Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TDSB Right to Remove Cops, But for the Wrong Reasons

The presence of police officers in Toronto schools impresses two things upon students, only one of which is true.

The first, unfortunate principle is that authority and surveillance are ubiquitous. There is no boundary between government enforcement and civil society, rendering personal agency obsolete.

And the second proposition – which my mother would refer to as “bollocks on stilts” – is that cops are your friends.

As adults learn to varying degrees in their interactions with police, cops range from revenue collectors to brutal enforcers, but they are not pals.

Following the Toronto District School Board’s decision to end its School Resource Officer program, the ballyhoo broke down much as you’d expect.

The perpetually aggrieved left and reflexively pro-cop right (both of whom should re-think their positions) claimed victory and outrage, respectively. Television news reports showed footage of officers cop-spreading their way down school corridors in that distinctive, space-commanding waddle of the modern constabulary.

For once, the TDSB is correct, albeit for the wrong reasons.

In hockey terms, an ideal cop is like a good referee or an effective defenceman. If he is doing his job well, you don’t notice him.

With that in mind, cops should quit creeping into our kids’ schools, clambering onto our parade floats, and acting like we’re all on the same side.

As hundreds of innocent Toronto citizens who were abused and falsely imprisoned by police during the 2010 G20 meetings can attest, when push comes to shove, cops view citizens less as employers to serve and protect than problems to subdue.

If it seems petty to bring up that mess from 7 years ago, consider that after all this time, there has been almost no consequence for that monstrous betrayal of public trust.

The closest any officer came to that was Superintendent Mark Fenton whose punishment, after being tried and convicted, was being denied a second popsicle at the police picnic, or some such.

The modern police force is less than 200 years old, created in London in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel (from whom British police derive their moniker, “Bobbies”).

Peel’s vision was of “citizens in uniform,” a far cry from today’s aggressive, militarized officers, kitted out in what Mark Steyn calls “the full Robocop.”

Unfortunately, as so often happens when matters concerning police and the public come up, this controversy has become focused on race.

The much larger issue, which has once again been consumed by the unquenchable maw of identity politics, is the relationship between the citizen and the state.

TDSB director John Malloy congratulated race-addled opponents of the SRO program for speaking “their truth.” This is, of course, hippy-dippy modern-speak that reflects a default toward subjective reality far more damaging to students than Barney Fife roaming the halls, but that’s a topic for another day.

In spite of themselves, Malloy and the rest of his wind chimes crew got this one right.

Cops, you need to recognize that, in your line of work, less is more. There is no need for you to be everywhere, high-fiving, politicking and making yourselves conspicuous. We know you’re there.

And I certainly don’t want you near my kid at school.

Theo Caldwell walks like a giant, police defiant. Contact him at theo@theocaldwell.com