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Criminal Investigations often remind me of the old adage “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince.”

Criminal Investigators have to sort through volumes of files before they can find a substantial case to really sink their teeth into.

In the world of property crime….Cary Preston is a definite “Prince.”

A rare offender who is as committed to his “trade” as any professional Police Officer is committed to theirs.

I first heard of Preston when I took charge of the District Six Detective office back in 2006-2007.  Word was Preston was an old school safe cracker who committed crimes with the kind of prowess and precision that could only found with an elite criminal.  A habitual hard ass property offender who did crime across the Prairie Provinces.

When I started to look into Preston’s criminal exploits I realized that I had an onerous challenge ahead of me.  A tiny crime office with extremely limited resources and a dreadful shortage of experience.  Lucky for me…..the gap in experience was negated by our Detectives enthusiasm and determination.

My initial analysis told me that Preston was responsible for over fifty (50) complex commercial break and enter offences in the City of Winnipeg alone.  His target was cash….and he knew how and where to get it… was my belief that between 2002-2007 Preston netted in excess of $200,000 in cold hard cash. To make things worse…..his methods caused significant property damage….almost one dollar of damage caused for every dollar stolen.

These methods meant that members of the Winnipeg business community suffered a double indignity…..loss of cash and cost prohibitive damage that created costly downtime.

Hours of painstaking analysis resulted in establishing Preston’s unique modus operandi which was found to include strikingly similar traits.

  • Target locations were always thoroughly cased prior to offences
  • Double sided white tape was used to cover motion sensors prior to the crime….
  • Alarm contacts were removed, glued together or taped
  • Target of crimes was cash from safes or automated teller machines
  • Angle grinders were used to cut into safes or atms
  • Motion sensors were avoided by cutting through walls in bathrooms or offices
  • Crimes were sophisticated and required the significant use of tools

Victim businesses were found to be the same type of establishments……places where you could expect to find cash money…..restaurants like Applebees, Grapes, Perkins & Smitty’s.

We had connected the dots at a number of these offence locations by the unique modus operandi……Preston’s signature left at every crime scene.

Things started to get more interesting when we found out about DNA results that connected a number of other similar offences.   These were scene to scene hits by an unknown offender, one of which occurred as early as 2002……the same blood located at multiple crime scenes……the problem was…..the offender was unknown…..his DNA profile was not contained in the data bank.

A similar modus operandi was used at some of these crime scenes….the most significant trait was the use of the double sided white tape over the motion sensors.

(Crime analysis would subsequently show that double sided white tape had been used at a total of sixteen (16) offence locations, mostly in Winnipeg but also in Regina and Calgary.)

Prestons luck started to run out on November 8th, 2007 when he did a score at the Cathay House Restaurant at 1631 Regent Ave where he scored $15,000 cash and did over $3,000 in property damage.  Shortly after he did his score an unsuspecting Police patrol car crossed his bow……in his haste, Preston ditched his truck and fled on foot.  We had “flagged” Preston’s truck as a “pointer vehicle” as we had information he had used it at a commercial break & enter in Calgary, Alberta.  A phone call from the patrol officers got the ball rolling……Preston’s truck was seized and a GPS tracking device was installed.

On November 10th, 2007 we gave Mr Preston his truck back.

On November 15th, 2007 we followed Preston and an accomplice to the St Marys Hotel at 531 St Marys Rd where we nabbed him after he attacked a safe scoring $13,000 in cash.  Over $7,000 damage was caused to the victim premise.

(This was the very first night of our anti crime initiative dubbed Project Intervention.)

Upon surveying the crime scene we located double sided white tape on the motion sensor……the safe had been attacked with an angle grinder……the modus operandi, identical to the growing list of crimes under investigation.

Preston and his accomplice were both detained at the Provincial Remand Center…….the accomplice didn’t fool around and immediately plead guilty and received a three (3) year term of incarceration.

Preston on the other hand……had no intention of taking his medicine.

After being forced to provide a DNA sample Preston knew the clock was ticking on his crime spree…….it would be a matter of months before his DNA sample would be connected to the unsolved crimes stored in the DNA Data Bank.

Five days later, November 20th, 2007, Preston was released on bail.

We knew he wouldn’t stop……the problem for him was he still had no idea how we caught him…..the GPS tracking device was still helping us track his every move.

On November 27th, 2007 the GPS tracker put Preston in the area of X S Cargo, a retail business located at 1045 St James Street…….coincidentally…..the place got hit overnight……double sided white tape on the motion sensor……safe attacked with an angle grinder……$10,000 cash stolen and $4,000 damage done.

Although we had no doubt that Preston was behind this crime…..all we had was the GPS tracker data and a circumstantial case….this wasn’t enough to lay a charge.  We needed to catch Preston in the act again so that we could put him on ice for good.

Unfortunately, Project Intervention Part II was denied at the Superintendent Level leaving investigators frustrated and angry.  A  short term “fix” was ordered by the Superintendent that involved extending an Alberta radius warrant for Preston…..this meant that Preston would be arrested and conveyed to Calgary to face a single Break & Enter charge.  We knew that this was an extremely flawed and short sighted strategy……the investigators eager to take responsibility to catch Preston while the decision makers were eager to make him someone else’s problem….in my mind the abdication of responsibility is always a losing strategy.

Much to the dismay of the shot callers, the Calgary courts released Preston on a recognizance ordering him to immediately return to our jurisdiction….a result we had anticipated and vocalized.

The desire to rub the Superintendents nose in the shit storm that Preston’s release created was strong but there was no time for trivial distractions….we had to get refocused on the task at hand……stopping Preston’s crime spree.

Project Intervention Part III was born.

Our efforts to continue with detailed crime analysis progressed and netted significant returns when we realized that Preston had done Commercial Break & Enters on Christmas day in 2004, 2005 & 2006.  His targets……Smitty’s and Tim Hortons restaurants……could there be any doubt the pattern would continue……I would have bet my house on it.

As luck would have it…..on December 24th, 2007 the GPS tracker showed Preston casing the Tim Hortons Restaurant at 1146 Portage Ave.

On December 25th, 2007 a break & enter was discovered at this location……over $3,600 cash had been stolen.

On December 26th, 2007 Preston was arrested and found to be in possession of a large amount of cash and other items from Tims.

The crime spree was over…..Preston was locked up and wouldn’t see the outside of a jail cell for a very long time.

In the mean time….DNA tests subsequently positively linked Preston to a total of seven (7) commercial Break & Enters where double sided white tape had been used to defeat motion sensors.  The statistical odds that the DNA was not Preston’s was reported at a ratio of 1 to 2.4 trillion.

Preston was subsequently charged with over twenty-five (25) significant commercial break & enter offences and a multitude of other charges…..he would languish in jail for several years playing the “game”…..racking up time that he knew he would get “double time credit” for once the hammer came down.

On June 21st, 2010 Preston entered into a plea bargain arrangement that saw him receive a sentence of over seven (7) years incarceration……an impressive sentence when you consider that our Courts generally don’t impose significant jail time for property offenders.

During his sentencing……Crown Attorney Chris Vanderhooft stated “These are cold, callous and calculated crimes, where greed is the motivating factor. They are the hallmarks of a professional criminal.”

(The problem, of course, was that he did receive double time credit for nearly twenty-nine (29) months which left him with only about twenty-seven (27) months left to serve.)

Just prior to my retirement this year (May 2012) I heard that Preston was out and back at it after being released on Parole in late 2011…..

That was no surprise to me…..that kind of money is hard to walk away from for a habitual criminal.

That brings us to today…..a phone call from a friend who wanted to be the first to tell me that WPS Detectives had just nabbed Preston doing his thing again.  Multiple charges to be laid for more than half a dozen commercial Break & Enter offences.  The word in Police circles is that Preston netted over $100,000 cash during his recent crime spree.  I expect the damage he caused was congruent with that number.

I guarantee you one thing…..the only thing that will ever stop Cary Preston from doing these crimes will be old age…….he’s a hard core committed criminal whose crimes are lucrative……a poster boy for people who argue in favor of bigger jails and longer jail sentences….

Of interest to me were the comments made by Justice Albert Clearwater at the time of Preston’s sentencing in 2010…….”Preston is a “professional career criminal” and should expect to receive maximum and consecutive sentences should he ever appear before court again.”

Like a parent threatening a disobedient child….the need to follow through with a substantive sanction is paramount……the Courts credibility will be judged based on its ability to follow through on Justice Clearwater’s threat.

Will it be an eight ball award or a hard ball award……I, for one, can’t wait to find out…

Whatever the sentence…..the Police Officers behind this arrest should be commended for their efforts to protect our business community from this parasite…..

I will sleep better knowing that Cary Preston is back on ice….



Between March 2012 and October 2012, the Winnipeg Police Service launched an investigation known as “Project Relapse” after unknown persons began methodically breaking into businesses across the city.
The break-ins were sophisticated in nature, in that alarms were circumvented and holes were cut in walls to enter the businesses and avoid alarm sensors.  The suspect(s) then attacked and stole Safes and Automated Teller Machines (ATMS) from the locations.  Approximately $100,000 in cash was stolen.
The incidents included the following:
  • March 10 – 300 block of Ness Avenue (Restaurant)
  • Between March 18 & 20 – 1800 block of Grant Avenue  (Restaurant)
  • Between April 10 & 11 – 700 block of Watt Street (Pharmacy)
  • May 31- 1700 block of Ellice Avenue (Restaurant)
  • Between June 3 & 4 – 1800 block of Pembina Highway (Grocery Store)
  • June 8 – 1500 block of Regent Avenue (Restaurant)
  • June 13 – 1700 block of Ellice Avenue (Restaurant)
  • October 10 – 1100 block of Pembina Highway (Business)
  • October 15 and 16 – 2500 block of Portage Avenue (Business)
  • October 26 – 1000 block of Nairn Avenue (Business)
As a result of an intensive on-going investigation by members of the East District Crime Unit and District 2 Crime Unit, two males were located and arrested in the area of the 600 block of Talbot Avenue at approximately 6:15 a.m., on Friday, October 26, 2012.
Cary Scott PRESTON, 36 years of Winnipeg has been charged with: Break, Enter a Place x 11
Kyle Robert BARR, 20 years of Winnipeg has been charged with: Break, Enter a Place and Breach of Probation.
Both were detained in custody.


WFP – June 21, 2010 Man gets seven years for sophisticated robberies

Winnipeg Sun –


The Fugitive poster in the slideshow was created by one of the Detectives who worked on the case…..this poster illustrates one of the dangers of having a forensic artist on your team!

Preston case developed as centrepiece for WPS Criminal Investigators Training Course

REALITY – A Bitter Pill

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Reality can be a bitter pill for some people to swallow…..

That appears to be true for a number of people who recently protested at City Hall calling for a continued search for the remains of Tanya Nepinak.

As I reported in my blog post dated September 21st, 2012 titled “The Search for Tanya Nepinak – Into the Abyss”….the Winnipeg Police Service agreed to conduct the search despite a number of problematic factors, which included:

  • Lack of “credible” information regarding a starting point
  • The need to rely on the intuition of Aboriginal Elders and the departure from a conventional or scientific investigative approach
  • The microscopic odds against success
  • The significant drain on Police resources
  • The prohibitive costs related to the search

When I wrote my original post I respectfully declined to judge the decision to search… a father of two daughters I sympathized with the Nepinak family and believed that the WPS had a moral obligation to conduct the search…..I realize that this was an emotional response and not an analytical one.  While I was not required to consider analytics the decision makers certainly were.

Since the search concluded the WPS has been faced with a Public Relations nightmare.

Accusations from the Nepinak family that the Police searched the wrong site.  Press coverage focusing on Aboriginal outrage and discontentment with the WPS.  Relations between Law Enforcement and the Aboriginal Community suffering more damage and spiralling downward.

The Police & City Hall are now faced with protest and demands to continue the search.

Some of the demands traversing into the all to predictable inflammatory accusations that racism can be blamed for our societal failure to locate Tanya’s’ remains.

“If it was a person from a white community, she would have been found already but since she’s’ a native woman, nothing is going to be done and we’re here to make a stand” said protestor Morris St Croix.

Outrageous, divisive comments to be sure…..but in “reality” Mr St Croix is right in his suggestion that race has played a significant role in this case…….in a way that is quite opposite from his misguided belief.

I have led dozens of Homicide cases and never even remotely entertained the idea of utilizing the services of “clairvoyants” or “seers” to assist in these investigations……can there be any doubt that race factored into the decision to rely on the “intuition” of Aboriginal Elders to assist with identifying a starting point for the search in this case?

The decision recently examined by former WPS Deputy Chief Menno Zacharias in his latest blog post “The Search for Tanya Nepinaks Body: An Exercise in “Relationship Building” Gone Awry.”

In his post Mr Zacharias writes “The subsequent search of a very small area was not a sound operational decision.  The actual search was a token search, an act of going through the motions in the hope that the victim’s family and aboriginal leaders would be mollified.”

The question people are asking is quite contrary……with the odds against success so astronomically high……would the Police have conducted the search if Tanya Nepinak was a Caucasian woman.  Many people doubt that they would have.

Popular sentiment suggests that the decision to search was strictly a political one designed to appease or “mollify” the Aboriginal Community as former Deputy Chief Menno Zacharias suggests.

I believe that the decision was based on “good intentions” and was surely made with heightened sensitivity to issues centered around the “r” word.

Sadly, protesters like Morris St Croix will never be able to see the truth….not when he is so horribly blinded by his own incredulous perceptions of racism.

Racism didn’t contribute to the failings of the WPS to locate the remains of homicide victim Jacinto Etecheverry when they searched for his body in the Brady Road Landfill in 2008 and racism didn’t contribute to the failure of the WPS to locate the remains of Tanya Nepinak.

The lack of credible, accurate & timely information did.

The reality is that Landfill searches are extremely difficult, dangerous and extremely expensive undertakings……in most cases the odds of success are frightfully remote!

I think its time for the Mayor & Chief of Police to sit down with the Nepinak family and have an honest “reality” based conversation.

Reality…..a bitter pill to swallow.


Post featured in the Winnipeg Free Press as “Blog of the Week” –


CTV news story here:

Former Deputy Chief Menno Zarcharias blog post here:

My post….”The Search for Tanya Nepinak – Into the Abyss” here:


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It sure didn’t take long for our new Police Chief to find himself in hot water…..seems like the honeymoon might already be over.

If you missed it……on October 11th, 2012 Christian Week News published an article that started the fire.

Social & Print media poured gas on it with critical stories, snide remarks and skeptical interpretations.

Winnipeg Free Press – “MP Martin taken aback by new top cop saying prayer can help fight crime.”

Martin is quoted as saying “You have to welcome a more enlightened approach to criminal justice issues, but if anyone thinks the power of prayer alone is going to make our streets safer, they’re deluded.  Our crime rates are more a function of chronic, long-term poverty than they are a paucity of faith and religion.”

Winnipeg Sun Headline – “Winnipeg doesn’t have a prayer.”

Marcel Gagne Blog – “Praying for Peace in Winnipeg.”

Gagne, a renowned author writes in his blog;

“I’m trying to decide just how much fun I want to poke at this guy.”  “Praying for peace, or health, or anything else good for that matter is not only nonsense, it’s dangerous nonsense. It renders you impotent and powerless and keeps you from actually doing something.”

The comments that ignited the maelstrom;

“I’m a little tired of us being the murder capital of Canada.  People consistently say, ‘How are you going to solve that?  It’s not simply going to be because we’re going to go out there and police it away. I truly believe that prayer will be a significant piece of that.  What would happen if we all just truly – I’m talking about all religious stripes here – started praying for the peace of this city and then actually starting putting some action behind that. I believe something phenomenal is going to happen in our city. I truly believe it’s coming. I don’t think I’ve arrived at this position just by chance.”

While I will not try to defend the wisdom of making such a statement I will defend Clunis against the selective editors who have taken creative license to interpret and put their own spin on his comments.

The “spin” has taken the comments completely out of context and has primarily focused on the religious aspect regarding “prayer.”   In doing so the critics have completely disregarded the spirit and intent of the comments in their entirety by selectively editing out “and then started putting some action behind that.”

You can ridicule Clunis all you want but the man is not a fool…..he knows that we can’t “pray away” Winnipeg’s well documented crime problems.

As a man of great faith….he obviously relies on prayer in his daily life.

Lets not forget…..the people in the hiring process obviously knew what they were getting when they promoted Clunis to the highest office in the Police Service.

As Police Chaplin his strong religious beliefs and values were not in the closet….they were out there…..for all of us to see.

Although I am not a particularly religious person….I have a very strong value system and a relatively strict moral code.

Devon Clunis has great personal attributes that the members of the WPS and Citizens of this City might find refreshing……honesty, trust, accountability and integrity are not just words to him.

(Such as they are for a few high-ranking individuals who currently occupy powerful positions in the Police Service.)

Devon Clunis “truly” cares about people…..this much I know for certain.

He is the one and only person in the Police Executive that had the courage & concern to demonstrate support for me in the aftermath of the events that led to my departure from the Police Service.

That concern meant a lot to me.

I just pray that the job and the skeptics don’t destroy him.

Lets give the man a break….for Gods sake!


WFP ––175418181.html




Winnipeg Sun:

Winnipeg Sun:

Marcel Gagne –

Metro –

Metro –

Christian Week –

WRHA, NDP & CITY OF WINNIPEG – All High on Crack

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Be afraid……be very afraid!

I just read Tom Brodbecks latest and greatest titled “WRHA giving out twice as many free crack pipes.”  Winnipeg Sun October 18th, 2012.

According to Mr Brodbeck the Selinger government, through the WRHA (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority), is now handing out more than twice as many free crack pipe kits to Winnipeg crack heads as it did at the inception of the program circa 2004.

Brodbeck cites a WRHA report dated September 2012 that indicates that crack addicts can now receive up to five “tax payer” funded crack pipe kits per day……but get this……”crack house operators” are also entitled to receive five kits per day.

