Opinion

If police officers can't respect people with Down syndrome, they shouldn't keep their jobs

An upcoming hearing will decide if the two Toronto officers who were recorded making fun of Francie Munoz, who has Down syndrome, will get to keep their jobs.

If you break the rules in any job there is punishment. These officers should be punished for their mistake

Two Toronto cops were recorded mocking Francie Munoz (second from the right) after they pulled her mother over during a traffic stop last year. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

Disrespecting people with Down syndrome, or anyone, is not right. People with Down syndrome want respect just like everyone else. I believe people need to treat one another nicely and use kind words instead of using words that hurt people's feelings. It is not good to speak that way.

When the Toronto police officers made fun of Francie Munoz, who has Down syndrome, it probably hurt her feelings. The officers, Sasa Sljivo and Matthew Saris, were caught on a recording in November making fun of Francie after they pulled her mother over. They laughed at Francie and called her "disfigured."

Francie did not do anything wrong, she did not deserve to be treated that way. A police officer's job is to protect and make people feel safe. Saying mean things about anyone would not make them feel protected or safe.

These police officers need to know more about Down syndrome, and that people with Down syndrome want respect and want to be treated with kindness just like everyone else.

Family demands apology after officers caught mocking woman with down syndrome on tape. 2:40

If you break the rules in any job there is punishment. So I think the police should be punished for their mistake. I don't think it should be any different for a police officer. A hearing coming up will decide if they get to keep their jobs.

These officers broke the rules and did not respect Francie and her family's feelings. If these police officers can't show respect to all people, then maybe they should not have their careers as police officers anymore.

People like Francie and me and everyone must stand up to bullies no matter what. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

I have had times when I was not treated with respect just like Francie. When I was young, two boys made fun of me for having Down syndrome. They called me names and teased me. This made me feel upset and a little sad. People like Francie and me and everyone must stand up to bullies no matter what.

If I got to speak to the police officers, I would tell them to treat people kindly no matter what and not to hurt people's feelings. They need to know more about people with Down syndrome and that we have great lives and feelings, too.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Paul Sawka

Paul Sawka is the Awareness Leader at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. He is an active advocate in Canada’s Down syndrome and disability community. Paul lives in Calgary, Alberta.

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