RCMP RAPISTS – Or Maybe Not?

RCMP rapists, child abusers and violators of Aboriginal woman and girls in British Columbia.

If you didn’t read the story, you should.

If you read it you are undoubtedly experiencing feelings of shock and disgust for Canada’s longest serving Police agency.

According to the report the allegations were levelled by “respected” New York human rights watchdog “Human Rights Watch.”

Allegations that an Aboriginal woman was raped by four (4) RCMP Officers and threatened with death if she reported the incident.  Allegations of excessive force that include assault on a seventeen year old girl, assaults with pepper spray, tasers and an “attack” with a K9.

“In five of the ten towns Human Rights Watch visited in the north, we heard of allegations of rape or sexual assault by police officers,” the report says.

If these shocking allegations are true we should all be outraged.

The problem is, the “respected human rights watchdog” failed to disclose any of the identities of the women making the accusations.

It makes me question the motivation behind the press release.

In fact, it makes me question the motivation for the entire exercise.

A five-week investigation, ten (10) northern British Columbia Towns visited, eight-seven (87) interviews conducted with forty-two (42) indigenous women and eight (8) indigenous girls, all for what?

To compile an anonymous report so Human Rights Watch could make a media splash?

If you want to find people who’ll make complaints of excessive force against Police Officers they’re not all that difficult to find.  The Provincial Remand Center, Headingley Correctional Institute, Stoney Mountain Penitentiary and Portage La Prairie Correctional Institute for women are full of potential candidates.  I doubt you’ll ever meet anyone who was punched by a cop, pepper sprayed or tasered who has the awareness to arrive at the conclusion their behaviour had something to do with the event in question.

Allegations of rape, sexual assault or child abuse take these complaints to another level.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper correctly “called out” Human Rights Watch by urging them to share the required information with the Police so the allegations can be properly investigated.  He apparently doubled down by asking the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to investigate.

The problem with the release of the report is the material is anonymous and untested.

Complaints of this nature merit a serious, professional and thorough investigation.  An investigation that ought to be conducted by experienced, professional investigators.  Professional investigators are skilled seekers of the truth.

Any professional investigator will tell you allegations of any description carry little weight when they’re made under the cloak of anonymity.  Anonymous allegations made by a group of people who’ve had a historically antagonistic relationship with law enforcement officers requires even greater scrutiny.

After conducting hundreds of victim and witness interviews during high-profile criminal investigations I’m never surprised by the depths of deception people sink to when reporting information to the Police.  Witness accounts often morph considerably when the reporting person is asked to sign their name to a sworn witness declaration form under the threat of prosecution for providing false testimony.

Professional interviewers are aware of the fact that witness accounts must not be accepted at face value.  Keen intuition, critical thinking and probing questions often reveal a much different reality than original versions of events.

When it comes to allegations of sexual assault or child abuse, people in the court of public opinion often default to verdict of guilty as charged.

If Human Rights Watch was really interested in doing a public service then they should have had a plan for the meaningful disclosure of their investigative findings before they ever entered into such a high-profile undertaking.  Anything less is simply irresponsible and reckless.  Truth and justice are always sacrificed when sensationalism and special interest are primary considerations.

I, for one, will keep an open mind until the RCMP accusers decide to make legitimate formal complaints to a professional investigative body.

It’s time to “put up or shut up.”

SELLEY & OVERWATER – Bad Cops or Bad Policy

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Were two young police officers acting out parts in a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry film or were they simply caught up in a split second life or death decision?

That’s the question posed in a Winnipeg Free Press article written by Bruce Owen as final arguments were made in the trial of Winnipeg Police Constables Darrel Selley & Kristopher Overwater.

Selley & Overwater stand accused of attempt murder, discharging a firearm with intent to wound, criminal negligence, fabricating evidence and more.

The case revolves around the July 2007 shooting of habitual offender Kristofer Fournier who led the officers on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle loaded with a stash of illicit drugs.  The decision now sits in the hands of the jury.

Before we go any further you should know that I had no involvement in the investigation nor do I recall ever meeting either officer.  What I know comes from media accounts just like everybody else.  As such, I resist the temptation to come to any conclusion regarding the officers guilt or innocence.

What I do have is a degree of unique experience that may offer some insight into an organization that is less than transparent to people on the “outside”.  Part of my job function as Homicide Unit Supervisor was to conduct detailed reviews and analysis of Police Officer Involved Shootings.  These reviews included cases where suspects were shot at, shot & wounded and shot and killed.

Part of the review process included a requirement to analyze the case regarding the need to amend or adapt policy to address any gaps in training or procedure.  As I reviewed the initial media accounts I was struck by a paragraph that spoke volumes to me.  It was contained in a report by Mike McIntyre & Gabrielle Giroday written in 2009.

“The pair – both six-year members of the force - were arrested Thursday following an extensive internal investigation by the professional standards unit and consultation with Manitoba Justice officers and a private legal counsel.”

There it was, in black and white, one of the primary reasons these officers find themselves in the quandary they are in.  In two words – inexperience and training.

Regardless of guilt or innocence, would either officer stand accused of these serious crimes if Police Service policies and procedures were designed to take officers safety, training and overall development into account?

I personally witnessed dramatic changes in the evolution of Policing over the last twenty-six (26) years of my career in law enforcement.  Police Officer respect is at an all time low, offenders rights trump the rights of victims and the revolving doors of Justice continue to increasingly spin out of control.  When I applied for the Police Service in 1987 I competed against over 1,200 applicants.  Recruit class applicant numbers have steadily declined and now average in the mere hundreds.

Police Officer retention has become a major problem for the Winnipeg Police Service.  Retirements and attrition have an undeniable effect on the Organization.  Recruit class sizes have doubled and the training period has been dramatically condensed.

One of the integral parts of the training program is the Field Training Officer component.  This training provides recruits their first exposure to the City of Winnipeg’s crime ridden streets.  During this phase the recruit is partnered with a Field Training Officer to mentor and guide them.  You would expect the Police Service to do everything in their power to attract top-notch, highly motivated, street smart officers to fill this role.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

The Field Training Officer is faced with excessive administrative work, tedious policy & procedures and significantly more responsibility for which they are provided very little in the way of meaningful compensation.  As a result, the calibre and quality of the Field Training Officer is compromised.

The situation doesn’t improve once the recruit graduates from the Police Academy.

When I graduated from the Police Academy in 1987 I was assigned to walk the beat with one of my fellow classmates.  After a few months we were assigned to work a cruiser car together in the seedy, crime ridden Main Street Hotel zone.

During the next three years we found ourselves in extremely dangerous, high risk situations that included high-speed chases and armed confrontations.  Although we managed to survive it, I often question the wisdom of having junior, inexperienced officers work together in such a high risk, unforgiving profession.

Had Selley or Overwater been in that cruiser car with a seasoned veteran I highly doubt they’d be standing trial for attempt murder or anything else for that matter.

Nothing tempers adrenaline and youthful exuberance more than the influence of a grizzled, battle tested veteran.

Unfortunately, Police management has continually demonstrated a complete lack of value and respect for experienced Police Officers.    I witnessed and experienced it myself.  Experience is undoubtedly the most undervalued commodity in the Organization, a culture that needs to change.