(The use of the term “crack house operators” causes me great concern……a seemingly socially acceptable term, embracing these “entrepreneurs” as members of our legitimate business community.  The fact is “crack house operators” are hard core criminal gang members.)

The article explores the rationale & justification used for the continuing the program and raises issues regarding the morality of such and endeavour…..especially when you consider it is funded on the tax payers dime.

The statistics;

In 2005-2006, the WRHA gave out 10,228 kits……

In 2010-2011, the WRHA gave out 24,193 “Crack Kits” to crack users at a cost of $14,274 tax payers dollars……..a frightening increase of approximately 136%.

Frightening because the reality is, the typical crack user cannot sustain their habit by maintaining any form of legitimate employment……the addiction forces them to resort to crime to feed their habit.

I have seen evidence of this reality literally hundreds and hundreds of times during my career in law enforcement.

The distribution, sale and use of crack in the City of Winnipeg is directly responsible for underpinning the violent crime statistics that plague our City.

The distribution, sale and use of crack cocaine fuel or contribute to the following elements of crime;

  • Organized Crime Conflict – Between Hells Angels, Rock Machine & Independent Drug Cells, murders, shootings, fire bombings, kidnappings and serious assaults
  • Criminal Street Gang Conflict – murders, shootings, serious assaults
  • Crack Houses – run by street gangs, murders, shootings, destruction of neighborhoods
  • Sex Trade Workers – prostitution, addiction, high risk lifestyle
  • Missing & Murdered Women – drug addiction identified as a significant causation factor
  • Robbery – Commercial & Strong Arm
  • Property Offences – Commercial and Residential Break & Enters, Thefts, Shop Lifting

Remember this guy…..

You guessed it…….feeding a crack addiction…..sporting a criminal record with no less than 100 convictions… standing charged with the murder of three innocent Manitoba women.

How about this guy….

The Yuletide Bandit, Michael Syrnyk….his crack fuelled crime spree included fifteen (15) armed robberies, nine (9) armoured car heists, eight (8) break & enters, a hostage taking and three (3) shootings victims…two of which were Police Officers….

How about a guy named Roy Uriah Randell….arrested during a crime spree that would see him charged with over fifty (50) residential break and enters, investigators believe he likely did over one hundred and fifty (150) of these crimes before his “luck” ran out….or William Bradford Canning…..his crime of choice was armed robbery…..Police finally caught up with him after he had done in excess of twenty one (21) offences…….these criminals all had one thing in common…….they were all unable to get the “crack monkey” off their backs.

I can name dozens of individuals just like these notorious offenders….the cost of the destruction suffered by the victims left in their wake of their crime sprees is nothing short of astounding. The damage is real….. very real…..and crosses many boundaries…..psychological, emotional, financial.

Drug addiction has an extremely detrimental effect on all of us……every tax paying, law abiding citizen in the City of Winnipeg.  If you think it doesn’t… are simply naive or sadly misinformed.

It has direct or indirect effects on our economy, our safety and our pocket books.

The 136% increase in the distribution of crack pipes should have major alarm bells ring at City Hall and across the road at 151 Princess Street…..WPS Headquarters.

If our Politicians and members of our Police Service do not heed this warning then I fear that our City might never forgo the not so prestigious title of “Murder & violent crime capital of Canada.”

Is spending money to supply “crack kits” to addicts and the criminal gangs that profit from their addictions really the best we can do in the face of this epidemic?

If this trend continues unabated…..I foresee a zombielike apocalypse……the “Walking Dead” roaming the streets of Winnipeg……looking to cannibalize victims to quench their insatiable hunger for more “rock”.*

The WRHA, NDP & the entire City of Winnipeg…..all helplessly “high on crack”.


The Winnipeg Police Association weighs in on the subject…..see interview of WPA President Mike Sutherland here:

For Tom Brodbecks article….go here:

For follow up article by Tom Brodbeck questioning WRHA practise regarding handing out crack kits to youths….go here:

*”Rock” is a street term for crack cocaine.

ABORIGINAL WOMEN – A Statistical Nightmare

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As an eternally optimistic member of this melting pot that we call Winnipeg, I have a dream…..a dream of a safe, utopian society where every citizen is a valued, vibrant, productive contributor to a culturally diverse & rich community.

Unfortunately, the reality is that we live in a City that has earned the title “Murder & Violent Crime Capital of Canada.”

As dismal as that might be, I personally do not believe that this has to be the reality for Winnipeg.

Optimistic despite a recent article published in the WFP on October 12th, 2012 titled “Female Native Inmates on Rise” written by reporter Alexandra Paul.

