|Sammy Yatin, the young man brutally and |
cowardly shot to death by the Toronto Police
Sammy Yatim Shooting - Enhanced Video
Shortly after watching this I spoke to someone who has been much closer to these incidents than I have. I was told of past situations which have ended the same way. You may remember the Edmund Yu shooting back in 1997 which sparked a flurry of criticism and recommendations for reform. There were calls from some about MCIT teams.
Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT)The MCIT is a partnership program between St. Michael’s Hospital and Toronto Police Divisions 51 and 52. The program partners a mental health professional and a police officer who respond to 911 emergency and police dispatch calls involving emotionally disturbed persons, from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The area they respond to includes Bloor to the Lakeshore and Spadina to the Don Valley.
You may have noticed two unfortunate facts. This incident was both outside their cachement and after their stated hours. I do not know if there are similar programs elsewhere in the city. It's not enough because it's happened again and again.
One thing is increasingly obvious. The Toronto Police have lost their soul. At one time police were part of the community they were protecting. The image of the cop on his beat, greeting people by name and being known by everyone is a very powerful image. This was an ordinary citizen who had decided to wear a badge and protect his neighbors and community. It may have been someone living next door. Unfortunately in Toronto this is a thing of the past.
Today the police are part of a paramilitary force with only tenuous connections to the community they serve. I would be extremely surprised to learn of any Toronto cops who actually live in any of the poorer inner city neighborhoods. Most likely they live out in the suburbs if they live in the city at all. When they finish their shift they want to go home just like everyone else and leave the sorry mess they need to deal with daily behind. Who can blame them? Unfortunately this leads to a disjunction between their home life and community and the places they must patrol. They are no longer protecting home and family... they are doing a job. The citizen policeman has been replaced by a mercenary soldier hired to do a job.
The Toronto Police are lacking in compassion for the people they are sworn to protect. Too often the situation escalates very quickly from the first encounter to shots being fired. There is no attempt to find alternatives. It's just easier that way. It's not like you just shot a neighbor.