Let the punishment fit the crime
Yesterday’s story in The Vancouver Sun (Dismissed in 2004, 2 Mounties keep jobs) should be the final chapter in the determined effort by the RCMP to get rid of two North Vancouver members for “trash talking” in text messages to each other using their on-board police computers.
That Constables Sat Dhaliwal and Deri Kinsey used inappropriate and offensive language is not in issue. There is no doubt they should not have said some of the things they did. But the knee jerk reaction to fire them was wrong. So said the Federal Court of Canada in 2007 and has now been upheld by an RCMP adjudication board.
I can’t imagine how many cops would be left standing if everyone was to lose their job for making an inappropriate comment or using a sexist or racist reference at some point in their career. Does that make all cops sexist or racist? Not in the least. Hands up anyone who has never repeated or listened to a sexist or racist joke. Ever tell a blonde joke? That is sexist. An Irish joke? That is racist. But it doesn’t make you sexist or racist. It makes you capable of laughing at ourselves.
Policing is a tough, emotional job. You deal with the worst society has to offer on a day to day basis. The only regular folks police typically deal with are victims. Everyone else is either a criminal, thug, addict, gangster or smart ass punk. You learn early on in the game that your original concepts about helping and making a difference are little more than ideals that have little basis with reality.
Cops see the most horrible things and deal with the emotional impact that inevitably results by using so-called ‘locker room humour.’ They joke about things that would reduce the average person to a blubbering basket-case. It is a survival method and is critical for their emotional health.
Are the jokes appropriate and politically correct? Hardly ever. Cops, in their humour, disparage dumb crooks gangsters, bikers, the brass, minorities, white people, females, males, traffic cops, internal affairs, paper pushers, journalists, politicians, government, bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, pretty much anyone who isn’t a street cop and some who are if it is felt they don’t carry their load or are cowards.
Do I condone the actions of Kinsey and Dhaliwal? No, but I won’t condemn them to the unemployment line as the Mountie brass tried to do. They should have received a punishment that fit and counselled as to their future behaviour. And that ultimately, is what the adjudication board decided.
At the end of the day, despite some of the criticisms of the police haters, members of the RCMP are simply human and fallible. Just like you and me. When they do something wrong, it is right that they be corrected. But, let the punishment be commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.
In Kinsey and Dhaliwal’s case, many of the comments they made were about a female co-worker who, uh, let’s just say, got around a bit. They used the sort of language that would make many folks blush. But they did so in what they believed were private conversations between themselves.
They didn’t deserve the public ‘execution’ they received.