Constable could have opened fire. But he chose to be excellent
National Post, 26 April 2018
Toronto Const. Kenny Lam's actions remind us that good policing does not cause unnecessary deaths, even of those suspected of mass killings
When a mass tragedy occurs — or a mass killing, as in Toronto — attention turns quickly to first responders, with words of praise and gratitude. There is an understandable desire, in the midst of great suffering and sorrow, to point toward something noble, something good.
Usually that praise and gratitude is necessarily generic, as we often don’t know the names of the responders, or what specifically they did. An exception might be Father Mychal Judge, the fire chaplain in New York, killed by falling debris while tending to those at the World Trade Center on 9/11. The image of his lifeless body being carried out instantly went around the world, as it seemed as if a biblical scene had come to life — or more precisely, come to death — in a dramatic Pieta tableau.
For Toronto we have a name: Const. Kenny Lam. The laudations for him are well-earned and widespread. As one would expect, it is Christie Blatchford who has the background on who Const. Lam is, and his heroics on Monday.
Permit me only to hope that the admirable work of Const. Lam helps us to change the conversation about police and the use of force. I have not been shy to voice criticism about excessive use of force and abuse of power by police and prosecutors, on the grounds that those who have the greatest power — to arrest, to incarcerate, to kill — ought to be held to the highest standard.
On Monday, Lam met that highest standard, arresting peacefully an alleged killer who apparently had it in mind to die himself, suicide-by-cop.
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