Wrong target in Media sights

So yet another firestorm has developed with the ravenous media knee-jerking their way into condeming the Vancouver Police Department based on nothing more than an anonymous email tipster to BCTV on Global. (Click on Internal Investigation to see the video story)Is there a photograph of five members of VPD posing with a suspect in the jail. Apparently, according to Insp. Rollie Woods in a press conference called late Tuesday afternoon. And?The officers involved were members of a downtown patrol squad and at least one a Sgt. in the Firearms Interdiction Team. By definition they have a difficult and dangerous job. In practice they go after guns and the bad guys who carry them. When they make a good arrest, they celebrate their efforts. And?So they took a souvenir photo. And?The suspect in the photo, as with anyone ever seen with a coat or newspaper they try and hide behind doing the perp walk, isn't too pleased with his situation. Gee, I wonder why? In this case, a 40 year old man and a career criminal with 69 criminal convictions was caught by the police and now stands charged with multiple offences including carrying a concealed weapon.By the way, that is 69 convictions, not 69 arrests. The number of arrests is much higher.Despite the 69 convictions and the many more arrests and spending a life that takes from society not contributes to it, the suspect is afforded something the police are not - the presumption of innocence.Was the suspect...

Hypocrites need to move on

The very-public saga of West Vancouver PD Constable Lisa Alford has taken on a life of its own. The smug self-rightousness of the media in the way they have pursued this officer and the Police Department has been filled with their own unique brand of hypocrisy. Alford was involved in an motor vehicle accident a year ago after consuming alcohol at a social event in the West Vancouver police station. Following the MVA, she was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. She accepted her responsibility at every step of the way. She pleaded guilty, ready to take whatever punishment was her due. She never sought, nor did the system offer, any slack or preferential treatment. She didn't seek any "alternative measures," adult diversion, a healing circle or claim it wasn't her fault because, Boo-hoo-hoo, she wasn't breast-fed as a child. No, she made a bad error, admitted it and took her punishment like a man . . .well, so to speak.Now the Chief Constable is being made to do a Mexican Hat Dance simply because the optics are bad. And, some smug, self-righteous commentators are actually calling for a "full independent inquiry. "Damn the expense, Man! The cops were drinking!Now, it needs to be said that the event was a social function and didn't involve on-duty officers. But please, to suggest that we should have a "full independent public inquiry" because there was drinking going within the confines of a police station where many people have their...

Connections show no apology deserved

I wonder when the media is going to get off the back of the RCMP in the Mahar Arar affair? Now it is clear from documents tabled in court (Globe & Mail, Nov.03, 2006) that Arar had a connection to the cadre of Khadrs, our very own Canadian jihadists. We already knew he was connected to Abdullah Almalki, himself trying to gain sympathy as a “torture victim” of Syria.What is clear to me is that the RCMP had every right – no – every duty to consider Arar a terror suspect and include him in their investigation.. Almalki, according to Khadr the Younger, was connected to Khadr the Elder, also known as “al Kanadi” (The Canadian) to his al Qaeda pals. At the very least, the Mounties had every reason to believe that Arar was a suspect and needed to be investigated. In the days post-9/11, they also had every reason to share information with the US authorities. I believe that neither the RCMP nor Canada owe Arar an apology for anything. If in fact, he is totally innocent, then perhaps he should be more careful who he associates with. If he is that desperate for an apology, perhaps he should ask the people who actually imprisoned him and allegedly conducted the torture, the country of his birth, Syria.Leo Knightleo@primetimecrime.com

Botched investigation leaves everyone wanting

The RCMP are a proud organization. Sometimes too proud. I say this as a former member who has never shied from praising the Force when they have done well. And I have certainly taken my fair share of criticism when I have identified times when I have been not so proud of what they have done.Certainly, the Force has taken a beating in the wake of the O’Connor report into their handling of the Arar affair, with the baying media hounds screaming for the scalp of Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli. Now, I suppose I should add that I don’t subscribe to the nit-picking done by Mr. Justice O’Connor. I also don’t subscribe to the “poor innocent me” nonsense spewed out by Arar. Whatever the RCMP can be criticized for in their handling of that file, there is no doubt that they had every right to be suspicious of Arar and he is not the innocent victim that he portrays himself to be. Having said that, the Mounties booted the internal investigation relative to the constable who was accused of having sex with underage prostitutes in Prince George, Justin Harris.Harris was never charged criminally with anything largely because there was never any evidence to substantiate a charge. But cops have to meet a higher standard and internal discipline charges were brought against him essentially for that wonderful catch-all, conduct unbecoming a member. Without regurgitating the salient aspects of the allegations, levied by what can only...

The madness in Montreal brings out the liberals

The madness in Montreal yesterday was tragic. On this morning after the shootings, the final tally of dead and wounded has yet to be made. The crime scene is still taped off and investigators are still interviewing witnesses and trying to make sense out of the mayhem.It didn’t take long for the hand-wringers to come out drawing parallels to the 1989 misogynistic killings at L’Ecole Polytechnique also in Montreal. Some media outlets, were somewhat veiled in their headlines such as: Woman killed by gunman at Montreal College. The implication being obvious.Hard on the heels of that, the liberal media tried to raise the issue of the Tories killing the bloated, expensive and totally ineffective long gun registry. Notice the quote in the piece by Lucienne Robillard, a senior member of the Liberal Party, which starts off, “As a woman in Montreal . . ..” One wonders if the writer of the report is being paid for his party political piece?Fortunately for the beleagured taxpayers of Canada, the guns used by Kimveer Gill yesterday were legally obtained and registered just like the pandering Liberals envisioned. And once again, the gun registry has proven it is totally useless. When will the liberals finally get it and finally shut up? Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has tabled legislation to kill the ineffective, bureaucratic registry. One hopes, even with the minority government and the tenuous hold on power Stephen Harper’s government has, that the...

