Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for April 2005

Comments

with 8 comments

I do apologize folks, but some anti-cop jerk who had plagued the previous Forum has reared his ugly and stupid head again. Ergo, I had to delete the comments on the “A deal done” post. For those of you who had well-thought comments to add, I apologize. If the cop hater continues to intrude on this site, he can expect a harassment complaint filed with the police and a subsequent lawsuit. He knows I know who he is. There are any number of websites and boards that are run by the sort of people who share his views. This is not one of them.

Leo Knight
leo@primetimecrime.com

Written by Leo Knight

April 30, 2005 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

A deal done

with one comment

Today StandFirm webmistress Jann Vahey signed off on a negotiated deal to end the civil action taken against her by Calgary police chief Jack Beaton. Essentially, she signed a letter apologizing the the members of the Calgary Police Service if anything said on the original Stand Firm website offended anyone.
Later this afternoon, media lawyers successfully argued the case for unsealing the Anton Piller order and related documents. The “gag” order on Vahey has also been lifted and she is now able to speak to the media. I have also learned that she will be seeking further investigation into the allegations of racism, cronyism and other matters she had been airing on the internet. Vahey is also seeking an audience with Alberta Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko with a view, she says, to generating interest in a public inquiry.
Vahey says she was pressured into signing the deal because there was a fixed time line to have the deal done of noon today, two hours before the hearing began to unseal the file. She may call it pressured, but to me it sounds a little more like blackmail. Any “do this or else” has that connotation.

And in the end it was the “or else” that forced Vahey’s to acquiesce. She could have fought the chief and his ham-fisted ways but the legal bill to do so would have forced her into the poor house. No such bother for Beaton though, not with the good citizens of Calgary funding his vendetta.

Not opened by the courts though were the affidavits illustrating the investigative process utilized by Beaton and his bully-boy tactics. Why, is an interesting question.
It could be because Beaton needs to conceal the methods employed to “out” Vahey because they may have been questionable. It leaves us to wonder if the resources of the police were at any time used in this civil matter or indeed, if any illegal methods were used to identify Vahey. We don’t know, for example, if any private communications were intercepted.
According to one reporter present at the hearings one of the reasons is because there are further Anton Piller orders being contemplated. Really!
If true, look for some cops to get unwelcome knocks at their doors. So too, according to one source, a prominent member of the broadcast media who interviewed four officers in shadow in a CBC news report. Evidently, the shadow may not have been enough to protect those men from the vendetta-driven chief.
The agreement may have been signed off by Vahey and Beaton, but the witch hunt is far from over it seems.
A real leader would recognize there are problems and morale issues. A real leader would immediately start a process to heal the divisions and fix the problems. A real leader would engage all the stakeholders in the process and get buy-in from all affected parties. But, that’s what a real leader would do.

I’ll leave you to decide if engaging in a vendetta against critics by a man in a high public office is an example of a real leader.

Leo Knight
leo@primetimecrime.com

Written by Leo Knight

April 29, 2005 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Using a sledgehammer to swat a Gnat

with 2 comments

With the gag orders in place it is hard to get any information on what is happening with the outrageous action by Chief Jack Beaton in searching and seizing a computer from Jann Vahey who ran a website critical of his management.
Even normally loquaicious lawyers are behaving like Trappist monks.
However, if one diligently keeps one’s ear to the ground, it is usually possible to at least get a glimpse into the situation. It is after all, a police department and cops do like to talk.
With the pressure from the media heating up, including a lead editorial in the National Post headlined Calgary’s Strongman, my sources tell me a move is afoot from within the Police Commission to get Jack to put this matter to bed. And promptly too, I’m told. The black eye the Service is getting arising from this sordid affair, is getting darker with each media hit.
Negotiations are apparently ongoing, with Beaton pushing for a quick closure and admission of wrongdoing by way of an apology to the Service at large. Considering Vahey was defending the Police Service from the ham-fisted management of Beaton, that is rich indeed. I also believe, though I can’t get anyone to confirm it with all the respective gag orders in place, that Beaton has demanded Vahey appear before a select group of police officers and answer their questions.
If I were Vahey, I sure as hell wouldn’t do it. A bunch of Beaton sycophants would no doubt be assembled who would then grill Vahey on the identity of any serving police officer who may have helped her or emailed support comments to her. The expression ‘Star Chamber’ comes to mind.
No, instead, if Beaton had a shred of respect for the Service he claims to be protecting, he would offer any officer who wishes to attend such a session, the opportunity to show up and participate. I suspect Vahey and her lawyers would jump at that chance to settle this then. But that wouldn’t serve Beaton well now would it? He might actually have to listen to the very police officers who have lost all confidence in his leadership and spawned the original website critical of him at the outset.
Equally, he would also invite members of the media to demonstrate that he is actually doing something positive and cathartic instead of destructive and vengeful. But then, that would actually take a real leader and Beaton has clearly demonstrated with his actions in this that he has precious few real leadership qualities.
Beaton has also been taking heat from the media for using public money to fund his witchhunt. I’m betting his next move will be to claim he will recover any and all public money, including that paid to his old pal Bruce Dunn to “investigate” this matter. Here comes that sledge hammer to swat at that nasty gnat again.
My sources in the department also tell me that the guys are all walking on egg shells, while trying to keep their heads down to avoid the withhunt being conducted. Meanwhile, media lawyers are getting their heads and cases together to get the order sealing the application for the Anton Piller order lifted. Other media outlets are taking steps to protect their source information and identities as the witchhunt inevitably spreads from inside the department, out.
This sordid mess isn’t getting any better as it ages.
Leo Knight
leo@primetimecrime.com

