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When reporters attack

February 29, 2012 2 comments

With the Keith Lacey/Osoyoos Times/RCMP thing having died down, I want to look at the hubbub from a journalism aspect.
Since I’m doing so anonymously, I’m consciously going to tread lightly and not burn Lacey too much. There’s not much point in piling on and it’s hard for him to defend himself.

That said, I think there are important lessons to draw from the incident.

There are the obvious ones of course:

The column clearly needed more editing than it got (the last of which probably should have been to just say “Fuck It,” and hit the delete button). And it was definitely one of those that needs to simmer a while in the edit-later box before being posted or printed. A couple edits, I think, gets rid of some of the indulgences Lacey allowed himself with the piece.

But mainly, I want to address some the larger questions.

1. Let’s deal with naming the officer. Lacey regrets doing so, and it was clearly the name that got RCMP brass so upset. But if you’re going to publish the article, is there any journalism-ethics reason to omit the name?

I don’t think there is (although there is clearly a tactical reason, vis-a-vis one’s relationship with the RCMP). You have a name, you print it. That’s kinda how it works, so long as you have a story in the first place.

2. The first thing I thought when I read the RCMP reply was that the communications officer in question seemed to be putting himself in an awkward position. To allude to a video, but then not to release it, seemed strange and not exactly kosher.

3. The word slander is thrown around far, far too much.

4. It’s important, I think, to build relationships behind the scenes with RCMP officers and to show them that you are willing to be fair, even if they aren’t always going to like what you write.

I had an officer casually threaten to throw me in jail once. It was nothing big and it was an empty threat to get me to move out of a quasi-police scene.Seeing that I was on my way out, already, I left without making a scene. But after it happened, I casually mentioned it to a contact at the local cop shop, who said that shouldn’t have happened. The issue was solved, my point was made and my contacts were reminded that I was reasonable and fair.

There are too many problems created when people—journalists and non-journalists—feel attacked and decide to go on the offensive. We see it happen too often at all levels of every profession and it almost always ends badly, with little resolved.

Sure, sometimes you need to write a song like “United Breaks Guitars,” but only after you exhaust all other options (as the singer did in that case). The right to legitimately and ethically launch a written attack on someone or something for a personal slight is a privilege that must be earned through repeated and prolonged suffering and humiliation. (Which is why it’s important to put down the attack piece for a day or two and consider whether your feelings simmer.)

Here, with his two cents, is Jeff Lee’s opinion on things from the comments section of the original story:

The real problem with this story is that it has the potential to hurt a lot of serious and well-meaning journalists.
The RCMP have, in recent years, seemed to crash from one side of the room to the other with publicity and credibility gaffs. The Robert Dziekanski taser incident. The handling of the Pickton investigation. Allegations of harassment of female Mounties by their own colleagues. Etc. etc. etc. They don’t really need our help in pointing out their flaws.

But at their basic they’re also professional force and for every bad apple there’s a whole orchard of good people. Sometimes they mess up. But more often than not they do a fine job.

In this case, I am surprised and disturbed that a member of the media would use a forum such as an editorial for such a personal attack. The old saying “never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” isn’t a license to attack someone who is doing their job, even if you don’t like the job they’re doing.

I’ve lived in small towns and I’ve seen cops – human beings – do stupid things as much as the guy next door. But I also would expect them to do their job and if that means pulling over someone who is coming out of a bar, restaurant, whatever, that shouldn’t be too surprising. I once watched the Boston Bar RCMP detachment set up a roadblock at closing time outside the only bar in town, much to the imbibing population. A lot of people walked home that night.

The appropriate thing, if you think you are being unfairly targeted, is to take the officer’s information and make a complaint to his superior or to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission.

Getting into a very VERY public pissing match with the officer – especially in a small town where everybody knows each other and your kids are likely to be on the same minor hockey team – doesn’t usually end well. This editor is going to have a credibility problem, and in our business credibility and integrity are the only tangible commodities we have.

I’m not suggesting one should roll over when faced with a bully cop. But cool heads, common sense and the shelving of ego and sense of entitlement as a journalist would better resolve these kinds of disputes.

Frankly, as a journalist of more than 30 years, I would never gratuitously wave my credentials around. In fact, if anything, journalists need to be held to as high a public standard as police, judges, politicians and others they cover.

We live in a goldfish bowl, and to mix metaphors, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Personally, I want to see the video. I also am curious to hear what the owner of the newspaper has to say about this

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The best (and worst) comments about Osoyoos Times saga

February 18, 2012 Comments off

As a general rule, I don’t read websites’ comments sections. Generally, they seem to be filled out by writers who just like to see their words on a screen. Debate turns into sniping too quickly, and actual conversation is drowned out by idiots.

In general, though, the more niche an audience or community, the better the comments section. This blog usually appeals to no more than a couple hundred writers. That fact means that the comments section has thus far functioned as certain web utopians think online discussions should: enabling interested parties to engage in a thoughtful discussion and fostering community.

Clearly, though, things go awry when Joe and Jane Public get involved.

Last week, thousands of visitors interested in the Osoyoos Times thing visited this blog. Dozens took the time to comment. Some posts were thoughtful. Others showed emotion. Some drew on personal experience. And others were idiotic, mean-spirited, repetitive or pointless.

For those who didn’t want to wade through all those, I’ve collected a handful of the best comments. Sometime in the near future, I plan to write about what (I think) the whole episode says about, and means to, local B.C. journalists. (I’ll also exerpt Jeff Lee’s comments at that time, instead of below).

Anyways, some half-decent comments:

Anonymous:

I really hope that the RCMP releases this video. If you didn’t do anything wrong then you should have no problem doing as a police officer asks. The whole article that this editor wrote sounds ridiculous. How can he think a breathalyzer test is a ‘traumatizing experience’? His girlfriend in tears and sick?

People like this editor are ridiculous, thinking that the police are out to get them. Sounds like all the Cpl was doing was his job…trying to keep people from driving drunk, who cares if you get pulled over, blow into the machine and go on you merry way. It means the police are precautious and are making sure no one is driving impaired.

This Editor totally abused his power as a writer and a reporter. The video needs to be released.

The whole tone of the editor’s article is amateur.

Fred:

The RCMP Officer was doing his job. Too many people die from drunk drivers every year. In Canada, the latest information suggests that of the 3,045 individuals killed in traffic accidents, 1,239 were the result of drunk driving. On average, that is almost 4 people per day.

The officer does not have to apologize to you. He did not have to kiss your butt just because you were not over the legal limit. Good for you. Everyone that is driving a vehicle should be just the same. Did you want an award for being an ass to an officer that risks his life everyday. Next time you are in need of help in any way I am sure you would call the police. These officers are doing their job and it is great to see. You should do your job and write about something that is more important like drunk drivers and their families that have to cope with the loss. Great story Osoyoos Editor. This story will bring you lots of readers but they are not in your favor.

Greg Irvine:

I was an RCMP member for 28 years and became used to small town newspapers using their publications for their own one sided rants although I must say this one likely takes the cake. I look forward to the retraction from the ‘editor’ and please advise us all out here when the date is set for us all to have a look at the video and see the ‘real story’. I assume Mr. Lacey would have no problem with this…..would he??

Tom Larkin:

“…Connecting the dots to reach an incorrect conclusion is the privilege of the general public and not that of a professional journalist.” It’s reassuring to see so many, non journalists, exercising their inherent right to jump to conclusions and expressing same via their right to freedom of speech. To comment on the issue at hand through the use of hyperbole in support of one’s own paradigm does little to foster credibility for any stated argument. As the axiom goes, “better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Anonymous:

The Motor Vehicle Act allows any police officer in BC to stop a vehile to check for three things; check for a valid drivers license, check for valid insurance and to check the sobriety of the driver. For some reason Mr. Lacey thinks a person operating a motor vehicle has to do something wrong before they can be stopped, and goes on to say that this is a free country and not a police state. If Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that this only applies in the USA where there must be a violation before a traffic stop can be conducted.


Then Mr. Lacey says that Cpl McLeod did not have reasonable or probable grounds to be conducting an appoved screening device test. Again, if Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that an officer only has to have a suspicion of the presence of alcohol in the drivers body, upon determing care and control of the motor vehicle.

Reasonable grounds is not required because the driver is not yet under arrest. The approved screening device allows the officer to move from a suspicion to forming the opinion that the driver has committed an offence under Section 253 (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. In this instance it would appear that the officer could articulate his suspicion, which is all that is requried. A valid breath sample on average take about 3-5 seconds and requires the subject to blow into the end of a plastic tube while standing roadside, hardly a traumatizing experience.

It is in-appropriate for Mr. Lacey to write his OPINION in a column that may be misunderstood by readers as factual. To tell the true version of events he should perhaps consider telling both sides of the story and have an understanding of the BC Motor Vehicle Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.

[I like that comment, but the last sentence is notable (and irritating) in how it shows how the public sees opinion writing versus news writing. Opinion writing does need to be factual, but it can also be slanted towards one’s opinon, obviously.]

Jack:

Suck it newsie! I hate the media.

Anonymous

Jesus came our debt to pay, Saved our soul in grace one day; So in love we all should live, Ready always to forgive!
WHEN IT SEEMS YOU CAN’T FORGIVE,
REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU’VE BEEN FORGIVEN!

This is certainly a good lesson to all of us looking in & judging & wanting this mans life to come to ruin from his mistake obviously made! I just hope that he can see what he has done & move onto being a better human being!
Lets face it! we have all made mistakes, some bigger than others, but that is no reason to crusify!

[I’m not a huge Jesus aficionado, but I like the sentiment.]

Tom Larking, again:

I don’t think anyone is saying that this gentleman is unworthy of being forgiven. It really is more of a case of a “stone thrower” getting hit with his own ricocheting rock! The question then becomes, “Did he learn from the experience?” No one is questioning his value as a person. It is more of a case of just identifying to the media that one of their own has acted poorly. Now let’s see as an entitiy whether or not the media can hold themselves to the same standards of behaviour and reporting that they impose on the rest of society. If this reporter has not learned from his experience then he is simply destined to repeat it. Next time, if there is a next time, the cost of the lesson may be more expensive than just embarrassment. No real harm done here, just the red face of embarrasment. I think we have all been there, some of us maybe even more than one. It’s call life. Learn from it and move on.

John Taylor:

I am somewhat confused how someone “wrote the truth”, yet needs to apologise. You don’t apologise for the truth. It is fair to say that if the officer in question had been in the wrong he would not have lost his job; rather, some disciplinary action would have been taken.

Mr Lacey, if he is truly remorseful, should not receive a life sentence for a lapse of judgement. Nobody died here, someone just made a stupid mistake…

And then John and Tom break for some geneology chat:

John: Did you know there is a school in Winnipeg named after your name sake? I went to John Taylor Collegiate in Winnipeg in the early 70’s. Just thought you’d like to know. Cheers..Tom Larkin

Tom: The Taylor family at one time had a plan for total world domination; unfortunately, due to our move to BC, we got distracted by the warmer weather and forgot all about it…

Seriously,it’s interesting you mention that as my grandfather was a schoolmaster in Scotland back before the turn of the century… Taylor was the Singh of the 19th century I think… we were all over the place!

Another great one from a cop:

I’ll have to remain somewhat anonymous, as RCMP members are under scrutiny to not be seen as influencing social media sites… and I’m no spokesperson so I can’t comment on this incident specifically. What I’d like to say though, is the type of service people experience from police is often a reflection on the ‘tone’ of their community. If there is a certain group of people, especially in a smaller town, that sees it as a game to try ‘get away’ with whatever they can – then the police often get pushed into a response-driven method of policing where tickets and enforcement are needed. Basically, because there is no respect for the rules a community expects its citizens to abide by, and the police become a focus for this lack of social skill.

Because that is what we are really talking about… it’s not about driving drunk, or going 10 km/h over the speed limit. It’s about a group of people, your friends and neighbours, participating in a system of laws that are based on their own values. Police don’t make the rules, but as community members we participate in this process as well. The majority of people have decided that impaired driving is a cause worthy of significant penalty. And, courts have decided that some Charter Rights can be bent to accomodate the goal of public safety (Check Stops for example). So, when someone chooses to drive drunk – they are creating a risk, committing an offence, and my job is to stop that from happening. Because that is what the people in my community have asked me to do.

The issue that always bothers me about drunk drivers is their lack of respect. It reveals itself in their hatred for police, and that is just part of the job, but it really bugs me that they feel so disconnected from their community that they risk so much just to ‘stick it to the man’.

Being a safe, sober driver isn’t about complying with ‘big brother’ or police abusing their power. It is about a citizen abusing THEIR power. It is them choosing to disregard their community’s expectations on civil behaviour because of some selfish of immature reason.

it’s the same attitude of people that we go deal with endless noise complaints, whose dogs run free and terrorize the kids, drive their ATV’s in the campground, or who otherwise just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves.

So… that is where I come in. Because I do give a shit. And I completely expect that in the course of my lawful duties, that this polar opposite in attitudes is going to create conflict. I don’t enjoy the conflict… or dealing with the Public Complaints Commission… but, I sleep quite soundly every night knowing that being fair and professional as a police officer sometimes means some people are going to be unhappy.

But, I think of the other people that I’ve made happier – and it all works out just fine. I don’t often hear from the happier people, but every now and then one of them will let me know I’m doing my job.

So to Mr. Editor, I thank you for letting me and the community know that there is someone doing their job just fine in Osooyos. To each their own in deciding which person they want that comment to refer to.

And somebody points out that the RCMP letter may not cast the writer in the best light either:

The editor was miles out of line for many reasons, most of them noted above – and he should lose his job.

BUT

What about the threat in Supt. Bernoties final sentence: “I look forward to a retraction or correction and to, potentially, facilitating the public’s viewing of this video.” If I said I had a video of you doing something embarrassing that would cause you to lose your job and demanded you do something or I’d make it public, what’s that called

Blackmail. An unprofessional threat at the very least. Is Cst. Julian Assange working in the RCMP media room now?

And why is everyone jumping to the conclusion that the video would be damning of Mr. Lacey? Why not just release the full, unedited video instead of issuing public threats? The Vancouver Police Department set that precedent with the guy smashing the bus window with his skateboard. The RCMP’s version insinuates Lacey was acting like a major twerp in the video – maybe he is, maybe he’s not and the RCMP is calling the kettle black with their own defamatory attack.

In my opinion, this pissing contest is soaking everyone involved – including you and me when we foot the court costs for two defamation lawsuits.

And one of the worst that I really felt the need to address:

RCMP member “Mike” advocates clamping down on free speech:

Don’t write cheques with your mouth that your ass can’t cash. As police officers, we deal with these types of false complaints all of the time from self rightious complainers who believe that they will have the officer fired for their “tramatic event”.

Reality is, the RCMP are being transparent, respectful in their response, and have physical proof of their comments. The so called Jounalist has nothing except for a vomiting g/f witness who I would have no doubt say that she was “tramatized” as well.

I am not saying all police officers are angels but any officer who is attempting to enter into an Impaired Driving Investigation should be applauded, not shamed. Too many times we have to attend MVA,s or Veh/Pedestrian accidents due to a self rightious driver who is better than the cops and “won’t get caught cause they never do”. The general public continue to drink and drive because they do get away with it. Job well done to the RCMP.

To the “jounalist”, speaking of abuse of power, nice job in using a public forum and paper to commit Public Mischief. Yes that is a criminal code charge, so now you may be treated like one. Being in a paper, there are plenty of witnesses. I hope to see your name in the paper next…..in the court readings.

Really? Public mischief? The day something I write gets me charged with public mischief is the day I frame my court summons.

Osoyoos Times editor apologizes

February 12, 2012 3 comments

Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey posted an apology today to the RCMP officer he singled out in his notorious column last week.

It reads:

I owe a sincere and heartfelt apology to Cpl. Ryan S. McLeod of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for comments that appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 8 edition of the Osoyoos Times.

I fully realize the experienced officer was only doing his job the night in question and my over reaction to what happened between him and I was inappropriate, regardless of what transpired during those 20 minutes.

It was also inappropriate to insist the encounter was embarrassing and humiliating as the officer was respectful at all times in conducting his duties.

Police officers have a very difficult job to do and Cpl. McLeod was simply performing his duties on the night in question and it was not appropriate for me to react the way I did and for that, I remain deeply sorry.

As has been pointed out to me in clear detail since this incident, Cpl. McLeod takes the issue of drinking and driving very seriously and he is well within his rights as a police officer in British Columbia to pull over anyone he suspects may have been consuming alcohol.

Once the readings were revealed, the officer did tell me I was free to go and, once again, there was a complete over reaction on my part.

I realize I let emotion get the better of me, which I sincerely regret.

As a veteran journalist, I know the power of words and much of the language and comments I made about Cpl. McLeod in the performance of his duties were uncalled for.

Cpl. McLeod did not at any time attempt to humiliate or embarrass me and he handled himself professionally and was not confrontational during our encounter.

He did not deserve to be singled out for simply doing his job and I remain truly sorry for what has transpired.

Cpl. McLeod does not make the laws of Canada or British Columbia, but simply enforces them and my inability to acknowledge and recognize this comes with deep regret.

My written account was unfair to Cpl. McLeod and fellow RCMP officers and I assure you this will not happen again.

I deeply regret this incident ever occurred and the damage I have caused to Cpl. McLeod’s reputation.

Keith Lacey

Editor – Osoyoos Times

A very nice apology, indeed. Although the last sentence would be more accurate if he substituted his own name for that of McLeod (whose reputation, I think, remains very much intact).

 

 

 

Osoyoos editor won’t apologize

February 10, 2012 6 comments

While The Province reported earlier that Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey regretted his rant and planned to write an apology, CHBC is reporting that only half of that is true.

CHBC News has learned the Osoyoos Times plans to write a retraction on the editorial that slammed a local police officer.

However, Keith Lacey, editor of the Osoyoos Times, says the newspaper will not be writing an apology.

more…

The editor declined an on-camera interview with CHBC News but says he maintains his story and he was not intoxicated when he wrote the editorial.

Lacey says he plans to correct parts of the editorial that the RCMP officer involved has issues with and while he does not regret what he wrote, he wishes that none of this happened.

Earlier in the day he told The Province: “Some may think what I wrote was slanderous, but I wrote the truth. I’ve obviously got to write an apology and it will be sincere.” Upon reading that, I wondered privately whether he could, in fact, write such an apologize while still maintaining that he told the truth. It seems he may have had similar thoughts. (Although he did tell The Province “I obviously did something wrong writing about” that night’s events.

From the CBC:

In an interview with the CBC on Friday, Lacey said he was “willing to have the video released.”

Lacey said, regarding his editorial, “I don’t know if I should have written it. What I wrote is the truth. Maybe putting the officer’s name in the piece was a mistake. ”

As of Friday morning, the RCMP said it had not yet decided if it would release the video footage.

more…

And from CTV:

The editor told CTV News he stands by his characterization and welcomes the RCMP video’s release. He says the paper plans to issue a clarification to his editorial, but not a retraction.

Osoyoos Times editor regrets rant

February 10, 2012 7 comments

Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey spoke to The Province Friday about his RCMP rant. He regrets his error, hopes to write an apology, and might even give the RCMP the green light to release the video.

Lacey said he was worried he’d lose his job over his rash editorial.

“I’m man enough to own up to it. I realize I may lose my job. Some may think what I wrote was slanderous, but I wrote the truth. I’ve obviously got to write an apology and it will be sincere.”

Lacey said he’d have to consult with his publisher before allowing for the release of the video.

[UPDATE: He has since changed his mind.]

Osooyos editor slams cops after traffic stop; RCMP threatens to release video

February 9, 2012 80 comments

I’ll have more on this soon, hopefully. But this has blown up this evening so I thought I’d put it all in one place, then come back to it when I have some time.

So this was posted by Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey Monday (it’s since been taken down but can still be found online here):

SELF-RIGHTEOUS COPS WHO TREAT INNOCENT TAXPAYERS LIKE CRIMINALS IS UNACCEPTABLE

Posted on 08 February 2012 by Keith Lacey

For 20 minutes this past Friday night, I was treated like a criminal and presumed guilty until proven innocent, which is not how the law is supposed to work in this country, especially when you have done absolutely nothing wrong.

But, according to Cpl. Ryan S. McLeod of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, he had every right to pull me over, treat me with basically zero respect and humiliate me in front of my girlfriend, who was so upset she got physically sick and was in tears hours later, just because he believes he has the power to do whatever he likes.

After a long week at work, me and my girlfriend headed to a local restaurant/pub to grab a meal with some friends and share a few stories and have a couple of laughs.

After consuming a meal, we made the decision to grab a bottle of wine at the adjacent liquor store to spend a nice, quiet evening at home.

However, seconds after pulling out of the liquor store parking lot, Cpl. McLeod flashed his cherry tops and pulled me over.