Police management has been playing a game of Russian roulette with inexperienced Officers for more than two decades now and those chickens have finally come home to roost.

I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of these types of incidents.

The WPS Executive Management Team continues to struggle to retain experience on the front lines, a situation they recently tried to resolve with the implementation of an ineffective, easily manipulated transfer policy built on principles they rarely adhere to.

I’m not suggesting that Police Management should be on trial along side of these officers, but it doesn’t take much imagination to come to the conclusion they bear some responsibility in creating the conditions for this type of situation to occur.

What I do know is this; when Police Officer’s like Selley & Overwater strap on their boots to start their shift, they don’t envision themselves shooting innocent people or being criminally negligent in the execution of their duties.  They come to the job with the best of intentions, to serve and protect and to make a difference in their community.

Inexperience, lack of proper training, tunnel vision and adrenaline overload have a way of having an impact on even the best of intentions.

I’ve been in those car chases, kicked in those doors and had my share of armed confrontations.  A massive adrenaline rush is something that has to be experienced and can never be fully explained.

Common effects of an adrenaline rush include; time distortion, depth perception & visual distortion, tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, pain tolerance, speed and strength increase, fine motor movement decay, changes in blood flow & heart rate, changes in respiratory rate, unconscious muscle tension, mono-emotion & emotional detachment and loss of bladder/bowel control.

The effects of an adrenaline rush do not excuse post incident manipulation of the facts or the fabrication of evidence.

As an objective investigator I would advise people to look at the one thing they can trust, the physical evidence.  They don’t have to believe Selley, Overwater or Fournier.  Trust the evidence and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

In the end, if Selley & Overwater are guilty of the charges before the courts then it would be my hope that justice would be served and they’d be appropriately punished.

Guilty or not, was it bad cops or bad policy that got us here.

UPDATE:

Feb 8th 2013 – 5:30 pm

Jury just came back with verdict……both officers Not Guilty to all counts!!!

LINKS:

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2013/02/08/jury-clears-cops-in-shooting-of-suspect

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Cops-not-guilty-of-all-charges-190514711.html

BLEEDING HEART WARDENS – What’s Next?

The slow and steady erosion of victims rights and the wanton and reckless disregard for public safety demonstrated by the keepers of Canadian Justice increasingly amazes me.

The examples are plentiful.

As a participant in the Criminal Justice System for over twenty-five (25) years I was recently shocked to learn that a “life” sentence with no eligibility for parole for twenty (20) years doesn’t mean what it’s supposed to.

It’s a premise built on a lie, a reality I only discovered after crime reporter Mike McIntyre exposed the painful truth in an article featuring the case of convicted killer Bruce Stewner, a sadistic killer who enjoyed some three hundred (300) escorted temporary absences long before he was ever eligible for parole.

(I hesitate to even discuss the two (2) marriages and untold number of conjugal visits he enjoyed while doing his time.)

As an “insider” working in Justice, many events I observed during my career seriously eroded my confidence in the Canadian Justice System.

I’m referring to scandalous events that occur in our Courts; some of which include the exclusion of evidence, inconsistent and soft sentencing, maltreatment of victims during trials and the shocking release of habitual undeserving criminals.  The list goes on.

Enter the role of the Parole Board.

An Organization that undermines sentencing decisions and sees to the release of countless dangerous criminals back into our society long before their sentences expire.

With public confidence in the Canadian Justice System running at all time lows, I ask you, “What next?”

How about “Bleeding Heart Wardens” acquiring sweeping powers designed to undermine the Parole Board.

Insanity you suggest, not so!

Not according to journalist Christie Blatchford who penned an enlightening piece for the National Post titled “Prison warden does what parole board wouldn’t, grants work release to police officer’s killer.”

It’s a “must read”, an incredulous story that illustrates just how distorted the word “Justice” has become in our Country.

It’s about a bleeding heart warden who essentially granted parole to a cop killer after the Parole Board rejected her application.

The story dates back to August 4th, 1998 when Toronto Police Officer Detective William (Willy) Hancox was working undercover with a team of officers when he notified his team that he was getting something to eat.  A short time later Hancox came up on the police radio indicating that he had been stabbed.

Responding officers found the mortally wounded officer lying near his police vehicle in an expanding pool of blood.  He would not survive his injuries.

Hancox was a thirty-two year old, nine-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service and was married with a three-year old daughter.  His wife was nine months pregnant at the time of his death.

The investigation that followed resulted in the arrest of two criminal misfits whose motive for the killing revolved around a plan to do a car jacking.

Elaine Rose Cece-41 ambushed and stabbed Hancox in the chest while her lesbian lover Mary Barbara Taylor-31 urged her on.  Both women were subsequently charged and convicted of second degree murder in late 1999.

Cece was ultimately sentenced to life without possibility of parole for sixteen (16) years.

Taylor, who had a significant prior record, received a life sentence without parole eligibility for eighteen (18) years.

Enter The Correctional Service of Canada, who in their infinite wisdom housed the murderous couple in the same cell while they were doing time in Quebec’s Joliet Prison.

The lovers were only split up after complaints were lodged by Kim Hancox, the officer’s widow.  After the split, convicted killer Cece was eventually transferred to the Fraser Valley Institution in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

(If the concept of enabling the officers killers to cohabitate wasn’t offensive enough, Correctional Services sunk to a new low by facilitating a “spa day” for estranged killer Taylor.)

In June of 2010 Cece applied for an Escorted Temporary Absence.

After the hearing, the Parole Board denied the request citing concerns that she lacked insight into her crime and minimized the violence she had inflicted.  They also underlined her mixed responses to prison programs and continuing struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.

Remarkably, in December of 2011, Warden Carol-Ann Reynen, granted Cece the very request the Parole Board denied.

In January 2013, Warden Reynen authorized Cece’s transfer to a halfway house and further granted her a sixty day work release complete with an open-ended escorted temporary absence to be supervised by a community volunteer.

This, in effect, is the Wardens very own special brand of day parole.

Blatchfords report explains how we got here.

The Wardens sweeping powers were quietly broadened in 2012 under a little known “Commissioners Directive” which expanded wardens authority under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

The directive gives wardens the power to grant inmates temporary absences and work releases, including a series of escorted temporary absences to “lifers” like Cece so long as they are within three years of full parole eligibility.

Hence the evolution of the temporary absence, a form of release originally intended to allow inmates the ability to attend funerals or get medical treatment not available in the prison, now broadened to facilitate the release of convicted killers doing life sentences back into our unsuspecting society.

These discretionary powers have no means of oversight and are not subject to review.

The slain officers widow, Ms Hancox-Spencer notes there are two systems operating in corrections, the parole board and the wardens internal directives.

These warden directives undermine the parole board and operate in a culture of secrecy with no accountability.  The victim is not provided any form of notification until after the directives are issued.

“At least with the parole board hearing, I’m allowed to attend” said Hancox-Spencer.

The things I know about our Canadian Justice System, Corrections and Parole are frightening enough, but it has recently occurred to me that I might be horrified by the things I don’t know.

It makes me wonder…..whats next?

NOTE:

Hancox supporters ask that Police Officers and members of the concerned public express their outrage regarding these absurd powers to Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety at vic.toews@parl.gc.ca or call his office at 613-992-3128.

