Thursday, November 18, 2010
Stacy Bonds: Chief White's halfway measures
Ottawa Police Chief Vern White's limp response to a judge's ruling that four of his officers unlawfully detained, violently assaulted and strip-searched a young Black woman:
Ottawa Police Sgt. Steve Desjourdy, the officer caught on videotape cutting a young female prisoner's shirt and bra off with a pair of scissors, will be forbidden from dealing with the public until the conclusion of an internal police investigation.
What does this tell us? Far from firing this thug, or at the very least suspending him without pay until the conclusion of his two-years-late "internal investigation," Chief White will retain him on the force at full salary.* And the other officers involved in the gang assault on the 100-pound Stacy Bonds are still out there "dealing with the public."
Not a good start, Chief.
By what he assures us is a coincidence, White has just announced measures to deal with racial profiling by his troops. The initiative was actually begun by order of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, after a well-publicized case of racist antics by the Ottawa police--six years ago. (The police cleared themselves of any blame in this incident after one of those "internal investigations." The OHRC disagreed.)
Meanwhile we await the results of another human rights hearing after another "internal investigation" cleared another cop--five years ago. What saved young Chad Aiken's version of events was an audio recording of his encounter.
The vicious police assault on Stacy Bonds took place a mere two years ago. We'll see if it leads to the same mutual back-scratching result as all those others. So far, the signs are not reassuring.
UPDATE: Some disturbing stats:
A recent Toronto Star report looked at 3,400 investigations of police misconduct in Ontario over a 20-year period. In only 95 of those cases were criminal charges laid and only 16 officers were ever convicted. Only three of those went to jail.
Will Bonds beat the odds?
*As a reader rightly points out, Section 89 of the Ontario Police Services Act does not permit suspension without pay--even in a case of murder. But Desjourdy could at least be sent home to cool his heels, if outright firing is indeed not an option even in so egregious a case. And what of his co-animals?