When I asked him very politely what the problem seemed to be, he told me he had pulled me over because my license plate was dirty, which remains as a very lame excuse as he proceeded instantly to asking me about whether I had consumed any alcohol.

I responded very politely, once again, and told him I had gone out after work for a meal with my girlfriend and some friends and he had no right to pull me over when I had done nothing wrong.

When I suggested to him I was not displaying any signs of impairment, I did not weave or speed and was wearing my seatbelt and he had no right to be interrogating me like this, he made it very clear he was going to make me undergo the humiliation of having to undergo a roadside breath test.

He had no reasonable or probable grounds to be doing any of this, but yet he persisted to show just how much power he had.

Of course, you don’t have any choice but to oblige or else face some very dire consequences whenever a police officer asks you do anything in this country (that’s another story for another day), so I politely stepped outside my truck, listened to his instructions and blew into the screening device.

When the readings registered, I could honestly tell Cpl. McLeod was disappointed as the readings were, how do I say this, pretty much close to zero.

He never said sorry, never apologized, informed me I was “Ok to drive” and more or less appeared ready to waltz back to his vehicle and carry on his merry way and harass somebody else I’m thinking.

But now I was upset and I made it very clear to him for a third time that pulling me over for having a dirty license plate was a very lame excuse because his police cruiser was 20 feet from my truck and I could read the plate no problem at all.

What Cpl. McLeod wouldn’t admit was the truth. What really happened was he sat in his vehicle outside a licensed establishment – which he kept calling a bar and I insisted was a restaurant – and then watched me and my girlfriend head inside to buy a bottle of wine, so he instantly presumed I must have been drinking.

After the traumatizing experience of having to go through a breath test for doing absolutely nothing wrong and registering a reading so low it was laughable, I had had enough of his ridiculous treatment and told him I wanted his badge number, name and business card.

At this point, Cpl. McLeod commented to me about “not giving him attitude” because I dared speak back to him about his unfair treatment.

There was a lot of attitude shown our encounter up until that point and none of it came from me. I’ve been a journalist for 27 years and my integrity as a writer and reporter of the truth has never been questioned and I’m not going to let some stranger with a badge, gun and attitude take that away from me.

I’m 50 years old, was polite and co-operative, showed no signs at all of any impairment, yet this experienced officer couldn’t help himself and had to humiliate and embarrass me just because he can.

It’s disgusting.

When I left the Bonnyville Nouvelle newspaper to come to Osoyoos, Sgt. Luis Gandolfi, RCMP detachment commander, phoned to say thanks for all my hard work and wish me good luck. When I worked in my hometown of Sudbury, Ontario for 20 years, police chief Alex McCauley became a good friend.

I have no issues with police, but I have great issue with Cpl. McLeod’s treatment and what happened to me Friday night.

When I later informed him I was the editor of the local newspaper and was going to write about our little episode, he finally shut up and showed me some respect. And one final time, I told him he had no right to pull me over.

While he was a lot quieter and less cocky, he kept repeating his mantra he was a police officer and he could basically pull me over whenever he likes for whatever reason he justifies.

I found out this past weekend from other friends I’ve already made in Osoyoos this kind of incident happens on a regular basis in this community and it’s not the first time this particular officer has been involved.

I know I speak for a lot of frustrated citizens out there when I say enough is enough. Sitting in the parking lot of a licensed establishment and pulling people over for whatever lame reason you come up with, is not what citizens want or expect from the police.

This is a free country, not a police state.

If someone is speeding, driving erratically or blows through a red light, of course they can expect to be pulled over by the police. If a RIDE spotcheck is set up, they have proven to be an effective and excellent way of catching drunk drivers.

No one condones drunk driving either, but that’s not the point. I wouldn’t be writing or expecting any sympathy if I was caught drunk driving. But I didn’t know going for a meal and having a pint on a Friday night was against any law in this country.

Cpl. McLeod can justify his actions any way he likes, but I’m not buying what he’s selling and I know most people out there won’t be either.

This is another example of a cop who abused his power.

It’s incidents like this and officers like this, who are loaded with arrogance and self-rightousness, who give all the good officers out there, who are in the majority, a truly bad name.

