It’s Gotten So Bad – The Police Are Now Shooting Each Other

By: Darryl Davies

The recent incident in which a Niagara Regional Police officer was shot multiple times by a fellow officer raises some very disturbing questions about people who are working as police officers in the Niagara Region and across Ontario.

First and foremost, why is the injured officer (identified in the media as Cst Nathan Parker) still a police officer in the province of Ontario? According to the media he has three convictions for discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act of Ontario for violent and aggressive acts against members of the public. This individual should have been fired years ago. 

By allowing a person with a history of violence to continue working as a police officer defies logic and brings the administration of justice into disrepute. Why is Parker still a police officer?  Why has the Niagara Regional Police not taken action to have him removed from their police agency? Common sense dictates that an individual who is violent against the public will at some point turn his aggressive behaviour towards fellow officers? By doing nothing the Niagara Regional Police may have contributed directly to the unfortunate events that played out near Pelham, Ontario on November 29, 2018.

It is a truism that police misconduct is widespread in Ontario and across Canada. In fact, the media state that the Niagara Regional Police have a history of corruption and brutality.  Politicians are responsible for this atrocious state of affairs. By doing and saying nothing to change this reality they are the people who should be held accountable for the deplorable state of policing in Canada. 

Whether its mayors of rural and urban municipalities or the Federal Public Safety Minister they all sit on the fence. This sorry state of affairs is extensively documented in Ottawa Life Magazine and numerous other publications. It is corruption of the worst kind because it totally destroys the trust between the public and the police and ultimately the entire justice system.

Instead of treating this shooting as any other shooting what does the system do? It hides the names of the officers involved and uses every measure at its disposal to try and obfuscate the facts and avoid transparency. When this happens, the public see it as a cover up and it reinforces their belief that the system is corrupt. The repeated failure of successive Attorneys General in this province to draft a Police Services Act of Ontario that actually holds police officers accountable is the reason few people today respect police and the Canadian justice system. Protecting bad cops in Ontario and throughout Canada undermines the trust, respect and confidence people once had in law enforcement in this province and throughout the country. Most importantly it endangers the lives of the good police officers who count on the public trust every time they show up for shift at work.

The hereditary deafness of politicians to deal with problem policing in Ontario and across the country is not only a symptom but also a catalyst behind the recent shooting of one police officer by another. If Cst Parker had been fired as he should have been years ago this incident would likely never have occurred. I urge Premier Doug Ford to undertake a full independent review of Police Oversight in the province of Ontario.

Darryl T Davies is a professor of criminology and criminal justice in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University