Opinion

Our take: Judge simply said the public expects better

For some observers, the trial of RCMP Const. David Pompeo was about recognizing how a cop can be trapped by circumstances that are too often inevitable in the course of a difficult job.

For others, it was about accountability for the shooting of an unarmed man, about making sure the men and women with badges are not above the law they are supposed to uphold.

But for Judge Josiah Wood, the case tied to the driveway shooting of Bill Gillespie was about something else — it was about the high professional standards we set for our police force and making sure we hold our officers to them.

Wood, in no uncertain terms, said policing is the big leagues — the men and women wearing the badge have to make decisions about life and death; they are trained to make the right decisions and they are expected to act accordingly.

In professional hockey, there is something called an American Hockey League goal — a play that can often end up in the net at the minor league level, but isn’t supposed to work in the NHL. Any NHL goalie who lets more than a couple past him will find his stay in the big league very short. One could consider the AHL goal as a way of marking the line between the best and the rest.

Judge Wood’s ruling spells out a similar line for our police. In his world, a trained, professional RCMP officer is supposed to be able to maintain his composure and his powers of observation even in extremely stressful situations. It is part of the expectation that comes with the job.

And when Gillespie reacted that 2009 night in a way that alarmed Pompeo, Wood ruled Pompeo should have been able to put that fear aside and respond only to the actual threat —or lack thereof — Gillespie posed.

Wood’s verdict was this big league situation demanded a big league response and Pompeo fell on the wrong side of that line.

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