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We get letters

Mr.. Colby, NEXT TIME YOUR IN TROUBLE, CALL A HIPPY. You don't have a clue what it is like, especially someone that has snapped. I would love to see you sit in those shoes, naw your head is to swelled to know what it is like. Yes I am a retired RCMP Officer, and had my good share of hard knocks. In my day there was very little backup, single side band radios, that only worked at night if you want to talk to a squirrel hunter down South. Some of the older detachments that I was in charge of, no lock up, one set of leg irons and couple sets of handcuffs. Try dealing with some of these crazy either drunk, or out of it with moonshine, not to mention the ones that just snapped. Whether it be a Machete, or stapler, they all can do a lot of damage. Want to try a stapler in the side of your head, I would gladly experiment with you. Get on with it, show the police support, God only knows the way things are going in this Country, might not have any kind of Police Protection when the do gooders keep printing garbage. Look at yourself in the mirror sometime and ask, would I go through what our Police and Military go through. No, I guess it is pretty safe writing you columns behind locked doors. You know, I kind of feel sorry for you as you are so far behind the times writing trash. GET A LIFE and support the people that protect you.

Terry [tkc@hfx.eastlink.ca]

BCC: to members Retired and Veterans (RCMP)

Somehow I find myself skeptical that this person ever really passed the RCMP Aptitude Test, which ranks applicants on their cognitive skills, literacy, and judgment. (Snap quiz: is it a good idea to threaten someone with violence in an e-mail? If you said "No" you could be one of the few, the proud, etc.) Mounties may be lazy, careless, or even cruel, but I've never met one who was just a flat-out shit-for-brains.


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Comments (32)


I guess you've final heard from retired cop that remembers what frontline police was/is about..

As for uttering a threat, sorry it doesn't meet the criminal code requirements for a charge. If had said that he was going to experiment on you and you truly feared for your safety, then it you'd have a valid complaint.

Quite frankly, as colourful as Terry writing is, he accurately reflects the vast majority of police officers around the world that have been following this incident.

But hey, they are probably all just shit-for-brains too. You have have a screw loose to be a cop these days.

Oh, surprise, JS, you couldn't resist weighing in yet again. I final hear from retired cop! Now me understand, even though me just unfrozen caveman!

Twelve hours ago, you were arguing that retired cops couldn't possibly be credible spokesmen because they "didn't have to deal with today's drug issues, many went entire careers without pulling out there guns," and "Most were never assaulted on the job." (It's not like the heyday of violent crime and drug use in the 20th century ran from 1965-80 or anything.) But that doesn't apply to Terry, who, unlike other policemen I've heard from, did not sign his name or present any credentials.

I realize your grasp of human decency is infinitesimal, JS—you've demonstrated that you will say anything, impugn anyone, and contradict yourself in astonishing ways to press your utterly farcical point that no cop can ever be criticized by any civilian—but irrespective of the Criminal Code, "I'd sure like to beat your head in with a stapler" is never an appropriate part of a political argument. If you disagree, you're not entitled to take part in any civilized discussion.


GET A LIFE and support the people that protect you.

Umm... yes, I suppose; but the topic was the ones who might taser me to death, falsify their reports, and then lie about it on the stand, Terry, not to mention destroying possibly-incriminating evidence, as is claimed to have happened to the cell phone video of a citizen shot and killed by two of Vancouver's Finest.

I think dcardno just pretty much nailed it: the problem is in definitions. In JS's mind the police have to taser Polish immigrants until their hearts stop, same as its critical for them to arrest those photographing their public actions or remove/contain evidence that might tarnish public opinion of them. After all, that's the only way that you -- John Q. Citizen -- stays alive and well day after day. A policeman's job is to protect you, and therefore that is what he does no matter how that job is performed. As de Souza noted in the Nat. Post today, sometimes government officials abuse their power.

The jaundiced eye towards recent events that so upsets Terry and JS is sometimes a critical necessity: "a youth screaming and running around with a knife is shot by a police officer" and "police officer shoots the son of a citizen who complained about him" are two very different ways to look at the same incident last August in east Edmonton. Reality is somewhere in between, but you don't seem interested in identifying that line.

God only knows the way things are going in this Country, might not have any kind of Police Protection

It was this line of Terry's that caught my eye: when Zofia Cisowski hears this do you think that bothers her much? Will the homeless and homeless advocates in Edmonton/Vancouver/Winnipeg fear the day when police officers stop shooting the (wrong) homeless suspect, or driving them to the edge of the city in the cold as a joke? Friends and family of those killed in taser incidents? Is it impossible to say the phrase "we regret deeply the loss of life, and are committed to assisting this inquiry and following as many of its recommendations as possible to ensure that our procedures and practises serve the best interests of our officers, the suspects, and the general public"?

Going on the defensive whenever the end results of an "us versus them" mentality are examined isn't helping your cause. (Apparently the "stapler defense" caused immediate chuckling)

Lord Bob:

I guess the message here is, next time Colby needs to electrocute a Polish man to death, he'd better not count on the RCMP to help him out.

I hope he can live with himself.

It only happens three or four times a year.

James Fulford:

"The next time you're in trouble, call a hippie" is an old slogan, but in this case, if you're dealing with a guy who's having a major freakout and you want him calmed down, a hippie might actually do a better job.

Fred S.:

I confess that the thought of Cosh being held down, neck-fat jiggling as he piteously screams for help, while some gone-to-seed ex-cop with a greying crew-cut menaces im with a stapler, gave me cause to chuckle.

And Colby, since when are you reduced to counting typos as a means of argumentation? Perhaps its because of the dubiousness of your facts; that business about violent crime's "heyday" being between 1965 and 1980 is absolute horse-shit. Maybe your blog needs a editor.

p.s. I'd be interested to hear more about rural policing in the old days; could Terry guest-blog for you?

I'd let you do it before I let him.

"Between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, Canada experienced a sharp rise in homicides. The rate more than doubled over this period, from 1.25 homicides per 100,000 population in 1966 to 3.03 in 1975. Since then, Canada’s homicide rate has generally been declining and is down 40% since 1975. This trend continued in 2007, with a further 3% decrease in the rate. The 2007 rate of 1.80 was similar to what it was in the late 1960s." -Homicide in Canada, 2007. Note that this murder wave took place at a time of rapid advances in trauma care which would have disguised an increasing number of homicides after 1970. I'll add that I thought this phenomenon was well known (being quite a general one in the industrialized democracies), but go figure.

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

> he accurately reflects the
> vast majority of police
> officers around the world
> that have been following
> this incident.

Is there any reason to believe this is true?

Is there any reason to believe Terry & JS aren't the same pissed-off guy? There are certain textual similarities....

Has JS described his own connection to law enforcement yet? (Academy dropout/wannabe? Terminated for alcohol just before receiving the five-year pin in 1973? Cousin to an Ottawa officer imprisoned for falsifying evidence? Or is he just a police officer?)

Between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, Canada experienced a sharp rise in homicides.

Well sure, if you believe the data. If we applied Vic Toews new plan to measure crime by feelings, you'd see far different numbers.

George Skinner:

A sharp rise in violent crime between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, huh? So, a spike in violent crime right when the Baby Boom was hitting their late teens and twenties, which is when violent activity peaks. Damn you, demography - you win again!

Any thoughts on how the current rise in problems in the RCMP could coincide with the generational gap between the ranks of baby boomers recruited in the 1960s and 1970s, and the recent block of young recruits to make up for the dearth of recruiting throughout the 80s and 90s?


I have to agree with the letter writer. Call a hippy indeed! Haha

George: Care to think really hard about what else happened between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s? Think hard.


The largest contingent of young men in history, which just about every criminologist says is the best indicator of crime rates?

For the purposes of assessing JS's argument, it's not especially important why society was more violent at that time, only that it (verifiably) was.

Crid [cridcridatgmail]:

FWIW, and maybe not much: These findings may be taken as evidence that the skeptics were right- foot patrol has no effect on crime; it merely fools the citizens into thinking that they are safer. But in our view, and in the view of the authors of the Police Foundation study (of whom Kelling was one), the citizens of Newark were not fooled at all. They knew what the foot-patrol officers were doing, they knew it was different from what motorized officers do, and they knew that having officers walk beats did in fact make their neighborhoods safer.

Watertight Compartment:


Let's see, you start out talking about "violent crime" and then provide homicide statistics. As a sleight-of-hand artist, you're no Ricky Jay.

I s'pose it'd be otiose to inform you that homicide is a miniscule and often-unrepresentative slice of violent crime, but I'll say it anyway. As you acknowledge, the decline in homicide is probably due to improvements in trauma care, but you fail to acknowledge the extent to which this masks the subsequent increase:

"[A]n article in a recent issue of the learned journal Homicide Studies... suggested that, had it not been for improvements in surgical technique since 1960, the murder rate would be five times higher than it is."


And, to the demographic-reductivists, our high violent crime rate is being achieved despite an unprecedentedly old population. Quite an achievement, all in all.