Conservative MP Corneliu Chisu has prepared a private members bill to change the legislation that provides these powers.  The Bill has yet to receive a number but has wide support from National & Provincial Police Associations.

RICHARD WOLSON – Nobody Does it Better

If you happen to be a dedicated, hard-working Law Enforcement Officer who likes to arrest and lock up criminals, you are going to have allegations of assault or other misconduct made against you.  Simply put, its one of the hazards of the job.

Certain criminals have developed a modus operandi that includes the fine art of deflecting attention from their crimes by making false accusations against Police Officers.

It happened to me early in my career after being charged with Assault Causing Bodily Harm after one of Winnipeg’s’ most notorious criminals made false assault allegations against me and two of my co-workers.

The allegations fell apart in Court after testimony was heard from an independent witness who provided evidence that my accuser offered to pay him money to support a fabricated account of events.

Years later I would find myself on trial at a Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA) Trial, this time accused of Assault and Abuse of Authority.

The allegations were made by a LERA “frequent flier” who was trying to make a career out of making complaints against Police Officers.  My complaint was his seventh (7th) attempt.  His previous complaints were all dismissed.  His frustration with his lack of success undoubtedly contributed to his extraordinary efforts to make the charges against me stick.

Self inflicted injuries and a visit to the Hospital to obtain a medical record to use in my prosecution ensured that his complaint would be taken seriously.  I had to admit, the guy put some thought and planning into his work.

I realized that I could not take my accuser lightly, even though it was clear that he had significant mental health issues, a guilty finding could mean the end of my beloved career in Policing.

These kind of stakes dictated the need to secure top-notch legal representation.  For me, the choice was clear, I would request the services of respected Winnipeg Criminal Lawyer Mr. Richard J. Wolson, QC.

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Richard Wolson grills former PM Brian Mulroney at the Schreiber Inquiry

A decade or so earlier, circa 1993 I believe, I had the distinct pleasure of watching Mr Wolson in action during his defense of Winnipeg Police Detectives Dave Shipman & Mike Sutherland who had found themselves on the wrong end of criminal allegations.

His artful dissection of the RCMP members evidence was a sight to behold.  Pointed, direct, aggressive, relentless questioning saw these unprepared officers crack under the pressure.  I sat there in stunned silence and literally felt sorry for the RCMP members even though they were critical witnesses for a prosecution that could have destroyed the careers of the very men I had come to Court to support.

After virtually slaying the RCMP witnesses an acquittal was all but assured.  Both Shipman & Sutherland would leave the Courtroom with their careers in law enforcement fully intact.

I have no doubt that watching Mr Wolson in action during this trial made me a significantly better Police Officer, investigator and professional witness.    After watching that trial I promised myself that I would never be on the end of an ass whooping like the one I had witnessed in that Courtroom.

As a result, my note taking, attention to detail and professionalism all dramatically increased.

Mr Wolson brought the same passion and skill into the Courtroom during his defense of my LERA charges.  The frailties of my accuser were exposed during intense cross-examination and the charges were dismissed “tout de suite.”

Years later the lofty regard I had for Mr Wolson would only be multiplied by his performance during his cross-examination of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during the Inquiry into the affairs of political lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber.

As The Globe & Mails court room reporter Christine Blatchford put it, “I have never seen such a one as Brian Mulroney, being questioned by Richard Wolson, a lawyer from Winnipeg whose pauses alone are terrifying.”

I recently paid a visit to my old stomping grounds at the Law Courts to watch Mr Wolson defend accused Police Officer Constable Ryan Law who was facing Aggravated Assault charges alleged by accuser Henry Lavallee.

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WPS Constable Ryan Law photographed by media outside Law Courts

The morning session was dedicated to Lavallee’s uneventful direct evidence.  Cross examination would start at 2 pm.

Much like a fine wine I would see that Mr Wolson’s game has only become much more smooth, bold and full bodied with age.

Although there was no way Lavallee could have seen it coming, things started to go down hill for him when Mr Wolson got out of bed that morning.  After being forced to admit that he really wasn’t the polite, respectable citizen he tried to portray during his direct evidence, Mr Lavallee was forced to admit that he really was a Police hating career criminal with more than fifty-seven (57) convictions on his record.

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The accuser Henry Lavallee

He had to further admit that he has a propensity to spit in Police Officers faces when they collar him after he commits his crimes.

Mr Wolson also managed to get Mr Lavallee to contradict his direct evidence and admit that the Police really didn’t assault him or fail to read him his rights every time he gets arrested as he so strongly suggested in his initial evidence.  In fact, the number plummeted downward from 100% to 75% to a not so firm 50% of the time.

I especially enjoyed the exchanges where Mr Wolson asked Mr Lavallee if he had referred to Constable Law as a “bitch” at the time of his arrest.  “Maybe he is a bitch”, Lavallee replied.  “Maybe you are too.”

By the time it was over Mr Wolson destroyed whatever potential may have existed for anyone in their right mind to believe anything that had come out of Lavallee’t rancid mouth.

An acquittal almost virtually guaranteed by virtue of the brilliant, pointed, aggressive cross-examination so masterfully performed by Mr Wolson.

When the acquittal is read I imagine Mr Wolson might quietly think to himself, “Who’s the bitch now Henry?”

If you are one of those hard-working, dedicated cops I spoke of, take heed, program Mr Wolson’s number into your smart phone and call him the moment that Professional Standards, The Special Investigations Unit or LERA drops by for a visit.

It just might be the smartest move you will ever make.

LINKS:

RICHARD WOLSON LAW FIRM:

http://gwsr.ca/our-team/wolson/

WFP STORY ON SCHREIBER AFFAIR

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/wolson-plays-starring-role-at-oliphant-inquiry-45210207.html

MEDIA COVERAGE:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/11/29/mb-officer-assault-trial-winnipeg.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2012/11/26/mb-officer-assault-trail-winnipeg.html

 

MARK STOBBE – “It’s All About Me.”

When I saw the headline I immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach.

“Stobbe pens jailhouse account.”

Mike Mcintyres’ latest story features snippets from a book penned by Mark Stobbe, the former government adviser accused of killing his wife Bev Rowbotham.

I have to admit I initially questioned why Mike McIntyre would be shining a light on Stobbes attempt at literary notoriety, it just seems like the wrong thing to do.

While I respect the fact that Stobbe was acquitted of all charges against him, its important to note that the juries conclusion doesn’t mean he is an innocent man.  In fact, many people have little doubt that he got away with murder.

After reading the story in its entirety, I realized that Mr McIntyre’s article was a good thing as it fully exposed the true essence of Mark Stobbe.

The over inflated ego and unadulterated arrogance that runs deep in the core of the self-described “Fifty year old fat white guy.”

The egocentric Stobbe revels in the fact that bikers, gang bangers and career criminals treated him as a “figure of respect” and looked to him for guidance.  He boasts that he stood out from “almost all other inmates” separated by his education, affluence and lack of drug or alcohol addiction issues.  

Having finally found a place where he could feel superior to all those around him, I’m perplexed why Stobbe would have ever applied for bail.

I suspect that his decision might have been hastened after an incident where a biker mistook him for a sex offender and threatened to teach him a lesson in the shower.

