The Tories introduced legislation that would allow police to collect fingerprints before a person is charged with a crime and would not require the police to destroy those fingerprints should the person never be charged. The Tories argue that this is about “streamlining” the affairs of police to make them more efficient. But here’s the thing. Consider this quote from Rob Nicholson, the Justice minister:
“Crime is constantly evolving in Canada so it is crucial that our criminal justice system evolves with it.”
Now, I like Rob Nicholson. But what the fuck does that even mean? Let’s be blunt: the only reason for this legislation is to give police the power to collect fingerprints of people who can’t be proven to be criminals, or even can’t be charged with a crime because there’s reasonable and probable grounds to charge them with a crime. How comfortable are you with the police having that power? Because I’m not.
I’m not reflexively anti-cop, or even generally anti-cop. I think cops in Canada do a valuable and difficult job and most of the time they do it very well. But here’s the thing: since policing is always going to be a political hobbyhorse of one stripe or another, the cops always feel a bit besieged. That sucks and it’s not fair to them, but it’s not fair that doctors are expected to be miracle-workers or that lawyers are fodder for jokes about amorality when we all know that we should be making those jokes about accountants instead.1
But the practical public downside of the cops feeling besieged is this: they tend to close ranks when one of their own is accused of wrongdoing, be that accusation merited or not. Usually it isn’t. But when it is, they protect bad actors within the system. And I this is exactly why I don’t like giving the police additional powers that are obviously and blatantly fodder for abuse – and this is definitely an abusive power just waiting to be used improperly.
Top comment: I look forward to you getting telepathic judges and super-speed cops to deal with the rampaging mutant criminal element. — lilacsigil
- Take that, beanpushers. [↩]