Canadian Cop Puts On An Impromptu Clinic On How To Deal With Critics And Cameras

from the dept brings you the following special holiday message:

When I call out law enforcement officers for brutality, excessive force, moral turpitude and a general contempt for citizens’ rights, it’s not because I think all cops are bad. In fact, I know the job is often thankless and unpleasant. Many officers only deal with the kind of people we all hope we’ll never run into, and they do it day after day. Even when a cop does his or her job well, there’s a chance he or she will be criticized for any perceived missteps. (Quite possibly by me…)

When I cover stories of police misconduct, it’s not because I believe that the mindset and actions on display are present in a majority of law enforcement officers. I don’t think it is. The problem is that it’s still far too prevalent and will only increase as long as cops are shielded by other officers, supervisors and friends in the judicial system. Law enforcement members wield a great deal of power with very little accountability.

But not all cops are bad cops, just like all cops aren’t saints. But underneath it all, they’re all human beings dealing with the day-to-day rigors of a job most people would never take.

Via Photography Is Not A Crime comes this video of a Canadian cop, Mark Morelli, who makes the best of what could easily have become a bad situation — an arrest featuring several onlookers with cameras and one very uncooperative suspect. How does he keep this from becoming something more in line with the stories I usually cover? Watch. (The first 4:30 is the arrest. What follows after that is worth sticking around for.)

There’s nothing more powerful than using your position and experience to inform, and to do so patiently in the face of vocal critics. The only one who comes off as a jerk is the cameraman, who is so “disturbed” by what he’s seeing that he wants to go back inside where it’s warmer.

The suspect knows there’s an audience and that fact undoubtedly colors her performance. (And it is a performance — at 3:07 she adjusts her hair with her handcuffed hands, almost unleashes a smile and then returns to making a whole lot of noise.)

Morelli should be held up as an example for other officers all over his nation and ours (meaning the US in this case, but feel free to apply it to your own). Rather than view onlookers “armed” with cameras as an enemy, he treats them as a simple fact of life. The job of policing is no longer private or purely subject to opinionated eyewitness accounts.

Cameras can be a cop’s best friend, even when wielded by antagonistic onlookers. Morelli seizes the opportunity afforded by this recording to explain what he’s done, why he did it and all without tossing out threats or condescension. He exits the situation gracefully, having gained the respect of most of the viewers. That’s how you “win” at being a cop. Communication — communication that asserts authority without using it as a weapon. “These are the facts.” “This is what I do.” It’s professionalism at its best.

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Comments on “Canadian Cop Puts On An Impromptu Clinic On How To Deal With Critics And Cameras”

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Gothenem (profile) says:

Police officers like this need to be sent to various PD’s across the country (I am Canadian) and teach others how to deal with cameras in public.

This is an officer who kept his cool throughout, and did his job properly. Like you, Tim, I tend to rail on bad police officers, and live in an area where we have had several incidents in the past few years. That said, most police officers are hard-working and good, honest people who (I hope) would react the same way this officer did.

Well done Officer Morelli. Keep up the good work, we appreciate officers like you. You are the kind of police officer that we want to keep us safe!!

Ninja (profile) says:

*slow clap*

This video has to be shown to every single cop out there. The man filing is a moron, anyone can see they are trying to do their best not to hurt her and constantly ask her in a very reasonable tonne to stop resisting for her own good.

I’m guessing that part of the cameraman reaction is exactly due to the things Tim exposed from the start. Cases of abuse have become so common that people got conditioned to loathe law enforcement. There’s also a conflation of the abuses in the Govt level and the street level. Sometimes the cops are at the mercy of a corrupt Executive too.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Great, now I have another video to add to my ‘good cops’ folder. The only other video in there is the one where the policeman gets climbed by an aggressive kitten and doesn’t totally lose his shit.

Yep. Two videos.

Here’s one more. Also from Tim Cushing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Can you post a list of all the Tim Cushing bad cop stories too?

Oh wait, that could take hours.

So if the bad cop to good cop article ratio here is like 50:1, we’re supposed to think that not only are most cops bad, but by an absurdly large ratio.

Which is, of course, horse shit. Like pretty much everything on this Google-funded site.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“So if the bad cop to good cop article ratio here is like 50:1, we’re supposed to think that not only are most cops bad, but by an absurdly large ratio.”

If you are a very dim-witted person with no critical thinking skills then yes you are likely to think like that. You certainly appear to be in a small minority though, and the rest of us pity you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I would counter that with the fact that the arrestee struggled for four minutes (possibly with the aim of attracting negative publicity against the police). That officer should be lauded, because he was calm throughout the whole situation.

Contrast this with the Thomas case in the US, and you will understand why most of the people here are saying that that officer is a police officer, rather than a sanctioned thug.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

She was putting on a show long before she knew she was being recorded. I saw that in the first 5 seconds of the video, the cop saw that even before the video started. She was intentionally screaming and acting out to draw this exact kind of attention.

