Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Squandering Taxpayer Dollars

Most certainly we don't want to do that. Yet isn't that what is done frequently, and more than we would like to admit to, after all? It's more than a little refreshing, however, to read that police chiefs in the Province of Ontario feel there are better ways to use those dollars than to pay salaries of officers who have been suspended from active duty. Those, in fact, who have been charged with serious crimes.

On their off-time, of course. No police officer would ever indulge in illegal activities during active duty-time. One can only suppose the boredom of being off duty, just leading normal lives gets to them, and the allure of engaging in illicit, or even, let us say dangerously criminal behaviour just for the hell of the kick involved, becomes too attractive to resist. No, really...

Not for all, needless to say, but for those whose dedication to law and order may not go beyond their pay cheque. Or those suffering from a mental illness, undiagnosed and developed while in the process of interacting with the criminal element within society. Who is to say, really, despite the most careful selection, vetting and auditing procedures that some sociopathic personalities don't end up on any police force?

But here's the president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, speaking on behalf of local forces, decrying the "spending millions" of dollars paying those constables who have been charged with criminal behaviour, while awaiting trial. "We think that's squandering taxpayer dollars", said Daniel Parkinson, president of the Association. Good man, he.

Giving courageous recognition to the fact that among the defenders of law and order there does exist an element of personnel less dedicated to their task of enforcing the law than desired. The solution seems simple enough, and it's one, in principle that other policing services follow; stripping officers of their pay until their names have been cleared.

It's tough to be charged, and to be without a pay cheque, but doesn't that go with the territory? That someone dedicated in his professional vocation to upholding law and security must be seen to be an exemplar that others should follow? If there are serious criminal charges brought, then it makes good sense that such uniformed malefactors not be paid as upstanding members of the police.

Provincial legislation would have to be changed to, as Chief Parkinson of the Cornwall force says, preserve the "integrity and credibility" of policing, since: "Some police officers get themselves into serious criminal activity off the job. It can happen anywhere in the province. It's something we're not proud of and something we want to amend."

For forthright honesty, give that man a medal. Chief Parkinson recalls an instance when two former colleagues committed a home invasion, searching for a large amount of cash, were apprehended, and: "Those officers were on the payroll until they were convicted in court and sentenced to a term in the penitentiary."

Now, if the issue could get by unions whose purpose in life is to staunchly defend all the perquisites and entitlements written into union contracts for their members, regardless of circumstances, and if the police chiefs could convince Ontario's minister of community safety, this could be accomplished. A tough one, though, given the minister's response.

"This is an issue that would certainly have to be addressed in opening up the Police Services Act. That wasn't and isn't our intent at this point in time", was the response of Rick Bartolucci, Ontario's Minister of Community Safety.

But why not?

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