CANADA’S LAW ENFORCEMENT agencies are engaged in a crucial tug-of-war on the issue of police policy, and the struggle carries enormous implications for all of us; its outcome will determine whether our encounters with the police are to be casual, open and helpful, or underlined by the hostility that is fast becoming the hallmark of North American justice.
The struggle began to crystallize at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, when “pigs” passed into the language as a synonym for “cops.” Since then, the lines have become ever more sharply drawn, until today there is hardly a police officer who hasn’t lined up in one camp or the other.
For convenience, let’s call the two camps the Hawks and the Doves.
The Hawks believe the time has come to crack down with an iron fist, to clear our streets of rebels, our parks of hippies, our pockets of drugs, our minds of subversion. They want tougher courts, stiffer sentences, wider powers of arrest and greater use of modern police methods, from wiretapping to entrapment (where undercover agents encourage people to commit crimes, and then pounce). Hawks are aware that their approach may lead to headlong clashes, but they agree with Arthur Cookson, past president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, who says, “If we’re going to have confrontation, we’re going to have confrontation. The more we give in, the more we’ll have to keep giving in.”
The Doves believe in more preventive and less punitive policing. They argue that the best way to combat crime is to attack the social ills that beget it; they have nothing against hippies or long hair; their approach to the drug problem is upright but not uptight, and the new police methods they favor include better pay and training, more emphasis on social and psychological approaches and the formation of special community squads to reach out into the schools, parks and streets where crime is born.
Doves reject the notion that we are headed for U.S.-style confrontation. “The only way we’ll get it,” says Deputy Chief Jack Ackroyd of Toronto, “is if we start acting like the U.S.” Problems here are not the same: crime rates are lower (in the U.S., a murder is committed every 39 minutes, in Canada, every 28 hours; on a per capita basis, Americans are about five times as prone to murder, rape and rob as Canadians), attitudes are healthier (during the Strawberry Fields Rock Festival at Mosport, Ontario, in August, provincial police shared their lunches with hungry hippies, and one American visitor blurted, “At home they beat us; here they feed us”), and Canadian forces have been, for the most part, free of the political imperatives of, say, Chicago’s Richard Daley. “The danger,” says Ackroyd, “is that we look into our TV screens, see what is happening in the U.S., and assume it’s the same here. Police do it, and the public does it, and they’re both wrong.” Chief Roger Smith of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, adds, “We don’t deserve U.S. law enforcement. Hell, I don’t like fat Georgia sheriffs either.”
Nobody knows how many Hawks or Doves there are among Canada’s 38,500 police. The line is drawn right through some forces. In Regina, the chief is an unquestioned Hawk, but his acting deputy is considered a Dove by the city’s youth, a fact that helped him quell an impending riot last April with nothing more than a bullhorn and a balance of trust. In Toronto, where the Doves appear to have the upper hand, Hawkish lapses occur. In every major Toronto division a police car cruises continuously, carrying two officers and a loaded shotgun. Why? “I don’t know,” said one cruising constable. “To scare hell out of everybody, I guess. Including us.” The official explanation is that they are on guard against bank hold-ups. Finally, there are flat contradictions between police serving the same areas. At Toronto’s controversial Rochdale College, Metro police had worked out an arrangement with college security guards; when there was to be any sort of raid, Toronto officers went in accompanied by the college guards. When the RCMP staged a drug raid recently, they clashed with the security men, smashed doors the guards had keys for, and found themselves in the middle of a near riot. Toronto police were called in to sort out the mess.
Hawks appear to be in firm control of the Association of Police Chiefs, which this year, as every year, called for wider, tougher police powers. They also control the International Conference of Police Associations, where Canadian delegates this summer backed a resolution threatening “on - the - street justice” to meet “the organized, vengeful, and senseless assassination of police officers throughout the United States and Canada,” a resolution both illogical (how can assassination be organized, vengeful, and senseless at the same time?) and, as far as Canada is concerned, inaccurate (police killings in the U.S. have been rising steadily, to a last-year high of 86; in Canada, they were lower in 1969—5—than 1962—12).
The Hawks also have a stranglehold on the largest police force in Canada, the RCMP. The Mounties have led the way in entrapment policing and shown a regrettable tendency to deport people they don’t approve of, such as U.S. draft evaders, and to harry people who help draft dodgers. In one case, a 13-year-old Montreal girl whose mother had helped a deserter was severely questioned. In Ottawa, a six-man RCMP squad was established to trace U.S. army fugitives for the FBI; its members reported directly to an FBI liaison man. All this activity runs counter to the federal government’s assurances that draft dodgers and deserters are regarded as ordinary immigrants under Canadian law.
The RCMP — like the FBI — takes an unmistakably right - wing political stance. The force’s publication, Law And Order In Canadian Democracy, which has only this year gone out of print, contained a chapter on Communism that began, “A rampant ideology is on the march for the conquest of the world; Communism, as aplied [RCMP spelling, not ours] by the Kremlin dictators, seeks to extend its autocratic sphere and enslave the earth.” It is notable, but not reassuring, that in his first press conference, the new RCMP commissioner, William Higgitt, felt compelled to argue that if Canada recognizes Red China, Ottawa will be overrun with Chinese spies.
If the Hawks have won the RCMP, the Doves have achieved some victories, too, in the establishment of community and youth squads, in the cool handling of a number of rock festivals across Canada, in the increasing emphasis on motivation in the selection of officers — at Dartmouth, recruits must pass a whole battery of psychological tests.
With some exceptions, the younger police tend to be Dovish, the older ones Hawkish, which argues that the Doves are bound to win in the long run. That’s not necessarily so. The issue is likely to be decided by the reaction of the Canadian public in general and youth in particular. If we fall into the easy trap of believing the extremists, of assuming that cops are pigs, we will prove ourselves right. One Toronto constable put the point succinctly: “If the liberal policeman gets support, he’ll carry out the law in a liberal way; if he doesn’t, if we get into a confrontation thing, every cop will retire into an ultraconservative shell.”
In the following pages, Maclean’s examines the implications for you, the citizen, of the struggle between the police Hawks and Doves and explores what the outcome of that struggle will mean to the quality of Canadian life.
A who’s who of the Hawks and Doves among Canada’s chiefs of police — and their views on what’s what in law enforcement
SUPER-HAWK Regina’s Cookson: ‘Parents are too lax, courts too lenient’
ARTHUR COOKSON has been a policeman for 39 years, 23 years as an RCMP officer, 16 as chief of Regina’s police. He is tall, with slicked-back black hair, regular features and a severe expression. He’s a Hawk and proud of it. “People are always giving me hell,” he says, “because I say what I think.” The Regina police are tough, and relations with the community, especially the university and hippie sections, are strained. Since last December, there have been five anti-police demonstrations — “mini-riots,” the force calls them — in the city. Whether the cops are so tough because of the hostility, or provoke hostility by their toughness, is a moot point. Here are some of Cookson’s views:
On youthful unrest: I have every reason to believe the man who puts the blame on the Communist Party .. . These people who organize these demonstrations are mostly Maoists. They advocate bloody revolution . . . they’re bent on breaking down the Establishment.
On enforcing drug laws: I’m a great believer in enforcing the laws as they are. I don’t believe in granting concessions, because the more concessions you grant today, the more concessions you are going to have to grant tomorrow.
On law and order: It’s breaking down because of . . . the laxity of parents, the leniency of the courts, the tolerance toward crime by the public and new attitudes toward civil rights ... You have people refusing to answer questions put by a policeman. It’s very discouraging . . . When disorder takes place and swearing and other rowdy behavior, I say you have to stop it, or where are you going to stop it?
On entrapment policing: It’s very necessary if we’re going to combat crime.
On the gap between police and public: This gap is not the fault of the police. Police today are being trained in the area of public relations more than ever before. Therefore it’s not the fault of the police; it’s the fault of the public.
SUPER-DOVE Dartmouth’s Smith: ‘Police can’t treat people like punks’
ROGER SMITH has been a policeman in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, for 20 years, and chief for 2-1/2 years. He’s tall, well-built, with handsome features and an easygoing smile. His youngest son, Curtis, greets him with “Hi, fuzz,” and Smith groans. He’s a Dove, and it shows. Dartmouth police are picked for brains, not brawn. They’re more highly paid than those in nearby Halifax, and they tend to be cool. Motorists are not charged until they get 14 mph over the speed limit. Minor offenders are never lectured. Relations between the police and public are good, even in the hippie areas. “They’re not so bad,” one youngster says. “They’re pigs, like any cops, but they’re not bad pigs.” Here are some of Smith’s views:
On youthful unrest: It’s easy for older people to sit and curse the age. When you talk to these youngsters, you realize they’re just like we were, only more realistic. They know more about what’s going on, and they want to do something about it. Well, good for them.
