"When we use force, it's quite possibly going to look bad...
We'll use techniques... and it's not very pretty."
CANADA COPS UNLEASHED
"We're talking about breaking the body down
in a legal, ethical, medically sound way."
says Sgt. Milligan.
Today, July 1st, 2003 is Canada's birthday and a time to reflect on how we've devolved as a nation. At this point we are 136 years old, a young country compared to many others. But already we're a dying nation, not only in population but in every other way.
The iron-heel "boot in the face" tyranny Orwell described in "1984" has set up shop in Canada. The cops are being trained to act like communist thugs, as is evidenced in the story below:
"Do what you're told and you won't get hurt."
Mike Roberts, Vancouver Province, Jun 30, 2003
"Get down! Get down!" barks the brute in sweats. "Stop resisting!"
And there I am, faster than you can holler police abuse, sucking floor with my left arm corkscrewed painfully above my shoulder blades and a heavy knee across my neck. Laid out like a trussed chicken, I look up at the guy who's just taken me down. "This is very strange," I groan. "Yeah," he says, disengaging the arm lock. "I don't really get it." And then it's my turn to "arrest" the reporter who's just roughed me up.
It's the morning of the second day of the most bizarre PR campaign the Vancouver Police Department has staged. Desperate times call for unusual measures and the VPD, mired in allegations of abuse and excessive use of force, has invited the media to a two-day seminar called Police Use of Force Awareness Training for the Media.
Eleven reporters and camera operators show up for the media-digest version of police boot camp. Before it's all over, I'll have learned how to defuse a volatile confrontation, drop a bad guy to the ground, deploy pepper spray, wield a baton and apply deadly force from the business end of a semi-automatic Beretta. How all this will enrich or enlighten this newspaper's coverage of city policing, I honestly do not know. But I wouldn't mess with me now, not unless you can drop eight .40-calibre rounds into centre mass in six seconds.
The seminar is Sgt. Clive Milligan's baby. Milligan patrolled the Downtown Eastside for seven years before transferring to the VPD's internal investigations section. His duties include training recruits in appropriate use of force. An engaging instructor with a dynamic personality, Milligan says he first suggested his media-boot-camp concept to the brass last spring. His idea was put on the back burner. But with six officers charged in connection with the beatings of three men in Stanley Park earlier this year, watchdog reports brimming with alleged police abuse in the Downtown Eastside, civil suits pending in connection with the Guns N' Roses baton-a-thon last November and recent headlines screaming, "New Probe Into Death During Arrest," and "Video Shows Victim Being Dragged in Jail," Vancouver police Chief Jamie Graham has signed off on some positive spin. "There's all these allegations coming out . . . and we never really got a chance to explain our side of the story," says Milligan. "It was [ticking] me off and eating away at me. I wanted to let people know what it is we do and how we do it."
Milligan says police are in the "crap-taking business" and dealing with that can be "ugly," impacting upon the image and professionalism of the department. "When we use force, it's quite possibly going to look bad," he says. "If people fight with us, it's a knockdown drag-out and we'll use techniques, proper techniques, and you get scuffs and bruises, cuts and breaks and it's not very pretty. I just wanted the general public to know this." He makes no bones about using this media seminar to get that message across. "If we lose, we don't go home," he says. "We're not in the business of losing fights and we will use what we can, and hopefully it's reasonable." And if it's not? "That one per cent [of the force] that's too aggressive, see the door pal because you're bringing the rest of us down. Adios," says Milligan. "Go be a bouncer."
Insp. John Mckay, a use of force instructor for 23 years, launches Day 1 of media boot camp. He's an affable fellow with a drill sergeant's swagger. "We will not hurt you or embarrass you," he begins. "But if you embarrass us, we will hurt you." An uncomfortable silence envelopes the classroom. "I'm kidding!" he says. "That was a joke. We want you to relax with us, have some fun." He hands the show over to Sgt. Milligan who spends the afternoon describing the techniques cops use before resorting to violence. "Ninety-seven per cent of our job is talking -- presence and dialogue," says Milligan, introducing Tac-Comm, or Tactical Communications, to the assembled media at the VPD's Cambie Street headquarters. Tac-Comm is all about reading and defusing hostile, non-compliant people. "The idea is to make someone believe it was their choice to finish the beer, put the cigarette out and leave the bar," says Milligan.
We begin Day 2 in a classroom in the VPD's Main Street bunker. Insp. John McKay explains the "reactionary gap," the time it takes your eye to tell your brain to tell your muscles to react to an incoming knife. McKay slaps a reporter across the face several times to make his point. Then we hit the gym for a rigorous lesson in empty hand control, which involves "compliance-hold techniques rooted in martial arts." I learn to strike and stun and buckle a guy using compression points. And I get thrown about some.
