Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for December 2006

Hang ‘em high

with one comment

The biggest story of the day is, without a doubt, the execution of the Beast of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein. Try as I might, I can’t seem to get terribly worked up about it.

In the hours after photos and video of the hanging were rocketing around the internet, Sweden, Switzerland and the Vatican all issued statements decrying the execution of a man that was directly and indirectly responsible for millions of deaths. I don’t get it.

Ever since they dragged his lice-bitten ass from a rat hole it was clear his days were numbered. The only mystery was why it wasn’t done in the forecourt of one of his former palaces and broadcast on big screens around the country.

Saddam was little more than a bully. Only he took the bullying to violent extremes. Think of Joe Stalin without the finesse.

All the lefties, hand-wringers and anti-American types lined up and in unison began decrying the barbarism of the execution. It’s amazing they don’t get nosebleeds, so high up on the higher moral ground they claim to be perched.

The best one though had to be the American lawyers who had petitioned a US Judge to halt the execution because – wait for it – Saddam still faced a civil suit in America. Perish the thought the Iraqis might hang one of history’s most prolific mass murderers before he could play in the great American pastime.

The media hand-wringers were prominent and fast out of the gate. (Around the World, Unease and Criticism of Penalty – New York Times) (Saddam’s hanging stirs death penalty controversy – Reuters)

The only thing missing was another Globe & Mail story invention “raising questions” about the righteousness of Saddam’s execution. (Here’s an example of how the Globe takes a non-story then writes it as though there is really something to it: Questions emerge as Kingsley quits Elections Canada post)

No, this one was simple. Fortunately, the Iraqi legal system didn’t have twenty years of built-in appeals available to the Butcher of Baghdad.

And, no matter what the New York Times wants you to think, the hanging of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do and the world will not lament his departure.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 31, 2006 at 12:20 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

No time for boasting

with one comment

In the days just before Christmas, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair made headlines (Blair boasts victory over city gun crimeNational Post, Dec. 21, 2006) by claiming that his force had achieved a victory in the battle against gun crime. Blair cited rapid response unit tactics as the primary reason that unrelated homicides were down nearly half from the record setting year, 2005. He also brought with him stats that showed the number of shooting occurrences were down from 237 to 198 and the total number of shooting victims were also down from 321 to 276.
He boasted that the Toronto successes were being studied by other police forces seeking to achieve similar results.
Unfortunately, less than 48 hours later, headlines screamed (Guns blaze across city ) that Blair may have been a little premature in his pronouncements. A day before Christmas, in a 24 hour period, one man was shot dead in a dispute and six others were wounded, including two innocent passers-by, in separate incidents.
To be sure, Toronto has improved in 2006 over the previous year that culminated with the Boxing Day gun battle in a downtown mall that resulted in the death of 15 year old Jane Creba.
But realistically, the numbers have declined this year to more traditional levels and seem to show that while in 2005 there was certainly a spike in handgun violence, the problem is far from being solved.
I take no issue with a Chief wishing to do a little personal horn-blowing when things are showing an improvement. But, realistically, things are so bad in Toronto that some housing projects are virtual “no go” areas for anyone who isn’t armed to the teeth, and, I include the police in that statement. There are neighbourhoods where Jamaican gangs seem to operate with impunity as family after family mourn the loss of loved ones to the violence that underlines the drug trade.
As an example, check out this video called “Firewar” that was posted to Youtube on Dec 17, 2006. This is a neighbourhood, Jane-Finch, that is out of control and bordering on anarchy. Note the gangsta’ chatter as the two sides battle each other with fireworks and bottle rockets. Note also the size and age of some of the participants. Then, picture them a couple of years older with guns in their hands. Then note how long the “battle” goes on and nowhere do we see the police. Why? Largely, I would bet, because no one who lives in that complex would bother to call them. And that speaks volumes.
Bear in mind, that this video is linked on a community web site that ostensibly extols the virtues of their neighbourhood. Some virtue.
There are over 70 identified street gangs in Toronto, the majority of which are comprised of black, inner-city youth that no one seems to want to talk about, succumbing to political correctness. And that statement doesn’t even deal with the other aspects of organized crime such as outlaw motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels, the firmly established Mafia or the Asian organized crime groups that are very prevalent throughout South Western Ontario.
I think, if I were Chief Blair, that I would be very subdued and measured when talking about gun and gang activity in Toronto. At best, Toronto police are barely keeping their head above water. At worst, they are gradually losing control of that city. I wouldn’t be boasting.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 27, 2006 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Jack be nimble