The story reports on results of a study called “Marginalized, the Aboriginal Women’s Experience in Federal Prisons.” The results of the study contained in a sixty-eight (68) page in-depth report penned by Mandy Wesley, LLB.

The topics are vast and include;

  • Aboriginal Women – a history of dislocation & isolation
  • Criminogenic Factors
  • Programming
  • Self Injury & Mental Health Issues
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  • Gladue & Corrections
  • Parole

The highlights quoted from the study report the following;

  • Aboriginal peoples account for 4% of the Canadian population; however, within the federal corrections population, Aboriginal peoples comprise 20% of the total incarcerated offender population.
  • The current state of over-representation of Aboriginal women in Federal Corrections is nothing short of a crisis.
  • The over-representation is even more pronounced in terms of Aboriginal women incarceration rates: As of April 2010, Aboriginal women accounted for 32.6% of the total female offender population, this means that one out of every three women federally incarcerated is of Aboriginal descent.
  • Over the past 10 years, the representation of Aboriginal women in Federal Corrections has increased by nearly 90% as such they represent the fastest growing offender population.
  • Moreover, there is no indication of any anticipated decline.

The study provides information regarding some of the impacts of historical Governmental policies that have contributed to the current state of affairs.  It also looks at current rehabilitative programs in Federal Institutions.

As in-depth as the report is… primarily focuses on causation and offender resources.

Prevention and/or a proactive approach to avoid or reduce criminality was obviously beyond the purview of the study.

Of further interest……the WFP report provides information regarding “typical profiles” of offenders…of note:

  • The average aboriginal female prisoner is younger than non-aboriginal female prisoners and she’s serving from two to five years behind bars.
  • She is serving time for a serious offence, typically a violent offence. She has an extensive criminal history, a low-level of employment experience and low education.

In other words…..we are not talking about petty theft and mischief here…..these are serious offences, typically violent…offenses that have netted Federal Penitentiary terms.

The prediction in the study is ominous…..”there is no indication of any anticipated decline.”

As I read the study I couldn’t help but think of the statistics related to another crisis…….Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women.  Is there any possible expectation that these numbers might decline?

A conversation I overheard the other day does not provide much in the way of optimism.  I was doing some research for an article regarding Downtown safety….specifically Portage Place.  As I stood in a bus shelter across the street from the Mall I overheard a young Aboriginal women speaking to someone on her cell phone.

She was distressed about her missing sister who she had not seen or heard from in almost two weeks.  From the conversation it was clear that she had absolutely no idea who her sisters friends were or who her sister associated with.  What was clear is that her sister liked to “party all over the place.”  No one in the family had any idea where she was…..another lost Aboriginal girl…..gone without a trace.

It made me wonder…..was she a victim…..had she been killed and dumped in a ditch somewhere.  Is there a Homicide Supervisor out there whose cell phone is going to ring at any moment….the trail already helplessly cold… leads… witnesses…..the odds of solving the case as small as the suspect pool is large.

Incarcerated Aboriginal Women……Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women…..two categories that present unacceptable statistical nightmares for our Canadian society.

As the study reports……the vast majority of incarcerated Aboriginal Women are doing time for committing a violent criminal offence.  My experience in law enforcement tells me that the vast majority of violent crime is fueled by alcohol.

Recent data released by Project Devote indicates that alcohol and drugs are significant contributing causation factors regarding Missing & Murdered Aboriginal Women.

The role that alcohol and drugs plays in these tragic numbers cannot be minimized.

I fully recognize the complexity of the problem and realize that drug and alcohol addiction treatment, in isolation, will not work.  Only a multi-disciplined inclusive approach can work for a problem of this magnitude.

Dreams of a utopian society fade in the wake of our stark reality……but I still believe there is hope.

Hope that the incarcerated Aboriginal Women find the path to a peaceful, crime free way of life….

Hope that the Missing Aboriginal Women are found…

Hope that the unsolved murders will be solved…..

Hope that the “right” people get motivated to do the “right” thing so that these ugly trends might be reversed….

Hope that we can all wake up from this statistical nightmare!


For the study authored by Mandy Wesley go here;

For the WFP story “Female Native Inmates on Rise” go here


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I very much respect the role of the Criminal Defense Attorney and I have great respect for many Winnipeg Criminal Defense Attorneys.

True “Justice” can only be realized when people who are accused of crimes are given full and fair representation.  That includes the right to contact and consult with counsel.  It also includes the right to remain silent.

It seems to me that, like anything, “reasonable limits” must be placed on that representation.

