There’s nothing new in observing that we have a serious problem. Nor is there anything new in pointing out that it didn’t arise overnight, that it goes back years, decades even. But here’s the root of it. It’s not a lackadaisical approach by cops to their jobs, nor is it tacit support among cops for the fascists, although those certainly are serious enough.
No, it’s this. We give the cops more than a billion dollars of our money every year. We pay them, handsomely, to do a job. They work for us. But how are we supposed to hold them to account when they fuck up? Their record of contempt for civilian authority is nothing new either. Who oversees them? The Police Services Board? Hands up all those who can even name one member of the current board, never mind remember the last time they did anything useful or even noteworthy. The Mayor? Says he can’t tell them what to do. The province? City Council? Who? No one.
What we’ve got here is a lovely little circle of bureaucratic institutions, each with its own nebulous mandate, but ultimately adding up to an amorphous wall of buck-passing and deniability behind which the police operate with impunity and without accountability.
This has been going on forever. But this is, at least for the moment, still a democracy, and it’s time to overhaul or jettison these feckless institutions that suck up our tax dollars and do nothing of value. Policing is in need of some genuine and comprehensive organizational and cultural reform. If the existing political structures won’t undertake that, then it’s time to find some who will.
We’re paying more than a billion dollars a year for this. We’re goddamn well entitled to better.