On enforcing drug laws: Drugs are bad business, but so is alcohol, and who among us hasn’t taken a drink too many some time? The kid of 16 or 17 who feels he has to try drugs once is not a hardened criminal and shouldn’t be treated like one.
On law and order: You can’t make anybody do anything, not in this country. You’ve got to have a reason, and if you tell people the reason they’ll co-operate. You’ve got maybe one half of 1% who are punks, and you can’t act as if everybody was that way . . . The law is the spirit of the thing; if you set out to enforce the letter of the law, the whole country would soon be reduced to a state of utter chaos.
On entrapment policing: I don’t think it’s fair. I’m against it.
On the gap between police and public: A policeman is a member of society, he’s not just a blob lying on the outside . . . The whole key is preventive policing, and you can’t have that without a good line of communication with the public.
IS YOUR POLICE CHIEF A HAWK OR A DOVE?
Maclean’s asked the chiefs in major Canadian cities to respond to a questionnaire on law-enforcement issues.
Some — including those in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Windsor, Ottawa and Charlottetown — did not wish to express their opinions publicly. But most felt that the views of senior police officers should be part of the public record. Here, then, based on their replies and the assessment of specialists in their cities, is how 10 chiefs stand in the Hawk-Dove confrontation:
Chief J. F. Gregory, Hawk:
I feel there is no need for civil liberties associations. Our system of justice has certain checks and counterchecks . . . which look after individual rights and freedoms.
Chief H. A. Sloane, Hawkish: Wiretapping? Yes — crime is a disease in our society, and we have to root it out by every means available.
Chief M. J. Kent, Hawkish:
Our permissive attitudes have contributed to the increase in crime and, being from the old school, I cannot help but believe that public distaste for punishment must bear part of the blame.
Chief John C. Webster, Hawk: The charges of police brutality are numerous and seldom, if ever, found to be true — and even when they are true they are completely exaggerated.
Chief Finlay Carroll, Hawk:
These modernized methods of applying justice are just not working. Society is going to break down, police are fighting a losing battle.
Chief L. G. Lawrence, Dove:
In the final analysis, what breeds respect for the policeman is public awareness that he is there to help prevent crime as well as to enforce the laws against them.
Chief Harold Adamson, Dovish: We are setting out to train our people more thoroughly in the psychological and social aspects of law enforcement. We are trying to make our people more understanding.
Chief M. St-Aubin, Dovish:
Entrapment? We have a policy not to induce illegality. A peace officer may infiltrate criminal milieus but must not provoke the commission of the crime itself.
Acting Chief C. M. Barchard, Hawk: I am concerned at the growing lack of respect that is shown for the law, particularly by college students ... no one wants to come forward and give information to the police any more.
Chief G. O. Robinson, Hawkish: Some changes in the law have made our job more difficult ... we have to do a lot more research and dig out more evidence. This, in effect, protects the criminal.
The Mod Squad cop: no uniform, no gun, no broken heads... but he gets results
JOHN SAGAR is playing hopscotch with a little black girl in Toronto’s Harbord Park. He wears suede shoes, a sports shirt, beige slacks and a wide grin. The little girl starts at one end of the pitch, Sagar at the other, and they hop towards each other, giggling. They meet in the middle, she looks up, he looks down, and their hands reach out and touch. They are satisfied with each other.
Sagar is sitting on the counter in the Yellow Submarine, a youth hangout, surrounded by a tough-looking bunch of boys and talking about the usual things, girls, cars and the fuzz. Sagar was in here a few days ago, laying it on the line because the youths had been shouting obscenities at the neighbors. The kids apologized, the shouting stopped, but there is an aftertaste now, a little edginess, an undercurrent of tension. An Italian boy comes up. “Hey, John,” he says, “gimme a couple bucks. I’m going to the races.” Sagar grins. “Go to hell,” he says. The boy punches him on the shoulder, laughs, walks out. Everybody relaxes.