Written by Leo Knight

April 27, 2005 at 10:06 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

And on it goes

with 10 comments

In the days since I first reported on the Calgary Chief Constable’s outrageous use of the civil courts to stifle criticism of his administration, the mainstream media seem to have gotten the whiff of scandal in their nose.
Broadcast media stories have appeared on Calgary’s A Channel and CBC as well as the CBC National has picked it up. Conspicuous in their absence on this story is the Calgary Sun and Global TV.
In the interim, the Chief has come out of hiding and given an interview to CBC’s Rick Boguski in which he said he was just trying to protect the morale of the police service.
Really? If that was his aim, then why won’t he lift the stifling traffic ticket quota of 20 “stats” per month off the patrol division? Because I can tell you that one thing has got the rank and file perpetually angry at the management of the CPS. But that is such a small thing really. Unless of course, you are on the receiving end of a cheap ticket issued so a patrol officer doesn’t get “negative attention” from his supervisor.
But there’s so much more affecting morale in the Calgary Police Service that using that as the driving factor for attacking the publisher of a website critical of the Chief is laughable.
This whole sordid chapter in the history of the once-proud force would be laughable were it not such a serious breach of the fundamental freedom of speech inherent in any democracy. But this Chief would trample that right and he must be stopped. And that is no laughing matter.
Tomorrow, lawyers for various media outlets will be making application to the courts to have the offensive order sealing the civil documents lifted. Let’s hope the courts have more sense in hearing that application than the judge who actually enabled Chief Jack Beaton to make mince meat of the Charter.

-Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 17, 2005 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Doing what is right

with 10 comments

As the Gomery Inquiry uncovers layer after layer of Liberal dirt and it becomes clearer to every Canadian that the word corruption is synonymous with the name of the “Natural Ruling Party,” we need to understand there are a couple of other areas of abuse at play in our country also worthy of our attention.
Not the least of which is taking place in Calgary as the Police Chief, Jack Beaton has outdone old Uncle Joe in ensuring voices of criticism are muted. The story from the Calgary Herald on Saturday, featured on the front page of Prime Time Crime, tells how the chief dusted off a seldom used civil court ploy, called an Anton Piller order, to search the private home of the woman believed to be behind two websites critical of him and his administration.
(I will be writing on this subject in a column to be published tomorrow.)
Beaton is doing everything in his power to not only mute the criticism, but, in my view is embarking on a witch hunt to ferret out those members of the Calgary Police who dared cooperate with the webmistress or indeed, ever had any email communication with her or the site.
Rank and file members of the Police Service in that city have long been critical of things like the favoritism shown “certain” members, or the shading of incidents like a police car being fire-bombed by a jealous ex-lover of the officer’s mistress, a Sergeant pointing a service weapon at a junior constable as a “joke” and a myriad of other embarrassing events. But more to the point, there were allegations of cover-up involving a substantial fraud perpetrated on members of the service by another, senior officer. (See Police Held to a Higher Standard)
The RCMP were called in to investigate after an internal investigation failed to turn up enough evidence for a criminal charge which has since been filed.
The court order in the website case has been sealed and the webmistress gagged by order on application by Beaton. This ensures no scrutiny is placed upon the Chief’s office in this sordid mess. And that is very wrong.
On April 18th in Ottawa, the Federal Court will hear the case of former RCMP Cpl. Robert Read in his latest effort at clearing his name after he was fired by the RCMP for ‘Disgraceful Conduct.’ His sin? He went to the media to raise allegations of corruption at the High Commission in Hong Kong after the senior members of the RCMP refused to listen to him and, as well did officials in the Department of Justice.
For those who have been following the Gomery Inquiry, it will come as no surprise that the allegations of corruption involved the government of Jean Chretien.
Read was ordered reinstated by the External Review Committee of the RCMP. The Force for its part, refused. Read will take his appeal of the decision not to reinstate him to the Federal Court.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 10, 2005 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

More stupidity from the Bench

with 5 comments

The story out of Edmonton about the Queen’s Court Justice Lawrie Smith dismissing a case against a scumbag, sorry, alleged scumbag, because the cop was “following his hunch” is outrageous.

Smith said, “Rather than use his head to honour the laws of this country, he (the officer) chose to follow his hunch.” Let’s see, the scumbag, sorry, alleged scumbag, is known to police as a gangbanger and dope dealer; he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt so the officer used this as his reasonable grounds to stop the vehicle; the scumbag, sorry, alleged scumbag, couldn’t speak properly because he had something jammed in his cheek; there were three other scumbags in the car with him. So, the cop investigated further and go figure, it turned out the scumbag, sorry, alleged scumbag, had eight spicballs secreted in his mouth. Surprise!
Gee, what a lucky hunch! Oh yeah, did I mention he was also known to police as a gangbanger and at the time of his arrest he had a handgun on him. Surprise! Hey, good hunch officer!
What nonsense. The cop was using the law to give him grounds to make the stop. He then found other grounds to make a search just as the law requires. Once done, he found what he knew he would all the while because the guy’s a scumbag – sorry, sorry, alleged scumbag.
It’s called good police work. Something this Judge, apparently, wouldn’t recognize if it jumped up and bit her pampered posterior.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

April 2, 2005 at 8:10 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment