Two sets of rules

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - — This edi­to­rial orig­i­nally ap­peared in The Tele­gram

Raise your hand if some­thing doesn’t make sense here.

This is part of the tes­ti­mony from the in­quiry into the death of Don Dun­phy, dur­ing which two po­lice of­fi­cers un­der oath - Const. War­ren Sul­li­van and Const. Scott Har­ris, both then on the ex­ec­u­tive of the Royal New­found­land Con­stab­u­lary As­so­ci­a­tion (RNCA) - talked about why they per­suaded Const. Joe Smyth not to give a po­lice state­ment about the shoot­ing the day it hap­pened.

Here’s Sul­li­van, then pres­i­dent of the RNCA, ex­plain­ing why po­lice of­fi­cers - un­like the gen­eral pub­lic - get time (some­times days) to com­pose them­selves be­fore be­ing in­ter­viewed dur­ing a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion of their con­duct: “The rea­son why that’s done is it al­lows the of­fi­cer to have a bet­ter re­call of what took place, and to be able to pro­vide a more ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of what had ac­tu­ally taken place at the time of the in­ci­dent,” Sul­li­van tes­ti­fied. “There are doc­u­mented cases whereby that wasn’t done, and of­fi­cers have pro­vided a state­ment too close to the in­ci­dent whereby there have been in­ac­cu­ra­cies, and later in time of­fi­cers have wanted to change their state­ment, or they’ve changed their state­ments while giv­ing tes­ti­mony, and it has come into ques­tion and has cre­ated prob­lems.”

Fair enough - but to play devil’s ad­vo­cate, po­lice of­fi­cers are only hu­man. And wouldn’t the same con­cerns ap­ply to any other hu­man be­ing in­ter­viewed by po­lice in a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion about their be­hav­iour? Wouldn’t po­lice want the most ac­cu­rate de­pic­tion of an in­ci­dent from ev­ery­one? Yet po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors want or­di­nary in­di­vid­u­als to speak to po­lice right away.

Here’s Sul­li­van again. “An in­ci­dent in­volv­ing two civil­ians, there is an in­ves­tiga­tive model that’s fol­lowed for ma­jor case man­age­ment. It is po­lice of­fi­cers in­ves­ti­gat­ing civil­ians, try­ing to find out ex­actly what had taken place,” Sul­li­van said. “Ob­vi­ously, yes, in­ci­dents in­volv­ing po­lice of­fi­cers are in­ves­ti­gated - or, I don’t know if they’re treated dif­fer­ently, but when it comes to of­fi­cers pro­vid­ing ac­cu­ra­cies as to what takes place, be­cause they’ve suf­fered trauma, then they’re given the time and al­lowed the time to have the re­call.”

Po­lice of­fi­cers aren’t sup­posed to have a stake in the out­come of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion; what they are sup­posed to be search­ing for is what hap­pened, and whether or not charges should be laid. If it’s a known fact that peo­ple be­ing in­ter­viewed im­me­di­ately af­ter an event pro­vide in­com­plete or in­ac­cu­rate de­tails, why would po­lice seek early in­ter­views in re­la­tion to vi­o­lent crimes with non-po­lice sus­pects, un­less it’s to give po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors an un­rea­son­able ad­van­tage in their in­ves­ti­ga­tions?

Cer­tainly, any­one in­volved in a shoot­ing or a death would be suf­fer­ing from trauma.

Why would the po­lice not wait, in or­der get the “bet­ter” sort of state­ment they ex­pected would come from Smyth hav­ing time to re­think and re­view his mem­o­ries?

A text­book ex­am­ple of a dou­ble stan­dard is treat­ing in­di­vid­u­als dif­fer­ently in the same cir­cum­stance. This is a dou­ble stan­dard.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.