[I haven't had the drive to share anything here lately, but I was just about to post an obscenely long response to someone on FB, and decided not to do that to her. It's more appropriate here, I guess, as it is a bit of a rant:]
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a protest rally outside Toronto Police Headquarters. I'm not positive about exactly what incident people were protesting, but some of their signs were deriding the police for killing mentally ill suspects who were committing acts of aggression.
I couldn't help but think: this mob is protesting the wrong location. Their beef should have been with a lack of funding available to provide assistance to the mentally ill before one of the ill climbed aboard a TTC streetcar and threatened the safety of others (I think that was the inciting incident for this rally). I couldn't help but think that if mental illness was funded at an appropriate level -- a level that actually met the need, rather than just paid the most economical lip service they could get away with and still call themselves mental health funders -- the police wouldn't cross paths with (so many?) mentally ill suspects endangering the populace.
I couldn't help but think: this mob is picking apart a split second decision in the calm, non-urgent, no-one's-in-danger light of the next day. I'll give the protesters the benefit of the doubt by assuming they were aggrieved over the officers' choice not to use the non-lethal options available to them. (I could even factor in the scuttlebutt I've been told that Toronto police in particular are known to be corrupt bullies whose nefarious butts are covered by the Special Investigations Unit which almost always clears them of any wrongdoing regardless of how wrong the doing was... but that's a different rant for a different day.) But that doesn't change the fact that the mob had debated options in the comfort of their living rooms or conference tables, while the officers were standing on a streetcar in the middle of the night faced with an aggressive and certain threat. The mob had weighed the probable success of non-lethal alternatives while kicking back with coffee and Timbits and bathroom breaks, while the officers had to act in defense of others and themselves r i g h t n o w !
(officers are allowed to save their own lives too, people. if I get to put on that airplane mask that dropped from the ceiling over my own mouth and nose before helping others, police are certainly allowed to choose to stay alive in order to protect me).
I couldn't help but think: this mob must be aware of something I'm not -- how to tell on sight that someone is mentally ill and thus shouldn't be held accountable for their actions. I mean, that's ridiculous of me to think that the mob has that kind of sight, right?... but they must have that knowledge - they're demanding that the police do.
Finally, I couldn't help but think: if the police had not neutralized this dangerous man, if somehow they had known the man was mentally ill and thus was not accountable for his actions, if the police did not act in defense of others on the streetcar in case the dangerous man could not be expected to understand how he was endangering people -- I couldn't help but think I'd be walking past a different rally outside the headquarters.
A "What do we pay you for, if not to protect us from dangerous men on streetcars?!" rally.
The police can't win. I'm glad they continue to play each day on my behalf any way.
[See? Rant. But seriously, fund options for the mentally ill appropriately. The police shouldn't be taking the heat for the fact you endanger the public with your penny pinching.]