“Au contraire” according to Winnipeg Criminal Defense Attorneys who recently sent a critical letter to Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill accusing his officers of practicing “unacceptable intimidation tactics” against defence lawyers who provide legal advice to young offenders.

The story, reported by Winnipeg Sun Crime Reporter James Turner on October 16th, 2012, provides the substance contained in the letter of complaint.

“Our organizations have been made aware of recent incidents where attorneys are being intimidated and threatened with arrest if they do not attend police detachments, even when youth clients have advised police that they are exercising their right to silence.”

The letter continues…

“Furthermore, lawyers that have attended to the police station to assist young persons have been threatened with criminal charges for giving advice to their clients to exercise their right to remain silent during the course of an interrogation. These actions by members of the Winnipeg Police Service are unacceptable.”

The letter goes on to state that a survey conducted of all other Legal Aid Programs in Canada showed that such “tactics” were not employed in any other jurisdiction.

(That could mean that other jurisdictions are rife with apathy or it could be possible that Defense Attorneys in other jurisdictions respect the role of Law Enforcement during suspect interrogations.)

The letter was an apparent collaboration by current and former top officials from Legal Aid Manitoba that included Karen Whittman, president of the Manitoba Bar Association and Darren Sawchuk, president of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

What the letter ignores is that as guardians of the public peace….Police Officers also have rights.  The right to conduct an investigation which includes the right to question or interrogate persons who are accused of crimes.

One of the problems that the Police face is that, under the YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act), Police are obligated to have a lawyer, parent or other appropriate adult present when a young offender decides to give a statement.

In some instances young offenders will indicate that they are exercising their right to silence but that doesn’t mean that the Police forfeit their right and obligation to attempt to further their case by conducting an interview or interrogation.  Failure to have counsel present during this process will undoubtedly render the statement inadmissible in a Court of Law.

If Criminal Defense Attorneys refuse to attend the Police Station to represent their clients the entire process breaks down…..forget the moral obligation…..the obligation is much bigger than that.  Criminal Defense attorneys, by their unwillingness to fulfill this expectation…..bring the entire administration of “Justice” into disrepute.

The second issue identified in the letter relates to Police Officer threats of arrest to Defense Lawyers who give advice to their clients to remain silent during the course of an interrogation.

To people on the outside this might sound like and extreme abuse of authority.  Some balance is needed to properly assess these “unacceptable tactics.”

When a young offender is arrested they are given their rights and are taken to the Police Station where the investigative process unfolds.  Upon arrival, they are given the opportunity to contact and consult with a lawyer of their choice.

These phone consultations vary in length and can go on for over an hour.  The Police don’t generally impose time limits on these calls.

(During these calls Defense Attorneys often go to great lengths to advise the Young Offenders to remain silent……infact, that is often the entire essence of these consultations.)

For serious offences, such as murder, there is an expectation that the Defense Lawyer will attend the Police Station.  In my experience, they do so without exception.

Once they arrive at the Police Station they are given access to the Young Offender.  Once again, the Police do not place a time limit on this face to face consultation.  These sessions can last well over one hour……the majority of this time is spent counselling the young offender to remain silent during the subsequent interrogation.

Once the consultations are complete the Police Officers enter the interview room to conduct their interrogation.

An interrogation designed to put questions to a Young Offender to explore his or her involvement in a crime so that the truth can be discovered and the appropriate responsibility for a criminal act can be determined.

The Police have a right and responsibility to conduct the interrogation and to discharge their societal duty to investigate and solve crime.

I have conducted hundreds of interviews with Young Offenders…..many of these interviews and interrogations were central to the resolution of high profile Homicides.

An interview room is a very small space with barely enough room for the Young Offender, two Police investigators and Defense Counsel.

During a typical interview the offender will be placed in a fixed chair at the interview room table that is also fixed to the floor.  One Officer will be seated at a fixed chair at the table opposite the offender while the other officer will be seated on a floating chair in proximity to the offender.  The Defense Attorney is seated in a floating chair in one of the corners of the room.

The officer sitting in the floating chair strategically positions him or herself between the offender and lawyer to limit eye contact and keep the offender focused on the interrogation.

The role of the interrogator is a difficult one…..the need to gain the trust of the offender so that he might confess to a crime…..a confession that might result in a conviction and a lengthy term of incarceration.

An interrogator follows a process…..step by step….every question building a foundation for the next question……gaining rapport…..painting a picture……urging an offender to tell the truth and to take responsibility for their crime.

Interrogation requires focus, concentration and patience.

The interrogation also offers the youth an opportunity to provide their version of events which may impact the course of an investigation.  Was the youth falsely accused….coerced, intimidated or forced to become involved in the crime.  Are others more or equally responsible…..these are all potential results of an interrogation.

