Create a National Database for Police Involved Deaths in Canada
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I am starting this petition on behalf of my brother Michael MacIsaac. Michael was shot by a Durham Regional Police officer on December 2nd, 2013 while experiencing the combined effects of a high fever and epileptic seizure. He tragically died from his injuries on December 3rd, 2013.
Since that time we have been troubled to discover that there is NO national database of police killings or use of excessive force incidents in Canada. In fact, there is no accurate tally of police shootings across our country, not even the deadly ones.
How common are such incidents of police use of force, lethal and non-lethal in Canada? Are the numbers increasing? Has there been progress in our approach to policing in Canada? The undisputed reality is that we do not know.
While this matter specifically raises important issues around the lack of training for officers who deal with people who are experiencing a moment of crisis or who have mental health issues; there are also human rights implications as well under Canada human rights code.
Police abuse is one of the most serious and divisive human rights violations in Canada and we need to increase transparency of interactions between law-enforcement officials and the public.
Morover, police can use national data about killings and excessive force to improve tactics and training – particularly when dealing with people who are in crisis or who are mentally ill. They can also identify shortcomings in recruitment, training and management. Any organization, wanting to become more effective should, welcome this data.
Police officers can make mistakes, or allow personal bias and emotions to enter into policing – and because they are allowed, as a last resort, to use potentially lethal force to subdue individuals they apprehend – police must be subjected to intense scrutiny.
We urge Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Minister of Justice, to lead the creation of a comprehensive national database of police involved deaths. This is a necessary step to prevent more senseless killings.
We also ask to release it in an annual public report and we also emphasize how imperative it is that measures be taken to ensure that all Police departments across this nation are reporting this information, and if they are not doing it we need to make sure there are consequences.
These statistics can drive the need for policy and training changes at National, Provincial & Departmental levels that will result in fewer officer involved shootings while improving outcomes and safety for both officers and citizens.
We cannot reiterate enough that just one death of a citizen at the hands of police in this country, is one too many. As a family that has suffered an enormous loss, we implore you to sign this petition. Both in light of public interest and the importance human rights, it is essential for our government to gain a national picture of police use of force.
We would like to leave you with this question, when police officers are killed there is a very careful account and there is a national database …. Why not the other side of the ledger?
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