CHIEF CONCERNS – What Kind of City Do You Want to Live In?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What kind of City do you want to live in?

That’s a question I’d like to ask Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Kevin Chief.

Chief was the victim of a violent attack recently after being jumped by a group of thugs on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge.  The incident occurred around 8 pm Sunday evening while he was out for a Manitoba Marathon training run.  “I don’t think they targeted me.  I really think it was a really random, stupid thing,” Chief said.

The assault lasted around thirty-seconds.  Chief was set upon by three male and one female assailant, he was knocked to the ground and repeatedly kicked.  His face was bloodied and bruised, his nose broken and two of his teeth were chipped.  This was a nasty assault, a crime for which the perpetrators would be appropriately charged with Assault Causing Bodily Harm.  A criminal offence that comes with a sentencing range up to a maximum of ten (10) years incarceration.  Unfortunately, apprehension of the offenders appears to be the last thing Mr Chief is concerned about.

“For every incident like this that happens, there are literally thousands of good stories and stories of success.  I don’t want what happened to me to reflect on the community,” he said.

It seems Mr Chiefs first inclination was to venture into the world of denial reminiscent of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz who once said; “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.”

I often wonder if anyone else is tiring of hearing politicos incessantly downplaying the harsh realities of our crime ridden City.

Mr Chiefs motivation for minimizing the serious nature of the assault is clearly born out of his desire to counter negative perceptions the incident might create for his north end community.  I’m sorry, that kind of denial is misguided and reckless.

The North end has a serious crime problem, if you don’t believe me, just read the news papers or have a gander at a crime stat map.  That doesn’t mean the community is a wasteland deserving of a shock and awe campaign.  The North end is a diverse community, rich in culture and populated by scads of industrious wonderful people.

Assaults, like the one experienced by Mr Chief can happen anywhere.  It can happen to an off duty police officer walking with his spouse and young son in parts of the City not generally known for its violence. All it takes is a case of beer, two thugs and a large dose of stupidity.

When these things happen you have to decide what kind of City you want to live in.

The choice for me was easy, the thugs who attacked me would learn a valuable lesson after being forced to account for their criminal behaviour.

It’s unfortunate that Mr Chief chose to feel shame and embarrassment.  It’s unfortunate he chose to wait until Tuesday to report the incident to Police.  A prompt call to 911 may have resulted in a quick apprehension and had the potential to put a stop to what could have been a series of similar attacks.  These kind of attacks are often serial or repetitive in nature and can escalate much like the 2009 North end mugging spree that cumulated with the murder of twenty-four year old Joseph Hall.

A prompt 911 call can often be the difference between a public safety triumph or a senseless tragedy.

Even more disturbing than the delay in reporting to the Police is the offender driven concern expressed by Mr Chief.  “I have no anger toward the people that did this to me.  I completely forgive them.  My hope is they reach out to get the help they need and that this doesn’t happen to someone else.”

Alas, no mention of the dreaded word “consequence.”  No concern for anyone being held criminally responsible for launching a brutally violent, unprovoked attack on an innocent citizen.  No arrest, no trial, no prison time, no fine.  Not even any mention of restorative Justice.

Mr Chiefs hope is that this type of thing “doesn’t happen to someone else,” yet he chose to do nothing to influence that prospect.  No 911 call to stop a group of thugs, a delayed report to Police, an ice-cold suspect trail, no apparent interest in a prosecution and a forgiving “hug a thug” mentality.

I commend Mr Chief for having the courage to continue to run across that bridge, but at the end of the day, he has a responsibility to do his part to help make our community safe.

We all share in that responsibility.

Aggressively confronting crime and criminal behaviour forms part of that obligation.

I know what kind of City I want to live in!

EVAN MAUD – Sometimes Sorry Just Isn’t Enough!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Evan Maud was back in the spot light yesterday.

As you may recall, Maud became a poster boy for National wide Police haters in December of 2010 when he alleged two members of the Winnipeg Police Service essentially kidnapped and dumped him on the outskirts of the City.

He further alleged the officers made him take off some of his clothing and threatened to taser him before leaving him to his own devices in the darkness of an unforgiving frigid winters night.

The sensational allegations were covered by media outlets across the Country, from print media to television outlets like CBC, CTV, APTN and others.

The headlines were an embarrassment to all WPS officers whose reputations were indelibly tarnished by the outrageous claims of criminal conduct.  Tenuous relationships with the Aboriginal Community were inflamed once again as feelings of outrage, anger and hostility were openly expressed.

U of M Sociology Professor Elizabeth Comack jumped on the band wagon to add credibility to Maud’s claims by citing results from a study she conducted at the behest of Southern Chiefs Organization that began in 2008.

It seems Professor Comack heard similar stories when she conducted interviews with prisoners doing time at the Headingley jail.

“I’ve had the advantage of sitting across the table from someone telling me that story in such great detail, and they were so upset, I believe what they’re telling me,” Comack said.

She then went on to praise Maud for “speaking out.”

Someone should tell Professor Comack that sentenced prisoners languishing in correctional facilities may not provide an objective “random” sampling of the collective Aboriginal experience with law enforcement.

I’m sure Comack felt a certain degree of discomfort when she heard the results of a Police investigation that irrefutably destroyed Maud’s libelous allegations.

The investigation included detailed analysis of Police cruiser GPS tracker information, review and analysis of transit video, review and analysis of Police Officer accounts and interviews with independent witnesses.

In short, this was a lengthy, detailed investigation that required considerable resources and undoubtedly cost thousands of tax payer dollars.

When the dust settled, Maud found himself on the wrong end of criminal charges for fabricating the “starlight drive” story.

Now we hear news of an apology and restorative justice.  Maud’s charges will be dropped after he provided a “sincere” apology to the Winnipeg Police Service.

I really didn’t find the story all that compelling until I saw a tweet from CTV news reporter Caroline Barghout.

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 8.54.06 AM

An astute observation to be sure.

It seems to me that any apology that stopped short of a clear admission that Maud lied would make it somewhat less than “sincere.”  After reading the apology letter I’m even more perplexed.  I question the sincerity of an apology letter crafted in such a way that one has to infer the author lied about the events in question.  In my estimation, an inference does not equate to a candid, sincere apology.

I question the “sincerity” of the cryptic apology even further when it’s found to contain a public advisory urging people to not be discouraged from submitting legitimate complaints of Police misconduct.

“I don’t want this to impact anyone from submitting legitimate complaints in the future,” Maud writes.

Evan Maud former prevaricator now turned Ombudsman.

Subtleties aside, is saying sorry really enough?

Is saying sorry enough when you get drunk and launch a violent unprovoked attack an innocent man who you repeatedly punched in the face causing a concussion, lacerated eyeball and a bruised orbital bone.

“All I’d like to say is I’m sorry, that’s about it,” Maud said when he was recently sentenced on a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Harm.

Another “sincere” apology from Evan Maud that got him a sentence of thirty-three (33) days “time served.”

Is either outcome appropriate?

Thirty-three (33) days for a brutal assault and a restorative justice  apology for Public Mischief after making slanderous inflammatory allegations against members of the Winnipeg Police Service.

If nothing else, Evan Maud has learned just how powerful the words “I’m sorry” can be in Canadian Justice.  What he didn’t learn was the definition of a word called “consequences.”

I don’t take issue with the idea of a restorative justice sentence.  My experience in law enforcement taught me that jail is a cesspool of criminality that should be reserved for the dangerous or habitual offenders who continually prey on the members of our peaceful society.

The problem is, there is no justice in a restorative sentence that comes with no consequences.

Apologies without action are words without meaning.

There were options for Evan Maud.  Restitution for an expensive police investigation was an option.  A requirement to complete 200 hours of community service work was an option.  A requirement to complete 200 hours of volunteer work for the Police Service was an option.

Saying sorry and simply walking away from his charges should have never been an option.

Sometimes saying sorry just isn’t enough.

APOLOGY FROM EVAN MAUD:

I’m sorry for jeopardizing the reputation of the Winnipeg Police Service. I want to say sorry to the police officers and putting them in that situation. I’m also deeply sorry to their families, friends and colleagues for causing them to doubt, mistrust and question the two police officers. And I am so sorry for that. I understand that would not have happened if I didn’t say the things that I said. I feel bad for what I put them through.

At the time, it was hard. I felt overwhelmed when the TV crews and community took it to a whole new level. Next thing you know, it was all over the place, reporters from different media sources were questioning me. I was scared. I never wanted this to happen. During this time all I wanted was to live my life normally and go to school. It was the worst two years of my life.

I felt bad that my mom moved all the way from the next province to come support me. I put my mom in a situation where she thought she didn’t raise me right. I just made a mistake. I try my best to apologize to everyone that I may have harmed.

I also want to acknowledge the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs for taking the time to help me. I didn’t mean to put my people through this.

I don’t want this to impact anyone from submitting legitimate complaints in the future. I want people to understand that I did not intend for this to happen. I was taught that forgiveness is a part of healing and I need this to move on in life in a positive way. In many ways, I learned how to have respect, how to be truthful and honest. I am part of a youth community, and I want them to think of me as a role model.

I want to encourage youth to tell everything that they know is right. I was able to move forward and graduate school and am now doing good things for myself. In closing, I want to say sorry and thank you for listening.

GOOD COP BAD COP – Cops in Conflict With the Law

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There can be no doubt, the public has an almost insatiable appetite for stories related to cops going bad.  That appetite is fed by Crime reporters who pursue these cases with extraordinary vigour and enthusiasm.

My recent blog post  “Selley & Overwater – Bad Cops or Bad Policy” literally “blew up” my blog stats.

History tells us that Police Officers can be counted on to continue to feed the hunger.

Law Enforcement Officers, like everyone else, are just people.  People who make mistakes, people who make bad choices, people who occasionally find themselves on the wrong side of the law.  It’s the prosecution of these officers that has spurned the greatest interest.  The interest seems to center on the notion that Canadian juries may be disinclined to convict Police Officers who are charged with criminal offenses that arise from the performance of their duties?

The question I’ve been hearing is, “Are jury pool members selected from a population residing in a crime ridden City, like Winnipeg, more inclined to give Police Officers a break?”   The answer may never be known.

Unlike American justice, Canadian jurors don’t write books or make movie deals.  Such disclosure is forbidden under Canadian Law.  The fact that Selley & Overwater were acquitted of all charges adds fuel to the speculation.  It also leads to legitimate questions regarding the process of investigating and laying charges against Police Officers.

The success of any prosecution is often based on the quality of the Police investigation.  The WPS has often been criticized for investigating the alleged criminal conduct of their own members.  Perceptions of bias and questions regarding the integrity of the investigations have always permeated these cases.

The reality is, the quality of an investigation is only as good as the quality of the investigative team.  In the case of an internal investigation the decision-making process is integral.  The decision to lay charges must be based on a keen understanding of criminal law and practical knowledge acquired from experience in criminal prosecutions.

As the Sergeant in charge of the District 6 Crime Office, Organized Crime and Homicide Units, I made daily decisions regarding the laying of criminal charges, each decision built on the foundation of knowledge gained from involvement in hundreds of criminal cases and prosecutions.  These decisions require experience, confidence and a certain degree of courage.  The decision to clear a case with no charges can be extremely difficult and controversial.  The decision maker may be criticized, scrutinized and compelled to defend the decision.

Therein lies part of the problem.

People who lack courage often take the path of least resistance and default to a “charge mentality” as a way of avoiding the intense scrutiny that can come with these decisions.

The Professional Standards Unit has not been immune to this phenomena.  I recall many cases where charges were laid against Police Officers contrary to basic common sense principles.  All that was required was for someone in the decision-making process to have the courage to make the tough call.  Unfortunately, these decisions can also often be influenced by lack of experience, concerns regarding public perception, fear of negative publicity and politics.  It’s been my experience that the idea of “the public interest” and “a reasonable likelihood of conviction” can often become skewed when a Police Officer is the subject of a criminal allegation.

Lest we forget, unlike most people who are charged with criminal offenses, Police Officers are frequent targets of false or vindictive allegations made by offenders attempting to mitigate their own criminal culpability.

Habitual offenders like Michael Paul Mikolajczyk who made false assault allegations against me and two other officers in 1990.  The charges were subsequently stayed after Judge Howard Collerman provided a ruling that suggested Mikolajczyk’s claims of police brutality were fabricated.  Habitual offenders like Henry Lavallee who recently accused Constable Ryan Law of assault.  Court room spectators were shocked by Lavallees aggressive gangster style demeanour on the witness stand.  His exaggerated allegations of Police brutality and assault poked full of holes by skilled cross-examination.  Habitual offenders like drug dealer, car thief Kristofer Fournier who was arrested on an outstanding warrant immediately after providing testimony against Constables Selley & Overwater.

When it comes down to assessing credibility, can you blame a jury for rejecting the evidence of “shit rats” like these.

I personally believe Police Officers should be held to a higher standard of conduct than every day citizens.  I also believe, as keepers of the law, Police Officers should receive greater punishment when they’re convicted of a crime.  I don’t believe relaxed standards should be applied when deciding to lay criminal charges against them.

Rest easy, Police Officers in Winnipeg haven’t exactly been getting away with murder.  (Jerry Stolar and Barry Neilson)  In fact, over the years,  a few “bad apples” have been convicted of criminal offences.  There can be no doubt Police Officers in Winnipeg will continue to make sensational headlines with stories related to allegations of criminal conduct.  Some charges may be justified, some may be complete fabrications.  Some charges may result in convictions, some may be stayed or result in acquittals.  The truth is, in a workforce of over 1,300 members, only a minute percentage of officers will ever find themselves on the wrong end of a criminal prosecution.

The rest, they’re just a bunch of “good apples” doing exactly what we expect them to do, “taking down names and kicking a little criminal ass!”

RELATED LINK:

Under the Dome Blog – Bruce Owen & Larry Kusch

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/blogs/under-the-dome/

RCMP RAPISTS – Or Maybe Not?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes me question the motivation behind the press release.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to “put up or shut up.”

SELLEY & OVERWATER – Bad Cops or Bad Policy

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, the opposite is true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE:

Feb 8th 2013 – 5:30 pm

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

LINKS:

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

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

BLEEDING HEART WARDENS – What’s Next?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

The examples are plentiful.

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

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

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

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

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

Enter the role of the Parole Board.

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

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

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

Insanity you suggest, not so!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blatchfords report explains how we got here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It makes me wonder…..whats next?

NOTE:

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

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

RICHARD WOLSON – Nobody Does it Better

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unknown-2

Richard Wolson grills former PM Brian Mulroney at the Schreiber Inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unknown

WPS Constable Ryan Law photographed by media outside Law Courts

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

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

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

Unknown-1

The accuser Henry Lavallee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINKS:

RICHARD WOLSON LAW FIRM:

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

WFP STORY ON SCHREIBER AFFAIR

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

MEDIA COVERAGE:

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

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