“NIGGER!!!” – “Who you Calling Nigger?”

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“I don’t want you nigger boys sitting next to my daughters on that school bus.”

These were the hateful words directed to us from a hillbilly dairy farmer who forcefully uttered them as he repeatedly poked his rigid skinny index finger deep into the centre of my poor older brothers chest.

We had just moved from a suburb of the City of Winnipeg into an area only half an hour away in rural Manitoba.  My mothers’ love of horses required the move so that we could secure an acreage, fenced corrals and barns for her beloved animals.

Our new home was situated in the municipality of Rosser…….approximately fifty acres of mature Oak trees complete with meadows, barns, chicken coops and rarely travelled gravel roads.

As untamed young boys…..we were extremely excited by the prospects of exploring the wide open spaces….the forest, the gravel pits and swimming holes.  We were elated by our new surroundings and were excited about this new beginning.

We had a great summer that year…..running wild in the bush, swimming in the gravel pits and enjoying the fresh country air….it was a significant change in lifestyle…..we were country boys and I loved it.

Unfortunately, summer holidays don’t last forever…..it was time to get back to school.

That meant fresh haircuts, new clothes and school supplies…….it was a time of great financial stress for my mother who constantly struggled to make ends meet……no easy task with five children and limited resources.

With household income barely keeping us above the poverty line we didn’t have much…..no quads, snow machines or other toys…..we had the basics….plenty of food and water……and thats all we needed.

I don’t recall if it was the first day of school or if it took a few days for word to get around about my family.  Regardless, the confrontation was one that I will never forget.

When you live in the Country one of the perks is that the school bus comes directly to your home……the driver stops at the end of your driveway and away you go.

I recall it was a warm and sunny afternoon…..we had just stepped off the school bus and were standing in the driveway.

The dairy farmer pulled into the yard and jumped out of his pick up truck.  He was a tall skinny man wearing suspenders and nondescript farmer grey pants and shirt.  He had one of those bad hillbilly hair cuts and a rough looking stubbly beard.

He was completely irate…..

His gait was quick, his anger and aggression boiling over…..his verbal assault on my brothers and me stinging our ears.

Our lives forever impacted with the knowledge that we were “niggers.”  A word that was foreign to me before this day.  I really didn’t understand it right away…..it took some time to soak in.  I knew that it meant that we were “less than” but I failed to completely understand the context or how it applied to me.

It would all become clear to me some time after this incident…..

My father was the product of a biracial marriage.  His mother born of German decent and his father, a direct descendent of African American slaves.

I would learn that being the son of biracial parents was no picnic…..my father experienced rejection from both the white and black communities.  Thats the reality……you aren’t black enough for the black community and you certainly weren’t white enough for the white community.

It was lucky for the hillbilly that my father was frequently absent from our home as he worked up to three jobs just to keep food on our table.

You see, my father was a very large and powerful man with some anger issues of his own.  Standing around 6’2” tall and weighing around 350 pounds…..he cast a significant shadow.  Add in the fact that he had massive biceps and a chest that was as thick around as an oak tree and you get the point…… he was a formidable opponent for any mortal man.

Had he been home at the time of the “incident” I have little doubt that he would have pulled that skinny farmers limbs off and beat him senseless with them.

Our new social status deeply affected me…..I became hyper aware of attitudes, perceptions and the power of words.

I recall feeling sickened when the boys in my school played the popular game they called “bush nigger.”  It was essentially a game of hide and seek that required one boy to assume the role of the “bush nigger.”

The other boys gave him a head start and started a countdown before they pursued him into the bush on the school property.

Once the countdown was over…..the group of boys ran into the bush to find him and when they did…..they “roughed” him up by kicking, stomping and punching him.  It was all intended to be in good fun and no one ever got seriously hurt.

These were different times…..a time when Brazil nuts were commonly  referred to as “nigger toes” and black licorice candies were called “nigger babies.”

I remember how angry these offensive terms started to make me feel.  Instant rage burning inside of me….violent reactions so difficult to suppress.

Like every other hurtful or negative experience I’ve had in my life……I eventually find a way to create a positive outcome.

The exposure to childhood racism prepared me for a career in law enforcement that would span over twenty-five (25) years.  Policing a community with a significant Aboriginal population that presented many issues related to race and racism.  In the wake of the JJ Harper  shooting…..these issues dominated every conversation.

Relations between the Aboriginal Community and the Winnipeg Police Service sunk to extraordinary lows.

Call after call…….Aboriginal citizens accusing me of killing “JJ”….calling me stereotypical derogatory names like “Pig” and others.   Aboriginal offenders echoing these comments and using their race to make excuses for their criminal behavior.  Criminal Code arrests for serious crimes…..outrageous drunken, violent and assaultive behaviour and the all to familiar tired accusation “You only arrested me because I’m an Indian.”

During my career I arrested hundreds of assholes……….assholes do not have a race, a color, a religion or a sexual preference.  I can assure you of one thing…….I never, ever arrested anyone because the were an “Indian”.

At times it was difficult to suppress the anger the hostile remarks conjured up inside of me…….but I always knew that it wasn’t me they were targeting….it was my uniform.  I understood the anger…..I knew where it came from…..the feelings of  marginalization, victimization, hatred and resentment all familiar to me.  Don’t get me wrong……I don’t excuse the behaviour…..I just understood it better than most.  Labelling anyone, a group or organization, such as the Winnipeg Police Service, as racist is simply wrong.  The Police Service is a diverse ever changing organization that reflects the changing demographics of our society now more than ever.

It’s time for Aboriginal people to recognize this evolution and to participate in the healing process.

Racism, stereotyping and bigotry is never right or justified…….not even when it is used by those who are visible minorities or socially disadvantaged people in our society.

That hillbilly dairy farmer provided me with extremely valuable life lessons for which I am grateful.

That doesn’t stop me from closing my eyes every now and then and visiting the child who stood there frozen in fear as my older brother retreated with that hillbillies finger sticking him in the chest……

In my vision, I reach out and grab him by the neck……and as I start to squeeze …….I clench my teeth and ask him “Nigger….who you calling nigger?”

FOOTNOTE:

See photo in slide show of my Great Grandmother Ellen Jane Lawson…..daughter of Henry Dangerfield Lawson – escaped African American Slave from Virginia, U.S…..

Check out my family history on the Black History in Guelph & Wellington County on line exhibit…..http://guelph.ca/museumsites/BlackHistory/histories.htm#The%20Jewell%20Family

“BABY KILLER” DANIEL YOUNGER – Evil Personified

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Ever look into the eyes of a baby killer………it can make your blood run cold.

The call came in at 12:55 am on Saturday, November 14th, 1998.

I was working an emergency response patrol car with rookie partner Constable Shane “Cookie” Cooke #2009.

We were assigned to the call at 3:07 am, over an hour since other officers had arrived at the scene…..the search for the suspect had proved negative up to this point and further units were required to expand the search.

The details of the call sent to our computer…..male suspect fled from 744 Home St……took a small child from the home…..child clad only in diaper…….call is Domestic in nature.

This was a serious call…..a baby snatched from the warmth of his bed…..dressed only in a diaper with freezing temperatures around -2 degrees Celsius and dropping….light snow and windy conditions were prevailing.

We didn’t have much to go on….a suspect description and photo provided but no direction of travel or potential addresses to check.  It was clear that time was of the essence…..a child’s’ life potentially hanging in the balance…..odds of survival diminished by every minute that passed.

The suspect……estranged boyfriend, twenty-two year old, Daniel Younger…..an under achieving dirt bag who was previously “known” to the Police.  The child, two year old Randy Grisdale whose mother Diane was completely distraught and overcome by Youngers senseless act of vengeance…..the abduction of a child to inflict emotional damage to her……it was pure evil.

For almost two hours we frantically checked every location known to us……conducting grid searches….checking with associates and all nearby seedy Hotels…..all for not…..no sign of the suspect or the child.

At 4:50 am, all that changed……a call from dispatch advising that Younger was believed to be using a pay phone at a 7-11 store at Ellice Ave and Arlington Street.

We  raced to the location, engine revving and tires squealing only to learn that Younger had fled the scene before our arrival…..the hunt was on……I knew Younger couldn’t have gotten far so I dropped my rookie partner off in the area on foot.

I stayed in the cruiser car and started to cruise the back lanes hoping to flush Younger out into the open where he wouldn’t have a chance against my partner…..the former football star who possessed blazing foot speed.

The plan worked to a “T”….two minutes later “Cookie” broke radio silence reporting that he had the suspect was in custody a short distance away at a nearby church on Arlington St.

When I arrived at the church Cooke had Younger under complete control and in a shiny pair of handcuffs…..it was a great catch for a rookie cop.

We placed Younger in the back of our cruiser car and went through the legal formalities regarding his arrest and Charter rights.  When I advised him of his right to call a lawyer he declined stating “No, I don’t want to call no one, it doesn’t matter no more anyways.”

Once these formalities were out of the way we quickly drove Younger back to the area where a number of Police Officers had gathered to attempt an area search to locate the kidnapped child.  These officers looked at Youngers footwear so they could attempt to track his tread pattern in the freshly fallen snow.

During the six minute drive to the Public Safety Building Constable Cooke pleaded with Younger to tell us where he had taken baby Randy……Cooke stressed to Younger that we had grave concerns that Randy might suffer serious exposure to the elements and that we believed that his life was in danger.  Younger was not moved by these pleadings and sat in the back seat with his head tilted back and his eyes fixed on the ceiling.  He gave Cooke nothing…..no response…..no hint of concern and no remorse for his evil deed.

It was during this car ride that I came to the conclusion that this case was going to be much more than a kidnapping matter.  Youngers body language told me much more than that…..I was convinced at this point that he had killed the child.

After lodging Younger in a holding room I instructed him to take a seat at the steel table.  After taking his seat Younger quipped “I tell you one thing….I did go over there to do something to her, I was going to hurt her, but I never wanted to do anything to him.”  He then violently smashed his forehead on the top of the steel table…….bang, bang, bang, bang, bang…..a total of five mind numbing thuds after which time he looked up at me and stated,“If you want to beat me, go ahead.”

I can assure you…..I would have loved to take him up on the offer but it was now even more clear to me…..these were the actions of a baby killer struggling with the reality of the new heights he had reached with his uncontrolled violence.  Once Younger calmed down his handcuffs were removed and he was provided paper replacement clothing after his outer clothing was seized for forensic examinations.

It was shortly after this process that Younger looked at me and said “I want to talk to him (Cooke) for a minute.”

I knew Younger could sense my contempt for him and wasn’t surprised he didn’t want to talk to me.  I exited the interview room and remained out of Youngers view just outside of the open door.

Cooke sat at the table with Younger and they spoke….

Younger “I’ll let you in on a secret but I don’t want to tell your partner.”

Cooke “Go ahead, I’ll listen to you.”

Younger “How is the baby?”

Cooke “I don’t know.”

Younger “I’ll tell you I went over there to hurt her, yes, but I never meant to hurt him.”

Cooke “Is there anything else you want to say?”

Younger “No.”

(In an odd twist at trial….these comments were excluded from evidence by the Judge who indicated that he believed I had breached Youngers right to privacy…….as if he had an expectation that his conversation with a uniformed Police Officer could somehow be private…..it was a bizarre ruling.)

At 5:20 am, I heard a transmission on the Police radio that the baby had been located and that he didn’t appear to be breathing.

(Police at the scene had done an excellent job tracking Youngers foot prints in the fresh snow and found baby Randy who had been cast into an abandoned vehicle some distance away from the warmth of his home.)

At 06:00 am, I advised Younger that the baby had been found….

Younger “How is he?”

Jewell “We don’t know at this point, we’re waiting to hear.”

Younger “Will you let me know when you find out?”

Jewell “Yes I will.”

Younger “Murder or attempt murder, thats what it’ll be.”

To me, this was a further admission of Youngers evil act……I was convinced that he fully intended to kill young Randy….why else would he utter the words, “Murder or attempt murder, thats what it’ll be.”

These words were his acknowledgement of something much worse than just a simple child abduction and subsequent abandonment…..these words were an admission to a much more evil act with much more evil intentions.

At 07:20 am…….I received the tragic news……a call from the Hospital from one of my co-workers reporting that baby Randy was deceased.  An autopsy would later reveal that Randy died from exposure…..it also noted a bruise of unknown origin on the child’s head.

The news didn’t surprise me, but nonetheless, it broke my heart just the same.

At 07:23 am, I formally charged Younger with the murder of Randy Grisdale and advised him of his Charter Rights.  Younger made no requests but in his typical angry twisted style….uttered a veiled threat to the babies mother Diane.

At this point word about the horrific killing had spread throughout the Police Service……Cops from everywhere were outraged and coming into the station to try to get a look at the baby killer.  Emotions were running high and I was concerned that someone might try to give Younger the beating that he had previously asked for and so richly deserved.

My experience in Court told me that I could not let that happen.  The pending trial had to be about Younger and his evil act…..not about the Police and abuse of authority.  The result……constant supervision and control of Youngers holding room door.  A guard posted to protect this vile human being who only hours ago…..murdered an innocent defenceless little boy.

If thats what it took to get Younger a life sentence then thats what we were going to do…..guard and protect his miserable ass……as distasteful as it was.

At 09:35 am, my last interaction with the baby killer came as a result of  Youngers knock on the door;

Younger “When are they (Homicide Detectives) coming to talk to me?”

Jewell “They should be here soon.”

Younger “Why cant they fucking hurry up?”

Jewell “They’ll get here when they’re ready.”

Younger “That fucking c – – -, she put me in here, she’s fucking lucky she wasn’t the one that got it, she’s fucking lucky I didn’t do her.”

The true essence of Daniel Younger captured in his last words to me…..the complete lack of remorse or acceptance for his horrific act……his blind rage and true intentions revealed!

Youngers words tell us that his true intention was to murder his former lover, Randy Grisdales mother Diane……when he couldn’t get his hands on her, he settled for second best…..how better than to hurt a mother than to kill her child.

Daniel Younger truly is evil personified.

After the dust settled on this case I heard the rumours…..

Speculation circulating that I failed to discharge my unspoken responsibility to beat the information regarding Randy’s whereabouts out of Younger the moment I first laid hands on him.  The talk was that it could have made a difference and possibly saved Randy’s life.

Well, I didn’t beat him and I will have to live with that decision.

My belief at the time was that beating Younger was a risk that could not guarantee the desired result.  Younger was a high strung violent offender who demonstrated a high degree of pain tolerance by smashing his own head multiple times on a steel table.  Five violent thumps, not a blink of the eye and an invitation extended to inflict more violence upon his wretched soul.  I wasn’t going to beat him to satisfy my own thirst for vengeance…..I just didn’t operate that way.

Regardless, I had no doubt that baby Randy was already deceased by the time we had Younger in custody……his body language told me all I needed to know.  Ultimately, after four hours of exposure to the frigid elements and a violent unexplained bruise on his head…..I am confident that Randy had little to no chance of survival.  Even if the beating was fruitful and Younger confessed the location…..the child may still have died from exposure and the excessive use of force used on Younger could have contributed to an acquittal that might have seen him walk on his charges…..a scenario I know I could never have lived with.

In the end….I took a degree of solace in providing my testimony at Youngers trial….looking directly into his cold heartless eyes as I regurgitated his vile comments for the jury….our eyes locked in an unbreakable stare…..each of us waiting for the other to blink first.  As his evil eyes pierced my soul I relented….turning instead to the jury to make eye contact with them in order place emphasis on evidence that was sure to expose Younger as the cold remorseless killer that he was.

The verdict……guilty of murder in the first degree…..no possibility for parole for a minimum of twenty-five years.

A result that I can live.

 

PORTAGE PLACE MALL – A Proverbial Minefield

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I was recently interviewed by Winnipeg Sun reporter Tessa Vanderhart who advised me that she was working on a report regarding Down Town safety….specifically, safety issues at Portage Place Mall.

Vanderhart posed a number of questions and asked me to weigh in on the debate.

I suggested that she read one of my latest blog posts called “Time to Cut the Bullshit…..The Truth about Crime in Winnipeg”…..”It tells the ugly truth about Portage Place” I told her.

Vanderhart replied “I did read and enjoyed your blog post immensely, which is why I wanted to include your thoughts.”

The questions were subsequently sent to me via email and I did my best to give the young reporter the hard cold facts.

Realizing that Vanderhart had limited space to capture my thoughts I once again decided to provide my full unedited response on my blog to ensure that context and content will not be sacrificed.

The questions:

Q “When you were a cop, how dangerous was Portage Place?  Did the area get worse or better over time?”

A “Portage Place has always had issues related to crime……early on in my career the Mall attracted large numbers of soft drug dealers (mostly cannabis products)…..petty criminals also frequented the mall…….unfortunately the crime in the area has evolved and become more violent with the introduction of criminal street gangs who continually fight for drug trafficking market share…….in recent years the area has become frequented by a diverse group of ethnic youths and adults who often find themselves involved in violent conflict……the murder of Abul Jemei in March of 2011 is evidence of this evolution…..as a footnote….the killing took place on a Weds night around 9:11 pm…….not exactly the early morning hours.”

Q “What do you say to the Citys claims that downtown is safe?”

A “I would say read the newspapers……follow the crime reports…..During the investigation into the Jemei murder case…….significant credible information regarding the large number of armed individuals who frequent the Portage Place Mall was learned…….weapons from firearms, edged weapons (knives) and pepper spray are all believed to be commonly carried by gangsters in this area.  If you really want to know if an area is safe…….ask an informed Police Officer if he or she would be comfortable sending their teenagers into the area…….most wouldn’t comment out of fear of repercussions but I can tell you I would never permit my teenage children to go downtown without an adult escort for their safety and protection.”

Q “How could downtown be safer?”

A “Downtown could be safer with increased Police presence and a commitment to take back the streets with committed, aggressive, unrelenting Policing…..It takes real commitment to “own” an area so that the desired results can be achieved…..hard working, committed Officers are required to be effective in such an undertaking…..strong supportive leadership is critical….Police transfer and rotation policies must be flexible….if not, they can be a detriment to effective Policing.”

Q “Is the City actually making an effort to clean up downtown crime?”

A “The Mayor recently made outrageous statements in the press regarding his apparent belief that he would go anywhere at any time in our City and he would be safe…..as I said in my blog….this is a reckless and potentially dangerous statement…..it completely undermines the reality of our City…..I believe the Police are doing what they can with the limited resources available to them……the Mayor seems content living in denial…..much like an alcoholic must accept their diagnosis to facilitate recovery….the Mayor needs to acknowledge and take ownership of the crime problem in our City.”

Q “Should average mall-goesrs be afraid to go there?”

A “The average mall goer should be constantly aware of their personal safety and for the security of their property when they go downtown.  I would suggest that fear is a good thing…..it demonstrates awareness of a problem and is much better than ignorance…..most people that attend downtown during the regular business hours 8 – 4 should have a relatively positive experience…..as evening comes and darkness starts to fall, I would suggest being elsewhere.”

Q “Would you feel comfortable working as a Portage Place security guard?”

A “Not a chance…..we know that armed criminal gangsters have claimed the mall and surrounding area as their drug dealing turf……I am aware that gangsters often try to buy, threaten or intimidate guards into being complicit with their drug trafficking activities.”

So there you have it…..the unedited response….

Like Anderson Cooper of CNN……just trying to “Keep them honest.”

Go here for Tessa Vanderharts’ story…http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/18/theres-a-reason-portage-place-mall-guards-wear-bulletproof-vests

THE SEARCH FOR TANYA NEPINAK – Into the Abyss

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The Winnipeg Police Service held a press conference this week to announce that they have drastically reduced the size and scope of the search for the remains of Tanya Nepinak.

The reason according to a previous Police news release indicated that, “Due to inconsistent and new information, multiple areas within the Brady Landfill site have been identified as additional search areas.  This information has created a massive search area, making it impossible to conduct an effective search.”

No explanation was provided regarding the origin of the “new and inconsistent information.”

My experience in law enforcement tells me that this “new and inconsistent” information could have only come from one source…..the mouth of the killer himself.

It was apparent that during his interrogation, Lamb provided police with inculpatory statements that implicated him in the murder of Nepinak.  These admissions obviously included details regarding the disposal of her body.

If you follow the script, its apparent that Homicide investigators have had follow-up interview (s) with Lamb and that he has now degraded the initial information he provided.  It’s important to remember that this information was originally deemed credible enough to contemplate a massive, cost prohibitive search of the Brady Landfill site.

There are reasons why Police keep intimate details of Murder Investigations from the Public and even, as difficult as it is…..from the family of the victim of a Homicide.

It is a tactic that is difficult to employ but extremely important to protect the integrity of an investigation and to ensure that the “correct” information is eventually released to the family and media.

To their credit, members of the Homicide Unit appear to have continued their work with the kind of zeal and passion one would expect from a unit tasked with solving the ultimate crime.  They have undoubtedly continued to pursue Lamb with great vigour and commitment in their attempts to extract more information from him.  That’s what good investigators do…..relentless pursuit to solve the crime!

In this case, these continued efforts meant that the investigation into the tragic killings of the three innocent women was very much ongoing.

Police Management ought to have known that Homicide Investigators had an enduring relationship with Lamb and should have anticipated that the continued contact could take the case in many different directions.

I have participated in or led dozens of Homicide interrogations and can tell you that no one can anticipate the type of things that might come out of a killers mouth.  Killers are often people who live on the outer fringe of society and come with many issues related to mental health, anger, emotion, self-control and others…….they often struggle in their efforts to provide relevant, balanced, credible and/or accurate information. The information they share can often be “all over the map.”  From what Chief McCaskill tells us……that literally appears to be the case with Lamb.    So “all over the map” that the Police really don’t have a clue where to start their search.

McCaskill is quoted as saying, “We’re told that there’s almost a half a million tonnes of refuse (that) goes there yearly, and so you start looking at the magnitude of what there is… and now we have no specific point to start, and that’s the difficulty with this whole thing,”

If I am reading this recent turn of events correctly, then I believe that it’s appropriate to question the Police Executives judgement regarding the decision to release the information concerning the alleged disposal site.

The premature release of this information comes with a price.   The confusion and anguish suffered by the family members is exacerbated and can only be described as excruciating.  The impact on the Aboriginal Community equally significant & disconcerting.

The decision to release the information certainly appears to me to have been premature at best and reckless at worse.

I can only speculate that the Police Executive felt a certain degree of pressure to release the information due to the magnitude of the case and its inherent political ramifications.

I really don’t recall seeing a more awkward press release.

Chief McCaskill showing signs of stress as he struggled to explain the reasons for the scaled down search….uncharacteristically stammering through the release and even muffing the serial killers name. (Which is not all that difficult to pronounce.)

His Crime Inspector, Rick Guyader, a man with no practical experience working in Homicide investigation, dutifully standing behind the Chief, nervously swaying side to side, remaining mute and appearing equally uncomfortable.

In the absence of a starting point the Chief explains that they intend to narrow the search to an area identified by Aboriginal Elders who performed a traditional ceremony at the site.

I assume part of the Chiefs discomfort related to his admission that they intend to act on the information of Aboriginal Elders to conduct the search.  This, of course, is a significant departure from the traditional or scientific approach taken in these types of cases.

The use of “Seers” or “Clairvoyants” in Homicide Investigation is extremely unconventional, rare and controversial……purists might suggest that the use of such an investigative aid undermines the credibility of the investigating agency.

It was interesting how the Chief almost nonchalantly broached the subject.  I detected a certain degree of discomfort in his voice as he explained the criteria used to identify the new search location.

These observations aside, I do not sit in judgement of the decision to search even though the announcement was delivered in such an incredibly awkward fashion.

The Police have a moral obligation to conduct the search and I support the effort……as a father……I would expect as much if Tanya was my daughter.

A search that was originally pitched at having a less than 5% likelihood of success now sees the odds reduced exponentially.  Regardless, I hope the odds are defied and the family finds the comfort that comes with the recovery of their loved ones remains.

Lost in all of this is the impact that this new twist in the story might have on the prosecution.  The receipt of “inconsistent” information from an accused killer is never a good thing.

Time will only tell.

WPS video release with Chief Mccaskill found here; http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/wfptv/news/local-news/police-call-off-broader-search-for-tanya-nepinaks-body-170370136.html

WFP story on issue found here; http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/fpnewstopstory/winnipeg-police-to-focus-search-for-womans-body-in-area-identified-by-elders-170360566.html

RELATED POST:

See post related to this issue submitted by former Deputy Chief Menno Zacharias http://mennozacharias.com/2012/10/20/the-search-for-tanya-nepinaks-body-an-exercise-in-relationship-building-gone-awry/

CRIME REPORTERS – Keeping Us all in the Loop

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This is going to be a weird post…..especially for me.

Since I retired in May of 2012 I have been experiencing the harsh reality of living life in the vacuum.

No longer a card carrying member of the law enforcement community with first hand “real time” knowledge of all things related to Law & Order.

It takes some adjusting.

I now find myself searching the internet for my daily dose of crime and punishment.  The Winnipeg Free Press, The Sun, CTV, CJOB and other sites all helping to quench my thirst for knowledge.  It was during one of my searches that I had a revelation.  After twenty-five years of being on the cutting edge, I now realize that I have to rely on Crime Reporters to keep me socially aware.

The Police and the Press have always been much like oil and vinegar…..not a great mix.   I always kept myself at arms length from members of the media as a means of self preservation.  Police Officers that get too close to reporters can put themselves in compromising situations.  As a supervisor in the Homicide Unit I had first hand knowledge of extremely sensitive information that could make or break a murder case.  I was always firmly committed to protecting that information without exception.

I considered the constant enquires coming from reporters to be annoying distractions, especially during the chaos that ensues after we would catch a “hot” case.  Information fed to the press via the PIO (Police Information Officer) only seemed to wet the appetite of the insatiable beasts.  Reporters calling my direct line, trying to circumvent the PIO to get the scoop.

Crime Reporting is a very competitive, high stress, high stakes game.  Give a Crime Reporter an inch and they will inevitably try to take a mile….

Despite my aversion to the press, there were some collaborations…….

  • Mike McIntyre granted unprecedented access to the investigation into the Manitoba Warriors criminal infiltration of the Government run agency Paapiiwak…….a case I ran as a Supervisor in the Organized Crime Unit…
  • Tom Brodbecks constant reporting on the outrageous two for one sentencing discounts given to underserving criminals every day at our Law Courts.  Unwittingly helping me to keep the pressure on three consecutive Chiefs of Police in my efforts to effect change from the inside……every article written on the subject fired up through the chain of command keeping the issue alive and the pressure on…..both of us quietly enjoyed the satisfying feeling of contributing to one of the most significant improvements in Criminal Justice in the last twenty-five years.
  • Caroline Barghout doing a neighbourhood canvass, knocking on my door looking for the scoop on a murder case that occurred in the area only to be rebuffed by my daughter who felt the need to protect the sanctity of our home.

I always respected the members of the press, I knew they had a job to do…….I just didn’t want to let them into my world.

Now…..it is they who are enriching my life.

I find myself truly appreciating just how important the Crime Reporters job really is.  Keeping the citizenry informed on critically important issues such as public safety, the crime rate, crime  trends, law & order, prosecutions and sentencing.

These things are all vitally important to those of us who choose to be socially conscious and aware.

This post is my way of saying thank you to all the Crime Reporters who work the beat everyday chasing the next big story so that all of us can be informed.  It may have taken me a very long time to get there, but I really do appreciate your work……

Thanks for doing what you do….

FOOTNOTE:

Congratulations to Tom Brodbeck who recently received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his outstanding work and the impact he has had on the Canadian experience.

Find the story here… http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/16/queen-honours-suns-brodbeck

Mike McIntyres report on the case against Paapiiwak can be found here…http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/The-case-against-Paa-Pii-Wak-39486767.html

 

SENTENCING INSANITY PART II – Crime Pays in Winnipeg Courts

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Crime doesn’t pay……or so they used to say.

