Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for February 2007

Unrevising History

with 5 comments

A reader, a retired Calgary police officer, wrote to correct something I had said about outgoing Calgary Chief Jack Beaton.
Somehow the word had gotten out in the flurry of news pieces about Beaton announcing his decision not to seek a contract extension, that he had been Calgary’s longest serving Chief Constable. I got the information from a column written by the always entertaining Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun. The information, wherever it came from initially, is inaccurate.
Chief Brian Sawyer, who served from 1973 to 1984 and by all accounts was a good one, served much longer. He came from the Mounties in Victoria to take the top job. It was he who brought in such crime prevention initatives such as Crime Stoppers and Blockwatch. Sawyer retired from the police in 1984 and went on to become the provincial Ombudsman.
But there are a few others who held the office longer than Beaton too. Chief Samual Patterson served for nine years from 1941 – 1950 and Chief Lawrence Partridge served from 1952 to 1964 and probably brought about the most change to the Service than any other before or since. And those are the modern day chiefs who served in the office longer than Beaton.
Thomas English served from 1891 to 1909 as Chief Constable of the fledgling police service. But the longest serving Chief was David Ritchie who held the office from 1919 to 1941. Ritchie was a decorated war hero when he took the top job and held it until his last days when he died having a gall bladder operation. He held the office for 22 years and is claimed to be the father of the modern day Calgary Police Service.
Whatever else history may say about Jack Beaton’s tenure as Chief Constable, he was not the longest servicng person in that office. And on that point alone, I stand corrected.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

February 17, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

The King is Dead. . . Long Live the King

with 6 comments

The Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service, Jack Beaton, has served notice that he will not seek an extension of his contract and will retire as of December this year when his current deal expires.

Big deal.

Jack Beaton has been an ineffectual Chief and his departure announcement underlines that. We now have to bear witness to eight or so months of a lame-duck leadership after seven years of a lame-brained regime.

After several months of Beaton musing out loud, indicating to all who’d listen, that he was open to a contract extension and being deafened by the silence, he has now announced his retirement. But not without talking about his availability for other potential Chief’s jobs. Sorry Jack, no takers.

Since being appointed Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service, Jack Beaton has been a resolute failure in my opinion. He claims successes such as G-8 but frankly that’s nonsense. G-8 in Kannaskis was the end result of a lot of pre-planning by the RCMP, CSIS, the Armed Forces, private security and the Calgary Police Service. Yes, CPS had a role, but frankly the role was limited as the main action was an hour west of the city.
Having said that, I did think their tactical, rapid response of CPS members on the 8th Ave. mall at the McDonald’s restaurant was poetry in motion. Some of the more radical elements of the looney left tried to do a “takeover” by moving quickly from the main protest group and we’re thwarted by the CPS Bike Squad so they were unable to stage their planned inanity. But what, exactly the Chief could claim as his own from that, is negligible, if anything at all.
Just a few days before he announced his delayed but inevitable departure, the Calgary Police Association put out a survey to its members. In and of itself, that’s not particularly unusual.
After all, their last survey was a year and a half ago. That survey yielded a staggering 75% disapproval rating in “senior management” of the Calgary Police Service.
But this survey is extraordinary. There are only four questions. The first of which is very telling: “Do you have confidence in Jack Beaton as Chief of Police?”
But what is more telling is the cover letter addressed to the members of the Calgary Police Service. In it, the Association President, Al Koenig writes: “Historically, there have been security issues surrounding the use of internal mail systems and we have been made aware that email sent via the CPS system to CPA offices as having been intercepted and therefore security as well as anonymity could not be guaranteed.”
While union rhetoric is expected, this is much more. It is, essentially, an allegation of illegal activity made by way of an instruction to its members. And it is made in such a way as to accept that the illegal activity is de rigeur.
Given that Beaton used an Anton Pillar order (a civil search warrant) to try and find out who was behind a web site critical of his leadership – or lack thereof as the case may be – this distrust is much more than union rhetoric.
So much so, that I asked a Calgary police officer what the mood was like in the department since Beaton’s announcement. The response was: “He needs to be gone a lot sooner. Jack can create a lot of carnage in the 8 months or so he has left, and he is vindictive and egotistical enough to do so.”
Beaton will have been Chief Constable for seven years when he retires in December, the longest serving Chief in Calgary’s history. But that won’t be the only thing that defines his legacy. He altered the hand-positioning in the salute offered by members of the Calgary Police Service to superior officers by 90 degrees. Good to know he had some kind of lasting effect.
Beyond that, there’s not much. So, why is he hanging around for another eight months?
Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

February 12, 2007 at 4:21 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment