Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jailhouse violence no factor in justice

The lawyer for Michael "Pyro" Williams had the audacity to suggest to a court that his client, convicted in the brutal sex torture of 13 year old Nina Louise Courtepatte, would be at risk in the federal corrections system and the court should send him to a medium security facility.

Fortunately, the court would have none of it and Williams will go to the maximum security Edmonton Institution. Which, I might add, is a place society rightly reserves for its worst.

Courtepatte's murder has been well documented and the details still horrify. But to argue that because the act was so horrible that society should be less harsh lest something bad befall the individual responsible for the horror is nuts. From a personal perspective, whatever may be the fate for Williams and the others involved in the senseless slaying, I couldn't care less as long as they are never in the position to hurt someone again.

Nina Courtepatte was tortured in a manner that was inhuman. She was raped, beaten, stabbed and worse, she knew she was dying and the killers knew it too. She likely pleaded with them to get it over with and kill her. And even then, the torturous, slow killing continued.

I cannot even begin to describe the revulsion I feel for the animals who could participate in anything so horrible. I cannot even begin to understand why anyone in a just society should give a damn about anything that might happen to them in prison.

Sentencing these animals to life in prison doesn't even begin to provide justice for Nina Courtepatte. Perhaps when they are in prison, something might befall them that would induce in them the fear, pain and terror that they inflicted upon an innocent 13 year old girl. And perhaps not. But, it should not matter a whit to neither the system, nor society, when it comes to sentencing.

Jailhouse "justice" should not be condoned, but neither should the potential for it be reflected in any sentence.

Leo Knight

Saturday, December 08, 2007

'Crats craziness risks public safety

While I would never accuse the bureaucrats in Corrections Services Canada of being in touch with reality, I think some recent policy decisions are suggesting they no longer reside on this planet.

Last week the Surete de Quebec were trying to button-hole an escaped piece of excrement known as Kevin Smith who had escaped from Montée St-François Institution in the Montreal area on Oct. 9th, 2007. They had a photo of the fleeing fugitive, but it was so old they believed it no longer looked like him. CSC did not issue an updated photo of Smith ostensibly because it would have violated his privacy rights.

The reason the police photo was outdated was because the last time they dealt with him was in 1991 when he was arrested, charged and convicted of murder. Last week, the SQ thought they had Smith corralled in the Estrie area of the Eastern Townships. But alas, he slipped through their fingers. They didn't specifically say it was because they didn't have a recent photo of Smith, but reading between the lines in the news story from the Sherbrooke Record pretty much tells the tale.

Now I don't know about you, but when a guy is convicted of murder and gets shuffled off to prison for a couple of decades, I think if he leaves before he is entitled to, he ought not to have any right to privacy. I may be old fashioned, but if he hasn't got the right to freedom and liberty, then that pretty much says the rest of it is all forfeit as well. And, for the record, this includes all those darlings of the Liberal Party of Canada who have the right to vote while they are guests of Her Majesty in one of the Club Feds that masquerade as our prison system.

And lest you think that this may be a one-off in the Smith case, it isn't. It is the policy of the dull-witted bureaucrats who run CSC.

Gary Gormley, another convicted murderer, escaped from a New Brunswick prison in September and CSC deliberately refused a request for a photo of that particular waste of oxygen. According to a story in the Montreal Gazette, "Under privacy rules, a photo of a convict can't be released unless he gives permission and signs a release form, said Corrections Canada, even if he breaks out of jail."

What utter horse hockey!

The RCMP, also a federal agency who toil under the same legislation as CSC, had no problem issuing a photo of Gormley when the media asked. So, what gives with CSC?

We already know that the backbone-challenged posers who run CSC don't think that criminals should be in prison. Now they seem to believe they have rights that effectively hamper the police efforts to return the rare murderers who actually do go to jail when they escape from the tender mercies of CSC.

It is nothing less than outrageous. The Prime Minister should immediately fire the Director General of the CSC and instruct the minister responsible to give those bureaucrats marching orders that more clearly reflect reality and I might add, the view of a majority of the Canadian public.

Leo Knight

Monday, December 03, 2007

Politics of policing bar the right way

For a number of reasons, the debate has been raging in the Vancouver area about the potential amalgamation of the various police services into a regional police service.

The new Chief Constable of West Vancouver Police Department, Kash Heed, weighed in with his comments that it was high time for a regional police force. In the aftermath, I spoke a number of times on various radio talkshows essentially explaining that the talk of this has been happening since at least the 70's when I was a baby Mountie transferred into the Lower Mainland.

I received an email from a friend who is from BC, but is now a cop in California. The problem is the politics of policing. A nebulous term perhaps. But it is a prevalent issue. Here are his thoughts pasted in:

Hi Leo,

I thought I would add my observations to the current media storm of police dept. amalgamation in metro Vancouver. I think it will never come about for the following reasons:

1. Unlike in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa it is not the simple task of amalgamating a bunch of smaller agencies with one larger agency. That's why it went so smoothly in those places.

2. Vancouver has three police masters to appease: V.P.D. , the R.C.M.P., and, the smaller municipal depts. as a group. Both V.P.D. and the R.C.M.P. have the attitude their way is the only way and would never surrender to the other. The sdmaller "munies" at least work operationally as part of both systems, and are best prepared to transition (e.g. computer systems, tactics, training, etc.)

3. There are about 5,000 cops at all levels in metro Vancouver. Even if they convince a lot of the Mounties to become part of a regional force, there would still be a lot who would refuse to leave the Mounties. How can you replace so many cops, especially nowadays when it's so hard to find good quality candidates?

4. Where would the Mounties send all their redundant officers from the Lower Mainland? A huge amount of the force is employed in the Lower Mainland and it would force the Mounties to shrink. I know the force is undermanned but they would end up with a huge surplus they could not fund federally (without provincial and municipal contracts).

5. How do you harmonize the R.C.M.P. pension plan with the provincial police one? I did a study of this issue when I was in college in the late 1980's. I found it has been talked about since the 1930's!! I think the best that metro Vancouver will ever see is a few police resources and units(like the current regional homicide unit) being regionalized. But I would make a hefty bet that their will NEVER be one Metro Vancouver Police Dept. The Lower Mainland's situation has too many logisitical obstacles (let alone the politics) to prevent it.

My friend summarizes things well in that the politics of policing will prevent the logical and ultimately "right" thing from occurring.

The reality is that the carpet cops will always move to protect their fiefdom and not do what is right for the public. I'm a little surprised that Chief Heed failed to address that in his article. But, the politics prevalent in the policing world are a significant barrier to doing what is right for the law abiding , tax-paying public.

To understand an aspect of this, let's look at the final email sent out by the President of the Calgary Police Association to its membership in the waning days of his tenure. Al Koenig has served for three terms and cannot seek another term. He sent the following communication to each and every member of the Calgary Police Service. It is instructive in the crass and crude way it describes and plays the politics of policing. Here it is in its entirety and unadulterated:

CPA President’s Final Message

As this will be my last message to the membership as president, I thought it appropriate to reflect briefly on the past 8 years and to project what hopefully should be occurring in the next few years.I took office on January 1st 2000, and was surprised to find a president’s office where there were few systems or policies in place, and very little accountability.

Member representation seemed to be based on a whim, and many didn’t see the CPA as an organization that protected or advocated their rights. Some CPS management of the day regarded us as a joke, and the media and most Calgarians didn’t even know we existed, or why. I also inherited a CPA bank account that was so barren that we had to cash in GIC’s to pay the property taxes on our lot. Today we have over 2 million dollars in the CPA bank accounts, and a city block/lot valued at over 25 million dollars and growing.I tried to implement true accountability, however faced one or two hostile board members and their friends who proceeded to block every attempt to bring the new practices into place, and used every tool they had at their disposal to try and discredit me, as well as any supportive directors on the board.

Through rumour mongering and spreading false allegations, they tricked the membership into authorizing a forensic audit costing over $50,000.00 to “expose the corruption”. CPA computers were seized and we went into lockdown, of course this was conveniently orchestrated right around election time. The forensic accountants released their report a few months later finding “no illegal or criminal activity” and suggested the very controls be put into place that had been previously blocked by those same conspirators.

We also lived through the toughest negotiations we ever faced as an association, and as a result the Work Awareness Campaign (WAC) was born. During WAC, CPA members wore Back the Blue ball caps & turtlenecks, they grew facial hair, and those that couldn’t wore blue jeans with their uniforms or suit jackets, all showing their protest against lagging contract talks and city bargaining tactics. We marched on City Hall with the firefighter’s union and staged a sit-in during a City Council meeting. WAC also revealed who was willing to stand together…and who wasn’t. I have been told by more than one ex-CPS Executive member that prior to the “Pembrooke Peace Accord”, the CPA broke the spirit of the former chief, something he apparently never forgot or forgave.

In retrospect, it is interesting to note as well that preceding WAC, unless we accepted 0% + 0% we always received our contract settlements as the result of binding arbitration. Since WAC, we have been able to bring contracts before the membership for your vote, and you have ratified them.When I took office, we ranked 66th out of 78 police associations nationally in relation to wages. We have been successful in establishing “Top 10” status and having that recognized by the City of Calgary. At present, our 1st Class Constables are slightly below the “Top 10” by approximately $700.00 annually, but our Senior 1 & 2 Constables, Sergeants, Detectives and Staff Sergeants are in the top 3 of Canada.

In 2008, our senior Staff Sergeants will break the $100k per annum barrier, again not bad when you remember that they were paid $74k in 2000.The CPA is now known publicly as a strong supporter of local and national charities, and has donated well over $200,000.00 to those in need. This year, under the guidance and direction of Cal Wiltshire, and through a partnership with Walmart, the CPA is hosting the first annual Kid’s Christmas party in concert with the Boy’s & Girl’s Club of Calgary. This party will distribute holiday presents not only to CPA members’ children, but to children in need as identified by the Boy’s & Girl’s Club.The Missing Children’s Society, the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, Society for the Treatment of Autism, Prostate Cancer Ride for Dad, Calgary Military Family Resource Center, Camp Carmangay and the Fallen Four Society are but a few of the other groups the CPA has assisted.

One thing that continues to be developed is establishing our own Health & Welfare plan. While we were initially a part of CEEBS, which later became MEBAC, our benefits remain short of where I believe they should be based on our group size and usage. I’m happy to state that the ground work has been laid and contacts established to explore a viable cost neutral alternative to MEBAC.

Again, this is being stewarded by Cal Wiltshire, who currently sits
on the MEBAC board, and he should have good news to report to the membership in the not to distant future.With the arrival of Chief Hanson, it is quite apparent that the CPA is entering into new and exciting times, coupled with a shared vision of forward progress.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the CPA’s efforts in the past appeared to be purposely stalled by the previous chief. Chief Hanson has been very receptive to new ideas, and doesn’t reject initiatives merely because they didn’t come from him.

It is now time for you to decide who can best continue to lead the CPA for the next 3 years. I hope you have all read the candidates platforms and can differentiate poseurs from bona fide candidates. Disrespecting the current elected board of directors and their collective efforts or promising changes slightly short of giving everyone a pony on their birthday are not the basis on which to credibly campaign for office.

I believe there are two exceptional candidates who currently serve on the board of directors that are seeking the position of President. Both have the requisite, unique skills and abilities required to do the job, but what they will also need is a strong board of directors to support them in what has become an increasingly difficult task in an ever changing policing environment.

Another past director has also put his name forward, and stood strong as a member advocate during difficult times. It is easy to lead when there are no problems, and the candidates who previously stepped forward to serve you during tumultuous times should be rewarded with very serious consideration for the various positions.

Conversely I am also duty bound to inform the membership that the fourth presidential candidate was previously sanctioned by the board of directors and even had his honorarium withheld due to his refusal to do the job he was elected for. This individual failed to even attend at the CPA offices for several months, except to pick up his honoraria cheque.

This same individual sat on the SFPP board for several years, (unfortunately a provincially appointed position), and refused to step down despite several requests from the CPA board. This refusal was problematic due to the fact that at the time he was no longer on the CPA board, and refused to address CPA member issues. He also previously sat on the MEBAC board, and refused to carry out CPA directives which resulted in his removal.

The current CPA administration is finally able to address the SFPP and MEBAC issues ignored by this candidate…and ironically he now seeks to return as your president. He was also removed from the WAC committee, perhaps a little too late however.

I can only wonder if past behavior indicates future behavior.It has been an honour and a privilege to serve on your board of directors for the past 15 years, and serve the last 8 years as your president. I have made many lifelong friends and collected a few critics and enemies. To my friends, you have my utmost respect and thanks.

To my critics, grow a pair and run yourself. To my enemies, you can kiss my ass. I leave with my sanity and waistline essentially intact and have no regrets. The CPA is a strong vibrant association with many talented people willing to step up and do the right thing. Please support these individuals because they, and those who preceded them, are what make this association great.

Good luck, best wishes & stay safe.

Al Koenig

While the message emanates from Calgary, the issues are no different in Vancouver. Koenig's message simply offers us an interesting glimpse into what I am referring.

The politics of policing and the petty empire-building that is so prevalent will, at the end of the day, prevent doing what really needs to be done in Vancouver. The discussion that has been going on for decades is going to continue for a long time to come. No matter how many bodies fall on the streets .

Leo Knight

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

'Might' isn't right

For those of you who I have spoken to or who have read my piece on the taser incident at YVR (The right questions not being asked) try this piece by Les MacPherson of the Star Phoenix.

The media is driving a feeding frenzy on the RCMP who were simply responding to a call to deal with a violent man. They responded according to their training and the stated policy of the Force. Don't like the policy? Fine. Make that the story. Think the Mounties were trying to cover up? Terrific. Have a go at their media relations strategy. But don't go after the guys who were trying their best to do their job.

In response to the frenzy, the Government of BC has ordered a public inquiry to accomplish God knows what. Well, that knee-jerk just cost the taxpayer at least $5million. And for what?

The Canada Border Services Agency (Canada Customs) who had care and control of Robert Dziekanski for over ten hours in their holding area and were the last and only agency to speak with him before the RCMP were called to deal with the by-then violent man, are a federal agency under the control, so to speak, of the Public Safety Minister, Stockwell Day. The RCMP at YVR are in federal positions and not, as I understand it, covered by the provincial contract with the federal police agency. YVR itself is under the regulation of the federal Minister of Transport. I hate to be pedantic, but what can a provincial public inquiry hope to achieve into three departments under federal control?

Here’s a clue . . .absolutely nothing unless those agencies decide to cooperate fully with an ultra vires inquiry. That might occur. And the CBSA and YVR might actually say something to address the many serious questions that led to the Mounties being called by them to deal with a violent man they created.

They might. And my old maternal Aunt might grow testicles and become my Uncle.

Leo Knight

A Look at the Other Side of the Taser Incident:
Man's lack of co-operation necessitated force

Les MacPherson, The StarPhoenix, Saturday, November 17, 2007

We have all by now seen the disturbing video of the hapless Polish immigrant screaming, writhing and dying after RCMP officers used a Taser on him at the Vancouver airport. Now almost everyone in the country is piling on police for using excessive force.

Excuse me for not joining in. What people seem not to realize is that there is no way to subdue a violent, irrational and potentially dangerous suspect that isn't disturbing. What, exactly, would these armchair critics have had the police do? Talk to the guy? They tried. Police when they approached the man were as non-threatening as they could be. It didn't work.

The suspect, after storming around the airport, smashing up furniture and alarming everyone around him, was now ignoring police instructions. Instead of co-operating, as any reasonable person would have and should have done, he threw up his hands, turned around and walked away.

Were police supposed to let him go? Were they to let him storm around some more until he felt like obeying them? I hope not. For all anyone knew, the suspect was armed and potentially dangerous. Had he suddenly produced a weapon and killed an innocent bystander, say, the same people who today are condemning the officers for using excessive force would instead be condemning them for not using enough force. "Why didn't they use their Tasers?" people would be asking.

All the man had to do was co-operate and no one would have been hurt. Instead, he resisted by walking away. If violent and potentially dangerous suspects can avoid arrest simply by walking away, we might as well not even have police.

Of course, Robert Dziekanski did not deserve to die. But someone who for no good reason is violent and destructive and who then ignores the police should expect to be roughly handled. That the rough handling in this case ended in tragedy is not the fault of police. They were using a tool that we have given them; a tool intended to reduce the risk of injury to both themselves and suspects.

No one could have foreseen that the suspect would not survive. Independent scientific studies in Canada, Britain and the U.S. have repeatedly found that Tasers are more likely to save lives and reduce injuries to both suspects and police. That's why journalists and police officers routinely submit to being zapped for demonstration purposes. As an alternative to zapping Dziekanski, police could have tried to physically subdue him, but not without risk of serious injury to themselves and their suspect.

For all they knew at the time, he could have been high on illegal drugs, some of which are known to give a resistant suspect the strength of several men. For all they knew at the time, he could have had AIDS or hepatitis and a pocket full of needles. The $60,000 a year we pay these people isn't nearly enough to expect them to get into a bloody brawl if they can possibly avoid it. Pepper spray is another alternative, but that, too, has been implicated in dozens of deaths.

As for police batons, they have been found to be more dangerous still, more so, even, than Tasers. Of course, none of these are necessary for suspects who don't resist arrest. Why Dziekanski behaved as he did, we may never know. We've all found ourselves waiting at one time or another for someone who doesn't show up, as he apparently was. Most of us handle it without throwing around the furniture.

There was in this case the additional complication of a language barrier, but rational people overcome language barriers all the time, especially so in international airports. That 60 million others, many of them foreign, have passed through the Vancouver airport without incident would suggest that the problem was with Dziekanski.

By the time police were called to the scene, he had long since cleared immigration and was free to go. He could have sought out an interpreter. He could have caught a cab, found a hotel room and sorted it all out the next day. Instead, he went more or less berserk and then resisted arrest. Police are not allowed the luxury of sorting it out later.

Their duty was to subdue and arrest him, one way or another, and promptly. For all they knew, he was a smuggler whose erratic behaviour was caused by a broken condom of cocaine in his stomach. Had that been the case, their prompt action might just as easily have saved his life. When police are killed in the line of duty, we fret mightily over officer safety, for without officer safety, there can be no public safety. Then, when police use the tools we give them to make their dangerous job as safe as it can be, we condemn them. So which is it?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Better late than never

The ink was barely dry on a column I published last night wondering how the Liberal Party of Canada would handle the revelations about West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast MP Blair Wilson when, scant hours later, the Libs announced on their web site that he was done. And no, I am not claiming there is any connection. I'm just surprised at the speed of it.

During the Jean Chretien era, allegations such as this would have been met with denials, obfuscation and more denials until the country lost interest or got pummelled into submission. Not this time it seems.

Although, I am a little surprised that the Liberal Party is claiming that this is the first they have heard of allegations of impropriety about Wilson. I first wrote about him in January of 2005 and Terry O'Neill wrote on the subject in the Western Standard in the spring of 2006. So it is a little disingenous to claim this is new. But, better late than never I suppose.

Wilson should never have been the MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast. There was more than enough information about him as a business failure and alleged con man going back into the '90s. But, for the Libs it seems none of it matters until it appears as a front page story in the mainstream media.

While I applaud the action taken by Stephane Dion, it is still long overdue.

Leo Knight

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Raging debate or raging lunatics?

A couple of weeks back a provincial court judge on Vancouver Island earned himself a rebuke from a charter member of the legal industry sitting on the bench of the BC Court of Appeal when he wrote in a written response to a defense submission requesting yet another slap on the wrist for his client by way of a Conditional Sentence Order or CSO.

The judge, stricken with an unconscionable fit of common sense, said: "CSOs, as I have said repeatedly, have become little more than glorified probation orders . . . it is hard to imagine them having any effect on an offender except as a matter of inconvenience. "It is hard to imagine, as well, that these sentences have any credibility with the public."

The Court of Appeal judicial tribunal evidently thought that bit of overt logic was beyond the purview of a lowly PCJ and said the comments were "not appropriate" and could "potentially undermine public confidence in the judicial process."

What, in sweet Fanny Adams, are they drinking up there in the Court of Appeal Chambers? Do they actually believe that the public has any confidence whatsoever in the judicial process? Here’s some flash traffic for the silk-gowned elitists: The public has absolutely no confidence in the judicial process. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. The only people who have confidence in the system are the habitual criminals, gangsters and drug dealers who know the system will visit few, if any, consequences upon them time after time after time after time.

In the past couple of weeks though, there are a few signs that some common sense is starting to eke into the thinking of the politicians. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in the Throne Speech last week that he is fed up with the Liberals blockading their anti-crime initiatives that have resonated with voters across the country. This isn’t a right and left issue, it is a right and wrong issue. And any effort to stymie the changes to the Criminal Code legislation suggested by the Harper government is wrong.

CSO’s, first foisted upon an unwitting nation by Jean Chretien’s sad, tired and corrupt government, have absolutely got to go. They may, and I say may with an abundance of caution, be appropriate in some cases where the accused is in front of the courts for the first time. That’s it. CSO’s . . .house arrest . . .grounding, however you wish to describe the sham perpetrated upon law-abiding Canadians, has to be severely curtailed.

But there are those hand-wringers who really think that a leopard can change its spots and that the rest of us deserve to be victimized again and again. Consider this letter in the October 21st issue of The Province.

In the first place, I wish she were a voice in the wilderness, but she seems to reflect decades of thinking by the Liberal Party of Canada and far too many thousands of under-achievers in the federal bureaucracy. Notice the hint of “RACIST” in the letter? What absolute nonsense! The only part of it that made any sense was when she said the criminal justice system has been proven to be ineffective is stopping crime. She might have added the liberal created criminal justice system and she would have been closer to the truth.

I applaud the Prime Minister and his attempt to take control of our justice system and our streets as a result. But, his is not only to talk the talk. He must be seen to walk the walk. We shall see if he stays the course amid the shifting political winds. As for the letter writer, I wonder if she and the other members of the lunatic fringe would consider wearing an orange cone on their heads as they venture out in public. It would be much easier to shun them.

Leo Knight

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Damned if they do . . .

I see that students at UBC are "outraged" by a couple of members of the RCMP who showed their human side instead of acting like jack-booted brown shirts. I mean really, have these self-aggrandizing twits nothing better to do?

And why in the world hasn't someone in the RCMP told the student newspaper and any other media outlet thinking this is a real news story to take a hike?

It seems the Mounties pulled up to a group of students who were partying at a bus stop back in July. A number of the youths, if not all, had open liquor, an offence under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, a provincial statute. The police officers could have written summons' for each of the students, arrested anyone being uncooperative and charged them with obstruction or simply carted a bunch of them off for being drunk in public. But they didn't.

No, they did their job by getting them all to empty out their glasses and bottles and joked around with the students. You know, like real human beings.

We've seen it all before. If the police wade into a situation like that and try and "hard ass" the youths, a fight will evolve, people will go to jail and the police will inevitably be criticized by these self-same holier-than-thou jerks for being heavy-handed. This time they did what they had to do and did it without laying a single charge or putting anyone in jail. And they are still being criticized. Cops expect that theirs is a thankless job, but this is ridiculous. The RCMP should not spend one minute contemplating anything other than saying to anyone who asks that the members did nothing wrong.

Trust me in this, this is not a news story. It is nothing more that huffery and puffery by some self aggrandizing pinheads.

'Nuff said.

Leo Knight

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pomp and circumstance when a quiet farewell would do

"Friends applaud, the Comedy is over". - Ludwig von Beethoven

Tomorrow is the transition day of the administration of the Office of the Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service. And to judge by the statements made in an interview with the Calgary Sun's Rick Bell, the new chief is going to bring a tough new attitude to policing that city.

But, lest you think that the outgoing Chief Jack Beaton will be going quietly, uh, well, not so much.

Apparently Beaton has commissioned a Change of Command parade with all the pomp and circumstance possible. Including, I am told, the Ceremonial Unit, which does a foot drill demonstration complete with formal uniforms and all the trimming including white gloves. And, are the fine men and women who voluntarily serve in the Ceremonial Unit happy to show up for Jack's parade? Uh, no. I am told that NCO commanding the unit had to send out an email ordering all members to attend. I am also told the email said, "All members of the CU (trumpeters included) will be required for this event."

Hmmm, what about those folks who are scheduled to be patrolling the streets protecting the citizens of Calgary? No problem. "If you have any issue getting the time off, let me know . . .the Inspector will deal with them . . .otherwise all are expected to attend," concluded the email as described to me.

So, the officers who are being paid to work will be diverted from their regular tasks and those who are on time off will likely be paid overtime to pose and parade around.

Now, I don't what all of this will cost, and in the great scheme of things, only a small fraction of the overall police budget, but why the need to spend it at all?

A day earlier, the full Ceremonial Unit was happy to appear, voluntarily, at the National Memorial Day in recognition of the police officers killed in the line of duty in Canada. But parade for Jack Beaton who cannot even garner the support of one third of the membership of the serving police officers in Calgary? Not unless ordered to.

Speaks volumes, doesn't it?

Leo Knight


While I encourage full, frank and lively discussion on anything I publish, for the second time since this blog was started, I had to cloak a whole thread on a post because of some ill-informed, anonymous individual. I might have even considered leaving the thread up if the person had signed the comment.

Folks, please feel free to comment and give me your opinion. But please, stay within the bounds of civility and the law. If you don't I will take down the whole thread and by doing that some lively discussion and well-thought out opinions will unfortunately not be seen.

I cannot and will not condone libel, slander and childish name-calling.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Leo Knight

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jack's last gasp

As if to underline how inneffectual he was as a Chief Constable in Calgary, Jack Beaton has served Michael Bates, the lawyer for Cst. Taufiq Shah, with notice that he will file an application with the Court of Queen's Bench to overturn the Police Act hearing and ruling made by Edmonton Police Supt. Logar. (see Chief wrong . . .again )

How many times does Beaton have to get beaten over the head with something before he understands it? He was wrong to do what he did. He overtly tried an end run around the Police Act and he got caught. And Logar said so in his judgement.

Since the dismal failure to prosecute Shah, who was primarily the victim of racism, (See What's up Jack? ) Beaton has had his long goodbye cut short by the Police Commission . . .finally. His replacement, Rick Hanson is due to be sworn in October 1, 2007, less than two weeks after Beaton served notice on Bates.

Unbelieveable. As against that, I suppose it's probably a fitting way for Beaton to go, by making yet another ham-fisted attempt to get revenge on Shah for daring to be critical of Beaton's administration with the web site and its successor

Let it go Jack. For just once in your troubled tenure, couldn't you show a little class and just go quietly?

Leo Knight

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Privacy rights for escaped con latest corrections joke

Just when you think the insanity in Corrections Canada cannot get any worse, they prove it can. (See Escaped prisoner enjoys privacy rights )

As I contemplated that particular bit on nonsense, I received the following from retired Vancouver Police Inspector, Bob Cooper. It needs to see the light of day.

Leo Knight

Although there is never a lack of horror stories involving Corrections Canada, this one's a beauty. A convicted killer escapes from prison and Corrections Canada is more concerned with his privacy rights than they are about the safety and security of the law-abiding populace. Citing provisions of the Privacy Act they refuse to release his photograph to the news media saying that the inmate would first have to sign a release! If this is even true, which wouldn't surprise me, then the Act is in serious and immediate need of amendment. I rather suspect this is a case of an overzealous bureaucrat taking the most narrow interpretation of the Act, otherwise why would they photograph convicts to begin with? Perhaps for a Before and After version in which the piercings and tattoos are 'photoshopped' out and replaced with gowns and mortarboards demonstrating the success of present day 'enlightened' Corrections practices.

Either way this incident speaks volumes about the prevailing attitudes at Corrections Canada brought about by decades of institutionalized liberal philosophy which has held sway since Trudeau was elected. This mindset was articulated by then Solicitor-General Jean-Pierre Goyer who announced in 1971 that the government had decided to stress rehabilitation of offenders rather than the protection of society. The operative phrase in Goyer's statement was 'rather' than' as opposed to 'as well as' or something similar that would have allowed for the coexistence of both goals. The federal justice bureaucracy took Goyer at his word and, as anyone who's worked in the system will tell you, things have gone straight downhill ever since.

The liberal rot has set so deep in the system that even the election of the odd Conservative government over the years has done nothing to put matters right. In some cases you wouldn't know the difference. From pathetically weak criminal law to feeble (not to mention race-based) sentencing to the 'release as quickly as possible' policies of the National Parole Board one could be forgiven for wondering if the protection of society is even a consideration anymore. I would point out here that there are a lot of good and very dedicated people working in all of these areas who simply have no choice but to follow these delusional policies set by the mandarins at the top.

A few years ago, in response to increased violence inside federal prisons, guards asked to be issued with protective 'stab-resistant' vests and handcuffs to be worn on a daily basis. Now prior to this the only protective clothing available to guards would be donned by the Emergency Response Team in the event of a riot and handcuffs were locked in guard stations. As anyone who has ever fought with a prisoner will tell you the sooner you get handcuffs on him the safer it is for everyone. The average person would see this as a reasonable request but not Corrections Canada. They turned the request down saying that such authoritarian symbols would send the wrong message to the inmates. When they care more about the sensitivities of convicted criminals that they do about the safety of their own staff how much do you think they care about you and I?

Around the same time, myself and another detective had to go to Kent Institution to interview a prisoner. Note, that's Kent Institution. Not prison, not penitentiary, but institution. Rather like we were off to commencement exercises at Yale or Princeton. Now for those unfamiliar with the prison, sorry, institutional system, Kent is one of Canada's maximum security institutions built to handle the country's most dangerous convicts. It's the sort of place where you'd hope the authorities would have the upper hand but no. A guard was taking us to see the prisoner when we came to a locked gate.

As we stood waiting for the gate to open a scene unfolded on the other side which showed us exactly who runs the place. Three uniformed guards were standing in a semi-circle around an inmate who looked like he'd done more than his share of time. The inmate, in turn, was addressing a management type who was dressed in civilian clothes so as not to send the wrong message. In a loud, profanity-laced tirade, the inmate told the manager he wasn't going to rake the leaves and also told him where he could shove the rake. The manager's response will be forever etched in my memory. In a low, soothing voice he said "Well now Roger, you have to understand that the rules apply to you as well as to everyone else". This 'enlightened' approach appeared to fall wide of its mark as Roger replied that the manager could shove his rules the same place he put the rake and further suggested he perform a sexual act upon himself.

This went on for 5 minutes while we waited for the gate to open. Each time the guards would move to seize Roger the manager would wave them off and further try to engage this loser seemingly without a single thought of what Roger had done to get there in the first place. The guard who was escorting us was staring at the ground and shuffling his feet in embarrassment. He finally asked how long this would go on in the City Jail to which my partner replied "It's already over. They're already on the intercom calling for the nurse".

So we soldiered on and interviewed the prisoner, a pleasant, beefy kid in his late 20s. During the interview he mentioned that this was his first federal sentence (Note: Federal sentences are those of two years or more, prisoners serving anything less do so in Provincial jails). This prompted me to ask him what he found different from the provincial jails he'd been in before. A look of genuine indignation came across his face and he looked at me and said, "There's guys in here who don't think they've done anything wrong and no one here ever tells them otherwise". Out of the mouths of prisoners!

When I came on the job the whipping of prisoners for certain offences such as rape was provided for in the Criminal Code. I'm not calling for the return of the whip (On the other hand.....). Just for a day when the Corrections people had their heads screwed on halfway right, knew who they were protecting, and the inmates knew who was boss. As I've said in the past, lots of work to do. Mr. Harper, Mr. Day, you on the air?

Bob Cooper
Richmond, BC

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An empty defence

Now, I have nothing but the greatest respect for such storied members of the defense bar as Peter Ritchie, but really, the defense of stupidity for alleged mass murderer Robert "Willie" Pickton? Well, I suppose even a drowning man will reach for any piece of driftwood.

I'm not entirely sure "stupid," which, I believe, is a more than apt description of Pickton, is a sufficient defence for the DNA of scores of women found on his property. I mean, really, what kind of an idiot would think that it is just a coincidence that DNA of two murdered women would be found in the same place, let alone six or twenty six missing women?

We shall see in the coming days what exactly the defense of the apparently indefensible will be, but stupidity? Any port in a storm I suppose . . . .

The big hanging question for me in this is not whether Pickton is guilty, but who is the 2nd serial killer? Because, as sure as God made little green apples, there is another shoe to drop in this file.

Leo Knight

Monday, August 27, 2007

Perceptions are skewed

It's heartening to know that Vancouver is, yet again, the world's most liveable city according to the Britmag The Economist.

Also, according to The Economist, one of the reasons for the selecetion is that the crime rate in Vancouer is low. Really?

Oddly enough, in the same week, the Vancouver Police Chief Constable Jim Chu held a press conference to state publicly that the crime rate (specifically property crime) was too high and that the Department had to go the extra mile in hiring a hundred new recruits in the coming year.

Anyone who is a regular visitor to downtownVancouver doesn't have to be reminded that the property crime rate is too high. The chunks of broken glass at their feet is reminder enough.

The Vancouver Board of Trade has made the issue the subject of at least two major reports and presentations of which I am aware. But, a significant issue nonetheless.

In every aspect and in every study, Vancouver is the property crime capital of North America. So, the world's most liveable city? Methinks not.

Leo Knight

Friday, August 03, 2007

Long goodbye has worn thin

It's nice to see the Calgary Sun has finally realized their city's Chief Constable Jack Beaton is long past is Best By date. (With drugs and violence becoming the norm in the new Calgary, it's time to hit the road, Jack. Let us cut short this long goodbye)

For several years now I have been writing about the distinct lack of leadership by Beaton to the detriment of the citizens of Calgary and the good men and women of the Calgary Police Service. Oftentimes I have felt like a voice in the wilderness in trying to interest the so-called mainstream media despite a string of cases which showed the Service was in dire need of a real leader. (See All bluster and spin)

The crime situation in Calgary has gotten much worse under Beaton's watch. Never mind the increased violence that has accompanied the economic boomtimes, but look at the crackheads now prevalent downtown and in once-trendy parts of the Beltway. The Guardian Angels have now set up shop after its founder Curtis Sliwa took a much-publicized stroll through crack central.

Where was the Chief? A good question. He was busy conducting a witch hunt trying to find out which members of the Service had dared be critical of him with the authors of the now infamous websites and, both now defunct. The result of that childish nonsense was that the cops in Cowtown were doing their level best to keep their heads down. Take the calls, do the job, but don't do anything which might remotely make one show up on Jack's radar lest one be thought of as a "witch."

Things were just starting to get back to what passed for normal in Beaton's regime, when Jack fell all over himself jumping to conclusions and he suspended two cops trying to actually fight the filth that now permeates that city. And he did so simply because some questionable video footage was broadcast by the media trying to make out that a local crackdealer was somehow the new Rodney King. Beaton hadn't even bothered to get the officers' side of the story before he clambered up on his soapbox to announce the summary suspensions. With that kind of support for the line staff, it's no wonder that he showed more than a 75% disapproval among members of the police service.

Despite the light speed suspension of two working cops, Beaton was positively glacial-like in dealing with allegations against a senior member of the service, a Staff Sergeant, who had been sued by a number of other police officers for defrauding them of almost a million dollars in a Ponzi scheme. That person was ultimately charged criminally despite Beaton's actions, not because of them.

Following a technical aquittal, and with the lawsuits still pending, Beaton restored the Staff Sergeant to full duty and then last month had the temerity to assign him to TAC - Calgary's Emergency Response Team or SWAT if you prefer - and the direct superior of an officer who lost over one hundred thousand dollars in the Ponzi scam and is one of the primary plaintiff's in the lawsuit. For the record, that Staff Sergeant has now declared bankruptcy to further ensure he doesn't see any type of justice for his actions.

Beaton's actions as Chief have been bizarre, questionable and sometimes downright dumb as he stumbled and bumbled his way pretending to be a leader of a modern police department with his poodle Alderman Craig Burrows at his side. But to deliberately allow the transfer of that Staff Sergeant and making him the direct report of one of his victims is pure, unadulterated arrogance. Or stupidity. Or incompetence. I am not sure which.

Beaton's long goobye has worn thin. He needs to go now. And for the good of the citizens of Calgary and a long-suffering police service, he should take his poodle with him.

Leo Knight

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Moderated comments

While I like to let anyone have their say with comments, I have had to remove the commments from my most recent post on the nullification of charges against Calgary Cst. Taufiq Shah. There are a number of reasons, but chief among them is that posted comments need to remain within the laws of Canada. This includes libel and other aspects of priviledge.

Please guide youselves accordingly folks. I want to be able to offer the ability to post unmoderated comments, but I simply cannot when someone says something that crosses the line. I hope you all understand.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Leo Knight

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Chief wrong . . .again

Calgary Police Service Chief Constable Jack Beaton has suffered yet another defeat in his attempt to stifle any and all criticism of his regime and all that is wrong with that department, with the ruling that the presiding officer in the disciplinary proceedings against Cst. Taufiq Shah lacked the jurisdiction to hear the matter. And that, as a direct result, the five charges against Shah were " a nullity."

Beaton will no doubt be apoplectic about this. Right from the get-go he has displayed a ham-handedness in the way he has handled the criticisms levelled by a website, and its successor,

In the Fall of 2004 the website first appeared and actually lasted only about a week in the public domain. It disappeared almost as suddenly as it had appeared. It was manifestly critical about senior management of the Calgary Police Service, but most especially about Chief Jack Beaton, calling him a "rotten apple" and saying management was corrupt.

About a month or so later, the site re-invented itself as, which is the CPS code for Officer needs Help.

Code200 was a little toned down from Standfirm, but the intent was clear - Beaton was the single biggest problem within the service.

Well, as time and Beaton would demonstrate, despite thirty or so years of policing, he had not the typical skin like a rhino hide, but, more like that of an infant recently expelled from the womb. Beaton enlisted the services of a close and former associate, a retired cop earning his crust as a private investigator. And, for some reason, someone to this day who Beaton refuses to identify, instead cloaking his name in all formal documentation by a ridiculous pseudonym. And, to my knowledge, the Chief has never even claimed a reason to do so which makes any sense.

But I digress.

Beaton used a sledge hammer to kill the critical gnat in April of 2005. I won't regurgitate all the details. (Click on Travesty of Justice plays out in Calgary to refresh your mind.)

On May 3rd, 2005, the officer who was apparently behind the the web site, put his hand up and said, "it was I." And just to make sure there was no doubt, he did it on the CBC evening news and repeated it in the morning paper.

But Jack continued his witch hunt ( See The bath is getting crowded ) to try and ensure that anyone critical of his ham-fisted regime was hunted down and dealt with. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. . . so to speak. The Calgary Police Service and the Police Commission were determined to have broken the law in the way they prosecuted Police Act complaints.

In a nutshell, the legislation says the police have three months from the time the complaint is received until a charge is levied against the officer. Should an extension be required, the police have to apply for an extension to the Police Commission.

In February 2003, Chief Beaton and the Calgary Police Commission decided the legislation didn't really apply to them and they tried an end run around it when the Police Commission gave an arbitrary three month buffer to the CPS in all cases. Never mind that the statute used language containing the words "shall" and "must", the supercilious Police Commission and the management of the Police Service decided a simple motion passed by the Commission would negate the legislation. Arrogance? Naivete? I don't know and neither did the Presiding Officer, Supt. Logar of the Edmonton Police Service. But what he did know is that the abuse of process in the "investigation" of Cst. Shah resulted in the lack of jurisdiction for the presiding officer and the nullification of all charges against Cst. Shah.

But this is not simply the dismissal of charges based on a technicality. Quite the contrary. The process in and of itself has now called into question all of the Police Act investigations since February 2003.

Each and every internal investigation is now in jeopardy in Calgary. And so too are any concluded matters with "findings" against serving members. The damage Beaton has done with his ill-advised witch hunt is substantial. One hopes it wont be catastrophic.

Remind me, why is Beaton still in office?

Leo Knight

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Disingenuous or Dumb?

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan is either one of the most disingenuous local politicians in a long time or one of the dumbest.

When, in the last civic election campaign it became known that Sullivan had given an addict money to purchase drugs and had driven him around in his van ostensibly because Sullivan wanted to learn more about addiction or some such nonsense, I thought he must be an idiot.

But, he managed to run a successful campaign and in the year and a half or so since he has been mayor of Canada’s third largest city, he hasn’t done anything really outrageous or spectacular for that matter.

