On wrong step leads to a world of trouble for cop

I would love to know what is going through the head of Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler right now.

I would love to know what is going through the head of Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler right now.

Prior to responding to call about someone discharging a shot gun at The Harvest golf course, Mantler was just one of the largely unknown members of the Kelowna detachment working through his day.

But all that changed for him when he delivered a kick to the head of Buddy Tavares, an action that was caught on video camera by Castanet reporter Kelly Hayes.

Today, Mantler finds himself under a public microscope that many of his RCMP cohorts, too many in fact, have found themselves caught up with in recent years. As in each case before him and with Mantler now, the proverbial question we all ask is if the Kelowna constable is just a bad seed or is he representative of how a majority of his fellow RCMP officers conduct themselves? We won’t get a real sense of that until the scenario surrounding the arrest of Tavares likely goes to trial. The internal investigation by Abbotsford municipal police detectives is over, with a recommendation to Crown counsel that a charge of assault causing bodily harm is warranted.

But if past investigations are any sort of indicator, we may never get a satisfying conclusion to this, even with the assistance of a video, as the fatal tasering incident at Vancouver International Airport involving Robert Dziekanski illustrated.

If Mantler was just having a bad day, like all of us do, it just shows how dangerous it can be for cops to be cops, how if the public pushes the wrong buttons, they can flip out at the slightest provocation with horrendous consequences.

It also makes me wonder of the RCMP’s aggressive recruiting campaign over the last decade is turning out new recruits that might not have made the grade in a different time.

And I also wonder that if the complaints of a lack of manpower resources, something Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon has laid out before city council in recent years at budget time, can get manifested in this way—an overworked cop thrust into a potential high stress situation and he snaps.

A lot of people have rallied to the cause of Tavares, who appears to have found himself put in the wrong place at the wrong time thanks to whoever complained about him scaring geese off the golf course. And it’s great to see apathy not win out, as no one should be subjected to what he had to endure. We expect higher standards from the police, and I think they do from themselves as well. But Mantler’s only ally in the public’s mindset is likely to be his lawyer, faced with the task of potentially keeping him out of jail and trying to save his career.

One dumb move that potentially might end a career—how many of us would consider that unfair in our own jobs if we screwed up? How many of us would object to be videotaped in our jobs because we feel it is an intrusion of our rights?

Just a reflection again of how difficult it is to be a cop today.

bgerding@kelownacapnews.com

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