Monday, August 3, 2009

To Serve and Protect - If You Can Stand The Interference

How Dare You Do This To Our Police Officers?

I came across this quote from Ronald Reagan. I do not know when he made the Speech entitled "Encroaching Control (The Peril of Ever Expanding Government)", but in it he said the following: "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was like in the United States where men were free." The same applies here in Canada.

A friend sent me the link to the article on the Ontario HRT ruling about Constable Michael Shaw in the National Post on July 31. I subsequently found the ruling itself here, and confirmed that the reporter, Lorne Gunter had not flipped his lid, but was accurately documenting what had occurred.

Suddenly, I was taken back in time to my 30th birthday March 13, 1980. I went to bed a little tipsy, having just celebrated the big 3 0. My second cousin, named Michael, just like me, because we were born 3 1/2 months apart, him first, didn't go to bed that night. He was at work. I did not know him very well, though when we saw each other at family gatherings, I enjoyed his sense of humour and his sense of honour. His older brother Don was an RCMP officer in Ottawa, when he was born, and Michael became a Toronto City police man when he himself grew up.

On March 14, I awoke, and turned on the news after I finished my shower. It was then that I heard that my cousin, Constable Michael William Sweet, had been shot and killed in attempting to thwart a holdup at a tavern in the 52nd Division of Metro Toronto at about 2 am. Here is his Honour Roll Profile.

I just read that the man who gunned him down, Craig Munro, and has been incarcerated for the last 29 years came up for parole this year, and was denied in February. It happened in British Columbia, not here in Ontario, so he won't be making a claim to the Ontario HRC that his rights have been violated. He is a First Nations band member, and the break in that my cousin died for was about the booze in the bar primarily. I wonder if Michael Sweet was doing a bit of racial profiling when he died, or if he was trying to serve and protect the citizens of his adopted city, and fighting for his life.

Back to now, or nearly now. Ronald Phipps was stopped by Constable Michael Shaw and his partner, Constable Noto on March 9, 2005, almost 25 years after my cousin Michael Sweet's death. The irony is not lost on me.

Mr. Phipps, the complainant, is a black man, and was a reserve letter carrier that day in the upper class Bridle Path area of Toronto. The police were on the lookout for someone who had been lurking in the area, though the person of interest had not been described as black. Constable Shaw thought that Mr. Phipps behaviour was suspicious, and they stopped him and asked him for ID.

He provided it. They checked it. They went on with their day. Apparently, he stopped them later to ask why they had stopped him. End of story. Not so. It would have been if he were white, because he would not have had a band of provincially paid story inventors looking to impute some kind of ulterior motive into a policeman's doing of his job, but as I said Mr. Phipps is black. Same if he were First Nations, or some other colour, just not white.

It has to be racial profiling. That's what Kaye Joachim, the Alternate Chair said. Kaye Joachim reads minds apparently. I thought the new TV show, made in Toronto "The Listener" was fiction. Not necessarily so. I have it on good authority that I just made up, that it is based on the cases from the Ontario HRC.

I wonder if Kaye Joachim is a theoretician, lacking in real world practical expertise. What I mean by that is that she does not lack for legal training. She has been a lawyer for over 22 years, having graduated from Osgoode Law. She also has a Master degree in law from the U of T, which she got in 1997, and was on the faculty there for a number of years. She has been a labour arbitrator and negotiator, and has had senior positions with Ontario government organisations like the Ontario Labour Relations Board, Ontario Financial Services Commission, and of course the Human Rights Tribunal. In 1997 She wrote a book " Reform of the Ontario Human Rights Commission" which is not readily available, but which might be an interesting read, to see her mind set. She sounds like a pretty book smart person to me. I wonder. Book smart, Street dumb?

Here are some paragraphs from the ruling written by Mr. Joachim:

