? Do you think the police have just kind of ended up in the middle of this? Or what are your thoughts overall, with the COVID situation is that I think it's also become sort of a generational thing. So I was brought up to believe that the most important thing about this country is freedom, that freedom is number one, I think some generations have been brought up to believe No, no, safety is number one. So just like I believe freedom is the most important principle that we should be honoring. So I often will tweet this I go, all I want from my government is to keep me free, I will take care of my health. But just as I can legitimately and honestly say that I can see somebody else said no, I want my government to keep me safe. And that's where it comes down to. And then the problem that police officers have is we we swear an oath to uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. So we realize we have this responsibility to uphold the charter. But then we also have a duty to respect our chief and enforce the law. And now it's kind of a conflict of interest. And I think we're in a situation now where perhaps, and I feel very, very fortunate that we have achieved in an organization. I think a lot of municipal forces, basically, after our premier gave us more power than we wanted, backed away from it. So I'm very happy that our organization is doing its best to find that balance. But I see that there is this one group of retired police officers or retired frontline people and active frontline people who I think are now launching a court decision. And I think this goes back to my earlier point there needs to be dialogue or discussion? What does society want? Do they want freedom? Or do they want safety, because there's going to be a conflict where you want safety than for your own good, I'm going to walk you up in a jail cell, because that's what you need, because that's going to keep you safe. But it's not going to keep you free. And as an officer, as a person, I have my opinions. But also as an officer, I do realize I have a duty to to respect the chief and the government, and also to respect society. And I want to say to people, you better be sure you know what you're asking for, because you may not like what you get. That's, that's a powerful statement right there. Yeah. And that's, and that's kind of what I see as I go. If you want us to do this, we'll do it. But you may not like it, and then don't complain afterwards, you kind of didn't get what you want. Because you know what? So my while I look at it, as I go, I'll give you as much information as I can, I'll give you every point of view. But in the end, if that's what you want, if that's who you vote for, if that's what you you put down on the whatever, then then I'll give it to you. But don't be it's like people that put in complaints about speeders on their street. And then you realize that the people speeding on their street are their neighbors, and in fact even them, so you now start giving them tickets and they go, Why don't want to take it for me, I want to take it for all these outsiders. Well, there's no outsiders, they're all they're all local residents. Last for the D enforcement we're giving you the enforcement now you don't like the fact that it's your family and friends and neighbors are getting the tickets. I think this ties directly into body cams years and years. We heard we're going to end police brutality, we're going to end all these incidents, we're going to uncover the blue wall of silence that covers all these bad cops and body cancer the future we're going to make a work. And there was a lot of pushback at first with a lot of departments. And then department started getting ordered to wear them. Now we're in a situation where a lot of those same people that were demanding body cameras only want the body cameras to be used to discipline police officers. They don't want them to be used against them in the court of law because body cameras pick up evidence of a crime and I think they found that there isn't a bunch of cops sitting around, you know, oh, we're gonna go beat up this guy today we're gonna go do this, we're gonna go abuse this isn't the cops are using these body cameras in court. Now, people are saying, Well, that wasn't the intended purpose. And the problem with body cameras is that I've seen videos, I've seen body cameras, where you may get just one angle and not one angle makes it look really bad for the cop or perhaps really bad for the offender. But then there may be another camera, either another body camera, gas camera, or a surveillance camera that gives a whole different perspective on what happened. So if you rely on the video evidence, but that video evidence doesn't give you the full picture, because it's video and it's in your face, you may be more inclined to believe and I'm not sure body cameras would actually help you. And there's certain things about body cameras that body cameras can't necessarily capture, like, what was the officer thinking? What was the feeling? Because let's say when we have to use force or deadly force, you have what you have your objective grounds and your subjective grounds. What were you thinking what was going through your mind, and if subjectively if you honestly felt threatened if you honestly felt that your life was in danger, that's part of the decision to use force. A body camera can relay those subjective rounds. And if you set it up objectively, you may