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With thoughts of “Deliverance” permeating his frontal lobe, Stobbe quickly applied for and received bail.

When he was released, Stobbe writes that he received a “standing ovation” from his fellow inmates.

The pathetic gesture apparently fed into his grandiose sense of self.

Stobbes’ arrogance is further exposed as he takes a swipe at Law Enforcement and the media.  “There’s an old joke in classical detective fiction that the butler did it.  In todays law enforcement and media circles, the modern version is that the husband did it,” Stobbe writes.

Well Mark, there’s a good reason for that.

He then goes on to criticize the Federal Government for abolishing the two-for-one credit awarded to criminal miscreants for time spent in pretrial custody.

Mark Stobbe, the former Remand Center superstar now becomes a Canadian Justice critic and advocate for all habitual criminals who can’t get bail by virtue of their countless fail to appear convictions, continuous criminal conduct or the danger they present to the victims of their crimes!

Stobbes book does have one unintended redeeming quality, it shows us just how flawed our criminal justice system really is regarding the evolution of the Canadian Corrections System.

“The display of naked breasts would always draw a crowd,” Stobbe writes as he explains that his favourite pastime of inmates is necessary to deal with the extreme boredom of incarceration.

He also indicates that, “card games, bad food and crowding around old television sets to watch the news,” were other coping strategies.

I don’t know what most people think but I don’t call card games, television and hanging out to watch girls flash their breasts “rehabilitation.”

Stobbes tedium could be addressed with an old-fashioned concept called “work.”  It’s a thing some people do to earn a living, to put food on their table, to contribute to their community.  I’m not sure why it’s not an available option for inmates doing jail time.

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Work is good.

The coup de grace came with Stobbes description of the “friendly” correctional officers who warned him to be wary of potential snitches in the jail system.

In his twisted mind, Stobbe sees the blurry lines that now exist between inmates & keepers as a good thing.

I don’t intend to re-try the entire Stobbe case but his guilt or innocence is a relevant issue.

The question we should ponder is, “Did the jury get it right?”

The Rowbotham case was an unusual one on many fronts.

The inordinate amount of time it took to bring charges, the questions regarding the quality of the Police investigation, the strategy of the Crown Prosecutor, the lengthy jury trial and the intense and dramatic cross-examination, are all topics of debate.

Despite the assertions from the Crown Prosecutor that there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence implicating Stobbe, a jury of his peers failed to connect the dots.

It was a case the Crown called a “near perfect murder.”

But was it?

The victim suffered a total of sixteen (16) blows to the head with a hatchet.  The manner of killing demonstrative of the kind of “overkill” normally associated with a crime of passion involving people who are intimately known to each other.

The fact that evidence suggested the killing occurred in Stobbe’s back yard supports the crime of passion theory.

The fact that the body was moved from the marital property is an overwhelming fact that implicates Stobbe.

Simply put, a random killer motivated by robbery would have absolutely no reason to move the victim’s body from the scene of the crime.  (Nor would he have any motivation to attempt to conceal or wash away evidence at the crime scene.)

Removing the body substantially increased the killers likelihood of being caught, and caught “redhanded” no less.

No perpetrator of such a crime would ever risk being caught with the body of a murder victim.

The only reason a killer would move a body would be to create distance from a crime scene that might otherwise provide evidence against him.

The evidence is not consistent with a random killing motivated by robbery.  The evidence is much more consistent with a panicked crime of passion committed by someone with an intimate relationship with the victim.  In the killers mind the body had to be moved.  If you were Mark Stobbe and you killed your wife in a crime of passion, how would you begin to explain the discovery of her bludgeoned body in your very own back yard?

How would you explain that you failed to hear any sound related to the horrific killing?

Any intelligent killer operating in the heat of the moment would conclude that they had to move the body and destroy evidence related to the crime scene, two things that we know occurred in this case.

This was not a “perfect murder” by any stretch of imagination and from what I know, the Crown correctly classified this case as one in which overwhelming circumstantial evidence existed that implicated Mark Stobbe.

Unfortunately, a jury of “imperfect piers” didn’t see it that way.

Experience tells us that juries often have difficulty convicting defendants on cases that primarily rely on circumstantial evidence.  Modern jurors, many of whom are influenced by the CSI effect, simply want more substantial or direct evidence if they are going to be moved to convict someone of the ultimate crime.

As much as the crime was imperfect, so was the investigation & prosecution.

Unfortunately, law enforcement & Crown Prosecutors don’t get “do overs” with the benefit of hindsight.

As a Homicide Unit supervisor, I conducted many “imperfect” homicide investigations.

Did Mark Stobbe get away with murder?

I believe the answer is fairly obvious.

Was it “a perfect murder?”

Not even close.

Would I recommend his book to anyone?

Not a chance!

In my opinion, even if Mark Stobbe was innocent, the sale of this book is a direct insult to the victim, Beverley Rowbotham, and every member of her family.

It occurs to me that Mark Stobbe has the same mentality of 99% of killers I’ve interviewed over the course of my career as a Homicide Investigator.  They simply don’t care about the results of their destructive uncontrolled violence, for them “It’s all about me.”

Do us all a favour and take some of your own advice Mark, count your blessings, fade into obscurity and practise your jail house mantra, “silence is golden.”

ARMED EDUCATION – 1.5 Million Things to Think About

It was with great interest that I recently read an article by Sun Crime reporter James Turner regarding City Counsellor Paula Havixbeck’s call from more School Resource Officers (SRO’s) in our Winnipeg Schools.

According to Havixbeck, “It’s imperative that we have this as a permanent item.”  “Every student and every teacher has a right to be safe.”

The Winnipeg Police Service currently has eleven (11) SRO’s, nine (9) of which work in the schools.

That’s not enough says Havixbeck who stresses, “They can’t be everywhere and know everyone.”

Havixbeck wants to see the program go City wide and increase the number of SRO’s to a total fifteen (15) at an estimated cost of $100,000 per officer.

If you do the math, that’s a significant price tag of 1.5 million dollars per year.

Havixbeck reports the benefits of the program include;

  • Decreased drop out rates
  • Violence & bullying intervention
  • Increased respect for the law

In a video clip attached to the article, Havixbeck also talks at length about the impressive capability of Calgary SRO’s to locate students that are “AWOL” or reported missing.

The article doesn’t mention the potential downside the increase in SRO’s might create.

I have no doubt that Counsellor Havixbeck has the best interests of her community at heart and I appreciate and respect the fact that she is a woman of action.

The idea of adding SRO’s would likely be popular with the public and might even find support with a new Police Chief who comes from a community relations background.

On the other hand, if you ask any street cop what they think they would likely tell you that the bleeding has to stop somewhere.

The slow and steady migration of Police Officers away from the front lines is a trend that continues to degrade the ability of the Police Service to address serious public safety issues.

The protection of life and property becomes a very difficult task when you don’t have enough police officers to fill your cruiser cars.

Contrary to Counsellor Havixbeck’s assertions, I seriously doubt that SRO’s are having much of an impact on drop out rates or increasing students respect for the law.  (I will concede that SRO’S may reduce incidents of violence and bullying in the schools.)

