OPINION: Under the microscope these days, police need our support, not anger

It’s 2,883 kilometres to Minneapolis, Minnesota from Delta. It will take you 26 hours to drive through some of the prettiest scenery in North America. That’s a long way from our small community, but the ripple effects of what transpired on a Minneapolis street last month has landed on our doorstep.  

The alleged death of George Floyd in the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been so impactful that it appears every police force is feeling the shame, including our own police department. 

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I knew we were in the thick of it when the Delta Police Department felt it necessary to release a “Statement to the Community -- addressing questions about policing.” My first reaction was this is an overreaction. Under no circumstances would I ever see a parallel between our police force and the horrendous police brutality we have witnessed in the United States and in some of our rural Canadian communities. 

Yet these are unprecedented times and police departments all over North America are in a public relations freefall. Attitudes towards police officers have turned bad so quickly it’s shocking and I believe unjustified.

The Delta Police Department is known throughout Canada for its rigorous vetting process, top notch training, excellent policing and has been recognized for its “no call too small” motto. 

Anytime I have been in contact with the force, whether as a citizen or as part of the media, it has been exemplary. I recognize that is not everyone’s experience but I feel confident that when mistakes in policing happen, the force is there to investigate and repair.

Can we do better? Always, and the inclusion of more visible minorities in our police forces is necessary. Systemic racism exists in all walks of life, from the playground to the corporate world. It’s imperative that all professions, especially the police, work to end racism.

The ripple effects of Floyd’s death are too many to list but on the positive side the provincial government is making plans for an all-party review of the 45-year-old policing act, and there’s no doubt body cameras will soon become a fixture in policing.

On the downside, the Vancouver Elementary Teachers Association is suggesting that schools may want to reassess having police liaison officers in their schools. This is a big mistake and misguided. My children benefited greatly from liaison officers as it was a healthy introduction to the role of police.

After recent events, will young people be interested in a career in policing? I fear not as the role of a police officer is increasingly complex and burdensome. Our youth need to view policing as a rewarding, viable career and understand that a few bad apples do not represent the profession.

Last weekend my husband noticed a Delta police cruiser drive by our home. He made a point of waving and smiling at the officer because he’s proud of our police. We all need a little friendly wave right now, especially the men and women in blue.

Ingrid Abbott is a freelance writer whose life of crime began and ended with stealing golf balls from a driving range in Grade 5.She was never prosecuted but did have to return them with an apology.

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