Sagar rocks on Dorothy O’Brien’s porch, late at night. Dorothy, the Queen of the Block, is filling him in. “I been here 37 years, dear,” she says. “Right in this house 37 years, and before that just a couple of blocks away. The things I seen...” Her hands go up in horror. She talks about the kids, the ones in trouble, the ones who will be; she talks about the old people, the guy who needs help, the one who beats his wife, the wife who plays around. “Her husband don’t know, and I figger what he don’t know don’t hurt none.” Sagar smacks her on a fat knee. “You’re quite a girl, Dorothy,” he says.
John Sagar is the new breed, a community relations officer, one of the 25 in the city of Toronto. He is 40 — but looks 30 — tall, husky, with smoky blue eyes and dark blond hair. He has been a cop for 20 years, five years in London, in his native England — where the most important thing he learned was that “when you arrest someone, no matter for what, no matter for how long, you are taking away his liberty, and that is a very serious thing” — 15 years in Toronto, most of it in the west-end area that is his beat today.
Last May, Toronto established a community relations officer system, with special training for carefully screened constables. (Other cities have uniformed men called community relations specialists, but Toronto is the only one in Canada so far with a corps of specially selected and trained experts in the field. The experiment is being followed closely by other forces, who might want to copy it.) They were at once dubbed the Mod Squad (after the U.S. TV series) and subjected to the amusement and envy of fellow officers. One uniformed constable told me bitterly, “They go around being the nice guys, while we make the busts . . . They give kids a pat on the back, when what they need is a kick in the ass.” But the most obvious thing about the Mod Squad is that it works. Superintendent James Morgan, a 30-year veteran, wasn’t too keen on the idea at first but now says, “This is one of the best things we’ve ever done.” When a rock festival came to Toronto in June, and radical groups crashed the gates to protest high prices, the combination of firmness by uniformed police outside and friendliness by Mod Squadders inside kept trouble to a minimum and visibly impressed visiting Americans. “I just didn’t know there were any cops like that,” said one.
Sagar played a key role in the festival; so much so that the organizers asked him to go along to Winnipeg and Calgary on his holidays. He helped arrange a drug - care centre, cooled out angry crowd leaders, negotiated a free concert for those who couldn’t pay the entry fee, and took eight youngsters who had no place to stay home with him. (The next morning, his son burst into his bedroom to report, “Hey, Daddy, there are strange people sleeping in the den.”) That was the new police group’s most publicized assignment, but only part of the job. Mod Squadders play with the young kids, talk to the teen-agers, listen to the old folks. They set up clubs, arrange concerts, sponsor baseball games, contact social workers and advise on welfare rights. When necessary, they lay down the law. In one case, a group of youngsters approached a community relations officer with a surly, upset-looking boy in tow. “He’s got something to tell you,” their spokesman said. They were turning in a burglary suspect. Mod Squadders also step in, when they can, to keep the law from crushing its victims; they hand out warnings instead of charges, help with legal aid, sometimes arrange to have a case dropped. “It’s just like having our own lawyer,” one youth says, “except they have more power than a lawyer.” The new force is beginning to have an effect noticed by other police. Constable Norm Churly, who patrols the Harbord Park area, says, “People still know I’m a cop ... I wear a uniform, unlike John, and I carry a gun . . . but they don’t turn their backs on me the way they used to, they don’t just walk away.” The role of the Mod Squadder is central to the Hawk-Dove struggle. Hawks resent him, and the approach he represents — “turning a cop into a goddam welfare officer,” one old-timer complained, “a job he doesn’t know and can’t handle.” Doves are banking on him to prove that police work doesn’t mean bloody knuckles and broken heads. So far, on the record of Toronto’s pioneer squad, the Doves are ahead on points.
Entrapment: should a policeman encourage thievery to catch a thief?
IN CHARLOTTETOWN, an undercover RCMP agent persuaded four youths to procure LSD and marijuana for him. According to their defense lawyer, the officer broke 14 laws in the course of his work. Then he arrested the youngsters and charged them with trafficking.
In Ottawa, an informer arranged with police to stage a break-in and persuaded a pal to drive a get-away car while he and another man pretended to force their way into a house that was, in fact, open. Then the car driver was charged with breaking and entering. The conviction was eventually quashed, because no break-in had taken place — but not until the man had spent more than four years in jail.
