Mar 262018

From: Sandra Finley
Sent: March 26, 2018 1:31 PM
To: The Sunday Edition
Subject: re March 25 Edition, commentary, Police malfeasance


Dear Michael Enright,     (CBC Radio, The Sunday Edition)


Yes, public trust in Canadian justice is undermined when Police malfeasance is brought to light.   It challenges the public image of the Police.

The examples cited in your commentary were of front-line officers, for example, lying under oath.

There was no mention of the higher-ups in the Policing organization.   Leadership has a large influence on the ethical behaviour of subordinates.


An excerpt from the book, “Social Media, Politics and the State: Protests, Revolutions, Riots, Crime and Policing in the Age of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube” (2014),  is available online.   It illuminates the example I am unable to dislodge from my memory, of the role of police Leadership itself, in the undermining of public trust in the Police.


There have been seven hundred thousand “views” of the main video of police officers disguised as protesters at Montebello in 2007, and just under another hundred thousand hits on the secondary videos.   The numbers of people who have discussed, read articles, and been informed by newscasts adds to those numbers.  The actions of front-line officers were not only influenced,  they were directed by police Leadership.

In the aftermath of Montebello,  I did not observe venom spit at the three officers who were arguably there to incite violence, which is an offence.  It was understood that the problem was with the “higher-ups” who condoned, stone-walled, and refused to hold a public inquiry as to who was behind the decision to deploy police provocateurs.


Excerpts from  Social Media, Politics and the State elucidate further:

(Police ‘Image Work’, p. 231).

Police use news media to manage and maintain control over situations, including their public image.”

Note, the management of public image is performed not by front-line officers, but by the higher-ups.

The Police have traditionally set the framework to  “maintain control over their public perception of authority as legitimate” . . . “ the public perception of the police as THE legitimate authority (social power)”.   . . .

In a changed world, if police actions are illegitimate, social media makes it possible to transfer some control over imaging out of police hands.  They are no longer the ‘authorized knowers’ of the situation.

Police continue to favour news media contacts to control and frame events.”

Official police statements are used for this purpose.  (Again, that is not the work of front-line officers.)  In the particular example, the official police statements were contradicted by on-line videos taken at the event.  The lies (contradictions) were quickly pointed out by the on-line community.


I just wanted to point out that it is unfair to point out malfeasance by front-line officers, and exclude malfeasance by “the higher-ups”.  I provide one egregious example (Montebello) to make the case;  there are others.


My friends and family know not to phone me on Sunday mornings; I do not have time for them when the Sunday Edition is on.   Thank-you to you, and to everyone at The Sunday Edition.


Sandra Finley


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