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Alberta

Being a Cop has Always Been a Thankless Job

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11 minute read

Being a cop has always been a thankless job.

But in our current climate, police would be happy for the bygone days of a thankless community, compared to what they are currently enduring.

Never before in modern history have police officers been accused of being the worst of society.  Today, the reputation of cops is constantly under attack by the media. And fringe groups who purport to have a noble agenda are paradoxically allowed by our governments to wreak havoc on our cities without consequence. Entire city blocks have been burned, children have been murdered, and yet the media all but ignores the backlash of the problem, which they themselves are largely responsible for inciting.

Well-intended people have been duped into believing that roughly half of society are devout white supremacists, and that visible minorities are being hunted and killed by the police.  The media bolsters this false narrative daily, which has created an incredibly unstable and explosive environment. When a group of people believes that they are in danger of being killed by the police, it’s only natural for a member of that group to be afraid, and resist arrest.  When you resist arrest, you are making a safe situation dangerous by escalating the force required to arrest you. If you comply with the orders of the police officer, you are almost ALWAYS safe.  It is extremely rare that a compliant arrestee is harmed or killed as a result of the arrest. In those rare instances, the police officers are likely at fault, and deserve to be charged. Only improved training and selection practices can reduce these rare instances.

A part of policing which very few average people are willing to engage in is combat.  Most people have never been in a dangerous fistfight, but for cops, getting into scraps is a common occurrence.  Some of these fights involve armed bad guys who are high on crystal meth, and who are nearly impossible to control.  When a crazed meth head charges at you with a knife, the only realistic response is to pull out your pistol and fire a few rounds into the center of the target.  The pollyanic fools who cry, “you should have shot them in the leg!” have no concept of the reality of combat.  There isn’t a police officer alive that has the training and skill to reliably make a “leg shot” against a crazed charging assailant.  And no, a taser is not reliable enough to deploy in this situation either.

Armchair critics are quick to judge and condemn the use of violent force, without having the faintest idea of the reality of a combat environment.  Many will recoil at the word “combat”, by saying, “combat is for a battle field, not for our streets! Our cops are not soldiers!”   And, they would be wrong.  Combat is a violent “must win” altercation.  When someone is violently resisting arrest…that absolutely qualifies as combat.  It’s not the police who initiate the combat…it’s the person being arrested who creates the combat situation, which the police have no choice but to respond to with force.

Police officers work in a world that is completely foreign to most middle class folks.  The average person can no more understand what it is to be a cop, than they can understand what it’s like to live on Mars.

It seems that the public has forgotten the simple fact that cops are just people.  Flawed, regular human beings who have decided to risk their lives so that others may live safely.

When people join the police force, they do so for one of four reasons.

  1. Most join out of a sense of responsibility to provide meaningful service to their community. These people tend to make the best police officers, and often make up the majority of a good police force. Lately the media has been ignoring the fact that most police officers fit this description.
  2. Some others join out of a sense of adventure, craving fun and action in their job.
  3. And there are those who join simply to have a respectable, and reliable source of income.
  4. But unfortunately, there are a few who join because they crave having a sense of power.  These are the problem cops which every police organization tries to weed out, yet every police service has at least a few of these problem children to deal with. These are the minority of cops, which the media are currently focusing on, and they are painting all police with this contaminated brush.

In addition to these four types of police officers, there is a rare outlier. Occasionally, a trigger-happy psychopath will slip through the cracks.  The psychological evaluations are put in place as a filter to weed out these types of applicants, but no system is perfect.  Psychopaths often know the right words to say, and how to mask their true identity.  Even a lie detector test can be defeated by a psychopath or sociopath.  I won’t pretend that these people don’t occasionally make it onto an otherwise honourable police service, however I also won’t agree that police services across the western world have been over-run by them as the media would have you believe.

There are bad apples in every organization, and try as you might, you’ll never weed 100% of them out.  If you’re going to have a large group of people, there will always be a tiny minority within the ranks who will potentially cause great harm.

The truth about police officers is that they have chosen a life of dangerous, high stress service, so that you and I can live a safer, less stressful life.  They deal with dangerous people, so that YOU don’t have to.  They literally get punched in the face, so that YOU don’t have to.  Lets face it, most people have no ability whatsoever to defend themselves against a violent attacker.  We should all be grateful to those who put themselves in harms way so that they can arrest, and lock up the people who are a danger to society.

Now, with all of that being said, how can Police officers muscle through the negativity and added danger they now face?

Let’s’ start with something we can control, which is our perspective. 

“I hate you!” are three words a parent never wants to hear from their child. When it happens, although it may sting for a moment, a good parent quickly realizes that their kid is simply having a fit, and doesn’t know how else to express themselves.   Also, it’s easy to discard unkind words from a child by realizing that they simply don’t know any better.  “If they knew better, they would do better” is a mantra I strive to remember.

When it’s a large group of “adults” who are pitching a fit in the form of a riot, it’s difficult to remember that they don’t know any better.  EVERYONE feels justified in their cause, regardless of the facts at hand.

Regardless of the haters, try to remember why you’re there in uniform.  You are there to serve those who need you, with or without their appreciation.  Your life is one of sacrifice, and some days suck worse than others, but there are still good days.  You help.  You DO make a difference, and whether the public knows it or not, they need you.

Remember that the anti-cop sentiment is based on a belief in a false narrative.  Despite the demonstrative evidence to the contrary, these misguided people actually believe that the Police are out to get people of colour.  We must realize that although misguided, their outrage is real to THEM. They really don’t know any better, and it’s not their fault.   The media has created this environment with their bias.

Be mindful of your focus.

Now is a great time to stay off of Facebook.  If you can’t limit your social media, then at least purge everyone from your contacts list who shared negative posts about the police.  It’s easy to unfriend, unfollow, or even BLOCK people.  You don’t need to engage. You won’t change anyone’s mind, so why try?

Remember, and focus on those who appreciate you.  If you look, you’ll see armies of supporters who are cheering for you.  They may be the “silent” majority, but they are there all the same.

Mark E. Meincke
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Alberta

Exercise in ‘patience’ pays off for Kadri, says winning a factor in joining Flames

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By David Alter

Nazem Kadri said the Calgary Flames expressed interest the moment he became an unrestricted free agent, but it was an “elaborate process” before he finally signed on the dotted line on Thursday.

“The patience definitely did me some good,” Kadri told reporters in a Zoom call Friday. “There were some decisions to be made.”

The Flames’ wild off-season took another dramatic turn Thursday when the team signed the coveted free agent to a seven-year, US$49-million deal.

Before the deal could be made official, Calgary sent forward Sean Monahan and a conditional 2025 first-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for future considerations in a move to create salary cap space for Kadri’s contract.

“That’s part of the reason why it’s been taking so long,” Kadri said from Paris, where he is on vacation.

The 32-year-old Kadri was one of the biggest names available in free agency after an all-star season with Colorado that ended with the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup.

The benefits of returning to Canada, where his NHL career started, and taking part in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ with the provincial-rival Edmonton Oilers were benefits to signing with the Flames, but what ultimately led him to sign was how close he feels the team is to winning a Stanley Cup.

“Ultimately, it’s about winning and that played a huge factor in me coming to Calgary,” Kadri said. “The time is now and it certainly can be close with the moves we’ve made and me hopping on board.”

The 31-year-old Kadri had 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games for the Avalanche in 2021-22. He added 15 points in 16 playoff games, including the overtime winner in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay.

That was his return to action after being injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference final after being hit from behind by Edmonton forward Evander Kane.

Kadri’s addition capped a wild off-season for the Flames that saw star forward Johnny Gaudreau walk away in free agency.

The Flames’ leading scorer last season (115 points), and a finalist for the Hart Trophy as league MVP, Gaudreau informed the Flames before the start of the free agency period that we would not be re-signing with the Flames in a desire to move closer to home.

The New Jersey native signed a seven-year, $68.25-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets when free agency opened on July 13,.

Calgary was then informed that forward Matthew Tkachuk, who had a breakout season with 42 goals and 104 points, would not sign a contract extension after the upcoming season.

What looked like a potential nightmare for Calgary started to turn around when the Flames dealt Tkachuk to Florida for a package that included forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who had 115 points last season, and defenceman Mackenzie Weegar.

