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Police brutality - in reverse?

Police never seem to get a really fair shake in the community.

Police never seem to get a really fair shake in the community.

Whenever we do hear about cops in the mainstream media, it is usually to do with corruption or violent abuses of authority, such as when LAPD officers were filmed beating the daylights out of Rodney King.

Even when cops are doing their jobs, patrolling neighbourhoods, performing seatbelt checks or doing roadblocks to catch drunk drivers - they really don't get much love. I've heard people rant, just after getting a warning or fine for driving without a seatbelt, "Why aren't they going after real crimes?" If people aren't complaining about them, then they're afraid of them. Fear or scorn - it doesn't really seem like many people actually like the police. But then again, who can blame them? Most people only encounter an RCMP officer when they've done something wrong, or are suspected of doing something wrong. Principals, dentists and guys from Revenue Canada must also experience a similar hate-hate relationship with the people they encounter.

This week in The Chief, you'll find a letter to the editor berating the local RCMP and a column by one of our writers discussing the high crime rates in the district. Reading these two pieces together gives one an unfavourable impression of our local law enforcement officers, and that is truly a shame, as these men and women routinely put themselves at risk for the sake of our community, and rightly deserve a little less scorn when it comes to how they perform their duties.

Every week The Chief sits in on a media debriefing on crime for the previous week, and receives information about several finished cases, and a few which are underway and cannot be reported on yet. In the course of these briefings, you can get a pretty good idea of how hard-working and attentive these people are, in respect to their jobs.

The job of a police officer is one which is done in full view of the public eye, and therefore more open to criticism from those who assume much, but really know little about the job. And it's funny, people who wouldn't be caught dead speaking in generalities about races or religions, seem quite comfortable using generalities about police.

True, Squamish does have a lot of crime, and more resources and manpower would probably help this issue. But, it is difficult to accept the idea that local police are supposedly "unwilling" to investigate a reported crime for some reason.

In the end, police work is one of those thankless jobs, where single-minded dedication is presumably a replacement for a pat on the back. But, were it not for those dedicated and perhaps slightly masochistic professionals, our crime rate would be infinitely higher, and no crimes at all would get investigated.

So next time, instead of shaking your heads at the police, try shaking their hands instead.