with 7 comments

I’m left even more puzzled by the explanation provided by Calgary Police Chief Jack Beaton for his trip last week to the People’s Republic of China.

Beaton told Calgary listeners of QR77 that he was amazed that members of the National Police didn’t speak English. He said that going over, he expected about half the force would speak English. No, really, he actually said that.

So, what other reason could there be for saying something that blindingly naive?

He says he was over there on behalf of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. Okay. Who paid? The Chiefs or the taxpayers of Calgary?

The trip was, ostensibly, having to do with “community policing” and Beaton was going to do some recruiting and “spreading the message” while in the most populous communist country on Earth.

Community policing huh? That to me sounds as dubious as recruiting for a Canadian Police Service in a corrupt, communist country with a largely peasant population that is for the most part, uneducated and monolinguistic.

In China, the National Police are the enforcement arm of a totalitarian state whose citizens are not allowed to exercise any of the basic freedoms we cherish in Canada.

Community policing? Give me a break.

So, what is this really all about? I don’t know, but it smells a whole lot like a poorly thought-out justification for a public servant globe-trotting on a meaningless junket.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 22, 2006 at 7:18 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

The Lunatic fringe

with one comment

While I would never credit the Anti Poverty Committee with any significant ability to engage in any level of critical thinking, they seem do have outdone themselves today for blatent stupidity.
While reading my morning Province newspaper, I came across a newsbrief stating the anti poverty group had planned a march on the downtown office of Vancouver MLA Lorne Mayencourt. According to their website, they are intent on presenting Mayencourt with their “People’s Budget.” They are demanding that the BC Liberals spend the budget surplus on housing the homeless and raising welfare rates. They are, apparently, planning on “direct action” if Mayencourt doesn’t speak to them.
They also said the expect the police to respond in a “violent manner.” Given their performance last week in the three hundred block of East Hastings, it would be more accurate to say they will do everything they can to force the police to engage them physically.
Well, I guess they will get what they want then. Mayencourt will, unfortunately, be unable to meet with them when they show up on his doorstep. He is on holiday in Mexico.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 18, 2006 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Judicial musings right on point

leave a comment »

The comments of Calgary Police Constable Shaun Horne have stimulated a lively debate over the problems with the justice system in this country. Horne said the system is a “mockery” and a “joke” and got slapped by the weak-kneed management of his department for his trouble when he was suspended a week without pay.
Lost in the discussion this week were the comments by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Pat Sullivan when sentencing Barrett Darr, 22, for cold-bloodedly leaving his 17 year-old girlfriend to die in a ditch after he rolled a stolen SUV.
When sentencing him to 33 months in prison, Mr. Justice Sullivan said something that speaks to exactly what it was that caused the frustration in Cst. Horne to boil over. In referring to the easy ride Darr had been given in his many previous trips through the revolving door of justice, Sullivan said, “Maybe if we hadn’t been so soft in the beginning, maybe if the judiciary had tightened the harness earlier on, perhaps we wouldn’t be here today.”
Almost a throw-away line really in the sentencing hearing, but oh, so terribly telling.
The justice system has been getting softer and softer to the point where it is very hard to do something egregious enough to actually go to jail. Conditional sentences have become all too common in our criminal courts with the advocation of house arrest seen by the chattering classes as a suitable replacement for jail.
Mr. Justice Sullivan got it exactly right in his musings if not in the actual term he gave Darr for his crimes. Cst. Horne’s frustration with the system caused his outburst, but it is not without merit and Mr. Justice Sullivan underlined the point.
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 16, 2006 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Cop gets benched for telling the truth

with 2 comments

There was a certain inevitability to Calgary Police Service Constable Shaun Horne getting suspended by the department for his outspoken comments after a Justice of the Peace released a career criminal without so much as a “By your leave” to the officer.

