(File photo)

(File photo)

Column

SIMPSON: A poem from 1895 just might change your view on policing

Tell us your thoughts about policing in Surrey and beyond by emailing edit@surreynowleader.com

Whether you know a few of them, have one in your family, or are yourself an officer of the law, everyone seems to have an opinion on policing.

In Surrey, the debate mostly surrounds which kind of uniform our police should wear – and how many uniforms we should need. But a broader societal discussion has zeroed in on the effectiveness and importance of policing itself.

Whether you side with the whole “defund the police” movement or not, chances are you have a personal “police story” that may have helped shape your views.

You may have had a bad experience with a traffic cop once or twice or feel you have been treated unfairly by officers in your community. Heck, I’ve even written several columns in this very space over the years about my frustrations involving the men and women in law enforcement.

But when I hear a story critical about police, or share one of my own, I am reminded of an idiom derived from a poem published in 1895. It was originally titled Judge Softly, but was later called Walk a Mile in His Moccasins.

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

In effect, it is a reminder to practice empathy. Before criticizing someone, you must understand his or her experiences, challenges and thought processes.

Column continues below.

homelessphoto

In this July 25, 2020, file photo, police pepper spray protesters, near Seattle Central College in Seattle, during a march and protest in support of Black Lives Matter. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

With that in mind, consider this story from our sister paper, the North Delta Reporter.

On May 29, 2020, a man high on meth was dropped off at the Tsawwassen ferry terminal just after 11 p.m. Twenty-five minutes later, he stole a taxi that was parked nearby. He raced it up the causeway and into a parking area four kilometres away.

Coincidentally, a Delta police officer was parked in the same area dealing with an unrelated matter. The speeding taxi nearly hit the cop car and the officer, who was on foot and had to jump out of the way.

The man got out of the stolen taxi and took off. The officer ran after him and called for back-up. Less than a minute later, the officer had the man at gunpoint and was ordering him to drop a knife. The officer deployed his Taser three times, with only one “successful electrical current connection” prior to other cops arriving.

A second officer arrived about three minutes after the “near miss.” Over the next 15 minutes, a total of nine officers showed up.

At one point, the man produced a pipe from his backpack and, with a weapon in each hand, goaded officers to shoot him.

None of the officers shot. But several did “unsuccessfully deploy” their Tasers and some also used 40 mm launchers to shoot the man with “less lethal” projectiles, which had little to no effect.

The man turned the knife on himself and stabbed himself in the neck. The officers administered first aid but the man died.

It’s important here to note that the Independent Investigations Office cleared police of any wrongdoing in the man’s death. But what a horrible tragedy.

SEE MORE: Delta police cleared in death of man near Tsawwassen ferry terminal

“Incidents such as this have a lasting impact on the officers who respond,” Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord said. “People get involved in this line of work to help others, and it’s a tragedy when, despite all our best efforts, sometimes we’re not able to get some people the help they need.”

There a few things you could take away from this terrible story. Some might say the story suggests police do indeed more training if nine officers couldn’t successfully take down one suspect, while others might argue the officers were absolutely trained properly, as they showed restraint.

Others might make the case that police need better energy weapons.

Me? The story reminds me of the kind of people and issues that police deal with on a daily basis – drugs, violence, homelessness, sexual assault. The list goes on and on.

And that was just one story. There must be hundreds, even thousands of tragic, violent near-miss stories that play out in our streets every night while we are comfortable at home with our families.

For most of us, having a bad day involves a few rude customers or a couple of server breakdowns. For the men and women in our police forces, a bad day can mean much, much worse.

To be sure, there is much that needs to improve when it comes to policing – and we may see those improvements very soon. But before you go on a rant about the cranky cop who pulled you over for a broken tail-light, remember what a bad day for him might look like.

Then go fix that tail-light.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. Email him at beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com.



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

PoliceSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 9

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read