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

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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!

LAISSEZ-FAIRE POLICING – The Real Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the need to find solutions in some other jurisdiction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bean counting, ass kissing “Gumbys.”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem, money.

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

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

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

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

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

The Winnipeg Police Service should be leading this fight.

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

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

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

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

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

I hope Chief Clunis is listening.

LINKS:

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

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

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

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

ANATOMY OF AN OFFENDER – Time for a Reality Check!

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Are our Courts in tune with society’s reality?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are the Courts in tune with society’s reality?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANATOMY OF OFFENDER – DANIEL PETERSON:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In her decision Justice Suche states at paragraph 19;

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

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

Do the math;

Pretrial Custody – 42 months

Sentence – 56 months

Total Sentence: 98 months = 8.16 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That shameful list is a true indictment of Canadian Justice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it me or is the answer obvious!

Daniel Peterson is an anatomy lesson in soft Canadian Justice.

Time for a reality check!!!

LINKS:

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

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

PUBLIC SAFETY – A Dirty Word in Canadian Justice

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I hate being right…..

Especially when it comes to ominous predictions regarding public safety.

Jamie Charles Grieves-28 years, a repeat violent offender and Bloods street gang member released from the Stony Mountain Penitentiary on November 2nd, 2012 after serving a four year sentence for arson. (Winnipeg Sun October 31st, 2012)

(Well…..it wasn’t really a four year sentence……it was a three year sentence after Grieves was the beneficiary of double time credit for one year.)

Grieves has an extensive criminal record for violent offences and has spent the vast majority of his adult life in jail.

His recent jail stint came as a result of a gang related incident where he tried to torch a rival gang members residence by pouring gasoline on his porch…..

In 2007, Grieves viciously attacked a security guard in Oxford House, Manitoba, his home community.  The victim suffered significant injuries that resulted from being beaten with a hammer and a metal bar.

While the victim convalesced, Grieves and his fellow thugs conspired to kill him to avoid prosecution.

All of Grieves violent assaults were allegedly unprovoked…..

To underscore his underachiever status, Grieves failed to participate in any of the diverse prison programs designed to promote rehabilitation……

According to Court documents, Grieves has no work experience, no marketable skills, no vocational training and he has not developed a work ethic.

Grieves is such a bad seed that he was banished from his own community.

To the Crowns credit, they targeted Grieves for further supervision and were successful in their bid to have him released on a court order that required him to abide by eleven conditions that included a curfew and restrictions prohibiting him from attending any bars or vendors.  The order to be in effect for a period of two years.

Supervision to be the responsibility of GRASP. (Manitoba’s Gang Response and Suppression Program.)

After reading the article I remarked to my wife “I wonder how long its going to take before this asshole breaches his release conditions and ends up back in jail?”

Well, call me Kreskin, but it only took a matter of days for him to blow it.

Subject at large, warrant issued, burden placed on Law Enforcement to locate, public at risk until he is apprehended.

This case illustrates a number of failings of Canadian Justice;

  • Grieves…..the undeserving beneficiary of the two for one credit providing him a ridiculous discount on Justice  (These discounts still being given on retroactive cases.)
  • The receipt of relatively light sentences for violent, repeat, habitual offenders like Grieves for their horrendous violent crimes.
  • The release of extremely high risk offenders, like Grieves, on an unsuspecting vulnerable public.
  • The onerous burden placed on Law Enforcement to supervise high risk violent offenders like Grieves.
  • The equally onerous burden placed on Law Enforcement to locate and  apprehend such offenders when they inevitably breach conditions of their release.

Lastly, it seems patently unfair that Oxford House can banish one of its rabid dogs from their community yet the citizens of Winnipeg have no say regarding the release of unpredictable, violent, habitual offenders into ours.

Public Safety……a dirty word in Canadian Justice.

LINKS:

Winnipeg Sun article by James Turner:

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/10/31/gangster-thug-expected-to-live-in-winnipeg-after-being-released-from-stony-mountain-institution

Winnipeg Sun article;

http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/11/06/cops-seek-violent-gangster-arsonist-for-breaching-bail

SERIAL OFFENDER CARY PRESTON – Put Back on Ice

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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…..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….

UPDATE:

WPS PRESS RELEASE:

PROJECT RELAPSE: BREAK AND ENTER – ARRESTS  C12-216507
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.
 

LINKS:

WFP – June 21, 2010 Man gets seven years for sophisticated robberies http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Man-gets-seven-years-for-sophisticated-robberies-96832974.html?viewAllComments=y

Winnipeg Sun – http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/manitoba/2010/06/21/14468141.html

FOOTNOTES:

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

WINNIPEG CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS – Impediments to True Justice

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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 http://www.winnipegsun.com/2012/10/16/police-intimidation-tactics-unacceptable-winnipeg-lawyers

FOOTNOTE:

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.

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