Protection without fear

To serve and protect: it’s at the core of police work. It’s one of the aspects of Canadian society that makes us the envy of so many.

To serve and protect: it’s at the core of police work. It’s one of the aspects of Canadian society that makes our quality of life the envy of so many.

Sometimes people forget that the officers who patrol our streets are there to help. Even if you are the most upstanding citizen, the sight of a police car in your rearview mirror can produce small pangs of panic. It’s human nature to get nervous in the presence of authority. It’s actually not a bad thing because it shows respect.

Unless you’re a bad person or have committed a crime, there’s really no reason to fear police. Though they wear a uniform and carry a gun, these men and women are really no different than anybody else.

The recent scare across the province about a new form of the drug ecstasy is an example of when fear of authority can lead to tragic outcomes.

Last week Nelson Police Department Sgt. Paul Burkart told the Star that local officers are taking this threat seriously. What jumped out of the Friday story was the approach Sgt. Burkart gave to the situation.

Sgt. Burkart said some of the deaths which have occurred because of this strain of ecstasy could have been prevented. But instead of alerting authorities, those around the people who found their body in distress chose not to call. Because of that apprehension, funerals were held.

“The message we would like to get out there is that in these cases when the ambulance is called — and in most drug cases — the police are going to show up, but in that particular case we are not interested in pursuing charges against the user that’s in trouble. At that particular time we are concerned about the person’s health,” Burkart told us.

The police know people are going to do drugs. If people are producing or selling drugs, they are going to do their best to arrest them. But officers in this community are not kicking doors down to arrest the casual user. That’s never going to be a priority.

Local police don’t encourage drug use, but they also don’t want people to die. Accepting that police are here to help can go a long way towards avoiding needless tragedy.