Horne called the decision by JP Kristine Robideaux a mockery and a joke, which of course it was. After all, the man in the dock had already amassed 65 criminal convictions plus a great many other arrests in cases that he wasn’t charged and convicted given the vagaries of a fundamentally broken system.I should add by the way, that after Robideaux released the man over the objections of Cst. Horne, he didn’t abide by his conditions and failed to show for his next court appearance. Yeah, I know, big shock huh?

Well possibly Robideaux was shocked. But, I suspect no one else connected to the justice system was. Robideaux, as an aside, is a lawyer by profession and also doubles as a board member for the Legal Aid Society. Legal Aid Societies across Canada have been plagued by incredible inefficiencies as they struggle to meet their objectives while being abused by lawyers representing major organized crime figures in complex conspiracy cases. (See Legal Aid System is flawed for more on the subject)

Now there’s no question that Cst. Horne should not have said publicly what he did. Certainly not in the manner that he did at any rate. That was unprofessional. But the message it sent was bona fide and it is high time that the purveyors of so-called justice heard it. As a side note, Horne’s defense team tried to subpoena the good lady JP, but that was quashed by somebody higher up in the administration of the provincial courts. Perish the thought that the officer should be able to mount a mitigating defense against the three discreditable conduct charges levied against him.

As another side note, the presenting officer, Inspector Paul Manuel, is the same fellow who was the duty officer the night members of CPS executed the now-infamous search warrant on the home of Nancy Killian Constant which started her beleagured six-year journey to get justice. An allegation of neglect of duty, following the investigation conducted by Inspector Brian Whitelaw, was levied against Manuel in that case for failing to properly review the warrant before authorizing the officers to enter the home late at night.

And clearly he failed in his oversight duty, as evidenced by the return of the empty warrant and the subsequent revelations about altering of notebooks to support the Information to Obtain. In my opinion, there is no possibility a thorough review of that warrant process, in the manner claimed by Chief Jack Beaton, was conducted, assuming the reviewing officer’s competence. As I have said before (Stench from apparent police cover-up won’t go away) the grounds in the ITO were thin at best and in other jurisdictions would not have been sufficient for a warrant.

Apparently Constable Horne, while right in his assessment of the justice system, didn’t have the friends in high places needed to ensure he paid no penalty for the transgression of telling the truth.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

December 14, 2006 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Liberal MP un-spun

leave a comment »

A regular reader copied me on a letter sent to Liberal MP Raymond Chan after reading his criticism of Stephen Harper’s government. Here it is, unadulterated, untainted and best of all, uninhibited. Enjoy.

Leo Knight


YES!!!! Finally a government that ‘get’s it’. You use the word ‘wasteful’ in your narrative and that’s exactly what most of these programs have been (other than for the purpose of employing friends and advancing the cause of the Liberal Party)

$5 million cut to the Status of Women Canada – Good beginning.

$10 million cut to the Canadian Volunteerism Initiative – ‘Volunteerism’ means exactly that. Not government pork-barreling

$18 million cut to the Literacy Skills Program – I thought we already funded schools?

Canadian Court Challenges Program – Completely cut – Best decision of all

“Beefed up Military presence on the West Coast” – I know that after decades of ruining this country’s once-proud military, this drives you libs mental (I remember your pathetic ad “Troops, on our streets” that probably cost you the last election). Put the combat aspect aside for a moment and just consider what would happen if a natural disaster such as the long-overdue earthquake were to hit the Lower Mainland? Our nearest help (other than Reserve Units) used to be at Chilliwack which was bad enough. Now, thanks to you lot, it’s in Edmonton and would have to come out here by road (if aircraft couldn’t land). Remember how long it took to get the U.S. Army into New Orleans? And they were a lot closer. Without a huge mountain range.