Is there any credible data out there to support the suggestion that SRO presence in Schools has contributed to a meaningful decrease in drop out rates or elevated students respect for the law?

Even if there was, are these really strong considerations in support of the SRO program?

Is keeping kids in school and teaching respect for the law a job for law enforcement officers or one more appropriately assigned to parents?

Can we expect tax payers to foot the bill for Police Officers to assume these roles?

I also struggle to find the relevance regarding an SRO’s ability to find a missing student and the need to increase SRO numbers based on “safety” concerns.

If we’re going to have a discussion that favours an increase in SRO’s based on safety issues for students and teachers, it’s imperative that the conversation is “reality based” and not infused with unquantifiable claims of success and irrelevant arguments that have nothing to do with the central issue.

In the context of the Newtown shooting massacre, the larger question is, would an increase in SRO’s improve our ability to enhance the security and safety of our students and teachers.

The answer to that question is a resounding “No.”

The probability that an armed SRO could somehow intervene in an active school shooter scenario is extremely unlikely.  (As was proven at Columbine High-school in 1999)  The officer would have to be in the right school, at the precise location in the school, at the precise time the shooting started.

The odds against all of these events aligning are astronomical.

Tightly controlled access points, metal detectors and armed deterrents are the only thing that can provide the kind of safety measures that will truly increase student and teacher safety in our schools.

These controls are factors that have to be seriously considered by our American counterparts but are not necessarily measures that need to be contemplated north of the border.

I’m not trying to suggest that SRO’s are ineffective and don’t have the potential to increase certain aspects of safety in our schools.

There is no doubt that the presence of an SRO in a school can be a general deterrent to incidents of violence and bullying.

A highly motivated SRO skilled in the fine art of communication and informant development could network with students to gain intelligence regarding individuals who may fit the mould of a potential active shooter.

An SRO is more likely to have the tools and inclination to take action to initiate an intervention when it comes to students who appear to fit into this mould.

At a cost of $100,000 per officer, could the function of the SRO be performed by a civilianized version of the SRO (CSRO – Civilian School Resource Officer) or some other entity such as trained Educational Assistants with backgrounds in law enforcement or the military.

These individuals would work for a fraction of the cost which would have the added benefit of providing the ability to substantially increase the compliment of CSRO’s in the school system.

If the City of Winnipeg wants to shake the violent crime and murder capital of Canada monikers we should consider school safety options that don’t include taking more Police Officers off of the front lines of our crime ridden streets.

If Counsellor Havixbeck wants to make an argument to increase SRO’s, I would hope that the argument would be relevant, reality based and that the global impacts on the Police Service and tax paying public would be primary considerations.

I can think of about 1.5 million reasons why that idea makes sense.

TEN ($10) BUCKS – The Value of Human Life in Winnipeg

I’ve often heard people say that you can’t put a value on the price of a human life.

Not so in the City of Winnipeg it seems.

Depending on what part of the City you live in the going rate can be as low as ten ($10) bucks.

That was the reality regarding a senseless North End killing that occurred on Friday, August 27th, 2010.

The call came in to 911 at 1:55 am.

I was notified by the Duty Office just after 2:00 am, woken from a deep slumber after only a couple of hours of sleep.

It’s the worst kind of call a Homicide Supervisor can get, knowing that you are going to be working for a minimum of twenty-four (24) hours after virtually no sleep.

Sleep deprivation was a very difficult part of the job, you never really got used to it, you just accept it and learn how to function in spite of it.

Once I arrived at the Public Safety Building I would debrief a dozen or more Uniform Patrol Officers and would learn that the murder victim was identified as Derek Robert Spence, a twenty-four year old North End resident who had suffered a single stab wound to his chest.

WPG SUN 10 08 29 PHOTO III

Murder Victim Derek Robert Spence

Unfortunately for Derek, it was a “money shot.”

The knife lacerated the left ventricle of his heart causing a catastrophic, fatal injury.

Within half an hour of the incident Spence would be pronounced deceased.

Now it was my job to run an investigation designed to learn the identity of the killer so that “justice” might be served.

As the Homicide Detectives started to roll in, I had a good working knowledge of what had transpired based on the information gleaned from debriefing the uniform officers.

As fate would have it, the case would turn out to be another typical senseless Winnipeg killing.

After getting ripped off of ten ($10) dollars in a street confrontation, the victim rallied the assistance of several of his friends who he led to a residence on Manitoba Ave in his ill-fated quest to recover his money.

During the confrontation that followed, Spence came face to face with his killer, Leonard Leslie Murdock, a twenty-three (23) street thug who had been around the block a time or two.

WPG SUN 10 08 29 PHOTO II

Leonard Leslie Murdock – Convicted Killer

Witnesses reported that when the combatants squared off, Spence was surprised to see that Murdock had brandished a “shank”.

“What are you going to do, stab me for $10” Spence asked Murdock.

The answer came in the form of a quick forward plunging motion.

“Oh fuck, he stabbed me, I’m hurt” were the last words that would ever come out of the victim’s mouth.

Just over twenty-four hours (24) hours later, the hard work of the investigators paid off.  Leonard Murdock was identified as the killer and was subsequently charged & detained at the Provincial Remand Center.

He would eventually be tried on charges of second degree murder.

As I recall, it was around twenty-seven and a half (27 1/2) hours after the original call came in that I retired from duty and headed home for some much-needed sleep.

Almost two and a half years later, the case finally made its way through our the Courts.

Murdock was recently sentenced after a jury convicted him of Manslaughter rejecting his claim that he stabbed Spence while acting in self-defense.

The Crown requested a sentence of eight (8) years in prison while the defence argued for a much lighter five (5) year shot.

To support her position, the Crown advised the Court that Murdock had no defense relative to impaired judgement as he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the killing.

The defense defaulted to the usual sentencing sob story advising the Court that Murdock had a troubled childhood that saw him spend a number of years in foster care before moving to Winnipeg at age eighteen (18).

Once he hit the streets of the City he turned to a lifestyle entrenched in the gang, drugs and crime subculture.

His lawyer told the Court “He hits the big City and it all goes very badly.  It’s highly unfortunate but not that unusual a pattern.”

Justice Diana Cameron, a former Crown Prosecutor, credited Murdock with time served and sentenced him to a further four and a half (4 1/2) year period of incarceration.

When you do the math, the sentence on paper equates to approximately seven (7) years.

A sentence that will be significantly undermined by the Parole Board.

So there you have it, a “ten dollar ($10) killing” that will ultimately merit a sentence that will be the equivalent of a “nickel” or approximately five (5) years in prison.

Is it any wonder that Winnipeg continues to be the violent crime and murder capital of Canada.

We are a desensitized culture living in an environment where people can be killed for ten bucks and do less than five years in prison for it.  Life in Winnipeg is cheap, true accountability is rare and “Justice” is a word that no longer has any meaning.

So where is the outrage?

Is the entire population of the City of Winnipeg suffering from PTSD?

Are we all completely numb to the violence and the reality of living with a broken Justice system?

Has the silent majority been reduced to a group of Winnipeg Sun poll voters who recently clicked the mouse to provide stats that indicate that 83% of us think that a seven (7) year prison sentence for this crime is inadequate?

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 8.38.56 AM

Winnipeg Sun Poll

It makes me wonder how far the pendulum can swing before we witness a correction.

It makes me wonder how much longer we can afford to let the silent majority remain silent.

It makes me wonder what it’s going to take to get the silent majority to wake up and take a more participatory approach to get the pendulum to swing back.

Winnipeg crime reporter James Turner recently asked the question “Are our Courts in tune with society’s reality?”

Although I thought the answer was obvious, I analyzed a recent case that should convince even the most ardent Justice supporter that the Justice system is broken and in desperate need of repair.

I have little doubt that the silent majority agrees.

In fact, I’m so confident I’d bet anyone ten ($10) bucks!

THE CANADIAN PAROLE BOARD – A Dangerous Exercise in Futility

Just when you thought the Canadian Justice System couldn’t get any worse, news of the release of Bruce Douglas Stewner-47 years hit the news wire.

Stewner was convicted in 1995 of the vicious 1994 murder of his wife Kelly, who he mercilessly stabbed up to twenty (20) times after chasing her down and catching her on Portage Ave near Overdale St in the City of Winnipeg.

The broad daylight killing shocked a community and deeply affected an off duty Police Officer who witnessed the killing and would later testify that he heard Stewner saying, “How do you like that Kelly” as he stabbed her repeatedly in the back.

As Stewner stood over his mortally wounded wife witnesses report hearing him say, “I told you, Kelly. I told you this would happen. You got what you deserved.”

Murder just doesn’t get much colder or more callous than that.

Justice James Smith would later state “This was one of the most vicious, brutal, violent multiple stabbings, committed in broad daylight, chasing this woman from her car in front of people with a prohibited butterfly knife with an 8.5 centimeter blade which at one point stabbed into her eight centimeters. The deceased had her hands over her head and one of the stabs went through her hand into her head and the tip broke off in her head.”

I personally attended the trial and witnessed a hate filled Stewner “mean mugging” and doing his best to intimidate everyone in that Courtroom.  The only set of eyes I’ve ever peered into that were colder than his belonged to the infamous baby killer Daniel Younger.

1297349101284_ORIGINAL

Ultimately, Stewner was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder and received a life sentence with “no chance of parole for twenty years.”

A sentence that has been completely undermined and essentially “set aside” by the Canadian Parole Board.

Since when did “life with no possibility of parole for twenty (20) years” equate to some three hundred (300) escorted temporary absences from prison since February 2008?

Since when did “life with no possibility of parole for twenty (20) years” equate to parole after eighteen and a half (18 1/2) years?

Since when did “life with no possibility of parole for twenty (20) years” equate to opportunities for a prison romance and marriage to a prison groupie in April 2011?

Most insulting of all, how does the parole board grant “standing” to Stewner’s prison bride and allow her to provide evidence at his parole hearing.

Parole board documents provide a summary of her evidence; “She says you have proactively addressed issues and notes that you have improved your ability to deal with conflict. She noted that accountability is important to you.”

The fact that the Parole board allowed this evidence is a complete condemnation of the entire parole system.

The parole board ought to be aware of the significant mental health issues that are attributed to “prison brides.”

Prison brides receive a considerable amount of attention from journalists who explore the troubled women who pursue relationships with criminals who have committed heinous crimes.

Reputed killers the likes of the Hillside stranglers Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Erik and Lyle Menendez & Scott Peterson all found love and married prison brides.

Even Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people, including nineteen (19) children under the age of six (6), received marriage proposals before he was executed.

The obvious question that should be asked is “What kind of woman seeks out these kind of relationships.”

Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of “The Highly Sensitive Person in Love”, helps our understanding.

According to Aron a highly sensitive person is someone who is particularly empathic and often struggles with overstimulation in daily life and intimate attachments.

“Their issues could dovetail quite neatly with an inmate. … they would feel particularly compassionate or sympathetic to an inmate, and at the same time feel comfortable with a relationship that comes with predictability and defined boundaries.”

Researchers and Psychologists report that people with a history of abuse or low self-esteem are more likely to fall in love with someone who has committed a violent crime.

Aron continues “Many people in jail are sociopaths and they’re very good at manipulating people.”

Sheila Isenber, author of the book “Women who Love Men who Kill”, reports that the women she interviewed for her book had all experienced some sort of abuse in their past.

“Some of these women may actually feel safer in these relationships.  When their partner is incarcerated, he can’t hit her or be abusive.”

Sampson Quain, ehow contributor, wrote a pertinent article called “Why Women marry Men in Prison.”   The article underlines several factors that contribute to the prison bride phenomena.  These factors include;

Hybristophilia – A mental disorder characterized by extreme arousal or attraction to a person who has committed a grisly or violent crime.  Women who write fan letters to convicts, fantasize about them or agree to marry them are exhibiting the passive form of hybristophilia. They would not be likely to commit a crime, but will often justify the crimes committed by the object of their attraction.

Low Self-Esteem – Some women marry men in prison because of self-esteem issues from their pasts. Women who’ve experienced a slew of bad relationships or sexual and physical abuse may be more emotionally vulnerable to a charming man in prison who showers them with attention and desires their companionship.

Forbidden Romance – Some women may be drawn to male inmates because of the sense of danger this kind of relationship represents. For a woman who wants to rebel against societal norms, marrying a man in prison is the kind of act that would shock friends, family and colleagues. For a woman who’s never done anything rebellious, developing a forbidden romance with a “bad boy” could provide the kind of exciting, dramatic experience she’s been lacking all her life.

Belief that the Killer is innocent – Some women first become involved with men in prison because they believe those men are innocent. While fighting for a new trial or trying to unearth new evidence, some women find themselves falling in love.  In other cases, a woman may be convinced an imprisoned man is guilty but that he didn’t receive a fair trial, or that his lawyers were incompetent and prevented him from getting a lesser sentence.

By considering the testimony of the stupefied prison bride, the Parole board helps to remind us that victims of crime, and surviving family members rights are a trite consideration when it comes to the administration of criminal justice.

Kelly Stewner’s family was not only subjected to the horrific loss they suffered as a result of Bruce Stewner’s unrepentant violence, they are now subjected to the insult of having his prison bride testify at his Parole Hearing.

If all that wasn’t enough, the parole boards finding in this case perfectly illustrates their own incompetence and inability to provide protection to members of the public.

Their finding;

“You have a history of failed intimate relationships with women that often featured spousal violence.”

“There have been suggestions by (prison) staff that you may still need to control and dominate women. Your risk to re-offend violently was assessed as moderate and your risk to re-offend in the context of an intimate relationship was assessed as high.”

With such a determination, the Parole board saw fit to allow Stewner to go out on more than three hundred (300) escorted temporary absences and have now granted him day parole.  (And we wonder why correction costs in this Country are astronomical.)

Stewner will be eligible to apply for full parole in May of 2014.

This case is a text-book example of why we need prison reform that should include the complete abolition of the Parole board as we know it.  A dysfunctional, nonsensical, out of balance entity that can no longer be trusted to ensure the safety of the citizens of this Country.

The Canadian Parole Board is a dangerous exercise in futility.

I highly doubt that you’ve heard the last of this story.

Tic, tic, tic…..

FOOTNOTE:

Cases like this call for a response from the Community.  If you are moved by this story then I would ask you to do your part and make your concerns known to the Federal Justice Minister, The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson and the Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan.  A few short lines expressing your outrage is all that is required.

