Yesterday I got a call from the Police Association of Ontario. It was basically a telemarketing call as they were trying to raise funds. This really bothers me for a couple of reasons.
I always find it very intimidating when the police associations or the fire department equivalent call looking for money. As a society we definitely owe these people something. They are the reason why we have law and order (not the show) and good emergency response. However, they are also in a position that makes them very intimidating. What happens if I don’t give money to one of these groups? Does my name get put on a little list so next time I am speeding I get a ticket instead of a warning? Will the fire department be just a little bit slower getting to my house if there is a call? Sure, all of these ideas sound pretty far fetched. What if the person calling is not a hired sales droid but is an off duty police officer who lives down the street? Or a off duty fireman who recognizes the address on the emergency radio as the address of the person who was rude to him on the phone last night. Perhaps these feelings are more acute for me because I grew up in a small community where if the local departments did the calling these coincidences could easily come true. These feelings may not be based on any kind of logic but they do exist, at least for me. Personally, I have a lot harder time saying no to the police and fire department telemarketing fund raisers than I do any other group. In fact, yesterday might have been the first time I actually did say no to them and that’s because of my second point.
One of the reasons they were asking for donations is to lobby for law changes. The pitch went immediately to sex offenders. “Do you watch the news? Yes. Then you have heard about the recent problems in Brampton.” For those outside of Ontario he was referring to this. The nice tele-sales guy then preceded to explain that the laws are too lax and that criminals who are released just re-offend so the law should be changed to keep them in jail. Another example of the Police Association of Ontario’s politics can be found on their website; the little ‘Club fed’ logo. Obviously, they think the prison system is too easy on criminals. Police officers are given a special role by our society. The role of upholding the law. With this role comes respect and power. By using this position to raise funds and lobby for changes to the legal system they exert unfair influence on our society. It is not the role of the police to make laws, we have the elected officials and the judiciary to do that.
I’m sure the Police Association believes what they are doing is correct and it’s probably not illegal. Whether they realize it or not they abusing the power that their role in society gives them.