Mr. Chan, I know it’s old-fashioned, but I happen to believe that I can spend my money better than the government can. I want government to provide public safety institutions (police, fire, military, prisons) and to fund them effectively which Liberals never have. I want certain other essentials such as Medical, Dental, Hospitals, Education, and a Basic social safety net that’s designed to be temporary, not for generations to live off. Beyond the essentials, I want nothing but freedom. If enough people in this country feel the Status of Women should exist, then they’ll support it and it will. I want the freedom not to support them because they’re nothing but a politicized special interest group that hates men in general and the United States in particular. Same goes for the rest of these groups. They duplicate, in many cases, the work of privately-funded groups that already exist and the private sector will always do a better job than government in running just about anything.

You say they’ve cut $55.4 million from youth employment programs. Cut $55.4 million????? How much was spent to begin with and what sort of ‘programs’ does it support? If they’re not real jobs then it’s just more welfare. When I was 17 I enrolled in a ‘youth employment program’. It was called the army and the government already funded it. I came out of it a lot better prepared to further my education, get a good (real) job, and pay taxes. The only cheque I’ve ever taken from the government has been a pay cheque.

I spend enough tax money electing governments that pass laws. I don’t feel like throwing good money after bad to pay lawyers for the Court Challenges Program to launch frivolous suits against the government always on behalf of liberal-friendly special interest groups. As a matter of fact, why is it that billions of tax dollars are pumped into the Dept. of Indian Affairs each year and the Auditor-General is not allowed to examine how that money is spent? Please tell me why this is a sacred cow? Can you imagine what could be done if that money were spent properly where it’s needed? Based just on the cuts list above the government could turn around and give each Canadian one million dollars. Think about that. Each person now has one million dollars and good luck to them. No more need for all of the programs the liberals have invented to buy votes and waste our money for decades.

You assert that the Conservative government is demonstrating “blatant political opportunism”. What a statement from a member of the party that invented the practice.

I sincerely hope the photo of you flipping burgers is a portent of the fate of all Liberals after the next election.

Bob Cooper
Richmond, BC

Written by Leo Knight

December 9, 2006 at 12:02 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

A press release worth reading

leave a comment »

Daily I see press releases from various RCMP and municipal agencies. Most are routine and frankly, dull. But every now and then one comes across something, a story of the human condition that is wonderful.
Such is the case with this little missive from of all things a traffic cop, an occupation not ususally blessed with a sense of humour. I was once asked by a Sgt. if I would take a transfer into traffic. I politely declined telling him I simply couldn’t because my parents were married.
But, Cst. Chris Noble of Ponoka traffic Section in middle Alberta seems to be a rarity. Allow me to share with you, intact, his press release of earlier this week. No further comment required.
Leo Knight
On November 24 , 2006 at 1715 hrs Ponoka traffic Services received a complaint of an erratic driver South bound on the QE II near Ponoka.
The complainant stated the brown Oldsmobile cutlass he was following was weaving all over the road, tailgating, and cutting other motorists off.
The complainant supplied a license plate number and a subsequent police records check revealed that the registered owner of the vehicle was wanted by Sylvan Lake RCMP for failing to pay a $2875 fine for not having insurance on his vehicle.
Since the vehicle was not speeding the police asked the complainant if he could remain in visual contact of the vehicle and provide police with a play by play of its location. The complainant was happy to oblige as he would seemly be in his own version “To Serve and Protect” just with out the cameras.
With the assistance of Red Deer Traffic Services the suspect vehicle was located. After it was determined the driver was not impaired he was arrested for the outstanding warrants and whisked off to the Remand center. However not before receiving a ‘ Follow to Closely” charge and oddly enough another charge of “Operating a Vehicle on a Highway Without Insurance”. He will be appearing in Ponoka Provincial court on January 11 and chauffeured in a fully insured, customized, Provincial Sheriffs prisoner van from the remand center to the Ponoka Court House while serving his 60 days in custody for the unpaid fine.
The passengers saw his 24 flat of beer , less what he had consumed, poured out roadside and he received a $287 ticket for consuming in a motor vehicle.

Cst. Chris Noble
Ponoka Traffic Services

Written by Leo Knight

December 1, 2006 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment