Video footage of Const. Geoff Mantler kicking a Kelowna man in the head while he was on all fours “alarmed” city politicians, but they cautioned residents to not paint all Mounties with the same brush.
“Last week was a little bit trying with the issue of the RCMP…it put us front and centre across the nation, which wasn’t positive,” said Mayor Sharon Shepherd, during the tail end of Monday’s regular council meeting.
“But the superintendent has dealt with it appropriately, and we will have to await the response.”
Shortly after footage of Const. Mantler kicking Buddy Tavares in the head was passed over to Supt. Bill McKinnon, he contacted the city manager to brace him for the fallout.
He also, said Shepherd, started moving forward with the process that allowed him to address the violent incident.
That included bringing in the Abbotsford police.
They have since conducted an investigation, and will be recommending a criminal charge against Mantler. (See story A1).
“As much as I have been alarmed by what happened, I am supportive of how our police responded to it,” said Coun. Luke Stack.
“Even (Sunday) with the protest, it was very professionally handled …and the protestors also handled themselves well.”
That protest brought out more than 300 who wanted to express their dissatisfaction with police actions.
While the event was peaceful, Coun. Michele Rule said that she hopes that anger isn’t being misdirected. “We want to encourage people to not misplace anger onto other officers,” she said.
“Other officers don’t deserve to be treated (badly) because one officer makes a mistake—we shouldn’t paint everyone with the same brush.”
Rule went on to say Mounties she’s spoken with have said they “feel terrible about what happened” just like everyone else.
While most councillors took an opportunity to weigh in on the issue, there is little they can do to influence the organization, regardless of the fact policing accounts for more than 20 per cent of the city’s budget.
“It’s always difficult for us to explain they are contracted through the province,” said Shepherd, noting that Kelowna has a positive relationship with the local contingent of Mounties.
Kinnon is in front of council monthly, and that doesn’t happen in all other communities.”
That said, there are issues following this incident that have continued to dog the police, regardless of how swiftly they dealt with matters. One of the most pervasive, said Shepherd, are concerns about whether an officer deserves pay over the course of a suspension.
“It seems to be a concern to many people, and we have no say,” said Shepherd. “If that has to be changed, then there has to be legislation to change it.”