Anyone with first aid experience will tell you that if someone is screaming “I can’t breath” they can breath just fine. It stems from: if the subject is coughing, do not perform the Heimlich Maneuver. By extension, if the suspect is screaming “I can’t breath” then the cop can continue the arrest.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Anyone with first aid experience will tell you that if someone is screaming “I can’t breath” they can breath just fine.”

Actually I’d say that anyone who knows how to breath could tell you that. As soon as she screamed those words her credibility was out the window and I knew she was lying through her teeth about the ‘injuries’ she was supposedly suffering.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

It is rather amazing that even with the peanut gallery, he keeps his cool and does his job.

I enjoyed the well other cops don’t follow the law blah blah blah, but it is very clear that gentleman doesn’t understand the law and just wants to place some blame for injustices that someone most likely told him about rather than first hand experience.

What I saw was a professional doing a difficult job made more difficult by people who wanted something to upload to prove their preconceptions, and they got something entirely different no matter how many times they interrupted him and tried to make it seem much worse than what everyone could clearly see.

Well done Officer Mark Morelli, hopefully your professional behavior can become the rule rather than what seems to be the exception.

Pragmatic says:

It really is good to see a cop doing his job well AND making the most of an opportunity to make lemonade out of a lemon situation. He could have been aggressive, but he wasn’t. He could have tried to arrest the onlookers, some of whom were giving him a lot of flak, but he didn’t. Instead, knowing this would end up on the internet, he created a moment that made a shining example of how to get it right. I’m impressed.

I’m also pleased it came up on TD, as it’s sometimes accused of being anti-cop. This proves it’s not.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hope those good cops realise that even though it is annoying and exhausting to get watched and filmed, they can never blame the public… even the ones as annoying as the cameraman. The really good cop would look at all the episodes there have been and hopefully realise that there is an actual problem and blame the bad cops for the current state.

In this case, the girl was moving so much around that right at that moment I think it was clear that she didn’t need immediate medical help.
This was a prime example of a good arrest and people often forget how much of a struggle even a small woman can put up… an elbow to the face, a broken finger or a finger to the eye is so easy to get, and if they had to treat her like a docile girl they would have to go to the hospital. Like all of us, even with their work, they can’t sacrifice themselves every day and no matter what the cameraman and onlookers are saying, they can’t just let someone go when they struggle a bit… for all we or they know, she could be a murderer or arsonist.

There is a line though. Excessive force is never okay and the people who misuse the trust they are given, should be punished severely. This was not one of those cases in my opinion, no matter how much that woman screamed.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“…people often forget how much of a struggle even a small woman can put up…

I was getting a bit pissed off with the guy doing the recording repeatedly exclaiming “she’s just a girl!”, even when he could see the officer was physically exhausted after he finally got her into the car. That matters how exactly?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

That is exactly my point. I think you have to be very good at your job in these cases to not cause injury or be injured. Then think about cases where drugs are involved and the perpetrator can’t feel pain.
I still think that misuse of the trust given is a serious offense, but we got to remember that even with all the bad examples out there, if every single of them were in different precincts, it would still leave a lot of good ones. It is hard for Joe ordinary officer in one precinct to do something about another precinct; that is the job for the chiefs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Cops don’t have to explain themselves to the public when conducting an arrest.

He took the time to do so, that is excellence.

And doing what you’re expected to do is difficult. It’s very hard to live up to all the rules and expectations put on you in any job. Just meeting those expectations I would say is uncommon, how many people REALLY meet all the expectations of their job?

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, the WORST psychopaths perform well for audiences.

ACTING ABILITY is basically required to be a top politician. For example: go into the House of Representatives and claim a country that hasn’t attacked us is an imminent threat and needs to be bombed back to the Stone Age. — So I wouldn’t put too much credence in this one performance, especially not when clearly used for publicity. — If you’re not cynical ALL the time, kids, you won’t be when it’s necessary.

You’ve found the site of Internet Quipper Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick! — As you’ll frequently be reminded!


Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:


Normally, I think most police officers are self-serving dickheads. This guy was just awesome, and should be the chief of his department! He had to arrest that woman, and he did it with the least force he could exert, and then had the presence of mind to explain his actions to the gathered crowd. Kudos officer (whose name I do not know)!

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

For what it’s worth, having watched the video, it seems easily possible to me that she could have honestly felt she couldn’t breathe, even though she actually could.

I concur that a lot of what she did and said seems to have been theatrics, but I’m not sure all of it was. Even if we assume she was entirely innocent, she certainly didn’t handle the situation as well as she could have; at the very least, if she was in as much pain as her screams indicated, there would have been much better ways to convey exactly what was wrong and even potentially get accommodation for that (without halting the arrest).

I don’t think the cop handled this perfectly either, despite the relatively hostile audience; for example, it would have been better to have explained what he meant by saying “she was resisting” (with specific examples), rather than simply asserting it as fact. Nonetheless, he certainly handled the fact of the cameras very well, and maintained a commendable attitude in the face of sustained hostility.

I support the right of anyone to resist an unlawful or otherwise illegitimate arrest, and I think there’s room to argue for the right of anyone to resist any arrest. There are problems with that idea, however, not least among them the almost inevitable consequences – both of making that a policy, and of choosing to exercise that right – in escalation in use of force.