But, his statements in the media yesterday after the media reported that the Drake Hotel, purchased by the city for three times its assessed value, was owned by a numbered company which had Hells Angel East End chapter president John Peter Bryce as the sole company officer, was a surprise to him is outrageous.

Notwithstanding any other of the numerous public source reports, last year the Vancouver Sun ran a series about the biker gang called Hells Angels Inc. in which they detailed in depth the various business holdings of the Hells Angels and central to that were the real estate holdings of Bryce and other gang members.

Does Sullivan not read front page stories in major media about what is happening in the city he presides over? Equally, a minimum of research by city staffers doing due diligence on the purchase would have uncovered the ties.

No, there’s something else at play here. The taxpayers of the city of Vancouver are getting hosed here and an already wealthy, senior member of the outlaw biker gang is being made even richer with tax dollars. After paying three time the assessed value for a mere 24 rooms, Sullivan says he didn’t know.

Well, if he didn’t, he bloody well should have given that the homeless situation is his pet project. Disingenuous, incompetent, criminal or dumb? I don’t know. But I think the police need to get their nose into this whole deal and the quicker the better.

Leo Knight

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tasers aren't the enemy

On June 23, 2004 Robert Wayne Bagnell died. According to a coroner's jury, he died of "restraint-associated cardiac arrest" due to acute cocaine intoxication and psychosis. And not, because Vancouver police officers used tasers to arrest and control the out-of-control man.

According to the report in the Vancouver Sun Bagnell's family were "disappointed" the coroner's jury didn't make any reccomendations. Such as . . .. . . what exactly?

Bagnell was the author of his own misfortune and nothing the family says will change that. He was on cocaine over-drive and destructive and violent. The police tried to just keep Bagnell contained until he came down and was more responsive. Circumstance forced their hand and the police opted to deploy tasers, considered non-lethal, to restrain and control Bagnell.

As happens sometimes when a taser is used on someone with a cocaine-fired heart, the electrical shock has an adverse effect on their cardio-vascular system. And sometimes when that happens, the already over-loaded heart shuts down. We can debate whether or not that is tragic in a different forum, but suffice to say that in all the cases of this type of thing happening, it was never a result of the taser use, but the result of what the people do to themselves.

But the hand-wringers seem to want to blame the police and force them to stop using tasers. The very thing they cry for when a cop under attack by some loser with a knife shoots the transgressor and the moaning starts: "why couldn't they have shot him in the leg? Boo-hoo-hoo . . .

The jury didn't quite say it as directly as I might have. But they were clear. Bagnall ingested way too much cocaine and it overloaded his system. That was why he died.

I'm sorry for the pain Bagnell put his family through and I sympathize with them. But, their anger is misplaced and the taser is a valuable weapon that allows the police to refrain from using the type of lethal force they would have previously had to use in so many instances.

The cops can't interview someone to determine if they are in the throes of cocaine psychosis prior to deploying a taser. Yet, the hand-wringers and the chattering class is too quick to blame the police instead of blaming the ones who are actually responsible and unfortunately, never accountable.

As a final thought, I picked up my weekend Vancouver Sun on Saturday. On the main break of the Westcoast (B) section there was a teaser in big bold print at the top saying: "Report condems tasers" pg. B11.

Yet, when one turned to page B11, one read the fair and balanced piece written by Neal Hall and linked above. What report? What condemnation of tasers? So, what was the editor reading when he placed that teaser on B1? Or, more accurately, was it more likely wishful thinking by a charter member of the chattering class that seems to be representative of the mainstream media these days?

Just asking.

Leo Knight

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Media Sheep

Years ago, when John Yorston hired me into the mewsroom of the now defunct Montreal Star, I was taught that jounalists had to question everything and to source what you were being told twice or more. I wonder where that dogma has gone in the mainstream media in Canada today.

Last week, Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman testified before the Air India inquiry that he had seen a piece of raw intelligence that indicated an attack was imminent on Air India and had promptly marched it over to an unnamed Mountie who said he had already seen the intel. Bartleman then said he'd heard about the Air India bombing in which 329 people lost their lives as he was packing the family up to go to the lake for the weekend. And for twenty plus years he said nothing!

The Central Canadian mainstream media may swallow this wholeheartedly as is their wont, but please, is there anyone in the real world, who believes that a career bureaucrat who was in the posession of some information that seemed to play out to be true, wouldn't engage in a "cover your ass" exercise by telling someone superior immediately after the event?

Give me a break!

Bureaucrats learn, very soon after they are weaned from the nipple, that they must engage in an exercise called CYA - Cover Your Ass. Go on, I defy you. Ask any civil servant what "CYA" means and you will hear the response "Cover Your Ass."

So, back to the career civil servant and now the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. How is it possible that he warned the RCMP of an impending threat, heard that the threat was carried out and did absolutely nothing for over 20 years to cover his ass?

I call Bullshit, Your Excellency.

Your move.

And while I am on the subject of "bullshit", what is with lawyer Norm Boxall? He is representing some of the Air India families. He was chirping about the five months it took to get a warrant to intercept a primary target of the police investigation.

Excuse me! It is the lawyers who have created such a logjam for police to get intercept warrants in the first place. If this jackass wants to know what the problem is/was, perhaps he should look at his own learned friends.

Consider this quote from former Vancouver Police Homicide Sergeant on the subject: "A lawyer complaining that it takes too long to get a wiretap. Perhaps he might consider the fact that the original legislation which in itself was overly complex and cumbersome, was drafted by lawyers. Since then, decisions of the Supreme Court have made it even more complex and restrictive on the police as a result guessed it......submissions by lawyers. Who stands ready to toss a wiretap should an 'i' not be dotted or a 't' crossed? Yup, judges, who used to be lawyers. Lawyers have turned Part Vl into such an impossible administrative monster that most cops run the other way rather than become involved in one."

But, back to the original point. Ontario's Lieutenant Governor has said something is so. He has produced no evidence to establish that what he says is true. In point of fact, his actions subsequently have not been indicative of the sequence of events to which he has testified.

And, the worst part is the sheep-like mainstream media have swallowed it - hook, line & sinker.

Leo Knight

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

I'd say it's nice to be back from a spring sojourn to Hawaii. But it's not.

From Paradise to the reality of the nonsense that we seem to tolerate, without question, in our Deranged Dominion is a difficult transition.

First, news out of British Columbia that the three BC Ferry workers on duty on the bridge, that fateful night a year ago, when the Queen of the North ploughed into Gill Island resulting in the loss of the ship and two lives, were fired for not cooperating with the subsequent enquiries. And the oh-so-so-typical Left Coast response that their union will appeal.

While I would never attach the phrase ‘common sense’ and ‘union’ in the same sentence, have these idiots in this union lost whatever intelligence they were born with? Two innocent people are dead and a multi-million dollar piece of equipment they were responsible for is on the sea bed as a direct result of their actions. Who, if not the Officers on watch, are responsible?

They have demonstrated they have something to hide, hence their non-cooperation. BC Ferries have made them accountable for their actions. I would only ask what took them so long? The union needs to understand this is not the Hill they want to die on.


And then there’s the story of Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman and his incredible tale that, while a Foreign Affairs intelligence analyst, he spotted something that suggested an attack was imminent on Air India immediately prior to the actual bombing in 1985 that took 329 lives.

Does he really expect us to believe that after being rebuffed by a Mountie he brought the intel to and being so upset when he learned of the downing of the Air India flight off the coast of Ireland as he loaded his family into a station wagon for their weekend trip, that he did absolutely nothing for twenty two years? He is either an idiot or utterly incompetent. Either should disqualify him for a job as Ontario Lieutenant Governor.

Well, perhaps not in Dalton McGinty’s Ontario.

Suffice to say his testimony before the Major inquiry into Air India does not stand a credibility test and certainly didn’t deserve the breathless headlines on the front pages of dailies across the country on Friday.


And the kicker of the week is the knee-jerk reaction of the Chief Constable of Calgary Police Service after some cop-hating zipperhead shot some vanilla video of two Calgary cops arresting some uncooperative dopehead.

The video was sent to CPS Chief Constable Jack Beaton. A copy was sent, I am told, to Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and copies to CTV and CBC. Okay. So what does the video show?

Abuse? Excessive force? Beatings? Police brutality? Well, not really. It shows two cops dealing with a street dopehead who is uncooperative. Along the way he takes a cuff and a bit of a drag when he won’t get up.

Umm, Jack, are you kidding me when you called that presser yesterday announcing the suspension of those junior officers? Are cops in Calgary no longer allowed to engage street assholes in the course of their duties anymore?

I carry no brief for Jack Beaton as the Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service. In my opinion he is a lousy leader of a modern police service.

Cops he should be hanging out to dry, he seems to protect. People he should be protecting, he hangs out to dry. Why is that?

In my view Beaton is incompetent for the job he has. The Calgary Police Commission had every reason not to extend his contract in 2005. Why they extended him to 2007 should probably be subject to an independent investigation. But that is a separate matter.

The two junior officers in this video tape were doing their job. And in the real world, sometimes a cop’s job involves getting ‘hands on’. There are Use of Force provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. Were these officers in breach of those regulations? I don’t know and I guarantee you, neither did Jack Beaton when he decided to deny them due process and suspended them based on 41 seconds of video that simply does not tell the whole story.

Why not wait until an investigation is done to render judgement?

Why would a previously indecisive Chief do that? Well, that is interesting in itself. A serving Staff Sergeant is accused of defrauding fellow members of over a million dollars in a Ponzi scheme and Beaton twirls on his thumb. Two junior officers are caught on video trying to do their job and allegedly rough up a dope dealer in a minor way and he suspends them before the horse is even out of the gate? What is he up to?

Beaton is staring at a huge embarrassment in the face of the witch hunt he conducted to find out who was behind the web site Stand Firm that was very critical of his administration. I would guess that he is seeking a quick hit PR win to blunt that hit. To accomplish that he will need to trash the careers of two young police officers who were just trying to serve the citizens of the city of Calgary. And that is tragic.

The men and women who are prepared to get “hands on” with the criminal element who are permeating the city of Calgary in recent years of economic boom are deserving of the support of their Chief. Beaton has failed the brave men and women of the Calgary Police Service yet again. And in doing so, in my opinion, he has failed the citizens of the city of Calgary. Yet again.

Leo Knight

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Justice is a myth in Canada

It is quite amusing really to hear the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverly McLachlin, say that it's a myth that Canadian courts are soft on crime. It is perhaps frightening to think that she might really believe it.

I guarantee that there is not a right-thinking person in this country who is not a criminal, a Liberal or a lawyer who would agree with the perspective spouted by McLachlin. It simply doesn't matter which case you look at in Canada, justice is never done. There is a legal system in Canada, but it can hardly be described as a justice system.

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about the courts in Manitoba who are blatently ignorant about the Hells Angels or the provincial court in BC who simply cannot or will not jail habitual criminals for anything longer than a couple of weeks despite dozens and dozens of previous convictions and in the face of the highest property crime rates on the continent, the courts in Canada are failing the citizens of this country day after day. And nothing the Chief Justice tries to spin will alter that fact.

A regular reader wrote to me this week after yet another judicial outrage. Here are his comments unedited.

When are we going to learn? When they blow up the CN Tower, the Lion's Gate Bridge at rush hour? Acts of terrorism are acts of war and must be treated as such if we are to have any hope of defending ourselves. Liberals like Bill Clinton characterize it as a law enforcement problem which should be addressed with the Marquis of Queensbury Rules.

What a beauty this judge is. I can't imagine how they missed appointing her to the provincial courts in BC. She allows the wife to go surety while at the same time noting that she has previously lied to the court and voicing concern that she will not carry out her responsibilities. Then she takes comfort in a Supreme Court of Canada decision that offers the 'suggestion' that the danger represented by a terrorist declines with the time he spends in custody. As Ed McMahon used to say on the Johnny Carson show, "I did not know that". I guess spending time in a Canadian correctional facility miraculously saps the rabid hatred these people have felt for us all their lives. Right. Like it rehabilitates ordinary criminals and makes them fear going back. I also didn't realize the learned judges of the Supreme Court have become such experts in international terrorism.

In addition to the obvious risk, there's the expense of the physical and technical surveillance required to monitor this individual and ensure he respects his 'extreme form of house arrest'. The liberals would have us believe that we should all be happy to foot that bill because by protecting Mr. Jaballah's rights we are simply protecting ourselves. I know they like to think that Mr. Jaballah and his ilk are drawn to Canada for its diversity, tolerance, and multiculturalism and, of course, have no axe to grind against us because, after all, we're not Americans. Call me suspicious, fascist, racist, whatever you like, but when it comes to terrorists I don't believe anything they do or anywhere they go is coincidental or without purpose.

Based solely upon what was written in this article, Mr. Jaballah should have been on his way home a long time ago and the judge had the benefit of a lot more evidence than that. It galls me that all that is keeping this killer here is the 'suggestion' (as opposed to 'evidence', 'high probability' , 'certainty') of torture should he be deported to his native Egypt. Sorry folks, but when the presence of a committed foreign terrorist (Read: 'enemy combatant) threatens Canada's Security and that of it's allies, in my mind the situation should be resolved in favor of Canada.

This is war and our rights trump his. Plain and simple.

Bob Cooper
Richmond, BC

The Chief Justice can spin all she wants. The evidence to the contrary is before us each and every day in our courts.

Leo Knight

Monday, April 16, 2007

The 'Thought Police' alive and well

Following today's appearance by former RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli it would seem that in today's Force, the buck, such as it is, doesn't stop anywhere.

Since I first wrote Are the winds of change blowing in Ottawa? I have received email messages from police officers across the country. The men and women at the sharp ends of things in the service of this country are in agreement that something drastically needs to change in the culture of today's RCMP.

One writer, I thought, was particularly poignant. I asked for and received permission to reprint his thoughts in this space as long as I witheld his name to protect his career. A sad statement in and of itself now isn't it? Here is his letter to me:

Much ink has been spilled with respect to recent and not so recent revelations of fraud, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the most senior levels of the RCMP. Although it may have been received with some degree of shock by the Canadian public, it’s a fair bet to state that no regular or civilian member of the RCMP would have been surprised by these headlines.

The repercussions for the members who dared to speak out also came as no surprise. The words “culture of corruption” and “culture of vengeance”, attributed to members of parliament describing the RCMP, are all too fitting. Truer words have never been spoken. Any member, whether dealing with senior management or low level supervisors have undoubtedly felt the wrath for going against the grain and exposing improprieties. It is the ultimate sin! Truth be known, honesty and integrity are regularly discouraged and viewed with scorn. The Image of the Force is far more important.

There are many questions being asked by the public, by members and by members of parliament. How could this have been allowed to take place? Where are the checks and balances? Men and women in power will often give themselves tools to enhance their ability to rule and will often abuse these tools when situations arise which could affect their grip. The RCMP has given itself such a tool and they do not hesitate to use it.

The public, members of the RCMP and legislators should look no further than the RCMP Act. This powerful tool of intimidation, which contains the Code of Conduct, is the weapon of choice when attempting to silence members. It’s deliberately vaguely worded “catch all” sections, which permit senior management to make square pegs fit into round holes, can and do discipline members for exercising their S.2 Charter rights of freedom of thought, belief and expression. The fundamental freedoms that all Canadians enjoy are routinely denied to RCMP members. If my identity was known, I would be ordered to resign from the Force within 14 days or be dismissed. How’s that for freedom of expression?

As long as the Commissioner of the RCMP and the Senior Executive Committee are given absolute power, they will use it. And use it with a ruthlessness usually associated with totalitarian and dictatorial regimes. There is one way to solve this problem…let the members speak without the fear of reprisals. Repeal the sections of the RCMP Act that forbid criticism of the organization. A Royal Commission on the abuses endured by members of the RCMP would have Canadians glued to their televisions….that is why it will never happen.

The only reason the Image of the RCMP has continued to be a positive one is not because of the accomplishments of its membership, it’s because anything that has the possibility to tarnish its image, from within, is simply not permitted. Cover ups abound, members are silenced every day, threatened with disciplinary action or dismissed for having integrity. If anybody ever questioned just how serious the problem is, I would point to Deputy Commissioner Barb George’s recent statements indicating her misleading statements to a parliamentary committee are protected by parliamentary privilege. Thank you for thumbing your nose at our elected representatives Deputy Commissioner, you are a true model of the Mission, Vision and Values of the Force. The rot is not exclusive to Ottawa but is entrenched in every single Division across Canada.

