SERVE AND PROTECT or PUNISH AND ENSLAVE

I remember once believing in that motto: To Serve and Protect. For years, I taught children to always seek out a police officer if they were in trouble. They were right up there with ambulance drivers and paramedics and firepersons – people you could trust and who would come to your rescue. I remember when they wore friendly light blue shirts and red striped pants and drove bright yellow squad cars so you could find them easily.

Pollice2That all changed in Ontario under Mike Harris and his right-wing police state. Under Mike's watch the uniforms changed to the dark side of the force, and the blue shirts were hidden under black flak jackets. The squad cars got a patriotic law and order make-over, some even into stealth mode with stealth markings. I remember a Conservative political convention that Boss Harris held in Toronto near the end of his reign of terror. The people had begun to protest, so he had the Convention Centre surrounded by police in full Darth Vader riot gear. It was like a scene out of a totalitarian nightmare – the SS keeping the elected elite safe from the people.

Something has gone very wrong when the people who are hired by us and paid for by us no longer Serve and Protect but, like that ominous Decepticon, seem to Punish and Enslave. It doesn't matter now who the political leaders are – the new norm is order by intimidation. There is a good reason for Julian Fantino's meteoric rise to Conservative federal Cabinet Minister, and it has nothing to do with serving and protecting.

Somewhere between corrupt Toronto drug squads, the killing of Robert Dziekanski, the ineptitude and brutality of the G20 riot response, police who lie under oath, and the overkill of Sammy Yatim, I have lost faith. If this is the new normal, like the radar traps out for the end of the month quota rush, I do not like it. I do not endorse it. Bring back Sergeant Frank Preston and Yukon King and Rex. I want a police force that makes me feel safe and secure. What you are doing now makes our children cry at night.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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