Then we move on to the baton, a compliance tool in the same class as tasers and pepper spray. "We're not trying to beat them into submission, we're trying to stun them," explains McKay. "How hard do you hit? As hard as you can and as fast as you can." Whack! Whack! goes McKay's padded baton across the padded body of a seminar participant. You want to go for the radial nerve in the arm, he tells us as we start swinging, and the peroneal nerves along the length of the leg. Failing that, you strike to break the long bones in the arms and legs. The head, neck, spinal column, kidneys and groin are no-nos, says McKay, they are considered "lethal-force" strikes. "We're talking about breaking the body down in a legal, ethical, medically sound way," says Sgt. Milligan.
Then it's on to the pepper spray, which we learn is not the "panacea of policing." It has little effect on "goal-oriented" people or those with drug psychosis or mental illness. It also blows back into your face and onto innocent bystanders. We spritz each other with inert spray. At the break, a constable describes his experiences with the baton. He recounts an incident with a "mental" in a Vancouver park. The officer says the man wouldn't give up, coming at him three times. "People on PCP and mentals are the worst," he says. "He finally comes at me with a rock. I whack him right across the top of the hand, his hand goes limp and he drops the rock. All the small bones on the top of his hand were broken, it was out to here, man."
I glance at my sparring partner and we exchange a look that says, "Does this guy realize the meter's running?" Anyway, it was fun. And it was informative. And the cops I met at media boot camp were a sincere, enthusiastic, civic-minded bunch. But driving home from the police range, I couldn't shake what Sgt. Milligan told me when I asked him what message he's trying to get across to you, our readers and viewers and listeners.
"We'd like to get the message out to the public," says Milligan. "Do as you're told and you won't be hurt."
And if that's spin, it's kind of unsettling.
VANCOUVER POLICE DEPARTMENT (VPD) LINGO -- A SHORT GUIDE
The academy: Prison, jail, the slammer
Adrenaline dump: The sudden rush of adrenaline typical in a use-of-force scenario
Auditory exclusion: The inability to hear during conditions of extreme stress
Brawl for it all: See: Stanley Cup Riot, 1994
Buddy: The bad guy, the subject of an arrest
Hinked-out: Sketchy, wiggy, twitchy with criminal intent
Knee stun: Swift, incapacitating knee blow to the inside of the thigh
The machine: The human body
Short circuit the machine: Stun buddy
Break the machine: Strike large bones, elbows, knees and connective tissue
Look for the off switch: Apply deadly use of force
MHA: Mental-health arrest
Simunition: Paint-ball bullets used in police training simulations
Six: What cops hear when they walk into a group of buddies. Six, as in six o'clock, cop on your tail
Inquiry into teen's death by guards (pushed shackled-chained-handcuffed boy against elevator door which opened). Macleans, Jan 11, 2004. Go to COPS WHO KILL BLAME VICTIMS
Drugs found on Prime Minister's ship (millions of dollars of cocaine attached to grate on bottom of boat named after wife). Canada Press, Jul 2, 2004. Go to 35.The Brotherhood & 10.Rulers & CANADA'S PM SHIPS COCAINE
COURT GUARDS KILL TEEN (120-lb boy, handcuffed & shackled, kept calling out he was hungry, guards enter cell, grab by neck, bang back & forth on elevator door hard enough to shake witness's cell, then man shouts 'Oh my God'). Edmonton Journal, Jan 24, 2004. Go to 34.Miniluv & ANIMAL FARM DOGS & 'Weekend jails' ready to open (51 weekends for a single offence not bad enough for jail). BBC, Jan 24, 2004. Go to 21.Crimestop
RCMP WATCHDOG WARNS CANADIANS (police misusing anti-terrorism powers). National Post, Jul 4, 2003. Go to TERROR BILL IS TERROR & 20.Police & 21.Crimestop & POLICE STATE OF UNION
CANADA'S DEBAUCHERY (police a no-show at live-sex theatre)
DRUG WAR & PEACE
RUSSIAN SECRET SERVICE OPERATES SCHOOL IN CANADA (teaches Stalinist method to police and military groups)
ANIMAL FARM DOGS
20.Thought Police and 23.The Proles and 38.Cellers
26.Julia & Rebellion and 29.Risking Renting Room and 31.Love Nest and 32.Enemies Of The State and 37.We Are The Dead
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