(Email address links are on the respective websites.)

LINKS:

CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA

PAROLE  DEFINITIONS

http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/npb/pg-eng.shtml

TEMPORARY ABSENCES

http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/plcy/cdshtm/710-3-cd-eng.shtml

NEWS PAPER ARTICLES

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/killer-given-early-release-a-total-manipulator-182496821.html

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/12/06/sister-laments-wife-killer-bruce-stewners-release

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/brutal-wife-killer-gets-early-release-182324551.html

 

LAISSEZ-FAIRE POLICING – The Real Problem

Newsflash, Winnipeg has been proclaimed the murder capitol of Canada for 2011 and Manitoba has secured the Provincial title for the fifth straight year.

All this coming on the heels of recent news reporting that Winnipeg has a new street gang problem.

The emergence of the MOB (Most Organized Brothers) as a formidable criminal street gang in the City of Winnipeg has raised alarm bells and legitimate concerns that things might be getting worse before they ever get better.

This violent street gang is now believed to have more than one hundred (100) documented members and associates.

One story I read struck a nerve, the Winnipeg Suns report titled “NDP fails to stop street gangs like MOB: Tories” written by reporter Ross Romaniuk.

Reg Helwer, Conservative MLA for Brandon West, highly critical of the NDP Government is quoted as saying, “Solutions to this problem are not easy, but other Provinces have managed to deal with it.  We need to look to those Provinces and States for how they’ve dealt with gangs, and how we can find a solution in Manitoba.”

The mentality expressed in these sentiments illustrates one of the greatest impediments to establishing an effective anti gang strategy in the City of Winnipeg.  The intellectual surrender and the unwillingness of the Police and Government to be innovators.

It is an accepted fact that Winnipeg has one of the most significant gang problems in the Country.

As leaders in gang crime, violence and homicide rates, the question that needs to be asked is where is the Leadership?

Why the need to find solutions in some other jurisdiction?

Do we lack the collective intelligence, motivation and commitment to address the problem ourselves?

While it is important to be aware of successes and failures in other jurisdictions, I strongly believe that we have the talent and ability to solve our own problems.

Unfortunately, the lack of intellectual ownership reflected in Mr Helwers comments seems to be shared by certain key members of the Executive of our Police Service.  Their lack of insight, motivation and commitment to address the problem is well known in Police circles.

Some of the issues were examined in my August 28th blog post “Police Efficiency – A true Oxymoron.”

In this post I explored the issue of the “bean counting Gumbys” that have assumed leadership positions in the Police Service.  Upwardly mobile individuals who couldn’t care less about crime and its impact.  Self centered individuals who are wholly focused on self interest and climbing the ladder.

Many of them fear those “superior” to them in rank and authority, “rocking the boat” not an option, towing the company line the first consideration, representing the needs of the people in the trenches not a priority, saving overtime dollars at all costs the “soup of the day.”

Bean counting, ass kissing “Gumbys.”.

I’m not suggesting that ass kissers and ladder climbers are unique to the Police Universe, because they are not.  Ass kissers and ladder climbers exist, and unfortunately, seem to thrive in many large corporations and organizations.

The impact they are having in the Winnipeg Police Service is undeniable.

Many Police Officers that work on the front lines or have backgrounds in criminal investigations refer to the phenomena as the “revenge of the nerds.”

Front line soldiers and crime fighters by their very nature resist promotions that take them “out of the trenches.”   A situation that waters down the talent pool in the promotion competitions and opens the upward mobility door for those individuals who are more administratively inclined.

The result, a Police Executive heavy with administrators and thin on officers with current operational crime fighting determination & experience.

Don’t get me wrong, administrators perform a very important function in any Organization.  This issue is balance, much like the scales of Justice, the WPS operational scales seem to have become out of balance.

One of the most significant issues impeding our ability to fight street gangs is the lack of proper focus and organizational effectiveness.  Translation, lack of leadership, commitment & strategy.

As one of the Sergeants in charge of the Organized Crime Unit in 2008 I quickly realized that the Unit had significant operational deficiencies that I documented in a memorandum.  Some of these deficiencies were;

  • No defined mandate, mandate was to broad, investigators spread far to thin
  • No ability to properly target High Level Organized Crime, and, at the same time, respond to Street Gang Crime such as shootings, kidnappings or other serious gang related assaults or investigations.
  • No ability to provide any substantial focus on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
  • No focus or ability to gain current intelligence and impact criminal street gangs
  • No functioning Gang Expert Program.
  • Intelligence component of unit significantly understaffed.
  • Competing interests, conflict and investigational overlap with other units.

The memorandum was forwarded up the chain of command with recommendations to initiate a significant reorganization designed to address these issues.

The benefits of the reorganization were undeniable, the concerns expressed in the memorandum were acknowledged and the need for reorganization supported by my Divisional Commander.  Unfortunately, motivation to reorganize was non-existent and operations were to remain “status quo”.

One of the important components in the report was a recommendation to create and implement an innovative comprehensive Gang Expert Program whose members would provide a number of essential services that would include:

  • Providing Testimony at Bail Hearings to support Crown efforts to keep gangsters in jail after they commit crimes
  • Providing Testimony in high profile gang trials to support the Crowns case
  • Providing Testimony in high profile murder trials to enlighten the Court & Jury regarding the realities of gangs, gang crimes and the impact of gangs on society
  • Providing Testimony at Immigration Hearings to support the deportation of criminal gang members.
  • Providing Testimony at sentence hearings to support more significant sentences for gang members
  • Providing Affidavits, Reports & Documentation for Court Proceedings to increase gang and gang impact awareness
  • Providing information to support Police Officers in their application of various search warrants and other court generated authorizations

At the time the report was submitted the Police Service demonstrated little interest in stepping outside of the box and assuming a leadership role in fight against the ever increasing gang problem.

The problem, money.

A Gang Expert Program requires funding for training & operations and would require concessions regarding the rigid transfer policy to extend the tenure of the experts.

All issues that certain members of the Police Executive apparently found distasteful.

Although I recently heard that the Gang Expert Program is starting to gain some traction, the transfer policy is still seen as a significant impediment to the success of the program.

The current state of affairs with the MOB is a byproduct of  a continuing laissez-faire mentality and lack of commitment.

Criminal Street Gang Suppression is not rocket science but it does require a significant commitment in the way of funding, manpower and resources.

The Winnipeg Police Service should be leading this fight.

They have literally dozens of intelligent, talented, extremely hard working, dedicated Police Officers who are fully committed, ready, willing & able to participate in this fight.  All they need is a plan, support & leadership.

The Government should have the responsibility of addressing the societal factors that contribute to the escalating gang problem such as poverty, addiction, lack of education & lack of employment opportunities.

They should also be responsible for innovative anti gang legislation & strengthening the Criminal Justice System when it comes to bail & sentencing criminal street gang members.

Mr Helwer is partially correct, the gang problem is a failing of Government, but Police Management should shoulder significant responsibility for their lack of an organized, strategic, committed approach.

There can be no doubt that Laissez-faire or, as I’ve heard some people call it, “Limp Dick” Policing contributes to the problem.

