Crime & Punishment

Crime and justice comment and analysis

Archive for March 2007

Time to go

with 14 comments

The job of Chief Constable of a modern police service is a difficult one. The occupier of the office has to be one part politician, one part police officer and one part masochist. In Calgary, it would seem, that Chief Constable Jack Beaton has managed to get and keep the top job without any of the required skills.

Having met Beaton, I am pretty sure he is not an idiot. So, why does he keep doing and saying such idiotic things?

Without delving too deeply into it, let’s take a peek at the past few days.

The Calgary Police Association this past week released the results of a poll of its members which said, in a nutshell, that the rank and file had no confidence in the leadership of the Calgary Police Service and that the vast majority wanted a new chief to be recruited from outside the service.

Pretty stunning stuff really. Beaton has been, frankly, an embarrassment to the taxpayers of Calgary with some of the idiotic things he has said publicly. Where to start? Hmm…well there was the lunacy he spouted about not thinking that police officers in China wouldn’t be able to speak English He apparently found out this little gem of the incredibly obvious when he was in China on an indefensible junket. . . sorry, recruiting drive.. I mean really. . . .if you actually thought that and found out the reality when you went there, would you admit how stupid you were publicly? Jack Beaton did.

The reality is that, regardless of what the latest garden gnome put forward by the police commission to try and defend their ridiculous decision to extend Beaton’s contract in 2005, Beaton has lost (if he ever had) the confidence of the rank and file membership of the Calgary Police Service.

Without the buy-in of those at the sharp end of things, no purported leader can be effective. Beaton clearly has not got that confidence. He has said he will leave when his current contract expires in December. So, he is now a lame duck. And an unrespected lame duck to be exact.

Why, in the face of that, will he not resign? Most involved in the police service have no confidence in him. How and why would any leader who does not have the support and confidence of his troops think they can and should remain in their position?

It really is a mystery. But then given everything that has transpired demonstrating how ineffectual a leader Beaton has been, I suppose it really isn’t surprising.

Beaton has proven himself to be nothing more that a small-minded man who cannot tolerate any criticism. Even though that criticism is well-deserved. He is of little consequence. The proud men and women who serve the citizens of Calgary have no confidence in Jack Beaton. Period. So, why is he still there?

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

March 30, 2007 at 4:19 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Reality at odds with picture being painted

with 25 comments

Any job in emergency services is tough enough without being obstructed by another branch. But the more I dig into the bizarre St. Patrick’s Day (night) incident in downtown Vancouver involving members of the Vancouver Fire Department in conflict with the police, the more troubled I become.

Firemen are heroes aren’t they? That’s the image of them rescuing people from burning buildings and all that stuff. Well, it’s true, sometimes they are heroes. And sometimes they die trying to do their job. But, for the most part their job is routine, mundane and relatively unskilled. It doesn’t take big balls to polish the chrome on a fire truck.

The police have an inside joke about firefighters, with the saying: “there are only two jobs in the world you can earn money in bed.” And from a cop’s perspective out in the mean streets, slugging it out with the drunks, meth heads, crack heads and other denizens of the dark, that can be a little frustrating. But, when a cop just doing his job, winds up slugging it out with an allegedly drunk off-duty firefighter and finds himself put at risk by the other attending emergency service workers, well, that’s entirely unacceptable.

Yet, that is apparently what happened on St. Paddy’s Day in Vancouver. But, never mind the actions of the allegedly drunken off-duty fireman and his yapping whelp, it is the actions of the on-duty firemen at the scene I have a bigger problem with.

The alleged drunks were in a car that drove into a building. The Fire Department were the first on the scene as is usual in traffic accidents. But, apparently they quickly determined it was one of their own who would likely be in the jackpot. The police believe that the off duty fireman and his son weren’t passengers in the car, but one of them was driving, and I am not sure which at this point, and the female being portrayed as the driver is a set-up by the firemen attending. Which, if true, is obstruction of justice as defined in the criminal code.

This would seem to be the premise the investigating officer was acting upon when he was told to “F**** Off!” by Grant Mason, the off duty fireman’s lippy son. Curtis Mason, the Elder, then waded into the confrontation and the situation went from 0 to 60 in record time. A push, a shove, a F*** you and pretty soon everyone is rolling on the ground.

It was at this point, it would seem, the firefighters strove to make their reputation as zeros, not heroes. They encircled the cops struggling to get control of the out-of-control Masons, as vividly depicted on YouTube. What might have happened if one of the fighting Masons had grabbed the pistol of one the young officers and shot him? Would the on duty firemen have been looking at being charged as parties to the offence?

To make it all worse, the firemen were asked to provide statements relative to what they witnessed. They all said they didn’t see anything, that they were loading their truck or some such nonsense. The VPD Sgt. on scene told them in no uncertain terms that there would be some very unpleasant consequences if they didn’t get their pens out sharpish.

They did, ultimately, I’m told. But they need not have bothered. Three liners as statements are not much help. One even wrote, according to my source, that he felt bad for not helping his colleague in the fight with police.

The VFD spokesman Capt. Rob Jones Cook was spouting off in the media trying to spin the negative optics after the story broke on Monday. And what a load of rubbish he was spouting too. I wonder how he’ll spin this?

The police are often in the media crosshairs while the firefighters can do no wrong. The reality is often very different from that perception.

Obstruction of a peace officer in the execution of his duty is a serious criminal code offence. And, if the actions of members of the Vancouver Fire Department were as described, and I have no reason to disbelieve my sources or the civilian witnesses who corroborate police statements, then the Vancouver taxpayers deserve an explanation from their fire service, not gums flapping from a spin doctor. Or a stage-managed press conference which didn’t address the facts of the situation.

Former prosecutor, former Police Complaints Commissioner and now not-seldom-enough-heard-from lawyer, Don Morrison, has said he may sue the police in this case. Marvelous! For under oath, the truth will out. And the truth, in my view, is not what you heard at the press conference yesterday.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

March 23, 2007 at 5:40 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

A crass act

with 6 comments

One wonders if a more disingenuous press conference has been held in recent memory than the one held by lawyer Don Morrison and his “victim” clients, Vancouver firefighter Curtis Mason and his smarmy son, Grant.

Yup, butter wouldn’t melt in that kid’s mouth now would it?

The Masons were in front of the cameras claiming they were just minding their own business when members of the Vancouver Police Department jumped them. The video clip posted to YouTube by a Seattle resident clearly shows a different picture.

In the video, we see three police officers engaged in what is called ground fighting with two men. And the fight is truly on. One of the individuals was fighting back against two VPD members and the other was one on one. The one on one battle is clearly going badly for the officer as they roll over a couple of times and the bad guy seems to be gaining the upper hand when Sgt. Keiron McConnell shows up and smacks the bad guy twice with his baton and helps the struggling officer gain control and hand cuff the offender.

Also in the picture are a few firemen just standing around looking on. They had been on the scene because the Masons were in a traffic collision with a building. Were they intoxicated? Late on Saint Paddy’s Day? Perish the thought according to the Masons.

When the police showed up, Mason the Younger allegedly pushed one of the officers trying to establish a cause for the collision where a vehicle hit a building. Late on Saint Patrick’s Day. Hmmm . . . what could he have been looking for as a contributing factor?

Apparently Mason the Younger didn’t like the concept of a police officer doing his job. Well, when push comes to shove, pushing a police officer is going to elicit a response that may, oddly enough, be a little unpleasant.

More often than not, it will result in you being put on the ground in a not so polite manner and being placed in handcuffs. You see, there is even a specific section of the Criminal Code that says you should not assault a police officer in the execution of his duty.

Now of course, the sanctimonious Masons did no such thing according to their statements at the press conference. No indeed, even when told of the independent civilian witness whose statement corroborates the version of events presented by the police. In fact, according to another witness, Mason the Younger got into it with a 60 year old man at the scene of the collision. Brave young man that he is.

But what this is really all about is the rule of law and order that the police maintain every day. When that rule is challenged, the police must meet that challenge. When an officer is investigating an incident which may have criminal behaviour associated to it and gets obstructed or assaulted by someone trying to obstruct the investigation, the officer has the responsibility to society to respond to that by way of arrest and charge.

We live by the rule of law and order. Challenging those who enforce that rule ought to be met with severe consequences. The Fireman and his yappy kid should have learned that lesson when their faces hit the concrete and the handcuffs were slapped on them. Given the nonsense they spit out in the presser yesterday, it is clear they didn’t.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

March 23, 2007 at 12:30 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment

A F***ing travesty!

with 5 comments

The aquittal in BC Supreme Court yesterday of Hells Angel Glen Jonathan Hehn is outrageous. Justice Peter Leask further outraged the public by using profanity during the closing arguments of prosecutor Ernie Froess. And not just profanity. He chose to defy logic when doing so.

Froess submitted that the locker where a large amount of cocaine was located had been rented by the accused, Leask said: “But to be really clear, he’d have had to have been out of his f. . .in’ mind to store it in his own locker, all right? I mean, that’s for sure he wouldn’t do that. Let’s not spend any time on that theory.”

Theory? One has to ask if Leask is out of his mind. Or perhaps someone got to him in a different way? Perhaps a suggestion was made to Mr. Justice Leask that caused him to defy logic in what should have been an air-tight case?

I don’t know and can only guess what caused Leask to acquit in this case. Whatever it was though, it resulted in a f***ing travesty of justice.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

March 15, 2007 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Crime & Punishment

Stop the Presses!

with 6 comments

While I’m sympathetic to the media following the Pickton trial, I have to say the lead story today was probably as lame as any I have seen in the last 25 years. To write a line story saying that there were more suspects in the Missing Women case than Willy Pickton and his brother Dave is well, to master the incredibly obvious.

This is news?

While I would never argue that what passes for journalism these days is remotely similar to the lessons I learned as a copy boy in the news room of the Montreal Star in the early ’70s, one would at least hope that a story saying the police investigated all possible leads in a massive serial killer file is, well, not news.

That’s what they do. Dave Pickton had access to the farm where all the DNA and body parts were found. Was he a suspect? Duh! Does he remain a suspect? Duh!

Dave Pickton is an aquaintaince of some nefarious people. Is that an aspect of the investigation? Duh!

C’mon folks. A lot of bad shit happened on that property. We know this because the DNA of over 20 women who were reported missing was found there. Is it not likely that the investsigation that has consumed millions of taxpayer dollars in police resources may have focussed on more than one person a reality or likelihood?

There’s a lot of aspects of this case as yet unreported. One would hope the editors of the mainstream media would understand this and not make routine police work the story. Well, one would hope.

Leo Knight

Written by Leo Knight

March 6, 2007 at 6:55 am

Posted in Crime & Punishment