A Calgary criminologist says news of three officers charged with kidnapping and assault is another stain on the already tarnished reputation of the Calgary Police Service.
Three veteran officers were charged Wednesday in connection with a 2010 incident after another officer came forward with allegations of kidnapping and assault.
Investigators say the officers picked up a man who they believed had information related to an at-risk youth, driving the man around for about 20 minutes while allegedly assaulting him.
The man died several months later from unrelated causes.
Ritesh Narayan, a criminal justice professor at Mount Royal University, told the Calgary Eyeopener that the serious charges are just the latest in a series of black eyes for the force.
Here’s an excerpt from that interview:
Q: How serious are these charges?
A: Kidnapping charges are pretty serious charges. So we’ll definitely be quite interested to find what kind of evidence and further allegations are there.
We have seen cases where officers have gotten in trouble for unlawful confinement, for detaining people arbitrarily. But kidnapping is quite rare, indeed, because whenever we hear kidnapping the term that goes along with it is ransom.
And usually you don’t kidnap someone without seeking ransom, which is why the charges themselves are quite rare, indeed.
Q: Is it possible the officers were overzealous in their duties?
A: Yes, I think that’s what it at least looks like.
It’s quite interesting that the victim in this incident himself didn’t make a complaint against the police and, as we know, he’s passed away.
So it was a fellow police officer who felt something wasn’t right and felt he should report this matter to the authorities.
What’s, of course, more interesting is that he waited about five years before reporting this matter.
Q: How damaging would it be to the police’s reputation if the officers are found guilty?
A: It’s brutal. Calgary police have been suffering for the past year and a half, if not longer, from similar stories of police misconduct, and this just adds to it.
So even at the end of it maybe these three police officers will be found not guilty. But still I think there’s certain damage that has been done to the reputation.
Q: What does it mean that the officer waited until he left the force to come forward?
A: He waited until he retired or at least left the force, which kind of shows the Calgary police does have a strong sense of code of silence within the force — where police officers do cover for each other, which is why he kind of waited until he left the force.
Q: Why would Crown prosecutors in Edmonton charge a Calgary police officer?
A: It’s actually a standard practice whenever a Calgary police officer is being investigated that Edmonton police will investigate it and the Crown prosecutors there will pursue charges, and vice versa.
This is essentially to avoid any conflict of interest. It’s quite standard, actually.
With files from the Calgary Eyeopener