say, Well, that looks like the officer did something wrong. But subjectively the officer may have said at that particular moment, I had a reason to fear for my safety. Like there was an example in Chicago recently where there was a 13 year old boy so police officers were on patrol. They have a system in Chicago, where if a gunshot goes off, these microphones pick it up, they triangulate it and tell the police exactly where to go. So they were right there when that gunshot went off. So they see this this young boy running away but they don't know he's a young boy. It's just a person running after a gunshot. So they're chasing him and he runs to this down this alley. At some point he reaches behind a fence to drop the Gunny hat and then he puts his hands up. But the officer made the decision to shoot and I can't see his hands. I think he just fired off a number of rounds. I'm not waiting until he shoots me before I shoot him, he makes a decision to shoot. And in that split second between making the decision and pulling the trigger. The kid puts his hands up but unfortunately he gets shot police officers when they make or anybody when they make their decision to do something. There's always a delay of maybe a second or two. You can't change your mind on a dime. So the officer shoots and unfortunately kid dies. But the media shows the kid with his hands up and they go Yeah, but that was point eight seconds after the kid dropped the gun and probably point two seconds after the officer made the decision to shoot and once he made that decision to shoot. You can't take it back quickly. And there's a lot of sort of psychology and physiology that goes into it that the average person doesn't understand. It's Not difficult to educate, but it does take a little bit of time. And the average person just has that that gut reaction and somehow thinks that we can instantly make a decision and act on that decision. When when in fact, sometimes when you're chasing somebody, and you think he has a gun, and he's hiding his hands behind the fence, you don't know if his hands gonna come out with the gun and shoot you, or his hand is gonna come up and put him in the air and you got to make a decision. It's either my life or it's his. But for example, the case in Columbus, where it was that young girl, the officer basically sees in the video clearly shows that knife is going to that other girl's head area, that officer has a split second to decide, he made a decision to save a life and unfortunately, it costs a young girl her life, but then officers in a no win situation. And it's a shame that he's being criticized for it. And that's again, it goes right back to if society wants police, then society has to realize we're going to make the best decision we can. And you may not like the result. But that's just a byproduct of the fact that we have police. Well, Gary, I would really, really like to have you back on again, so that we could have another conversation sooner than later. Because I think we've only brushed the surface of these topics and some of the really good conversations that we can have from these topics. Speaking, for me, as a person, and as a police officer, in this country, I feel a lot of good, honest people. Everybody I work with as somebody I trust, and I respect, a lot of us have our opinions and a lot of us are silent. Because the way our system is if you say something that the penal system doesn't necessarily approve of, you may get in trouble. So often when when people criticize the individual officer, it's not the individual officer. It's the system they operate in. And I see one of our viewers, James basically talks about, you know, systemic racism, but it's systemic problems. It's not anybody in the system that causes the problem is the system itself. I don't know how that's going to change. I speak a little bit more freely now, one because of my background with philosophy and communications. But also, I'm close to retirement. So I don't mind kind of venturing little outside my comfort zone, because there's not a heck of a lot they can do to me. And sometimes the people that stand up the most are those that have that have retired, I find it rather and I'll just finish it with this. I find it rather interesting that a lot of ex police officers become very, very vocal and critical of the police. And I go, Yeah, but you were a police officer for 25 or 30 or 35 years, you could have changed the system. But yet while you were a police officer, you supported the system you're now critical of and I go if you wanted to change this, if you want the system to change after you retired, why don't you change it while you were a police officer. And that's kind of why I speak out as I go. If I'm going to make any change to the system, I have to do it while I'm a police officer, because once I leave, I have less of an opportunity to make a change. And and that's where I think society needs to step up and say this is what we want. And I'm prepared to basically say I'm a servant to society. Tell me what it is you tell me what it is you want, and I'll deliver it. But just don't say we have a problem. But we want you to fix it will tell us what the solution might look like and have conversation. So I love this conversation. I loved our viewers. I love James's comments. I shouldn't look forward to coming back my bosses you know, hopefully allow it and if I do come back, I have a lot more to say and I really appreciate it. This