Court decision proves system is broken

As accustomed as I am to seeing the blatent stupidity of our justice system, I was unprepared to read that Kelly Ellard, the convicted killer of 14 year old Reena Virk 10 years ago in Victoria, is being granted an appeal to seek a new trial, her fourth in this case. And just to make sure my gag reflex was working, Mr. Justice Ian Donald agreed to allow her to do it on the public teat.To his credit, Justice Donald at least recognized the case is “notorious.” But still, this case has had every detail examined in the media, in court three times and in the blogosphere. This isn’t a “whodunit.” Ellard was there and an active participant in the brutal killing of Virk. Ellard has played the system like a fiddle and the charade continues unabated by common sense.At what point will the system say enough is enough? Well, never, apparently. Ellard is a stone-cold killer. She is also an habitual, albeit small-time, criminal. She has not spent one meaningful, productive moment in her life as far as I can tell. She is incorrigible and on top of all of that, she is very violent. When she gets out of prison, she will immediately return to her former life. On that, you can make book. Bet the farm in fact.To be sure, Ellard is entitled to mount...

The public deserves the truth about crime

In a story in the Vancouver Sun (Crime stories frighten public – Monday, July 31st, 2006) the RCMP Communications section has authored a memo suggesting the police should be releasing less info to the media because too many crime stories on the front pages frighten the public. Given that the Lower Mainland leads the continent in property crimes and organized crime marches on virtually unimpeded, perhaps the public should be a little afraid.The other amusing part is the suggestion that the RCMP is being too free with information. As a former member of the Force, where even member to member information sharing is frowned upon, the concept that the RCMP gives out too much information toppled my gyros.But I digress. For years the police have always distrusted the media and for the most part, vice versa. That is not to say those considered positions of mistrust were misplaced. One only has to look at the actions of CTV during the Graham McMynn kidnapping to understand why the police mistrust the media. But, having said that, it seems to me that those types of situations could be avoided if the police worked harder to foster better relations with the media. The suggestion by this report obtained by The Vancouver Sun flies in the face of that aim.At the end of the day, the police represent the public and do what they do in our name. How is it therefore responsible to keep us in...

Things the Police would like you to know

A few years back I wrote a column entitled A few simple rules to live by. It contained some common sense rules devised by a California Assistant District Attorney called “How not to get shot by Police.”A retired VPD member, Mike Windle, sent me another common sense list put together by an American street cop. It was too good not to share.____________________________________________________Your 5 year old kid getting pushed down by another 5 year old kid is NOT a police matter; talk to the other kid's parents, not the police.If your kid won't do his homework or do his chores, 911 is not the answer.If a cop causes a car accident we usually get a ticket, and sometimes we get suspended. When is the last time you got 3 days off (without pay) for rear-ending a guy at Wal-Mart?We know you've had more than two beers. When I've had two beers, I didn't hit six parked cars, drive my car through the front doors of a Toys-R-Us, pee my pants or pass out at a traffic light.When you see an emergency vehicle behind you with its lights and sirens on, pull to the RIGHT, and stop. We are usually required to pass cars on the left.When you're driving in the fast lane and you see a cop behind you, don't go 5 MPH under the speed limit. We are not impressed by how safe of a driver you can be, we're trying to go help someone (or catch that guy...

Stench from apparent police cover-up won’t go away

The story that broke in the Calgary Herald this morning is remarkable for a Canadian police department in this day and age.The piece written by staffer Suzanne Wilton, details a memo written by then Inspector, now Deputy Chief Jim Hornby of the Calgary Police Service to then Deputy Chief Rick Hanson. The first paragraph of the memo is striking:“As per our conversation, I have a situation where I believe an officer’s notebook has been modified improperly that may bring the Service into disrepute. This surrounds an application for a search warrant and the grounds required to obtain it.”Especially troubling is the fact that the warrant was returned empty. In other words, the warrant to search for a grow-op was granted based on information that was, at least in part, fabricated and the police found nothing. Which isn’t terribly surprising given the family who lived in the rented house are Joe and Jane Six-pack who run a small business refinishing furniture not growing marijuana. They don’t even use marijuana.The raid occurred in September of 2000, nearly six years ago. Since then, the mom of the family, Nancy Killian Constant, has been desperately trying to find answers to determine why members of the Calgary Police Service forcibly entered her home at gunpoint and ordered her and her family to the floor.She has gone through the police complaints procedure, the Law Enforcement Review Board and has launched a lawsuit. And so far, she hasn’t even received...

No surprise in lack of success in OC war

The revelation by RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli that we are not being effective in the fight against organized crime should not come as a surprise to anyone. When Zaccardelli rose to the position as the top cop in the country, his first message was that organized crime was the biggest threat to Canada. At the time, in September 2000, Zaccardelli astonished the assembled media at his first press conference when he said: " For the first time in this country, we are seeing signs of criminal organizations that are so sophisticated that they are focusing on destabilizing certain aspects of our society.""There are criminal organizations that target the destabilization of our parliamentary system," Zaccardelli said to the astonished press corps. Not that they should have been astonished given things like Project Sidewinder and the obvious cover-up by the Liberals to ensure the country stayed ignorant of the threat and their failure to act upon it. For the record, the Libs denied any cover-up and then underlined that with a whitewash by the civilian oversight body SIRC. But, that's a little like believing neither the Prime Minister nor the Finance Minister knew anything about the Sponsership scandal. And to quote LBJ, that dog won't hunt.But however zealous "Zack" may have been coming out of the gate, he was quickly educated in just how political his office has become. With the ink barely dry on the newspapers reporting his comments, Zaccardelli was summoned onto the Prime Minister's lush carpet and put...