Lately the Montreal Police have been complaining that they are not getting much respect from the public and have stooped to begging authorities to make the practice of insulting them illegal. If the request wasn't so sad it would be laughable. Perhaps they should be reminded of the old adage that says that respect can only be earned, not demanded.
Most large metropolitan police forces are not wildly popular, but most are respected as tough, businesslike and for the most part professional. Unfortunately our Montreal police force cannot make that claim on any level.
For several months now they have been wearing camouflage pants and red baseball caps as a pressure tactic in their ongoing labour negotiation.
If the Police brotherhood thought that the public would be so offended by the garish wardrobe that they'd demand a settlement, they must have been smoking some of the stuff that they sometimes confiscate.
Truth be told, we couldn't care less. Montrealers look upon their police as clowns and if they want to dress the part, so be it. Disrespecting their own uniform is the clearest of signals that the cops themselves have no respect for their organization.
Why should we?
Whenever I see a Montreal cop wearing camouflage, I am reminded of the burlesque, clichéd scene in the movies wherein a Mexican Federale cop stops the innocent tourist. You know, the overweight, badly groomed, sweaty cop with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth, wearing a slovenly uniform and driving an equally beat up police car.
"Señor Gringo, pleease step out of the car."
Think about the pang of fear that we whites associate with that type of a stop and now picture our very own police in camaflauge, rousting a group of blacks for committing the dangerous crime of shooting dice. There's little doubt that had the group been white and in an east end park, the cops wouldn't even have gotten out of the car. At worst they'd have rolled down the car window and shouted at the group to beat it.
Yes there is crime in Montreal North and yes blacks are involved, but it doesn't mean that every black is a criminal and should be treated as such.
It is a fact that our police stop and harass black people at an inordinate and unacceptable rate. It's sad that black mothers must school their children in how to behave when stopped by police. Did your mother do that?
Looking 'suspicious' is enough probable cause for our boys in camouflage when you are black. Ask the two Montreal Alouettes, defensive-end Alain Kashama and cornerback Mark Estelle, who were driving one evening on Notre Dame St. when they were stopped for allegedly failing to use a turn signal. Of course, the situation escalated when the two men furiously objected to the frivolous stop based on their colour. Does it sound disturbing familiar to the Villanueva tragedy?
I ask myself when I was last stopped for failing to make a signal?.....Never.
I've driven the city street for forty years and cannot recall one time having been stopped for no good reason by the police.
The Montreal Police will not earn public respect until they start acting in a professional and dignified manner and by treating all citizens equally, regardless of ethnicity, language or colour.
It's as simple as that and no legislation is going to change it.
The Montreal Police force's treatment of blacks and ethnics is not the only reason they are widely disrespected, but it is the most egregious.