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: Re:

I support the right of anyone to resist an unlawful or
> otherwise illegitimate arrest, and I think there’s room to
> argue for the right of anyone to resist any arrest.

Wow, so you think, for example, that after murdering a dozen or so people in that Aurora movie theater, James Holmes also had the right to resist being arrested for it?

Sometimes the shit people say is unbelievable.

Baron von Robber says:

Nice cop

Back in my ancient past, I was playing at a party in a residential area. We played in the backyard and it wasn’t totally unexpected that the police arrived in forces (about 100 partiers, and around 12 cops, semi-riot geared). They shouted “Party over, everybody out!” One female cop yelled at the band, “Pack up or we are taking you & your equipment!”
I was winding up my guitar chord and asked politely, “What is it that we did wrong?”
She yelled, “Pack it or you’re under arrest!”
I said, “No, no. I mean what infraction did we cause, so that next time we don’t do it again.”
She was taken aback, like I had tased her with my words.
She said calmly, “No live music within 150ft of a residence”
“Oh, Ok. Thanks” I replied with a smile.
She smiled back.

She was cute too, wish I had invited her to the party.

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:


Kudos to him. It’s a shame more cops aren’t as open minded.

I know having a thankless job for a long period of time can leave one bitter, but in the end, respect is rarely given but often earned. If they want respect… they need to act in a respectful manner as this one did.

Hiding or trying to silence critics just gives their accusations or assertions credence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Canadian police and in general law enforcement appear to be more controlled there.

Different from the US which beats everyone else in number of firearms discharged and kill rate for suspects and criminals in the industrialized world.

Are Americans angrier than other peoples?

Rekrul says:

Several years ago, I was flipping channels when I came across a “Cops” type show filmed in Canada. A fairly hostile guy was demanding to be given a cop’s (mountie’s?) badge number. The cop calmly and repeated said that he wasn’t going to give it to him. The guy ranted on for several minutes, continuously demanding the cop’s badge number. The cop remained calm and eventually told the guy that if he didn’t stop harassing him and leave, he’d be arrested. The guy grumbled for a couple more minutes before finally leaving.

An American cop would have endured about 20 seconds of that before pulling out his taser.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Tazer? Threatening to report is a firing offense (literally....)

Threaten to report a cop in the US and try to get the information to do so and you would be lucky to walk away from the incident.

Felony interference in a cop’s business is an actionable offense to more of those hiding behind the “blue line” than it should be.


Anonymous Coward says:

One of the better ones

I have to say these Hamilton Wentworth Police Officers did it right. They arrested the perp, did it without using excessive force and didn’t lose their cool when faced with dozens of people shooting video and uploading it to youtube.

As many people noted if this had been a police officer in a major US city the tazers would have been drawn, there would be casualties and lawsuits.

As many people haven’t noted if this had been the PRC (where the police don’t carry firearms), Vietnam or Myanmar the people holding the cameras would have been severely beaten, dragged off to jail and if by mischance they survived the ordeal, summarily executed. Ditto for N Korea-except the newest Great Leader uses them for artillery practice.

Christopher (profile) says:

I hate this video.

You know why the officer was “exhausted” trying to arrest this woman? Because he wasn’t allowed to wrench those arms back, and cuff her behind her back properly. Asshole amateur cop watchers took away batons and PR-24s, the best tools for compliance and non-lethal adjustments.

Resist arrest, get a punch in the face. Don’t like it? Don’t resist. He was acting for the camera just like the asshole he was arresting. Make no mistake, police are there to ensure societal compliance. Your active resistance earns a greater response, so YOU calm the fuck down and you won’t get a smack.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I hate this video.

Yet he seems to have managed to do his job in arresting her despite her resistance, without needing anything extra. Or are you saying that police should beat their suspects a bit to save themselves some work, so they don’t get ‘exhausted’?

Maybe there are times when batons or other tools are necessary. But this video isn’t showing such a time, and I’ll take the police having to work a bit harder to make an arrest over the potential injury of a suspect because of a bludgeoning or tasering where it isn’t required any day.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I hate this video.

‘…compliance and non-lethal adjustments.’

‘Adjustments’, right, so that’s aggressive cop speak for ‘beating someone with a club’, the rest of us just call it assault or beating someone up.

Were I to be generous, I’d say you’re over-trained, but judging by your statement that it’s okay to punch someone in the face, as long as they’re ‘resisting’, I get the feeling you’re one of those cops no-one wants to run into, ever, just in case you’re in a bad mood that day and feel like taking it out on them.

Just a bit of friendly advice, but the idea of ‘Yeah I punched/beat/tased/pepper sprayed him, but it’s okay because he deserved it‘… that is the kind of thinking that causes people to hate and distrust police.

j says:

Good for him

When I have been witness to situations like this, I almost always pull out my camera. I figure that it’s common decency to create a visual record in case either the cops _or_ the person being arrested get out of line. That said, I’m usually too afraid to do so overtly. It’s encouraging to an officer handle this so well despite the antagonism he received from the bystanders.

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