If anyone's interested in the truth, this site offers a compendious collection of Statscan graphs to do with police-recorded crime:

Now, Cosh, are you going to apologise to Terry for having so recklessly and stupidly contradicted him?

What, no purposelessly disgusting personal imprecations this time? That's not the "Fred" I know (though I notice you're having some trouble keeping your aliases straight). I am curious if you are actually prepared to say you agree substantively with Terry, who thinks that machete vs. stapler is a fair fight at manpower odds of four to one, or whether you are only in sympathy with his pathological fantasies of assaulting me.

You express confusion over the ontological connection between homicide and violence, but despite Tyler's solecistic little quip I do not think the relationship is terribly unclear. Vic Toews only said what criminologists routinely admit: raw counts of individual charges or prosecutions relating to violent offences are not ideal indicators of violent activity. The popularity of certain species of charge changes according to fashion and prosecutorial conditions, people's propensity to tolerate or report minor violence changes, and since homicides are the only kind of violent offence which is virtually always reported and charged, they in a sense provide the most stable proxy for overall violence. Your data are relevant but I don't consider that they refute my broad view (let alone make it self-evident "horse-shit"), or show that Canadian society is obviously more violent now than it was in the 60s and 70s. I don't believe even you really think that they require an apology to someone whose paranoid fears of social collapse and exponentially rising predation make Archie Bunker look like a bleeding heart. The dude is round the bend.

(I mean, for everyone's benefit, let's step back here and try to avoid a derailment [ha ha]. JS was saying that the cops of 1970 or 1980 didn't have to face "today's drug issues", which is true but irrelevant. He claimed that "many went entire careers without pulling out their guns", as if many officers don't do so now. And he didn't think they had ephemeral issues of their own to deal with—race riots, epidemic crack usage, FLQ terrorism, Red Power, hippies and yippies, porno theatres and peepshows, etc., etc., etc. I hope we can at least agree that, contrary to the crux of JS's argument, EVERY generation of law enforcement has its own unique package of challenges.)


Hoo Hoo; ya got me. I used a different name. My problem is that I occassionally express opinions on the internet that are geuinely unconventional (i.e. for an individual of my class and educational-background. Bashing the pigs doesn't count), and which might redound to my personal detriment. Not a problem you have. And don't for a moment tell me "Colby Cosh" is the name your parents gave you (I was going to suggest it sounds like a moniker cribbed from an "adult film actor", but that might count as a disgusting personal imprecation).

In any case, after you used homicide stats as the sole evidentiary support for your argument of declning violence, I demonstrated, in a peer-reviewed and convincing sort of way, that the homicide statstics between 1960 and the present day hide a five-fold increase. And you pronounce that my insight "relevant". Mighty big of you.

Your retreat into the irrefutably-trite assertion that "every generation of law enforecement has its own unique package of challeneges", however, speaks volumes about the weakness of your initial assertion that violent crime has declined.

The signiicance of the crime-rate stuff, more than merely contradicting your muddle-headed pronouncement, is that it gives context to the development your justly decrying. I too abhor the militarisation of the police and their retreat into an antagonistism, not only against the criminal element of society but against society as a whole. However, if you don't plug that development into the fact of vastly increased crime (particularly violent), one is left with the explanation which you are propounding, that the cops are simply beasts and sadists.

In point of fact, deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill (as the homeless Vancouver man likely was) and the increasing leniency of punishment in this country has off-loaded almost the entire responsibility of controlling violence onto the police themselves, and they justly feel pissed off and alienated as a result. Perpetuating the antagonism between cops and "civilians" isn't going to help much, though I suppose it makes for entertaining copy.

And don't for a moment tell me "Colby Cosh" is the name your parents gave you

A major national newspaper owned by a sizeable media corporation will carry a regular columnist and identify him by a name of his own choosing rather than his actual name? I'm pretty sure thats not how it works.

(well not usually)

I offered a fallback position on the side question of "When was policing hardest" not to win it but to wriggle past it, since it IS a side question in this debate. How the police feel about trends like deinstitutionalization and criminal-hugging judges is also a side question. Have they got excellent reasons for resentment? Sure: you've described them expertly. Can these things possibly be part of an appropriate ethical pretext for telling coordinated lies in incident reports, or denying first aid to an increasingly cyanotic man you've got handcuffed on the floor?

I don't want this to sound like a cheap shot (and yes, I know such a disclaimer usually precedes a cheap shot), but a contrived concern about the "antagonizing" effects of having a free press that scrutinizes institutions is borderline fascist, isn't it? Every caudillo who ever sent a gang to throw someone's type in the river claimed that he was protecting unity or solidarity or social peace. Maybe it's an otiose observation, but the press isn't just entertainment even if its participants are keeping the responsibility to entertain in mind. I'm not shy about that; I'm more embarrassed about not being a BETTER entertainer.

My problem is that I occassionally express opinions on the internet that are geuinely unconventional (i.e. for an individual of my class and educational-background. Bashing the pigs doesn't count), and which might redound to my personal detriment.

You have some sense of how fucking ridiculous this is, right? You take the piss out of my (all too real) name, and dismiss the idea that it requires any increment of gumption to criticize the police in a city where the police have been caught conspiring to destroy critics, and yet claim that you have to hide behind a calliope of aliases because your badass countercultural opinions might compromise your life. What are you, twelve years old? Believing that the Royal Family are Zionist space reptoids doesn't make you some kind of swashbuckling secret agent of cyberspace, homie.


However, if you don't plug that development into the fact of vastly increased crime (particularly violent), one is left with the explanation which you are propounding, that the cops are simply beasts and sadists.

I'll assume that Colby was too polite to mention this, or he felt it unnecessary to pile on further, but this really is a steaming pile, Airtight (or whatever it is you want to be called today).

If Larry, Curly, Carrot Top and Moe decide to stun-gun their way out of the Vancouver Airport like Escape From New York, no criticism of anyone's action but those four idiots (and anyone trying to shuffle the evidence for them) is implied. You saw yourself in the earlier e-mails Colby's assertion that (real) cop opinion on this was running at North Korean Election levels of opposition.

I would ask you to please stop, stop stop pretending that every criticism of cop thuggery is a criticism of cops. It is a criticism of thuggery. A negligent assault causing death doesn't come in strawberry flavour just because it's prepetrated by badge-wearers. It's the same thuggery you are clutching your skirts and tutting about mindlessly - in opposition to the hard data presented. When you have some of your own to bring to the party, I'd be delighted to welcome it.


...will carry a regular columnist and identify him by a name of his own choosing...

Didn't they publish Kinsella anonymously (as 'campaign insider' IIRC)? Of course, that might have been to save themselves the embarrassment. In any event, other than as a drive-by smear the question of identity is irrelevant, as long as it remains consistent. The assertion that "I sometimes say things inappropriate to my class" really boils down to "I don't trust myself not to say things too stupid to be defended." Well, I doubt that you'd get much argument on that score, Fred - but it's not much better than the usual justification for sock-puppetry, that it was tiresome not having anyone on the thread to agree with.

Fred S./Watertight...:


"the question of identity is irrelevant, as long as it remains consistent"

Couldn't agree more; the "Watertight Compartment" moniker is one I use at certain blawgs (it's a legal term) and I typed it in out of a force of habit.

"it's not much better than the usual justification for sock-puppetry"

Except that I wasn't "sock-puppeting". Indeed, only a fool would say otherwise. Note that I didn't try to pass off the two names as two different people (e.g. by writing "I agree with Fred" as "Watertight Compartment" or such like). Furthermore, if I were interested in passing myself off as two people, I probably wouldn't have used the same e-mail address for each name, which was how our porcine proprietor, Nero Wolfe, managed to rumble me.


I wouldn't take prose-style pointers from Cosh if I were you. One hysterical, ironic, pop-culture-addled scribbler per blog is enough. I am thankful, though, that you didn't call me "homie".


"you have to hide behind a calliope of aliases"

D'you mean "panoply", Cosh? A calliope is a musical instrument.

"your badass countercultural opinions might compromise your life"

I never said "life". I implied "livelihood". Needles to say, as far as opinions are concerned, economically- and socially- libertard opinions such as your own have not been outlawed. In modern day Canada, the Human Rights Tribunals and the private sanctions of P.C. are rather scarier than the big nasty policemen, at least in so far as the expression of opinion is concerned.

Are you seriously worried about either the Vancouver Police or the RCMP driving into Edmonton to taser/shoot you? You didn't criticize the Edmonton plods, so I think you'll be safe from their depredations.

Once again, your attacks on the police... or the religious... or Creationists... or social conservatives... cost you precisely nothin'. They are held out as tough stands, but the targets are comletely infra dignitatum, at least as far as polite society is concerned. They represent the abuse of the powerless by the pwoerful and I find your false heroism nauseating.


Needless to say, if there has been evidence-tampering, the police responsible should be terminated and prosecuted. At no point did I say anything different; indeed, I criticised the "militarisation" of police culture myself. Some of you libertards might need to work on your reading comprehension skills.

I don't begrudge Cosh's criticism of the police. I do begrudge his spreading of solecisms (i.e., that crime has declined since the late 70' because murder rates are lower) particularly when that untruth is used to label cops today as whingers. Cosh seems to have acknowledged his error by retreating to the weak-ass: "all generations of police face their own challenges". Ah, sweet vindication.

To the extent there are problems with the police (and if they are destroying evidence to exculpate themselves, that would qualify), it needs to be seen in a particular context, and not used as an excuse for some adolescent, "fuck the police" posturing. With the police, unconstructive criticism of his kind (particularly when resting on erroneous factual assumptions) can only serve to futher perpetuate the antagonism that precipitated the wrongful conduct here (i.e. the notion that the police are a law unto themselves and separate from the public at large).

To reiterate, and just for the sake of absolute clarity, which you people seem to require, criticise but do so responsibly and thoughtfully.

D'you mean "panoply", Cosh? A calliope is a musical instrument.

...that is loud, clumsily mechanical, and deployed to seek attention. It seems we are now taking lectures on style from a person unacquainted with the idea or function of a metaphor.


Except that I wasn't "sock-puppeting". Indeed, only a fool would say otherwise.
Okay, you're a fool:
"This digital-age deception has a name, “sock-puppeting,” and a precise definition — the act of creating a fake online identity to praise, defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company." (my emphasis)
Which is exactly what you were doing, inadvertently or not.
By the way, when that does happen by accident, the normally accepted practice is to acknowledge the error and apologize for any confusion, not to defend the practice and immediately (and obnoxiously) challenge the (consistent) identity of another participant.

Furthermore, if I were interested in passing myself off as two people, I probably wouldn't have used the same e-mail address for each name
Which presupposes technical skills not in evidence

Fred S.:


So the two "aliases" are "clumsily mechanical", huh? What precisely does that mean? Have you ever heard someone say: "That fellow has a clumsily mechanical name."

C'mon, Cosh; just admit it: in a fit of pique, you wrote down a word similar to, but distinct from, the one you'd intended. I would respect you more if you are honest; if you actually intended to use "calliope"... well, then you're no Nabokov and I would recommend looking into the insurance trade.


"defend or create the illusion of support for one’s self, allies or company"

Here's the element that's missing from my transgression, as I wrote above.

"inadvertently or not"

Your defintion would seem to require malice on the part of the "sock-pupeteer", so I can only believe you don't really understand the crime of which you are accusing me.

"immediately (and obnoxiously) challenge the (consistent) identity of another participant"

I don't actually think "Colby Cosh" is a pseudonym. I can't imagine someone choosing it freely, in any case. Nice to see my fairly-obvious attempt at humour went right over your head, though.

Your comment represents nothing more than so many wasted keystrokes. I wouldn't recomend another.

I am imposing, and will enforce, a no-feeding-the-troll rule here. The last word belongs to the creepy stalker who can't resist playing the ad-hominem wild card and doesn't understand why anyone, including Nobokov, would describe "Watertight Compartment" as a clumsily mechanistic pen name. The troll is also forbidden to eat any further in this thread. Fiat lux.


Hey Big guy.. Sorry for my absence.

God, where to begin.

First off, policing today is extremely different. I will agree with you, that police of every generation have had to deal with their own unique circumstances - hippies, FLQ, etc. That said, those times were pre-charter, and much different today.

I will not, and believe I didn't, label all retired police officers as being out of touch with today's policing. Policing has all types, some that worked street level policing their careers, and some, often the ones that criticize today's cops spent a limited time working with the public. Next time you're with your retired cop buddy, ask him what his service consisted of. Ask him how much city policing he did, if he was ever assaulted. Was he ever scared, etc.

For instance, 30 years ago you'd get 2 years less a day for assaulting a police officer if you knocked his hat off and stomped on it. Today, police officers are routinely assaulted and it's considered part of the job. not to mention the secondary issue of spending 3 hours in the office writing the report to crown counsel.

And sadly there are those cops out there that, are so bitter and twisted, that have no friends, and criticize every other cop out there because they think they could have handled it better, and that promotional opprotunity passed them by.

But hey, you're a journalist that as far as I can tell, isn't interested in the facts, but rather report on hearsay, and then ironicaly argues against someone who uses the same sources he does.

Just curious Colby, do all of your dungeons and dragons always blindly support, as they do here?

Oh, and nice police slam today, and awesome how you slide in the stapler comment.

Just curious, what part of "self defense" involves chasing a guy down your pick up then shooting him with a shot gun?

The part where we chase thieves, get our stuff back, detain them, and try them. If you don't believe any of those things are appropriate, you've got no business defending the existence of police, let alone their conduct in specific cases.


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