Thursday, November 4, 2010

Abuse of Power

People given power, such as police power, have a special responsibility to not abuse that power. But some yield to temptation. Sadly, the police don't take their crimes that seriously. They see it as "pranks". Here's an example from a news report on the UK's Daily Mail:
A security worker at Philadelphia's airport planted a fake vials of cocaine as part of a prank.

The unnamed BAO (bomb appraisal officer), who has since be sacked, targeted passengers as they collected their baggage from X-ray scanners.

He had been at the airport to test out new security equipment when he decided to use vials of creatine powder meant to be used in the scanners on unsuspecting travellers.


The prank so unnerved one passenger she burst into tears.


The university student, in tears, approached an airline worker to complain. Referring to 'the things that are going on in the world today,' she said it wasn't a 'funny joke'.
As part of its probe of the pranks, investigators spoke with other TSA employees. Five confirmed that the officer had tried to trick passengers into thinking that cocaine was found in their luggage, but only one informed a supervisor.
What I don't understand is why people would let the guy get away with these so-called pranks. He was abusing his authority. Keeping silent simply gave him a free hand to commit this crime on others.

Here's different abuse of power reported in Toronto by an article in the Globe and Mail. Again, this is person's in authority deciding to "write their own rules" when interacting with the public:
Nearly 100 Toronto police officers will be disciplined for removing their name tags at the G20 summit, says the city’s police chief who also admitted charges were thrown out against roughly 100 people because the force failed to obtain appropriate arrest warrants.

Police Chief Bill Blair was called before the Commons public safety committee on Wednesday to explain his officers’ actions during the June summit which resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 people.

Many of the people who confronted police over the tumultuous three-days of protests that closed down Toronto’s core said officers were not wearing badge numbers or name tags on their uniforms – allegations that were bolstered by photographs in the media.

“I have a rule in the Toronto Police Service, it’s my rule, it’s in accordance with the policy of my police services board, that our officers will wear their names displayed on their uniforms,” Chief Blair told the committee.

Faced with numerous complaints, the force launched an investigation and pored over 22,000 hours of closed-circuit videotape to identify “approximately 90” officers who were not wearing their name tags, said the Chief.

“Disciplinary processes have been initiated,” he said. When asked what kind of punishment would be handed out, Chief Blair said that has yet to be determined “but the discussion, I believe, is the loss of a day’s pay.” That would amount to about $300 for a first-class constable.

Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack said no G20-related disciplinary action has yet been taken.


One of them, a Quebec student named Kevin Gagnon, appeared before the committee at the same time as Chief Blair. He said he was among a group of about 100 protesters who were roused from their sleep in a University of Toronto gymnasium and hauled off to a makeshift detention centre.

Mr. Gagnon told a harrowing tale of being held for more than 60 hours. He said he was denied adequate food and water. The toilet, he said, was in the open and there was no toilet paper.

Those who were arrested sat handcuffed without access to a lawyer for more than 30 hours, said Mr. Gagnon, adding that police taunted them as they shivered through the night without blankets. And later, at a detention centre, there were strip searches, he said.

In the end, the charges against Mr. Gagnon were thrown out just as they were against all of the students arrested at the gymnasium.
This is an egregious case of police abusing their power. And it would appear that the "higher ups" turned a blind eye to these misdeed by the police as part of an effort to suppress demonstrations during the G20 meeting.

If you don't have professional police and allow these kinds of "irregularities" to go on, the public will lose confidence and the authorities will lose control of the police as disgruntled individuals on the police for take power into their own hands.

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