Sitting in a parking lot outside a restaurant that serves liquor on a Friday night, then lying about the reason you’re pulling someone over and humiliating him in front of his girlfriend isn’t what I want my taxpayer dollars being spent on.

I suggest to Cpl. McLeod you get out there and catch the bad guys. I’m not one of them.

And if you’re not cut out for treating people with dignity and respect, even though you have all this so-called power you’re so easy to abuse, perhaps you find another profession.

When I told my girlfriend I’m sick and tired of police officers who feel they are free to do whatever they please whenever they want without consequence and I was going to write about this incident and let the people of Osoyoos know what’s going on, she was worried this officer “might make my life a living hell.”

I told her, “don’t worry honey, I’m not a criminal and I don’t break the law” and I refuse to live my life being worried about a person hired to serve and protect, not bother and harass innocent taxpayers who pay their salary.

I also told her if I ever run into Cpl McLeod again and he pulls this kind of crap on me again, I’ll treat him with the same respect he showed me last Friday night.  Zero.

And I’ll be glad to let everyone in this community I’m now proud to call home know all about it.

Then, on Thursday, the following gauntlet was thrown down by the RCMP. (Find it here).

Dear Osoyoos Times Editor,

I read your article wherein you discuss that, after having consumed beer at a local pub, you were stopped by a police officer and humiliated by having to comply with the officers lawful request to do a roadside test to ensure you were not impaired. You go on to say he harassed and intimidated you and “abused his position of authority”. Your allegations are very serious and certainly cast the officer, who you name nine times in your article, and the RCMP in a very negative light.

As the Editor of a local newspaper, your readers must feel it important to know that when you report something in your paper, it is factual. I imagine your credibility and that of the Osoyoos Times relies heavily on that.

Well sir, I’m very pleased to report that there is a video of this incident. The video was taken from the police car and includes audio of the entire interaction between you and the police officer. I have just watched the video and observed a very calm and professional member of the RCMP doing his job. The RCMP has proudly served the people of Osoyoos for a very long time and I fear your one sided article could adversely, and incorrectly, impact their view of their local RCMP. Thus, I suggest that we post this video on-line so the good people of Osoyoos and others can make their own determination of what occurred. This is the type of transparency British Columbians expect from the RCMP.

Alternatively, I would be willing to drive to Osoyoos, at my own expense and on my own time, to show the people of Osoyoos this video. Perhaps we could capitalize on this opportunity by publicly discussing the important issue of impaired driving. As a new resident in Osoyoos, you may be interested to know that the RCMP has conducted extensive community consultation and traffic safety, including impaired driving, has been raised as a serious concern. I think the residents would be pleased to learn that their police are working hard to ensure that no lives are lost due to impaired driving. The residents of Osoyoos will also learn that this particular police officer carries a photo in his duty bag of a young girl who was killed by an impaired driver. This police officer, who you so freely defame using your position, also has extensive training and experience with impaired driving investigations. He has, no doubt, saved many lives by taking drunk drivers off the road using the exact same lawful means as the night he stopped you.

Perhaps, before slandering an Osoyoos resident and member of the local RCMP, you’ll do some research just as the member suggested to you during the stop. In this case, it may have included reading the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R v. Ladouceur (1990).

Admittedly, I am not a regular reader of the Osoyoos Times but if I was I would be troubled by the seeming motivation of an article written by the new Editor of my local paper. Allow me to quote you from the video sir. I am the editor of the newspaper and you will see the powers that I have.

If there was one positive to your negative article, it was a reminder to me of the many baseless and malicious allegations our members must constantly face while carrying out their duties. Fortunately, in this case, the video removes any doubt that the police officer’s actions were professional and respectful.

I look forward to a retraction or correction and to, potentially, facilitating the public’s viewing of this video.

Supt Ray Bernoties
Officer in Charge
BC RCMP Communications

For obvious reasons, not least of which is the fact that it was posted on the RCMP news site and subsequently tweeted, the letter instantly got LOTS of attention. As I said. I’ll have more later. In the meantime feel free to have at’er in the comments section.

[UPDATE: Lacey first said he planned to apologize, then said he only planned to correct parts of the editorial.]

[Ed. note: The comment section was getting boring and repetitive, so each must now be approved ala a letters page. I’ll approve any comment that says something different than those that have already been published. Those from regular readers and journalists/RCMP are especially welcome.]

 

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