BY MIKE TURCOTTE-MCCUSKER
When people think about the worst developed countries for police-on-civilian violence, the United States usually tops the list, but not many people would guess that Canada is the second worst offender. This is according to a story in the Newfoundland and Labrador Independent titled: Stop the Killing: Fatal police shootings in Canada.
It’s our belief that this issue should be getting more attention in this country. What’s especially troubling is the number of people with severe mental disabilities who are killed by police.
One example is Quinn MacDougall, 19, who was shot by police in Hamilton on April 3. By most accounts so far, he is said to have been unarmed, brandishing only a cellphone, and having actually called police because he thought his life was in danger. Another example is when police killed a young man named Beau Baker in Kitchener three years ago. Baker was armed with a knife, but many speculate that non-lethal options should have been taken, as Baker had severe mental health concerns, and should have been treated as someone who needed help and treatment, not as a criminal.
Perhaps law enforcement officers are not receiving enough training on how to handle escalated situations involving mentally ill civilians. Perhaps officers should be armed with less lethal options, like rubber bullets or tasers. Or perhaps officers should be taught to keep their hands off their guns unless absolutely necessary. You don’t need to kill a person brandishing a knife, when shooting him to demobilize him will suffice.
Let’s stop pretending that the U.S. is the only country that needs to get its act in together when it comes to police using excessive force. Canada has more total fatal police shootings and law enforcement homicides per year than Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan combined, according to various sources including the Daily Mail, Economist and The Guardian.
So let’s stop panicking over what’s happening down south, and teach our cops how to stop killing people first. British police don’t even have guns, and not one officer has been killed since 2012 … So what’s our excuse?