It seems that the old adage has faded into a very distant memory for a Judge who dropped the ball in our latest sentencing atrocity in our Winnipeg Courts.

The sentencing insanity fully exposed for all of us to see by crime reporter James Turner in an article written September 17th, 2012 in the Winnipeg Sun.

A nineteen (19) year old offender with a horrendous record appearing before Provincial Court Judge Mary Kate Harvie on charges relating to a violent strong arm robbery of an innocent female victim outside of a public library last fall.

Additional charges included offences related to an attack on a liquor store security guard.

The offender came before the Court with a horrendous youth record that includes a total of fifty-four (54) convictions for a variety of criminal acts.

One of his convictions relate to an incident that occurred in April 2008 when he drove a stolen SUV into a plain clothes Police Officer in the North End……he is reported to have fled the scene flashing the finger at another cop.

The victim Police Officer suffered a serious back injury as a result of the incident.

The offender…..fully exposing his true colors is quoted by one of his Probation Officers as stating “So what if a ran over a couple of cops.”

Turner also reported that MPI is seeking more than $80,000.00 in damages from the offender for historical carnage caused by a litany of stolen vehicle incidents.

This offender has spent the majority of his teen years in custody in a number of Youth Correctional Facilities.

Turner breaks down the offenders criminal history as follows:

  • Theft over $5,000
  • 10 counts Theft under $5,000
  • 10 counts Break and enter
  • 8 counts Fail court order conditions
  • 7 counts Mischief under $5,000
  • 4 counts Dangerous driving
  • 3 counts Attempted theft over $5,000
  • 3 counts Assault with a weapon
  • 2 counts Possession of property obtained by crime
  • 2 counts Robbery
  • 1 count Assault
  • 1 count Escape lawful custody
  • 1 count Take vehicle without consent
  • 1 count Trespassing
  • 1 count 54 convictions since May 2005 MPI claims outstanding: $81,191.50

Yet despite all common sense and evidence to the contrary…..a pre-sentence report suggests that the offender has made “great strides” in his education during his incarceration.

Judge Harvie is reported to have remarked “Obviously, there’s some tremendous possibility for you.”  She also noted that the offender had “a lot of challenges growing up.”

Alas……another judge buying into the sentencing sob stories….

The sentence…..after “special considerations” taken into account……an incredible ten (10) months.  Not exactly a saw off when you consider that the Crown was asking for a three (3) year sentence in a Federal Institution.

Another dose of brutally soft justice meted out by an out of touch Judge who has failed to discharge her duty and responsibility as a defender of the public.

The fact that this offender used violence in his attack on a female victim….and then used a stolen vehicle to run over a Police Officer……demonstrates to those of us with common sense that he is a criminal who should appropriately be kept away from the public for a lengthy period of time.

Not to mention his cold and callous attitude and lengthy record that demonstrates an established pattern of entrenched criminal behavior.

The attack on a female demonstrates a lack of social conscience and the attack on the Police Officer demonstrates a complete lack of respect for authority.  Add these things together and you have the makings of a very dangerous offender.

I have talked much about mandatory minimum sentences as a way of taking discretion away from Judges like Mary Kate Harvie who fail to discharge their duties….but this latest atrocity caused me to look deeper into the problem for a potential solution.

I have absolutely no doubt that when released, this offender will immediately return to his habitual violent criminal exploits.

My suggestion……

As Judge Harvie saw fit to disregard the Crowns request for a three (3) year sentence…….and ordered a laughable term of only ten (10) months…….lets keep tabs on the offender for the twenty-six (26) month net period of time that Judge Harvie so graciously granted him the liberty to roam our City streets providing him the freedom he needs to continue to victimize our Citizens.

Once the time period expires……lets assess the damage that his crimes cause…….physical, emotional and financial……put a dollar figure on it…..and much like an MPI judgement…..sue Judge Harvie for every penny.

That is called accountability…….an essential element that is currently missing from our Judiciary.  Maybe then, and only then, will the protection of the public truly start to factor into sentencing decisions and start to outweigh the unbalanced considerations that are frequently given to violent, hardcore and undeserving offenders.

I’m sorry……an eight ball award just isn’t good enough for this case.

James Turner article – Winnipeg Sun can be found here; http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/17/judge-rejects-hard-time-for-chronic-offender?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=recommend-button&utm_campaign=Judge+rejects+hard+time+for+chronic+offender&fb_action_ids=533732659975994&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

UPDATE:

Tom Brodbeck hits it right out of the park with his latest article on this subject……..find it here… http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/09/18/gladue-or-not-slap-on-wrist-unfit-for-repeat-offender

TIME TO CUT THE BULLSHIT – The Truth About Crime in Winnipeg

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Stats Canada recently crowned Winnipeg the Murder Capital of Canada for 2011 and awarded our City the highest rating on the Violent Crime Severity Index in the Country.

