Who Do They Protect and Serve?

The motto of the Ottawa Police Service, according to their public Web site, is A Trusted Partner in Community Safety.

I don't believe a word of it.

Yesterday, CBC News reported that members of the OPS have started wearing wrist bands that bear the badge number of one of their fellow officers, along with the words, United We Stand, Divided We Fall. The officer that the band represents is Const. Daniel Montsion, who is currently on trial, charged with manslaughter, aggravated assault, and assault with a weapon in the death of Abdirahman Abdi.

Montsion is accused of striking Abdi multiple times while wearing assault gloves, which are manufactured with a strong carbon-fibre layer that is built into the knuckles. Striking an object with such gloves has been equated to hitting while wearing brass knuckles. They are deemed a weapon.


Image via YouTube
A witness to the video of the confrontation between between Abdi and police officers on the scene said that after Abdi was apprehended, he was "lying on the ground, face down and still," and Montsion "punches him in the head very violently, twice, and we never see Abdi move again."

"When we were watching the video… and then those two punches, we gasped, because it was so disproportionate to what was needed. Nothing was needed at that point. He was on the ground, he was face down, he wasn't moving. It didn't make any sense, the level of violence that we saw," said Heather Badenoch.

The violence, indeed, seems excessive, especially when there were several officers on the scene for one man and—the most important point—a person from the Ottawa community is now dead.

We can only hope that all of the facts are brought to light during the trial and that a fair outcome is reached. I don't want to comment on the details of the trial. I don't want to speculate based on only the information I've received from the media.

I do feel, however, that I can fully share my views on the recent action of the OPS. On the very first day of the trial, where Montsion himself did not appear, his peers have already drawn a line and made a stand.

And they are not standing on the side of the community.

Any police officer that chooses to wear the offensive wrist band is turning on his or her community, is saying that they must protect and serve the constable, and that they are unwilling to hear the facts as they are presented over the course of the trial.

They do not stand for the victim, nor for his family.

They do not stand for you. They do not stand for me.

Divided, we fall.

Twelve-hundred of these wrist bands have been ordered, which means that the person who ordered these band thinks that 1,200 OPS members, perhaps more, stand on Montsion's side.

That's a lot of officers that do not stand on the side of the community.

Which makes the motto, A Trusted Partner in Community Safety, a false statement. I wouldn't trust any officer who believes he or she has to wear this wrist band. That police officer has lost all credibility with me.

The Ottawa community needs to speak out loud and clear that these wrist bands bring disgrace to anyone who would wear it. We need to let Chief Charles Bordeleau that these wrist bands are unacceptable and that he should order his officers to not wear them. Not just while on duty, as he's already stated, but also not in public. If a member of the public sees a person wearing the distasteful band, that person can automatically assume that the wearer of the band is a member of the OPS and supports Montsion.

Bordeleau must try to dissuade his officers to not purchase the bands at all and he must speak publicly that he doesn't approve of the bands because the bands do not support the community.

Bordeleau has a responsibility to the Ottawa community first; his officers, second. He needs to instruct his officers that their responsibility is to the community first; Montsion, second.

If the OPS wants to be a trusted partner and wants the Ottawa community to feel safe, they must show that they can be trusted.

Twelve-hundred wrist bands that support Montsion do not instill trust.

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