Lee Friday – May 31, 2017
A majority of Canadians surveyed do NOT have a great deal of confidence in the police, or the justice system. Three recent articles in the London Free Press reveal some of the reasons for this lack of public trust.
THE CASE OF AVA WILLIAMS
The LFP reported that:
Williams was 18 when [in 2010], after a keg party, she became separated from her friends, recalls consensual kissing with a man, then was raped by him. Several people were nearby with cellphone cameras and pointed them at her during the attack.
She was found naked and crying, covered in dirt near a pine tree by the house.
No one was charged for the sexual assault, as “her case was deemed “unfounded” after officers interviewed her.”
Williams is suing the London police. She wants “to have the courts declare the way the London cops investigated sexual assault allegations, then declared them “unfounded” between 2010 and 2017, as unconstitutional.” The statement of claim was filed on March 31, 2017, and it
cites the right of every individual to equal protection and equal benefit under the law without discrimination. . . .
. . . “Despite the clear and unequivocal evidence of the plaintiff that she told the assailant ‘no’ and to stop as he continued to sexually assault her, and the fact that the plaintiff was too intoxicated to be capable of consent, Sgt. Gambriel repeatedly and insistently reframed the situation as one that was consensual,” the statement of claim reads.
“London police began a review of its handling of sex assaults in February after a report cited their high rate of “unfounded” sex assault claims — 690 dismissed out of 2,278 complaints over five years.”
The article does not tell us how many of the remaining 1,588 complaints were actually solved, with the word “solved” being defined as the capture and conviction of the perpetrator. It is likely that very few of these cases were solved. Nationwide, in 2008 – 09, 91% of sexual assaults were NOT solved. Clearly, the public’s lack of trust in the justice system is well-founded. Thus, it should not surprise us that 95% of victims do not even bother to report sexual assaults to the police.
THE CASE OF YUDERQUIS PEREZ-GOMEZ
According to an LFP article, on May 12, 2017, Londoner Susan Tryhub notified police that her mother, Yuderquis Perez-Gomez, visiting from Woodstock, was missing. “Woodstock police issued a missing persons release May 14, but London did not.” Tryhub said her mother “had a fall from a building in Cuba three years ago and suffered brain damage.” . . . and she “sometimes loses her grip on reality. When she’s offered help, she can get aggressive.” Tryhub had been trying to convince her mother to get psychiatric help.
From the article:
London police have been criticized in the past for their reaction to reports of missing persons who don’t live traditional lifestyles.
The family of Trever Andrews, last seen in October 2009, complained police did not take their concerns seriously because he sometimes went on drinking or drug binges.
The family and friends of Shelley Desrochers, last seen in January 2014, said police did not take her disappearance seriously because she was sometimes a sex worker.
This reminds me of a passage from Bruce Benson’s book The Enterprise of Law:
A person’s chances of police protection correspond closely to his position in the “geography of political power.” Much more attention is paid to the robbery of an important political figure than to the murder of an out-of-work, uneducated member of a racial minority.
THE CASE OF JAMIE CLARKE
As reported by the LFP, on May 26th and 27th, 2017, three St. Thomas police constables were acquitted of the charge of assault causing bodily harm. The charges stem from an incident in February, 2016, relating to the manner is which Jamie Clarke was treated by the three constables during a wrongful arrest.
Clarke was immediately released when the police realized they had the wrong man, but he had been injured by the rough treatment at the hands of the constables during the arrest.
It appears the Crown dropped the charges because they conceded “that the officers who mistakenly believed Clarke was violent jewelry store robber Wallace Piercey, 41, really did have reasonable and probable grounds to arrest him.” What exactly does this mean? There is no indication in the article that Clarke was guilty of anything. So, it appears the Crown is saying the police had good reason to believe the man they were arresting was Piercey, and not Clarke. Therefore, because they genuinely believed Clarke was Piercey, the charges were dropped.
This is unacceptable. The police are supposed to protect innocent people, not attack them. Honest mistake or not, Clarke was still injured, and the constables should be held accountable. That is the only way to discourage such careless actions in the future. When there are no consequences, there is no incentive to alter irresponsible behaviour. Sadly, we often hear about innocent people harmed by the police, who are not held accountable. I have written about another incident here.
The government operates the police forces and the government controls the courts. If a brave civilian beat up a plainclothes police officer, genuinely believing him to be a serial killer, would the civilian face charges? To ask the question is to answer it.
The police do not provide safety and enforce the law equally for all citizens. Additionally, accountability for the police is sorely lacking, though this is true of all government bureaucrats. However, we cannot identify one or more of these individuals as the source of the problem. The problem is the coercive nature of the system itself. The institutional structure of government acquires its revenue (taxes) by force – thus, it provides services in a completely arbitrary manner. If you don’t like the service, too bad. You still have to pay for it.
The solution is to provide police and court services in a non-coercive manner. It is beyond the scope of this article to explore this in detail, but I have written a series of essays on the topic, which you can find here.
 Stephen Easton, Hilary Furness, & Paul Brantingham The Cost of Crime in Canada: 2014 Report (Fraser Institute, 2014) p 101
 Bruce L. Benson The Enterprise of Law (The Independent Institute, 2011) pp 133