Winnipeg scored 173.8 on the index, which is an increase of 6% over 2010, edging out second place Saskatoon by almost forty points.

The response from the Mayor and the Chief of Police were disappointingly predictable.

“If crime were going up in our city I’d then I’d be very, very concerned. When I see it’s been dropping over the last few years I know we’re headed in the right direction,” Mayor Katz is reported as saying.

Chief McCaskill reportedly added his perspective by stating “Our efforts are working, The violent crime rate is coming down, property crime rates are coming down.”

The status quo fed to the public and media again, more explanations, minimizations and justifications…..don’t be fooled, its all B.S.

Our status as the most violent City in the Country is simply shameful & unacceptable.

I spent eleven years of my twenty-five year Police career working in units specifically tasked with investigating violent crime. Eight years in Homicide and three and a half years working in Division #23 Robbery / Homicide. The balance of my career was spent in patrol and other areas where I was exposed to violent crime on a daily basis.

If I know anything about anything, I know about violent crime in Winnipeg.

The fact is, Winnipeg is a very violent City.

That is true today and has been true for a very long time.

Winnipeg is not a “SAFE” City despite the rhetoric that is spewed from our Political leaders and Chief of Police.

That is the uncensored truth.

I was shocked when I read a quote from Mayor Katz in which he is reported to have stated; “I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”

This kind of denial is reckless and dangerous. Worse, it minimizes the very real problems that plague our City.

In March of 2011 I supervised a Homicide Investigation regarding the murder of a twenty-two year old man who was killed during the early evening hours behind the Portage Place Mall.

During the investigation, Detectives interviewed a young male witness who provided a very real and a very scary description of the dynamics of downtown Winnipeg.

This individual was a friend of the murder victim and was at the scene of the crime at the time of the killing. He readily admitted to gang association and to being armed with a sawed off shot gun on the night in question.

It wasn’t just talk or bravado, the deadly weapon was seized by search warrant as part of the investigation.

He didn’t stop there, he described the area as a virtual war zone crawling with rival gangsters all armed with dangerous and offensive weapons of one description or another, guns, knives and pepper spray.

That’s the reality of downtown Winnipeg, that is the truth.

Ask any “informed” Police Officer if they share the Mayors sentiments and you will receive a resoundingly negative response.

The truth is, the downtown and north end are very violent and dangerous parts of our City.

Violent gang members, dangerous adult and young offenders roam our streets every evening and night. If you paid attention you would see that one of our latest murders occurred at 5:30 a.m.

Cherie Anne Richard-20 years senselessly killed in the 500 block of Furby Street.

The truth is that gangsters and criminals currently own the streets in Winnipeg.

The Police are overwhelmed as they respond to seemingly endless emergency calls while the thugs run wild on our City Streets. “Patrol Time” an apparent thing of the past, taking back the streets a romantic idea but simply not possible with current resources.

After indulging myself in local print media a few weeks ago I found prospective solutions in articles written by Tom Brodbeck (SUN) & Dan Lett (WFP).

Brodbeck the usual tough on crime sentiments and Lett, a softer approach suggesting a social solution.

Both reporters offering thoughtful solutions that would miserably fail in isolation.

As someone who has extensive experience investigating violent crime in this City, I can tell you that the perpetrators of these crimes often come with significant addiction issues.

I have personally investigated hundreds of offenders who have committed violent robberies and can assure you that the vast majority of these crimes were not committed for financial gain or profit. These offenders were almost all addicts chasing the next high, be it drugs or alcohol.

My experience in Homicide was similar.

Most killings driven by offenders who were affected by drug or alcohol addiction issues. Drugs or alcohol factoring into the tragic circumstances in one way or another in the majority of cases.

It is my experience that violent offenders are often habitual criminals who have enjoyed decades of “limp dick” justice. Feeble sentences, grossly applied early parole and release philosophies, countless breaches of recognizance and other orders. Horrific crimes, habitual offenders, inadequate sentences, minimal consequences.

The scales of justice so horribly out of balance.

More needs to be done and more must be done.

Any enlightened person who works in Criminal Justice can tell you that drug and alcohol addiction fuels crime and social dysfunction in our City.

Addiction, the number one factor.

Soft justice exacerbates the problem.

Brodbeck & Lett both got it right.

Real leaders would not deny these problems, they would see them as opportunities.

Tom Brodbeck – Winnipeg Sun http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/07/25/unreported-crime-is-a-major-problem

Dan Lett – Winnipeg Free Press http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/hamsterdam-no-solution-to-our-citys-woes-either-163663156.html