Canadian Law Enforcement Essay Example

"Police across Canada report a 7 percent increase of hate crimes in 2019" , "Crime Severity Index ranks Lethbridge Alberta as No.1",  "Hamilton has the highest murder rate per capita". As crime looms over Canada more with each coming year, Canadians wonder if their safety truly is secured by those who swear to protect them. The topic of the effectiveness of Canada's current police force has been frequently debated, especially following incidents of extreme violence. Some Canadians believe that giving the police more authority would be effective in preventing violence from occurring more often. This would not be the case. Increasing the power of the police force in Canada is unnecessary because more power does not inevitably mean more safety, an expansion of powers might violate civil liberties, and too much power may lead to more frequent abuse.

For most, it sounds sensible that giving the police force more influence would be beneficial towards suppressing crime. The answer seems simple; the more control police have over citizens, the less crime will occur. Yet, according to Fraser Institute, in places such as Nunavut and the Northwest territories with high police strength, crime rates are also significantly higher.  Canada as a whole has also seen an 8% decline in police strength between 2009 to 2019 and a 9% drop in crime within that same period. Based on these statistics, the notion that a stronger police force results in lower crime rates is false. Less than 1 in 5 Canadians believe that police are doing an adequate job at being approachable, enforcing the laws, ensuring safety, being fair, responding to calls and supplying public information on preventing crime. If police are already ineffectual in implementing the law, how can any amount of additional powers ensure they enforce it adequately in the future? As reported in an article discussing excessive police powers published by the University of Toronto Magazine, "Research has found that the stress police officers feel during unpredictable, challenging and high-pressure situations can lead to cognitive difficulties, panic and misjudgment, raising the risk that an innocent bystander or a suspect will be hurt."  Giving the police more power in these situations may result in even more inadequate enforcement; as University of Toronto Mississauga's Judith Anderson stated in the same article, "It takes longer to receive a hairstylist licence in Ontario than it does to become an officer."  With a combined poorly trained force and human nature causing a propensity for a lapsed judgement in times of high-stress, providing police more control is ineffectual and 

potentially dangerous. Police in Canada already have so much power to keep Canadians safe — if they cannot use it adequately, what hope is there in giving them more?

In the first few months of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario government passed an emergency order that would allow police to access names and addresses of Canadians who tested positive for COVID-19. "Police were caught using the COVID-19 database to look up names unrelated to active calls, to do wholesale postal code searches for COVID-19 cases, and to even do broad-based searches outside officers' own cities."  The police conducted up to 95,000 searches on individuals' information without their consent, violating Canadians' privacy rights. If police powers were amplified like this for regular use, infringements would occur much more often as a result. As stated by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, police “are given powers to stop, detain, question, search and arrest individuals. They are issued firearms and can use force, including lethal force, in carrying out their duties."   These are very formidable powers. Police are already allowed to question anyone, for whatever reason as long as they are suspicious of them, and they can possess dangerous weapons and are licenced to use them if need be, which can and may hurt whoever they are pursuing. If, for instance, police could discharge their weapon without cause or legal ramifications, then they could not only have the power to intimidate citizens but also possibly hurt innocent people. Giving the police too much authority would allow them to become too forceful and may cause more violations of rights rather than better security of them. In December 2017, a violent arrest in Calgary took place. The officer, Const. Alex Dunn told Dahlia Kafi, handcuffed, to stand on a wall. She did so, but while reaching for something on her head, Dunn slammed her onto the ground headfirst.  While police officers have the power to use force, officer Dunn abused his powers and injured Kafi without any obvious cause —  which violated Section 12 of the Charter. Canadians' legal rights as outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prevents police from stepping too out of line, however, as police powers expand, citizen rights weaken. The purpose of the Canadian police force is to protect citizens and their rights, and if given too much power, there is the potential that police might infringe on those very rights and become the ones Canadians will need protection from. 

In places where police have too much power, the force becomes tyrannical —  causing more of a problem for civilians than crime ever would. For instance, in Mexico, police function with impunity, meaning that they are exempt from punishment. This power enables Mexican police to use torture and violence against civilians and tighten their ties with organized crime since officers face no consequences for doing so. In one case in 2014, 43 students disappeared following a conflict with the police after a protest. A year later, a report stated that "Mexican security forces at every level played a role in the students' disappearance."   Immense control by police forces in all areas of the world lets officers abuse the system —  giving this kind of power to Canadian police forces would allow our police to do the same. An RCMP study in 2014 revealed 322 incidents of corruption over eleven years. Although regarded as moderate, supplying our police more powers would result in these abuses occurring more and more frequently. An analysis by CBC found that of 52 cases of people killed in encounters with the police, only seven officers faced charges, and only one was found guilty. This is extremely unjust. The powers of our police should not permit their crimes to go unpunished. This already occurs too often to justify extended powers to prevent other crimes, when similar ones are being committed within the police force itself. In 2016, with the beating of Dafonte Miller, the Theriault brothers —  both of whom were and still are police officers —  faced awfully light sentences for having incapacitated the then 19-year-old, with one acquitted and the other only 

facing nine months in jail. The case was beyond just self-defence, yet because of their officer status and its power, the Theriault brothers virtually avoided any serious penalties for their abuse - practically receiving a summary conviction for an indictable offence. The current powers of our police force can let some corrupt officers slip under the radar, enabling them to abuse the system further.  Increasing authority is not the answer. More police powers will only result in more 'bad apples' abusing their power and will end up causing the whole bushel of Canada's police force to go rotten.

There are issues in every institution, but the problems that lie in Canada's policing cannot be solved simply by supplying them with more powers. Giving the police additional influence would not guarantee Canadians that their safety is protected and might permit police to quash civil liberties to do their job, which might cause more abuses to occur as a result. Police in Canada are designated to protect citizen rights and enforce justice, and they are doing an adequate job with the powers they currently have. An expansion of power would not necessarily ensure that police would implement the law more effectively, let alone implement it right. Instead, more emphasis should be placed on improving our current framework. Police are public servants expected to maintain our systems of law and order,  but we would be infringing on those systems if we gave the police so much power that they would be above the law rather than enforcers of it. 


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