Beatty's eBay quip was just exasperation



Dear OPP skeptics: David Beatty is not out of control, and you should not hate him for joking about selling cop cars on eBay.

I am not saying this because I support one policing option over another. Like any good journalist, the only “integrated model” I can support is the integration of fairness into truth.

I am saying this because, like Councillor David Beatty, I often make jokes out of exasperation which can be taken the wrong way.

I reported the following yesterday evening, through Twitter, during the course of OPP Sgt. Michael Milner's presentation to city council's contact committee: “David Beatty jokes about selling city police equipment on eBay.”

That sparked a mini-outrage among some of our regular online commenters, who took it as an insult to city police officers and their work. One of them even suggested Beatty is “out of control.”

People, I have seen “out of control” councillors in the past, and I can assure you, firstly, that none of our current batch of city alderpeople is out of control, and secondly, if one of them ever did become out of control, that person would not be David Beatty.

Some of our regular online commenters, it appears, chose to disregard the previous tweet: “Discussion focuses on logistics costs of #Brockville's possible #OPP contract.”

Or, for that matter, the following tweet right after the eBay quip, quoting Milner: "It's yours to do with... We don't buy a lot of stuff normally."

During that discussion on logistical costs, Beatty raised the question of the current city police force's equipment, and what would happen to it should the city switch to the OPP, which has its own fleet and equipment.

Beatty was presented with the obvious fact the city would likely end up with a fleet of cop cars it didn't need, not to mention guns and tasers that could not be passed down, in good conscience, to tax collectors and crossing guards.

Hence the exasperated joke. To paraphrase: “What do we do with all this stuff? Sell it on eBay?”

Supporters of the keep-our-police-force option should be advised that Beatty's eBay quip is actually an argument in their favour. The absurdity of an idea such as selling police equipment online illustrates that, should it go with the OPP, the city will have to pay for the disposal of this excess equipment.

Come to think of it, this whole mini-kerfuffle illustrates how humourless we are becoming as a society.

We'll have to spot our online commenters a few extra points for natural grumpiness, but still, in a debate this intense, people on all sides should be given the right to let off some steam.