Senior management has no fear because it controls everything. The Public Complaints Commission against the RCMP uses RCMP members to conduct their investigations and their findings are turned over to the Commissioner, who has the final say to accept or deny them. The Force’s internal investigations sections frequently have their strings pulled by the puppet masters at the top. Double standards abound. Interference and obstruction are standard operating procedure. Officers who conduct themselves in a disgraceful manner are routinely let off with nothing more than verbal reprimands while frontline members are fined, transferred, demoted, dismissed and ridiculed. It truly is good to be King!

Name witheld by request.
A pretty damning condemnation of the status quo, wouldn't you say?

Leo Knight

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A dubious decision

Every now and again a court renders a decision that would appear, for all intents and purposes, that the members of that court have lost whatever touch with the reality to which they might have, at one time, laid claim.

And then there's the Manitoba Court of Appeal and their incredible - no, unbelieveable - decision, as reported in the Winnipeg Free Press (Hells Angel allowed to chat with biker buddies, says high court), in the case of Hells Angel Shane Kirton who had pled guilty to an unprovoked, vicious assault on an unsuspecting bar patron. And not, I might add, his first go 'round with the law.

But, back to the decision at hand.

The Court of Appeal overturned the decision of Queen's Bench Justice Holly Beard to impose conditions on Kirton that he refrain from contact with his brother Hells Angels for the duration of his probation. Apparently, according to the Appeal Court, that condition infringes on his right to freedom of association guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the lower court should not have taken judicial notice that the Hells Angels are a criminal organization.

Chief Justice Richard Scott said, "It is hard to escape the conclusion that the sentencing judge was led astray by her preoccupation with the accused’s involvement with the Hells Angels.”

Oh? And why would she not? They have been found to be a criminal organization by superior courts in Ontario and British Columbia. The presumably well-read justices of the Manitoba Court of Appeal seem to have not read those decisions or a plethora of books written on the subject. There is simply no basis for them to assert that the lower court judge "could not" take judicial notice of that.

Equally, the Court of Appeal seemed to be fixated on the fact that the assault was committed when Kirton wasn't wearing his Hells Angels patch and therefore wasn't using his affiliation with the outlaw motorcycle gang in committing the assault. In doing so, the Court of Appeal demonstrated they have a profound lack of understanding of the Hells Angels.

Kirton was wearing clothing that clearly showed he was a member of the Hells Angels, who exist and further their individual criminal enterprises using intimidation fostered by an image which has been carefully cultivated. That the Manitoba Court of Appeal failed to recognize this demonstrates either their ignorance of reality or their complicity with, or corruption by, the biker gang.

The bottom line here is that the Hells Angels have been determined to be a criminal enterprise in BC and Ontario by superior, not provincial, courts. Gangsterism prosecutions have been filed across the country. To suggest that a convicted member of the Hells Angels, on probation, should not be limited in communication with other members of an ongoing criminal enterprise is blatently stupid or utterly corrupt.

There is no other possibility that I can see. I wonder which it is.

Leo Knight

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Are the winds of change blowing in Ottawa?

For your outstanding leadership abilities, your commitment to the advancement of women in Canadian policing, and for your dedication to the effective delivery and management of human resources, wherein you have become an influential role model for all police officers. - 2006 Order of Merit of the Police Forces citation given to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Barbara George

The trouble with awards is that once given, they cannot be easily taken back. The other problem with national awards is that they are seldom given to those who actually deserve them. Too often they are given for political reasons, to individuals who just happen to be in a certain position or to members of the bureaucracy who tend to exercise some control on these things.

Barbara George was just another senior level bureaucrat when the Governor General pinned the award on her chest. What had she really done to deserve it? Difficult to say. She spent a career being a carpet cop and wouldn't have the faintest idea what a real cop does for a living let alone being a "role model" for anything other than a bureaucrat wanting to climb the greasy pole in a federal government ministry.

Do I sound disparaging of the now suspended Deputy Commissioner Barbara George? Sorry, I don't mean to. But, right after she was suspended by interim Comissioner Bev Busson following the testimony of several RCMP officers before the Public Accounts Committee concerning abuses of the Mounties' pension fund and their attempts to get light shed on the subject, the Mounties distanced themselves from her pronto.

George herself testified that neither she nor former Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli had anything to do with hindering the investigation. Testimony supported by phone call recordings and other corroboration seemed to dispute that position. The Mounties outlined an atmosphere of corruption and condonation of corruption permeating the highest ranks.

Shortly after George was suspended, the RCMP erased any reference to her on their website. It was blindingly fast. Fortunately, the internet is a powerful tool and much could still be located. A review of her career highlights shows she was nothing more than a carpet cop. And therin lies the answer to all of this.

In 1984 the RCMP was politicized and the Comissioner was made a Deputy Minister with all of the political realities that entailed. In reality, the RCMP has become yet another moribund political bureaucracy.

This is not to belittle the hard-working members at the sharp end of things. No, not in the least. When I joined the RCMP two years after its centennial celebrations, I was given a quick education into the Force by a senior member. He explained the machinations of the Force as "A hundred and two years of tradition unhampered by progress."

And that brings us full-circle to the scandal plaguing the RCMP that led to the suspension of Deputy Commissioner Barbara George. Throughout the 90's and the the first part of the new century, the Liberal Party of Canada created a culture of those who were "entitled to their entitlements" among the bureaucracy. Why should the RCMP be any different?

Well, the reality was they weren't as evidenced by the misappropriation of money from the pension fund by the carpet cops mired in the bureaucracy.

When members of the Force tried to raise concerns about the Pension Fund, the carpet cops shined them on, neutralized them by transfer or completely marginalized them. This is tried and true tactics by the carpet cops. Ask Bob Stenhouse or Robert Read. They have both been victimized by that culture.

Well, that corrupt culture has now been laid bare to the Public Accounts Committee. A senior carpet cop has been suspended. It remains to be seen if the price to be paid is real or mere window dressing and it is business as usual at Headquarters in Ottawa.

The RCMP should use this period in their history to reinvent themselves in their role as the national police force. And, what is now 134 years of tradition needs to finally see some progress.

Leo Knight

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Time to go

The job of Chief Constable of a modern police service is a difficult one. The occupier of the office has to be one part politician, one part police officer and one part masochist. In Calgary, it would seem, that Chief Constable Jack Beaton has managed to get and keep the top job without any of the required skills.

Having met Beaton, I am pretty sure he is not an idiot. So, why does he keep doing and saying such idiotic things?

Without delving too deeply into it, let’s take a peek at the past few days.

The Calgary Police Association this past week released the results of a poll of its members which said, in a nutshell, that the rank and file had no confidence in the leadership of the Calgary Police Service and that the vast majority wanted a new chief to be recruited from outside the service.

Pretty stunning stuff really. Beaton has been, frankly, an embarrassment to the taxpayers of Calgary with some of the idiotic things he has said publicly. Where to start? Hmm…well there was the lunacy he spouted about not thinking that police officers in China wouldn’t be able to speak English He apparently found out this little gem of the incredibly obvious when he was in China on an indefensible junket. . . sorry, recruiting drive.. I mean really. . . .if you actually thought that and found out the reality when you went there, would you admit how stupid you were publicly? Jack Beaton did.

The reality is that, regardless of what the latest garden gnome put forward by the police commission to try and defend their ridiculous decision to extend Beaton’s contract in 2005, Beaton has lost (if he ever had) the confidence of the rank and file membership of the Calgary Police Service.

Without the buy-in of those at the sharp end of things, no purported leader can be effective. Beaton clearly has not got that confidence. He has said he will leave when his current contract expires in December. So, he is now a lame duck. And an unrespected lame duck to be exact.

Why, in the face of that, will he not resign? Most involved in the police service have no confidence in him. How and why would any leader who does not have the support and confidence of his troops think they can and should remain in their position?

It really is a mystery. But then given everything that has transpired demonstrating how ineffectual a leader Beaton has been, I suppose it really isn’t surprising.

Beaton has proven himself to be nothing more that a small-minded man who cannot tolerate any criticism. Even though that criticism is well-deserved. He is of little consequence. The proud men and women who serve the citizens of Calgary have no confidence in Jack Beaton. Period. So, why is he still there?

Leo Knight