November 17, 2007

Cop In or Cop Out?

Posted in atheism, philosophy of religion, politics, science, theology at 8:52 am by Jerry

We limit our freedoms just enough to protect our valuables (people and possessions). We do this by creating laws (moral laws) and hiring those with interest and skills to maintain these laws.

It must be tough to be a law enforcer. There’s so much pressure to protect and serve those in the immediate community, including the law breakers – especially when the law breakers may cause you physical damage! Is it possible for cops to be trained so well that they are able to avoid any physical abuse? I wonder how easy it is to transform into a law breaker when attempting to be a law protector.

I think it’s so unfortunate what happened to Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver Airport. It truly reveals the imperfections and fallibility of our police force. It would be great if there were cops who were completely trustworthy, invulnerable, and powerful enough to help the troubled or stop any hurtful actions of another. But there’s never been a cop capable of doing that.

I do wish, since I’m not on speaking terms with God anymore, that theists would convince God to care enough to take on the policing profession. It wouldn’t infringe on our “freewill” because we’d be using our freewill to arrange for physical protection – a strategy we’ve used for years. But with an all-loving, all-powerful cop, we’d be much more successful.

So far, God is not for hire. Which is baffling because imagine how many people would start believing in his existence – or worship him – if he did become a cop. But then, believers (or God) might object to an unceremoniously empirical study of his work. And maybe that’s why God doesn’t intervene. Because it would destroy some of the required faith to believe in God’s existence, and maybe believers want the freedom to apply more faith in God rather than embrace sufficient evidence.



  1. Tom said,

    So we have to wait until possibly next summer before an official inquiry into this tragic incident is launched. In the meantime, what about the policemen who perpetrated this terrible tragedy? How many more people will be tasered at the Vancouver International Airport while we await justice?

  2. Rob said,

    Announcing that an inquiry will take place early spring, or perhaps summer, tells me that the Coroner’s Service is either taking its orders from above (Premier?), or that they need time for the public furor to fade away, amid other distractions from our infotainment world, or both. It also appears that the “misinformation machine” has started its engines. Why does Jeff Dolan refer to the 5 possible scenarios of Mr. Dziekanski demise (natural, accidental, homocide, suicide, or undetermined). Certainly there is nothing ‘natural’ about what occurred. According to the witnesses and video footage, I’m sure we can rule out ‘accidental’ as well. I would hope that Mr. Dolan isn’t implying ‘suicide by police’ was on this victims mind at the time either. That really only leaves ‘homicide’ and ‘undetermined’. It probably doesn’t matter at this point either since the inquiry cannot ‘assign fault or blame’. The public has already decided this, and regardless of the outcome from the inquest, what will change? Our governments (federal and provincial) have been promoting safety and security ever since 9/11, and this appears to be the cost of that doctrine. I feel safer than ever.

  3. Jerry said,

    I too think that justice could and should be met out a lot sooner than has been stated. I also think that all officers (with of without tasers) must view Paul Pritchard’s video before their next shift. It’s clearly an educational example of what not to do, and therefore, a valuable deterrent.

    Rob, I’m glad Mr.Dolan stated the 5 so-called “possible” scenarios. It’s so easy for Canadians to rule out three of them (just as you did), and come to a conclusion of their own. Like Dolan said, “”We certainly want to bring to light or make public any issue surrounding a death and again the ultimate goal is to make any recommendation where we can prevent death or injury from occurring again.”

    After seeing the video footage on CBC, I was curious to know what kind of training in interpersonal communication skills our officers have been given. Because it seemed clear to me that Mr.Dziekanski’s situation could have used a response that involved psychological considerations along with physical ones.

  4. steve said,

    With 17 deaths in Canada as a result of using tasers, it seems to me that tasers should be used, when, and only when, life-threatening force is necessary (I hope this a truism). As a physician in a psychiatric facility, we see incidents like this (and worse) on a regular basis. Based on what I saw in the video, this situation only required “compassionate force” or what we call non-violent crisis intervention, or CPI. Four officers should have been able to physically restrain this individual without the need for “lethal” interventions, especially when he did not appear to be attacking the officers at the time of being tasered.