I hope Chief Clunis is listening.

LINKS:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/blades-beatings-top-kill-list-182139411.html

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/11/15/mob-street-gang

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/11/14/mob-street-gang-has-grown-into-major-threat-police-report

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/11/15/how-to-fix-citys-gang-problem

ANATOMY OF AN OFFENDER – Time for a Reality Check!

Are our Courts in tune with society’s reality?

That is a question crime reporter James T recently asked on his blog “The Crime Scene.”

James asks the question in light of a recent sentencing decision by Court of Queens Bench Justice Colleen Suche regarding the killing of James Cruickshank at the hands of Daniel Peterson.

If you do the proper analysis the answer is more than apparent.

Peterson was convicted of Manslaughter after proceeding to trial by Judge & Jury.

He received a sentence “on paper” of nine (9) years in prison.

Peterson spent forty-two and a half (42 1/2) months in pretrial custody and after discounts, credits and coupons, received credit for fifty-two (52) months of “dead time.”

After the dust settled, and the ten (10) month get out of jail free card was applied, Peterson was sentenced to serve an additional term of fifty-six (56) months.

(What isn’t accounted for is the discount on the back end of the sentence that will be generously applied by the Parole Board.)

The details of the crime were horrific, nine powerful destructive blows from a hammer crushing Cruickshank’s’ skull, brain and facial structure.  The Pathologist reported that any one of the blows would likely have been fatal.  Evidence suggested that some of the significant blows were administered while Cruickshank was already incapacitated or unconscious.

In the Police world, we call this frightening level of violence “overkill.”

Are the Courts in tune with society’s reality?

Thats a great question, and because I love reality so much I would like to further explore it.

Central to the issue is how the Courts interpret their role in the administration of Justice.

As Justice Suche puts it “The law does not seek revenge:  the notion of an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth is not part of our society.  Rather, the law seeks retribution; that is, an objective, measured determination of an appropriate punishment which properly reflects the moral culpability of an offender, having regard to his intentional risk taking, the consequential harm caused by his behavior, and the normative character of the behaviour.”

Philosophical wordy interpretations aside, I remind you that Peterson was convicted of violently smashing in Cruickshank’s skull, brain and facial structure and literally beating his brains out with a hammer!

From my jaded perspective, there is nothing “normal” about that.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

You may have questions regarding what type of person Daniel Peterson is.  Is he a first time offender deserving of leniency? Has he been a contributing member of society? Is his crime out of character?

These are valid questions that one would think should be considered “in an objective, measured determination of an appropriate punishment.”

In the sentencing decision, Justice Suche acknowledges the following statements of fact:

ANATOMY OF OFFENDER – DANIEL PETERSON:

  • Thirty-three (33) years of age
  • Grade 12 Education
  • Has never maintained any meaningful employment in his life
  • Has used drugs and alcohol since he was a pre-teen
  • Has been a crack cocaine addict since he was eighteen (18) years old
  • Has turned to drug trafficking to help sustain his habit
  • Has few coping skills other than lying & manipulation
  • Has several failed attempts at drug rehabilitation
  • Has a poor attitude and behavioral issues
  • Was sentenced to two (2) years incarceration in November 2003 for Commercial Robbery (3 counts), Thefts & Driving offences
  • Was convicted of Mischief in 2006
  • Has committed three violent acts in the past for which he has been sentenced to prison
  • Has shown a complete lack of remorse
  • Has no insight into his crime or offending behavior
  • He violated conditions of his release in the past and was discharged from the Behavioral Health Foundation due to “many” issues with his conduct
  • While incarcerated between November 2009 – September 2012 Peterson was involved in seventeen (17) incidents that required some form of disciplinary action
  • These incidents ranged from cautions regarding inappropriate comments to female staff to formal disciplinary convictions, including five for theft and fraudulent canteen activity, as well as uttering threats, damaging institutional property, and possession of “homebrew”

After digesting all of this dysfunction, is it any wonder that Justice Suche appropriately acknowledged that Peterson was a “high risk to re-offend.”

It seems logical to me that if you can’t control yourself in prison its not likely that you will be able to control yourself in the outside world.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

In this case the Crown, represented by experienced and capable Senior Crown Attorney Joanna Kostiuk & her second Amy Wood, asked the Court to sentence Peterson to an justifiable total sentence of fifteen (15) years.

The Defense, represented by Amanda Sansregret, asked for a much more lenient sentence of somewhere between six (6) & eight (8) years.

In her decision Justice Suche states at paragraph 19;

“Not surprisingly, I find myself unable to agree completely with either the Crown or the defence as to the appropriate sentence in this case.”

After making this statement Justice Suche inextricably contradicted herself and ordered a sentence that completely agreed with the position taken by defence counsel.  A sentence that will ensure that Peterson does somewhere between 6 – 8 years in prison for his horrific crime.

Do the math;

Pretrial Custody – 42 months

Sentence – 56 months

Total Sentence: 98 months = 8.16 years

(Reminder: this number does not include discount on the back end of his sentence from the Parole Board)

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

In the conclusion of her sentencing decision Justice Suche indicates “I believe he (Peterson) can be rehabilitated.”

She then goes on to give Peterson an inspirational message encouraging him to take the steps he needs to deal with all of his issues.

I would like to know what criteria Justice Suche relied on to come to the conclusion that Peterson was someone who could be rehabilitated or is this just a default position taken by someone who is out of touch with “reality.”  After all, the facts of this case are that for fifteen (15) continuous years Peterson has been a hard core drug abuser, drug trafficker and habitual criminal who relies on criminal activity to sustain his habit.

This time frame represents Peterson’s entire adult life, we are not dealing with a teenaged offender who still has time to mature and develop a new moral code, we are dealing with a thirty-three (33) year old offender with addiction and behavioural issues who is thoroughly entrenched in a criminal lifestyle.

Against all common sense & logic, Justice Suche somehow believes that Peterson is going to be able to turn it all around while he is in prison.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

The Courts generosity will ensure that Daniel Peterson will be released from prison long before his fortieth birthday.  A decision that ensures the possibility that Peterson will be able to join the growing list of other Canadian offenders who have managed to kill more than one human being in unrelated incidents during their lifetime.

That shameful list is a true indictment of Canadian Justice.

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

Justice Suche is seemingly out of touch with the reality of her own sentence.

This is yet another case that fuels calls for mandatory minimum sentences and elected Justice Officials.

Dismissing Canadian citizens calls for more meaningful consequences for offenders as “vigilantly” or “eye for eye or tooth for tooth” justice is a convenient way to justify the continued degradation of our perpetually soft Justice System.

This really isn’t about an eye for an eye, it’s about protecting the public from hopeless habitual offenders like Daniel Peterson and stopping them from repeating their heinous crimes.

The only important question left for me is, who is going to be Daniel Peterson’s next victim?

Are the Courts out of tune with society’s reality?

Is it me or is the answer obvious!

Daniel Peterson is an anatomy lesson in soft Canadian Justice.

Time for a reality check!!!

LINKS:

James T Blog: http://winnipegcrime.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/are-our-courts-in-tune-with-societys-reality/

Sentencing Decision:  http://www.canlii.org/en/mb/mbqb/doc/2012/2012mbqb305/2012mbqb305.html