Unfortunately, some Defence Attorneys think it is their job to constantly interrupt and disrupt the interrogation by repeatedly interjecting and “reminding” the offender of their right to silence…..despite the fact that they had just spent the preceding hour or more reinforcing this strategy.  This “strategy” is nothing more than an immoral game these lawyers like to play…..a highly inappropriate tactic at best…..criminal conduct at worse.

During one of my interrogations I sensed that the offender was starting to crack….his resolve to resist my questions was evaporating and he was weakening.  At this critical juncture his Defense Attorney stood up with his chair fixed to his backside and essentially sat on top of me in his efforts to push me aside so that he could take the position beside the offender.

His actions destroyed the flow of the interview and reinforced the offenders resolve to resist my questions.  An opportunity to solve a heinous crime lost…..a young offender encouraged to resist the urge to take responsibility for his crime.  Precisely the wrong message sent to an impressionable young person at a critical phase in his developmental years.

I have conducted dozens of other interviews where Defense Attorneys have constantly interrupted the flow of the interview…..their behaviour absolutely outrageous.

I have also conducted dozens of interviews where Defense Attorneys sat quietly in the interview room and respected the process.

I am very much disappointed that the Manitoba Bar Association & the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association has decided to throw their support behind over invested Criminal Defense Lawyers who see their roles in the Justice System as direct adversaries to the Police and the investigative process.

I for one….do not want to live in a Country where criminals can prey on the citizens in our society and enjoy the protections of a “legal system” that ensures that Police Officers do not have the right to put questions to offenders.

The Police are an extension of the public and confront criminals and criminal behaviour on behalf of the citizenry.

In the case of Young Offenders, charged with offences short of murder, the ability to confront these youths can often constitute an intervention of sorts and can alter criminal behaviour before it becomes entrenched or habitual.

That’s how a true and just society works……that’s how we keep the scales of Justice balanced.

Socially responsible Defense Attorneys respect the process and the role of law enforcement in the administration of Justice.

It’s the over invested socially irresponsible zealots that are the impediments to “true Justice.”

The Chief of Police and our friends at Manitoba Justice need to stand up and be counted on this one.

James Turners report his here


Criminal Defense Attorneys featured in slide show are not connected to the issue explored in this blog.  They were selected for the slide show because of their notoriety and high profile status.

GANG TAGS – Read Between the Lines

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Winnipeg… safe City…..that’s the message Mayor Katz wants you to believe……but is it true?

Gang Experts will tell you that, “gang graffiti” or “gang tags” are more than just the result of a group of delinquent kids running around amusing themselves by defacing property.

Gang tags are serious business….they are intended to send strong messages to rival gangs, police and the community at large.  Messages claiming territorial boundaries or “turf” and symbols of power and status.

I always believed that gang tags were a window into the minds of the street thugs who represent street gangs.  They are an excellent gauge that should be read and interpreted to determine “the temperature” out on the streets.

It is not uncommon to find significant gang tagging activity in the area of a gang related homicide, or in a neighbourhood where a gang related killing recently occurred.  These tags can provide important insight into these events.

Most Gang Experts agree that failure to remove such symbols can lead to heightened gang tension and the degradation of neighbourhoods…..not to mention the devaluation of property and reinforcement of fear in the community.

Have you ever taken a drive around the West Broadway area, the West End, Central or the North End.  You might be surprised by what you see in these neighbourhoods.

I took a brief tour of these areas the other day and even had my eyes opened by the extent of what I found.  Gang tags aplenty in all the aforementioned neighbourhoods….virtually down every single back lane.  (I also found significant evidence of gang tag removal which only proves to underline the seriousness and extent of our gang problem.)

For the record….I took this drive between the hours of 10;00 am and 2:00 pm and would not recommend being in these areas in the late evening or early morning hours.

West Broadway:





“B-S” = “B-SIDE”























Dozens of photographs to choose from…..all indicative of the continuing significant street gang presence in the City of Winnipeg.

Despite the assurances of the politicos….the photographs contained in this blog are real evidence that illustrates and underlines the realities of the dangers that currently exist on the mean streets of our City.

There is a reason why Winnipeg is designated the Murder and Violent Crime capital of Canada.  The impact that criminal street gangs and organized crime has on these statistics is undeniable.

The continuing degradation of communities in this City is alarming…..the spread of the “criminal cancer” in once safe neighbourhoods almost at a terminal juncture.

If nothing changes….be prepared to see many more of these types of gang tags;

The time for denial and political spin is over!

Take a look at the gang tags……then read between the lines!