The Flames then locked up Huberdeau long-term with an eight-year, $84-million contract extension.

“It’s alarming to anybody when you lose players of that magnitude,” Kadri said. “But I think Brad (Flames GM Brad Treliving) has done a great job getting some return and valuable players.”

This is not the first time the Flames have tried to add Kadri to their roster. The Flames attempted to acquire him from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019, but Kadri used the no-trade clause in his contract to veto the deal. Kadri was then traded to the Avalanche on July 1, 2019.

“I didn’t see myself leaving (Toronto),” Kadri said about the situation. “That had nothing to do with the city of Calgary or the organization, I just wanted to stay where I was.

“It’s important for me to clarify that. I think it’s important because I’ve always admired the city of Calgary and Canada in general. I’m a Canadian boy. I love playing in Canada but it’s certainly ironic, but it was always a team that was on my radar.”

Kadri was selected seventh overall by Toronto in the 2009 NHL draft and has 512 points (219 goals, 293 assists) in 739 career games with the Maple Leafs and Colorado.

The London, Ontario native has yet to have his day with the Stanley Cup, but his plans include taking it to his hometown.

He also said he’s going to bring it to Toronto, where he spent his first eight NHL seasons.

“I’ve done a lot of growing up in that city as well and there’s been lots of supports of mine there,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.

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Alberta

‘Just horrid’: Police watchdog now investigating death of man in Alberta RCMP cell

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CALGARY — An Alberta man is hoping for answers now that the province’s police watchdog is investigating the death of his son while in RCMP custody.

Addison Hartzler, 30, was found dead in an RCMP holding cell in Grande Prairie, Alta., on June 3, nine hours after he was arrested for public mischief on suspicion he had falsely reported a break-and-enter at the home where he was staying.

Greg Hartzler said he was told his son was acting in a “psychotic and delusional” manner, but police didn’t call paramedics or have him assessed by a doctor.

“They never even sought any medical attention in the entire nine hours they had him in custody. At no point in time was he ever assessed medically,” Hartzler told The Canadian Press Thursday.

“If they had, I believe he would have gone to the hospital in Grande Prairie directly from the house instead of the holding cell.”

The case was being investigated by RCMP, but Hartzler requested the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team look into it.

He was only informed Wednesday that ASIRT had taken over the investigation as of Aug. 9.

Hartzler said he wants to know if the RCMP was negligent in his son’s death and to protect other parents from going through a similar experience.

“Oh, Lord — If we can be an advocate for this, I guess maybe that’s our lot in life,” Hartzler said.

“From a father’s perspective and a family’s perspective, it’s just horrid. We were expecting him to be at our house that morning. By noon he was planning to leave Grande Prairie to come to his brother’s graduation,” he said.

Hartzler said his son had been in the Grande Prairie area northwest of Edmonton since April looking for work. He said they talked a day before his son’s death and the younger Hartzler seemed fine as he watched an NHL playoff game.

The father said he is relieved ASIRT is investigating.

“We’re trusting that we at least get somewhat of a better investigation with ASIRT doing it and hopefully more objective than what I believe RCMP (would do), even though it was their special unit. We’re hopeful we will get a more thorough investigation,” Hartzler said.

“At the end of the day, everything and every direction we turn to points to negligence. As Canadian people, we have to start saying enough is enough and the RCMP has to be held accountable for these types of actions.”

An RCMP spokeswoman said it’s not unusual for the special unit to do the investigation on cases where there are injuries to people in custody.

“What typically occurs is that even though it remains with us, there is an ongoing process where information about the investigation is shared with ASIRT so they have awareness of what happened and the facts and information as it progresses,” said Cpl. Deanna Fontaine.

“In this case, in the course of that, a decision was made by ASIRT to take it back.”

Alberta Justice said the original decision to leave the investigation with the RCMP was made due to a lack of resources with ASIRT at the time.

“ASIRT’s resourcing issues at the time were well known and were raised in correspondence with the Hartzler family’s lawyer in the interest of being fully transparent regarding the capacity challenges the agency was facing,” said spokesman Jason van Rassel.

“We can now confirm that the director of law enforcement referred this case to ASIRT for investigation on Aug. 9. As this matter is now with ASIRT, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General isn’t able to provide further comment.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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