[32] After being provided with the applicant’s driver’s license and Canada Post identification and having ascertained that the applicant had no police record or other suspicious notations on his record, Constable Shaw nonetheless proceeded to question another letter carrier, Mr. Finlay, about the letter carriers in the neighbourhood. Only after Mr. Finlay identified a "Black man” who was acting as a temporary letter carrier did Constable Shaw cease his inquiries. I reject Constable Shaw’s explanation that he was trying to teach Constable Noto about alternative ways to complete an investigation and find instead that Constable Shaw’s heightened scrutiny of the applicant was continuing (I told you he reads minds).
[33] I emphasize that although I have rejected each of Constable Shaw’s explanations as not consistent with the preponderance of probabilities, the combination of his actions when viewed together further supports my conclusions.
[34] I conclude that the applicant’s colour was a factor in Constable Shaw’s surveillance, decision to stop, and subsequent inquiries about the applicant on March 9, 2005 and that he breached the applicant’s right to equal treatment without discrimination on the basis of colour with respect to services, contrary to sections 1 and 9 of the Code.
[35] I stated earlier that there were disputes between the parties with respect to the manner and content of the two conversations between the applicant and the officers. I find that it is necessary to make some findings on these matters as they may affect the remedial aspect of the case. The applicant asserted that the officers drove abruptly into a driveway that he was about to cross and approached him in an intimidating manner. The first word Constable Shaw uttered, in a disrespectful manner, was “ID.” When he asked why they wanted his identification, Constable Shaw answered in an insulting manner, “I would ask even if you were the Prime Minister of Canada.” The police check took a considerable period of time during which the applicant asked to continue delivering mail and the police car followed him while he was doing so.
[36] This is denied by the officers. They testified that they stopped on the curb and did not pull into the driveway because of rules against entering unnecessarily upon private property. They politely advised the applicant that they were investigating break and enters in the area and asked for identification. While Constable Noto conducted the police check, Constable Shaw inquired why the applicant had not delivered pamphlets to every home. Upon being advised by the applicant that not everyone wanted pamphlets, and upon receiving the negative results from the police check, Constable Shaw apologized for stopping him. They deny following him in the police car while they did the check.
[37] I accept the applicant’s evidence that he felt intimidated by being approached by two police officers, wearing guns, one of whom, Constable Shaw, is a very large man. I note that the applicant has a small stature. I also accept that he perceived that the officers did not treat him respectfully. However, I am not persuaded on a balance of probabilities that Constable Shaw used the police vehicle in an intimidating manner, that he approached the applicant in an intimidating manner or that he spoke rudely to the applicant.
Mr. Phipps related somewhere in the process that he came to Canada as a young boy from Jamaica and had no familiarity with racism prior to coming to Canada. In 1975, he apparently with some other boys approached a police car, and asked for directions. He says that the officers called them pickaninnies and asked them if they thought the police car was a cab. For him to be relating this over 20 years later implies that this has some traumatic hold on his psyche, and some influence on his day to day actions and feelings.

He related how he felt intimidated by the approach of two police officers, one very large one (Constable Shaw), both armed. He probably wants the Police Force to hire shorter, skinnier officers so they won't intimidate people. He specifically wants the police to pair officers with partners "of a different race or culture" to teach them to "cope with difference."

He also said he wants his 14 year old son to be able to trust the police, but he is not sure he can convince him of that.

Recently, I was pulled over by a police officer in Michigan, when my vehicle set off his radar detector. I have no idea how that happened??? Anyway, I was extremely nervous, and I noted that like all officers I have ever seen in a stop, he had a heightened awareness due to adrenaline flow, probably. I responded to him very calmly, even though I did not feel it, and shortly was on my way. I was anxious about it for at least another day. Get over it. It did not take me 4 years and a kangaroo court to get past it. I can guarantee you that I could not relate the details of the stop the same way that the officer who stopped me would, because the energy and emotions that both of us underwent were different.

By the way, Constable Shaw is on paid leave, because he is a victim here. The citizens of Toronto tax dollars are at work paying him to not do the job he is trained and skilled to do, because of this harassment of him. I wonder if he will ever be able to reconcile that he was just doing the job he was hired and trained to do, with the nonsense that came from this witch hunt. Will he second guess every possible stop he goes to make?

This stuff makes me sick. I want our police officers to be able to Serve and to Protect us, not to be afraid to do what is right, when it is called for.

Recently, a young OPP officer out of London 4 months on the job he had dreamed of all his life, was killed when he and his partner were trying to apprehend a suspect in a car theft. Their vehicle was in a collision with a large truck. His partner was seriously injured. She too was doing her dream job, having worked her way out of the call centre to the field only 1 1/2 years earlier.

Officers came from all over to honour this young man at his funeral, as they did for my cousin at his, and as they do when an officer falls. They do the job they love because they know it needs to be done, and because they want to be the ones doing it.

It disgusts me to see the Ontario HRC make a mockery of police work with rulings like this. Before Kaye Joachim makes such a ruling she should have to do a week's ride along with officers in the field to see the pressures of the job, and the stresses they go through every day, and how they cope with them.

But, this gets bigger in September, when they go after the Chief, Bill Blair, as they claim that this nothing, is in fact a pervasive nothing, that must be dealt with. Next, just like call outs on public transit across the province, that started with one blind person in Toronto, we will have a wacky ruling and new procedures mandated from the Ontario HRC for all the Police Forces in Ontario to follow. I assume that Chief Blair is not standing idly by waiting for this shoe to drop.

Dalton McGuinty, put Barb Hall and the Ontario HRC and HRT out of our misery. This is disgusting, and unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg.


Anonymous said...

My name is constable Michael Shaw #1247 D33 thank You

mbrandon8026 said...

Dear Constable Shaw:

My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am certain that you have worn badge #1247 with honour and pride, doing your dream job.

These kind of rulings shame the system and reflect badly on our politicians, but they somehow manage to use their teflon hides to avoid it. And so, careers and lives become irrevocable damaged by frivolous actions by government paid staff on a misconceived mission to heal human rights ills that do not exist.

I would be very happy to write more about the true story of this to wake more people up to the abuses of the system that go on here, and if you would wish to communicate with me directly, you may email me at