    Also, of great concern to me, is the lack of response when the individual/patient arrested. You don’t need to be a physician to recognize when someone is in cardiac arrest! It is my understanding that all RCMP officers are trained in basic life support (BLS). For the officers not to react immediately to this medical situation makes one wonder about their state of mind or level of training/empathy. If they had arrived at a motor vehicle accident, would they not try to perform life-supporting measures?

    It is well known by anyone trained in life-support that “time is muscle”. This refers to the fact that the sooner BLS interventions are initiated after a cardiac arrest, the more likely the patient is to retain heart (muscle) function and survive. So, even if one considers the actions of the officers to be appropriate from a policing standpoint, I cannot imagine any excuse for them not immediately starting BLS on a person in cardiac arrest!

    With all due respect to all involved,
    Concerned physician.

  5. Jerry said,

    Thanks for your comment, Steve. You said, “makes one wonder about their state of mind or level of training/empathy. If they had arrived at a motor vehicle accident, would they not try to perform life-supporting measures?” This makes me wonder even more about how an officer’s consideration for his/her own safety effects their protection and service of others.

    I highly appreciate your perspective as a physician working in a psychiatric facility. You also said, “So, even if one considers the actions of the officers to be appropriate from a policing standpoint, I cannot imagine any excuse for them not immediately starting BLS on a person in cardiac arrest!” This speaks volumes to me. I’d like to know what kind of rebuttal our authorities would have to your statement.

  6. A Nurse said,

    Steve, I respectfully disagree with your statement “You don’t need to be a physician to recognize when someone is in cardiac arrest!”

    To give you my background, I am a RN with a quite a few years in emergency and critical care medicine. Due to the example I am about to give, is why I’m not using my name.

    There was an incident that occurred a facility that I worked at. A patient had come to see the doctor. Was waiting in the waiting room to do so, leaned against the family member they came with. This patient was fairly young, under the age of 60. The nurse came to get the patient. The patient’s family member stated they had fallen ‘asleep’. The nurse took one look at the patient and realized immediately this patient was not asleep, but in serious distress. A code was called.

    This is a true incident. I use this an example of a person without being exposed to ‘ill’ people would not recognize them being in distress.

    I know we think as police officers they should be able to recognize when someone is in cardiac arrest, but they do not have any more training than a layperson in recognizing that. Sure they take CPR, but as you probably know it’s a whole lot different doing it on a dummy in a controlled setting. The dummy doesn’t change colour, or gasp, or clutch their chest or simply drop down on the floor. If you haven’t seen that look of someone in cardiac arrest, I think most people would be hard pressed to differentiate between that and simply being unconscious. The example of a MVA to me faulty, as there would be obvious injuries.

    I’m not saying what happened was right. It’s obviously a tragic thing that happened. At the same time I think a bit of compassion needs to be given to the officers involved. It’s quite different for us to be sitting here removed from the situation, I think it would quite another when your adrenaline is going and the situation is happening to you. Again I’m not excusing what happened, simply saying that I hardly doubt those officers are at home, without it bothering them at all. I think it will be something they have to live with for some time to come.

  7. Kevin said,


  8. Jerry said,

    Hi Kevin,
    Your comment and the little I know about you communicates to me that my post has really challenged your worldview, and you find yourself incapable of articulating for me an intelligent rebuttal, leaving you with nothing but an emotional outcry to express your frustration of not being able to defend your religious beliefs.

    I’m sorry for any emotional pain you may be feeling, but I’m glad my post has challenged you, frustrated you, and maybe inspired you to learn more about the subject I commented on. Someday, you may be able to articulate a friendly and intelligent disagreement that can challenge me.

    Until then, I’ll be expecting more of your attempts to hurt my feelings (possibly motivated by blame you direct at me for your own hurt feelings). Which is unfortunate, because, it’s clear that you require productive (and ethical) work first internally, then externally.

    Self-awareness and Peace be with you,

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