Such cases raise a fundamental question: are police entitled to lure people into crimes that might otherwise not be committed? Canadian law is vague on the subject; Canadian police are not. Doves dislike entrapment: “Our job is to prevent crime, not promote it,” says Chief Roger Smith of Dartmouth. Hawks regard it as a necessary evil: “We have to use whatever tools we have,” says the deputy chief of a western Ontario city. “If that includes entrapment, that’s okay. Just so we get the bastards.”
Entrapment works against drug pushers, petty thieves, burglars and bootleggers; it also works against ordinary people with no criminal bent.
Take the case of Gordon Shipley, 22, of Ottawa. Shipley, a student at Carleton University, lived at the YMCA, where he met and made friends with an older man, known to him as AÍ Thompson, but who was, in fact, Constable Lawrence Lowes of the RCMP. Lowes was posing as a shop clerk while searching for drug traffickers. Over the next two months, the two men became close friends, although Shipley didn’t really know much about the drug scene; Lowes later described him as “rather naïve.” When it became clear, in Lowes’ words, that “Mr. Shipley was taking too much of my time for what it amounted to,” the undercover agent began to apply pressure. He said he wasn’t making enough money to live on, he thought he might sell drugs, and could Shipley get some for him? Not at first, he couldn’t, but eventually the student made a contact through a girl he knew at the university. Still, he didn’t produce any drugs; in fact, he refused point-blank to get them. But Lowes had borrowed $10 and said he wouldn’t pay it back until Shipley got him some drugs. When the student finally turned up with $30 worth of hashish, he was charged with trafficking.
The prosecution was stayed by Judge P. J. McAndrew, who found that “without the inducements held out by the officer, the accused would not have indulged in an offence against the Narcotics Act.” This finding was made on a pre-trial motion, and the Shipley case does not set a legal precedent; the doctrine of entrapment remains murky, a battleground for police Hawks and Doves.
The issue could be settled in favor of the Doves by accepting the 1969 recommendation of the Canadian Committee on Corrections, which urged that a man should not be found guilty of an offence if he was lured into it by a law enforcement officer or his agent and had no prior intention to commit a crime. Without some such provision, the Hawks will win this struggle by default, for entrapment is fast becoming established police practice.
If we want humane, efficient police, we must stand up for our rights — and, more than that, we must help the police to do their job humanely and efficiently. Here’s how...
... to confound the bad cops
On the street you don’t have to: Give your name, age or address . Show identification . Say whether you have a job or place to stay. Go along for questioning — unless you have been arrested.
On the street you should:
Answer reasonable questions
Insist on knowing if you are under arrest. Unless you ask, the police officer may not have to tell you . Submit, if improperly arrested; sue later . Keep cool; there is no law to prevent an officer from using trickery, fraud, promises or threats to get information, provided his conduct does not constitute assault or unlawful threat.
On the street you must: Respond in some cases if police ask what you are doing. If you are trespassing, or wandering abroad without visible means of support, you must justify your presence where found.
In your car, you must: Produce a driver’s license and auto insurance card when requested □ Take a breathalyzer test, if requested; but you need not perform other tests, such as walking a line.
In your home you don’t have to: Admit the police to search unless they have a warrant or writ of assistance. But an officer may enter to arrest someone inside, if he has reasonable grounds to believe that person has committed an indictable offence □ Admit an officer who says he has received a complaint of noise; a complaint is not a warrant. □
... to support the good cops
Report unusual and threatening occurrences. If a neighbor is away and a gang gathers on his porch, chances are they are not preparing a homecoming. Call the police □ Observe reasonable precautions to protect your property. Lock your house and car □ Eschew walking in tough areas at night to prove it can be done. Some you win, some you lose.
Let your police know what you think of them. If they do a bad job, complain, loud and often; but if they do a good job, report that, too □ Worry if your police force is badly paid or poorly trained. Good pay draws good recruits, good training makes them into good police.
Get involved. If you see a policeman in a street fight, call for help □ Muster what grace you can when charged with a minor offence. It’s not the cop’s fault you went over the speed limit; don’t take it out on him □ Find out what kind of police you have, how they stand on issues like entrapment and wiretapping. You may be pleasantly — or unpleasantly — surprised □ Talk to your children about the police. Many parents, because they meet officers mainly as ticket-givers or traffic-stoppers, pass on a hostile or frightening attitude they don’t really mean □ Remember that mutual respect is the nub of police-public relations. If a cop gets lippy with you, report him; but don’t get lippy with him, either. You pay him, but you don’t own him. □