An alarming amount of police officers are choosing to turn a blind eye when faced with potential crime.
Former officer-turned researcher at Carleton University, Greg Brown, says 70% of officers are engaging in the act of ‘de-policing’ out of fear of potential backlash online.
Brown, who has 28 years of policing experience, interviewed 3,660 officers for his research, which he is slated to defend as a thesis later this year.
“There is a narrative out their where the public is wanting to hold our police accountable,” says Administrator for the London Police Association, Rick Robson.
“This isn’t necessarily a good thing, as you’re not seeing communication between the public and our police,” he said.
Robson’s greatest concerns are around recent passed bills by government officials.
“You look at something like Bill – 175, well, that was made with very little police input. Other things like the government’s plan to stop carding and street checks, well now nobody is happy with it, whether it be the public or police,” said Robson.
Robson believes the current narrative aids real criminals.
“Some of the groups out their aren’t just pushing for rule changes in policing, but for a total ban of police all together. Well, criminals are very conscientious of the law, so if you make their lives easier, we will dive into chaos,” he said.
An increase in the use of social media has made the job of police officers much more difficult. The invention of smartphones means more opportunity for citizen journalism.
“I think this is partly the sensationalization of holding police accountable, but also wanting the thrill of holding power over authority,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology at King’s University, Derek Silva.
“You never see good policing interactions on social media. Often times, it’s short videos of negative police interactions, with little to no context,” he said.
Now Rick Robson says a lack of communication between the public and police can result in misunderstandings during routine stops. Derek Silva says this comes down to the different life experiences that people can have with our police.
“Even in my own classes, I have students who are profoundly anti-police, while others are blue blooded,” said Silva.
“These people can come from homes where police have been good to them, or come from neighbourhoods that in the past, had trouble with totalitarian policing.”
Silva says he promotes research before reaching a conclusion on policing.
“I always ask my students to make sure they’ve researched the topic extensively, in order to create an informed opinion around our officers.”