Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where Is The Windsor Police Services Board

Is it like the situation with John Skorobohacz and the near riot where the CAO took the hit? This time was it the Police Chief who had to fall on the sword for the Mayor/Police Service Board head?

You see, dear reader, politically, no matter what the Mayor/Police Service Board head did, if he spoke out, he would offend a large part of the Community. As an example, over 91% of the CKLW listeners on their poll preferred what the Windsor Police Association president said about Police rather than what the Chief said.

I have no idea who is right or wrong over what took place when the Windsor police arrested two men pursuant to a Warrant issued under the Extraditions Act. And neither I would suggest does anyone else right now.

The issue seems to be coming down to was what the police did in a potentially dangerous situation involving members of a minority Community whose beliefs are not the same as the majority of Windsorites appropriate or not.

If we are not very careful, this matter can be blown completely out of proportion to further divide this City.

The headlines say it all:
  • CBC---Police chief apologizes to Windsor's Islamic community
  • Star---Chief apologizes to Muslims
  • National Post--Windsor police apologize to Islamic community for FBI arrests
  • Star---'Nothing went wrong here,' cop rep says, after chief's apology to Muslims
  • Star---Police chief not pressured to apologize, says Windsor Islamic Association
  • Free Press--Windsor chief is sorry male cop frisked Muslim woman.

What is troubling about this all now is the public reaction to what has happened. Overwhelming, the public in newspaper forums has viewed the Chief's apology negatively, not just here but in Detroit too.

The Chief has been put in the awkward position of having to chastize his officers in public. In effect, by the apology the Chief, is saying that his officers were wrong in what they did. Yet in another story:

  • "RCMP spokesman Sgt. Marc LaPorte... replied that if the woman was close by during the arrest operation, “then, for officer safety reasons, they have the right to determine whether there is a threat or not.

    “If they deemed it was necessary to pat her down, then the officers do have the authority to do that.”

The Islamic Community is now forced into saying that they are not the ones who demanded the apology because of the backlash.

What is missing from all of this is the Windsor Police Services Board. We did learn that:

  • "Shortly after the incident, Smith met with Mayor Eddie Francis and leaders of the Muslim community in the mayor’s office.

    Francis said the meeting was attended by himself as chair of the Windsor Police Services board, Irfan Qadir (a Muslim member of the Windsor police services board), three representatives from the Windsor Islamic Association, including Peer, Smith and his deputy chiefs.

    Asked who arranged the meeting, the mayor replied: “It was something that the community asked for. From time to time, it happens that different groups ask for police services to come forward. Sometimes they’d like to meet with the entire board, sometimes with just the chief and the chair, or the deputy chair.”

Note the surprising statement that Edgar (aka Eddie) did NOT attend as Mayor either. He limited his role. Is everything he does so calculated and political to protect his future?

Why wasn't the apology offered then? Why did it take so long?

Considering that the incident happened almost 2 weeks ago what has the Board been doing since that time:

  • "Ducharme said he was on a cellphone call with the wife of one of the suspects throughout Saturday's arrest, and he said he's already heard from members of Windsor's Muslim community who are incensed at word that an arresting male officer "patted down" the woman, even though she wasn't the subject of the warrant.

    "Particularly with Muslim women, this is very, very offensive -- my wife said it would be very offensive to her. It's a great personal violation."

Has the Board undertaken an investigation into this matter and if so by whom? If not, why not since it is hardly a surprise that there would be a negative reaction? It appears that there has been a "review" but by whom and was that enough to calm down the situation ?

Did Edgar discuss with the Chief about making an apology or was it the Chief's unilateral decision? Frankly, given the seriousness of the situation, I would have thought that the Head of the Board, the Mayor, should have made any required comments including an apology if needed, not the Chief. On the contrary, the Chief's apology has inflamed passions unfortunately.

Has this become another "low point" in the long career of a senior City official?

What is very troubling to me is not just this incident but a previous one recently during the CUPE strike. I am sure that you remember the first: the "junior kindergarten policing" crack.

This is the second episode recently where it seems, because of the remarks of the Chief, that the force has not been trained properly. That surprises me because of some incidents I have had over the past few months involving more than a few members of the force who have all acted in a very professional, caring and understanding manner that suggests to me a very strong sensitivity education.

If there is such a problem, then there is a bigger issue invovled. The Board better get moving. We cannot afford the typical Edgar do little approach we saw involving violence on Pellisier. Action needs to be taken now before something else goes badly wrong.

Edgar is our leader after all. He cannot just be around for the glory. He needs to be here, front and centre and not invisible, when times are tough. If not, then he is the wrong person for the job!