When cops blunder

Wagging my finger, I yelled "Slow down," at the police cruiser driving at excessive speed along Belsyde Avenue in Fergus.
Actually, I made my courageous stand from inside our apartment, behind balcony doors. In truth, I wouldn’t yell at any cop who might hear me, and it would embarrass me if anyone else heard it.
Generally, I like and respect the police and can think of a few times when their intervention helped me out of scary situations.
And once or twice, I turned the tables and came to the aid of a cop.
I did it once in South Africa by helping a young policewoman load a drunk into her car. When I told my wife, she said, "You helped a lady cop? I’ll bet she was pretty."
Back to the speeding cruiser. I actually made my judgement call based only on what I could see. The car appeared to speed, but I had neither radar gun nor a set of calibrated eyeballs. The beacon wasn’t flashing and I couldn’t know if the officer was at that moment reaching to activate it or the siren. And I certainly had no idea what communication had just passed over the radio system.
We too easily blame the cops because of their visibility.
As I write this, two police items dominate the news. In Vancouver a man died after a double blast from an RCMP taser, a device that immobilizes a person with a high-voltage charge. In Kitchener, a police woman interrupted a robber and ended his career with a shot from her service pistol. Too bad she didn’t have a taser.
The media have unleashed a relentless attack on the Vancouver Mounties based on a few seconds of video shot by a passer-by. We do not know what went on in the minds of the policemen. We do not know what they saw or heard seconds before entering. We can be sure that the dispatcher passed on a description of the circumstances they would face. Possibly, they decided too quickly to use the Taser. They had the option of using their bare hands, a truncheon, or a pistol to subdue him.
Some people suggest that the police should not use force until the suspect has shot at them or otherwise injured one of them. One commentator on CBC said of the Vancouver incident, "And the dead man didn’t even have alcohol or drugs in his system."
He did not suggest how the officers could possibly know a fact uncovered hours later by a coroner. I doubt that reporter has ever personally faced a seemingly deranged man.
Two other police-related events figured in the news in recent weeks. Two RCMP officers died at the hands of gunmen. Did they hesitate before firing because of a feared public outcry? Reports of officers dying on the job have become too common. In fact, since the beginning of the RCMP as the NWMP in the 1870s, 220 officers have died on the job. According to a government website:
"But 75 officers of the RCMP and NWMP have now been killed in the line of duty for merely being a police officer."
Those numbers apply only to Canada’s national force. I could not find figures for the combined police forces in the country.
Further research revealed that Canada added 1,673 police officers this year. According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, that brings the country’s total number of officers to over 64,000.
With that many out there, some will make mistakes. That should not stop us from respecting and supporting the majority.

Ray Wiseman