Posts Tagged ‘politics’
For more than a year now I have been trying to get the final BC Coroner’s Service report into the suicide death of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre, who was the the Media Liaison Officer (MLO) for the RCMP in October 2007 when Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski was Tasered by officers responding to a disturbance call at the International Arrivals area at Vancouver International Airport, YVR.
Lemaitre was found dead July 29, 2013, hanging in his home in Abbotsford. Two years later his widow, Sheila, filed a lawsuit against the RCMP and the Attorney General, claiming the Force made him a scapegoat for the fatal confrontation between Dziekanski and the RCMP and the resulting fall-out. I have written about the circumstances previously: Hindsight is 20/20 in YVR case
A year ago, I spoke with John Knox, the Special Investigations Coroner with the Coroner’s Service who is responsible for the file. He said the investigation wasn’t finished. I was incredulous. The man hung himself. For the Coroner’s office, whose responsibility is to investigate unnatural, sudden and unexpected deaths, determine a cause of death and ensure the relevant facts are put before the public either via a report or a public inquest, to be dragging their feet for two years at that point was incredible. A typical suicide should take no more than a month or two, three at the outside. What could possibly be taking so long?
Knox was unresponsive to my questions on the subject so I started digging around a bit and found out that Knox, to this date, now nearly three and a half years after the suicide, from what I can find out, has yet to conclude a file.
He has been with the Coroner’s Service since 2011. He was given the position of Special Investigations Coroner in 2012 to coincide with the launch of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) where he was the designated Coroner to deal with all things police involved.
Prior to that he was a private investigator since 2005. In BC, that primarily means doing ICBC investigations, mostly sitting in the back of a van doing surveillance trying to prove fraudulent claims. His LinkedIn page says he was “specializing in personal background investigations, insurance claims investigations, witness location services and document service.” Document service? Well, that’s impressive.
What qualified him for this position?
Incredibly, the fledgling IIO, lacking in experienced investigators were to work with a Coroner’s Special Investigator himself lacking in investigative expertise in major cases as well. Well, what could possibly go wrong? Talk about the blind leading the deaf.
In the four years since being named Special Investigations Coroner, he has yet to complete a file, including stunningly, 26 cases resulting from the Pickton investigation. Another source in the office told me, “John doesn’t really leave the office. Even on local cases he sends people out to do his work.”
I was stunned.
Then I was told about a recent suicide case of a municipal police officer in the late spring when Knox, instead of attending the family home, as is customary, required the widow to attend his office. He arranged for another coroner to sit in on the interview and said he was going to record the interview. He took his cell phone out then hid it and never told the widow he was recording the interview.
The coroner sitting 2nd chair was very uncomfortable with what was being done that a complaint was lodged with the Deputy Chief Coroner. This led to much upheaval in the office and after a couple of hours of what was described to me as a “raised voice conversation about the legality of recording without telling the person.” The DCC evidently said the service would support Knox.
In Canada, there has long been a legal standard called “One Party Consent” as it relates to recording private conversations derived from Sec. 184 of the Criminal Code, but that has been blurred by Supreme Court decisions mostly relating to the police doing it. And then there is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which further complicates this issue. In this case, at the very least, the ethics are clearly lacking, let alone the lack of compassion for the widow of a serving police officer who had just tragically taken his life.
In 2011, following the appointment and subsequent departure of three Chief Coroners in a two year period, the service was in disarray. The BC Auditor General looked into it and issued a report with a number of recommendations in July, 2011. One of those concerned timelines of investigations. The service set a standard of 18 weeks. In August 2013, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe issued a response report saying that recommendation was “Fully or substantially implemented”
Well, evidently not, as the Lemaitre suicide case shows. Pierre Lemaitre took his life on July 29, 2013. Now, nearing the end of October, 2016 and no conclusive report appears forthcoming. Lemaitre’s widow is engaged in a lawsuit with the RCMP, two of the four members who attended YVR on that fateful night were shamefully convicted of perjury by a system looking for someone to scapegoat. And the Coroner investigating the suicide of one of the major players in the events of that fateful night in October, 2007 can’t seem to complete this or any other file.
Robert Dziekanski was on Canadian soil for 12 hours. Thus far, he has cost the loss of two lives including his own, more than $50 million of taxpayer’s money and four Mounties their careers and for two of them, possibly their liberty.
The story continues to get worse and worse.
Next month the Independent Investigations Organization (IIO) turns four since it commenced operations in 2012. Two days before the anniversary will be the last day for its first Chief Civilian Director (CCD) Richard Rosenthal.
Rosenthal was hired with much fanfare back in December, 2011 in a major announcement by the Premier Christy Clark and then Solicitor General Shirley Bond as well as several municipal police chiefs including then VPD Chief Jim Chu, then West Vancouver Chief Peter Lepine and Assistant Commissioner Fraser MacRae representing the RCMP.
They all stood in front of a big sign that said “Increasing Accountability.” Bond defended the hiring of an American because of his “experience” saying he had a strong track record in building these kinds of organizations which, in itself was not true. In fact, Rosenthal had never supervised more than five people in his career let alone led a start-up of more than 30 people.
