A different perspective on police violence

POLICE BRUTALITY IS an issue that plagues many communities, standing in the way of the judicial process and making a mockery of an authority that all citizens, be it of Ottawa or the world, should be able to trust. Still, as this problem with misuse of police authority comes violently onto our city’s doorstep, one must consider what knowledge or experience grants the average citizen the right to judge what constitutes reasonable force and what does not.

While, to some degree, every member of the Ottawa Police is an Everyday Joe hoping for little more than to bring home the bacon and feel good about what they do to obtain said bacon, these officers are also highly trained—and highly experienced—individuals. Who is to say that the intoxicated man yelling threats or profanities at passersby is a first-time offender? Who, besides the officer who has incurred scars from this person before, is to know what constitutes reasonable force in this particular situation?

I don’t mean to undermine the accounts of witnesses and victims of police brutality, in Ottawa or abroad, by suggesting that police violence may be more of a grey-area issue than we think. Admittedly, the idea of the layman watchdog is a comforting one to me, and I am thankful for the bravery of those who spoke out about the abuse suffered by innocent victims such as Stacy Bonds and Roxanne Carr. All I hope to say is that perhaps us average citizens ought to take some witness accounts with a grain of salt and reserve our judgment of authoritative individuals in our city until the results of the Special Investigations Unit’s probe are made publicly known.

—Jaclyn Lytle