Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The God Squad

On my way to work from the gym this morning I listened to an interview on the CBC with Layne Daggett, the Vancouver Airport's chaplain. He was the soul of reasonableness in his reflection on the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died after being tasered by RCMP officers at the airport. We discovered that Pastor Daggett helps hundreds of people every year and often is called upon to help calm distraught people. Although he wasn't on duty that night there are chaplains "on call" twenty four hours a day.

I'm glad I caught this interview because I have wondered why there was no one available to help calm Dziekanski. He didn't speak English, but there are universal gestures of assurance which seemed to go missing that night.

Unlike some I don't feel that the answer to such shameful outcomes is banning tasers. They have probably saved lives when the lethal force of guns is not necessary. Most middle class people are unaware of the world the police often function in and the dangers they face. What was left out in this circumstance and many others is simple compassion and seeking another solution first. After hearing Pastor Daggett I sense that the outcome would have been different if he had been there.

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