Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for February 2006

‘Skids’ clean up needs support

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I’m more than a little heartened to see Vancouver Police Inspector Bob Rolls talking tough about cleaning up the world’s largest open air drug bazaar, the Downtown Eastside. Or, as it was known when I walked a beat on its mean streets, ” The Skids.”
But talk is cheap. And the real test of this is whether the courts, the Crown and the Department itself, will withstand the inevitable pressure they will face as they proceed with their stated “zero tolerance” policy.
When I first set foot on the “beat” in the Skids it was a different job. In those days, in the early ’80s, the beat was a coveted job. It was only given to those officers who had proven themselves in patrol cars to have the right stuff.
In those days, the beat squad in the Skids was totally self-driven in terms of the work that was done. We weren’t responsible for radio calls and our work as part of the 12 man crew was totally self-generated. We went out and found the bad guys and put them in jail. In some ways it was a much more simple life. Within hours of a new guy arriving on the beat he was challenged. Not in the way the word is used today, but in the manner of the Wild, Wild West. To see how tough you were. One of the local street thugs would throw down the gauntlet and you either picked it up and hit him with it or you didn’t last for much longer on the beat. That was just the way it was.
But, in those days we ruled the streets. There was no such thing as junkies using in plain view or dealers advertising their lethal wares blatantly on every street corner. No, in those days the junkies and dealers hid from the police.

Then something went awry. Maybe it was when we started referring to the dealers, users, muggers, rapists, thieves and assorted buttheads as “clients.” Maybe it was when we started swallowing the so-called “Four Pillars” nonsense that allowed the assholes to take control of the streets.

But the bottom line is that we let the streets get away from us. And by us, I mean the police. And that is the essential question in the message being sent out by the VPD. Will the department back those officers who pick up the gauntlet and smack some Honduran crack dealer in the chops with it?

Because, like it or not, that is what is required. And PIVOT and VANDU need to be told that their bovine scatology is irrelevant. A junkie makes a choice and the result is not a “social issue” but a crime issue. And there’s the rub.

No one, as far as I can see, is prepared to tell these groups to get stuffed. And that will be an issue when VPD tries to clean the streets of the ubiquitous junkies and death dealers that have been given a free pass in the Skids over the past 10-15 years.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

February 23, 2006 at 5:20 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Move on please

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Is it just me, or is the media making a mountain out of a molehill on the David Emerson defection to the Tories?
And then there was the comments by the gone but not missed, former Prime Minister Paul Martin yesterday. He’s astonished apparently, that someone he plucked out of the private sector with promises of a cabinet post would have been plucked from the Liberal backbences by the promise of a cabinet post.
Why he would wait more than ten days to tell a disinterested country that he’s “astonished” is anyone’s guess. But frankly, Martin is yesterday’s man and few, if any, are interested in his opinion on anything.
And today NDP leader Jack Layton is swanning into Vancovuer to “make sure the matter doesn’t die.” Give us a break Jack. Everyone in the country, with the exception of the liberal media and the looney left has come to grips with why it was done and, agree or not, has moved on. There’s nothing left to be gained in trying to engage the nation this extended period of political flagellation. Move on. For God’s sake, move on.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

February 16, 2006 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Is the Chief Justice afraid of change?

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It was interesting to see the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada trying to cling on the last vestige of Liberal domination on the Canadian political scene by chiding Prime Minister Designate Stephen Harper not to “politicize” the appointing of a new Justice to the top court.

It is hard to imagine the process being any more political given the appointment is at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. And, as evidenced by more than a decade of very liberal Liberal appointees, the PM will appoint someone who has a similar vision to that of the person doing the appointing.

Madame Justice Beverly McLachlin seems to think that the status quo is just ducky and is evidently afraid that Harper will appoint someone who doesn’t share their soft on crime view of the country.

Let’s be realistic, the decisions of the SCOC are the reason crime is running rampant across this country. A couple of cases readily come to mind like R v Feeney and R v Stintchcombe. These are glaring examples where the SCOC came to conclusions that have not only defied the logic of the average person, but dramatically hampered the prosecution of criminals and altered forever the ability of the police to do their job.

In her “advice” to Harper, Madam Justice McLachlin said, “And I think in order to preserve the public confidence in the impartiality of the courts, we should avoid politicizing it,” McLachlin said.

Well that’s certianly interesting. Does the learned judge actually believe that Canadians have any confidence in the impartiality of the courts?

I think not. Canadians perceive that the court system is designed to do everything to protect the rights of the accused and does precious little to protect society and the victims of crime. That is hardly a perception of “public confidence.”

Stephen Harper has long been an avocate for change in the way judicial appointments are made in this country. He has spoken out in favour of de-politicizing the process and making appointees subject to the scrutiny of Parliament. Whether some form of scrutinizing committee of MPs will work or not is another discussion especially when you look at the Alito hearings in the US Senate these last few weeks. But at least Harper is talking about change. Which is more than can be said about the Chief Justice.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

February 4, 2006 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment