Sunday, April 10, 2016

Policing: A Contrast In Methodologies

We've all seen the videos depicting the murder of Sammy Yatim at the hands of Toronto police officer James Forcillio. Although Forcillo has been held to partial account for his foul deed, most realize, I think, that things didn't have to end the tragic way they did.

And with new and disturbing allegations of police misconduct being perpetrated against the family of Alex Wettlaufer, the public has every right to be gravely concerned about a constabulary that appears to regard itself as a sovereign power, meting out punishment and death at will with little or no real oversight or control.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The Toronto Star carries a story contrasting the execution of Yatim with the far more measured approach of an Ohio police officer, Joshua Hilling who, despite immediate peril, fires his weapon only once on knife-wielding suspect Javier Aleman and pleads with the suspect to drop his weapon in a protracted encounter that speaks so well of him. Unlike Forcillo, Hillman sought to deescalate the situation in order to save Aleman's life.

You can read a full analysis of the differences between the Yatim and Aleman cases in how the officers handled the situation here. One can only rue the fact that someone like Officer Hilling was not present when Sammy Yatim had his crisis. Had he been, the odds are that the young man would still be very much alive today.

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