A Facebook video showing a verbal altercation between a group of men and Burnaby RCMP officers is creating a huge amount of backlash on social media.
The video shows Burnaby Mounties responding to a call for fireworks past midnight on Halloween night. The officers are seen standing by as they are subjected to a tirade of profanity and insults. According to the Burnaby RCMP, two members originally responded, but called for backup when the ten men shooting off the fireworks became aggressive.
Burnaby RCMP Supt. Chuck McDonald says the officers who responded relied on their training.
“We are proud of our members. They handled the situation in a very calm, and professional manner despite the abuse they were subjected to.”
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The video has been viewed thousands of times. Most of the comments are overwhelming in support of how the officers handled themselves.
Former Delta police Chief Jim Cessford says the video shows a textbook response to a situation that was escalating quickly.
“People who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are unpredictable, and it is the extensive training that allows police officers to know what course of action to take,” he said.
This incident is an indication of how policing has changed in the era of social media. Online video has made almost everything police officers do part of the public record.
Video has exposed officers for breaching their duty to the public, but it has also turned the lens on the people who are facing the scrutiny of police. McDonald says he welcomes the added attention.
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“If our members are behaving as they should, professionally, then the public is only providing evidence that they are doing their jobs.”
Recent video has shown officers being verbally assaulted by drivers receiving speeding tickets as well as documenting the aftermath of an alleged assault on VPD officers by men with known gang ties.
Despite several recommendations for officers to wear body cameras, there are few examples of their use in Canada.
Doug King, the Executive Director of Together Against Poverty believes body cameras would be useful in most circumstances.
“This is a perfect example of how body cameras can benefit both police officers and citizens when it comes to police related complaints. A significant amount of complaints relating to police use and abuse of power contain contradictory statements about the way that either a police officer or complainant was acting during an encounter, and at the end of the day neither party can hide from body camera footage of an incident.”
There were no arrests made in the Halloween night incident. None of the men have been identified.