In point of fact, Rosenthal did not even apply for the job within the requisite time frame in the original job posting which said the posting closed on August 16, 2011. Rosenthal only “applied” directly to then Assistant Deputy Minister in Justice, Jay Chalke, after he’d been informed his contract in Denver would not be renewed when it expired in the winter of 2012. Why Chalke re-opened the posting is anyone’s guess? Chalke is now British Columbia’s Ombudsman.
The fact that Rosenthal was a lawyer and a former Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles and was involved in police oversight in Portland and Denver was much-touted by the government as a reason for his hiring. Yet, he was spectacularly unsuccessful in the launch of the IIO and is in fact leaving prior to the expiration of his initial five year contract.
Rosenthal claims he is leaving of his own volition to pursue a PHD in Criminology at Simon Fraser University. Whether that or because the government declined to renew his contract given the tumultuous four years under him is moot really. The fact that he is gone, or soon will be, is good.
It is interesting to note that as one of his final acts he had senior management conduct a leak inquiry by searching every single employees’ computer simply speaks volumes about his lack of leadership skills. Presumably, he wanted to determine who was leaking information to the media, primarily yours truly. It would seem nothing of note was discovered despite their best efforts.
So, four years in and what is there to show for their efforts? Not a lot. They managed to alienate the whole of the police community in BC with the charging of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams for second degree murder in the shooting incident at the Starlight Casino in November 2012. MacWilliams was merely doing his job that day and to face a charge of murder was absolutely obscene. Fortunately, clearer minds prevailed and the charge was stayed last summer, but not before putting MacWilliams through hell.
The IIO has turned over virtually all of their original experienced investigators hired and paid for the privilege through severance with many taxpayer dollars.
They’ve been through a couple of investigations conducted by the PSA, essentially the government’s HR department, resulting from staff complaints of bullying and harassment. Employee surveys revealed huge disconnects between front-line staff and senior management. Rosenthal was being openly mocked by subordinates. Frankly, it was an absolute shit show.
His heir apparent, lawyer Clinton J. Saddlemeyer, appointed acting CCD in Rosenthal’s absence in 2015, was suspended for wearing a Guy Fawkes mask to the staff Halloween party when the IIO was investigating the shooting of an Anonymous activist wearing the same mask at the time.
Far from being transparent and swift, they are taking up to a year and a half to complete the average investigation. Just last week on August 9th, they put out a public notice seeking witnesses to an event that occurred last August 13th, 2015 in Burnaby. Really. A year later they suddenly discover there may be some salient witnesses to an event? It’s stunning really. Shouldn’t that be one of the first steps they take? You know, when memories are fresh and details clear?
The challenge for anyone taking the reins at this moribund and incompetent organization is huge especially given its mandate. Thus far, the government has not announced who is to take that challenge. Considering they announced back in January that the search had commenced.
For all their gurgling about the importance of having a lawyer with experience in police oversight at the time of Rosenthal’s hiring, my sources are telling me that a career provincial government bureaucrat will be named as CCD shortly. Whether permanent or interim is not known.
This particular bureaucrat rose to high levels in the civil service and retired in 2013 after a full career and is currently acting as a management consultant. So apparently, the reasons for hiring Rosenthal no longer apply.
I wish the new CCD well and truly hope that the competence and transparency level of the IIO can be hugely improved. Sadly, I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who understands transparency and few who were actually competent leaders who could inspire subordinates, but there’s always a first time.
In the interim, adios Richard Rosenthal. You’ve long overstayed your welcome.
Police are often called to do things that are remarkable and courageous. Mostly it goes unnoticed and unrecognized.
In the wee hours of the morning on May 31st, a homeless man was camped out on the banks of the Fraser River in Maple Ridge, BC. He heard a loud engine roar and then saw a man in the water. He assumed it was a jet ski accident and went to a nearby 7-11 to call police.
Members of the Ridge Meadows Detachment responded to the call near Port Haney. They picked up the complainant and took him to the river to show them where he had seen the man.
The RCMP officers saw a man partially submerged just offshore. They tried to form a human chain to get the man but couldn’t quite reach him. One member, with a little over 5 years service, took off his duty gear and waded into the rushing river. He managed to get to the man and got him to shore. The man wasn’t breathing and the officers called for paramedics and began CPR. Unfortunately, their efforts and those of responding paramedics were not successful.
The officers returned to the detachment and completed their reports and went off duty at 7 a.m. But their night was not over.
The watch commander did as he was required and notified the IIO. At 9 a.m. the off duty members were called back to the detachment and told that their actions would be the subject of an IIO investigation. They were told to copy their notes and surrender their uniforms and kit by detachment investigators apparently under instruction by the IIO who took care and control of the body for autopsy.
The IIO has yet to officially assert jurisdiction in the matter, but are interviewing witness officers and as I write this, the members involved will be interviewed by IIO investigators today.
Now, I don’t know where this will end up, but, as I wrote in this space two weeks ago in two other matters where the IIO asserted jurisdiction in cases where police performed CPR on two people in medical distress, this is nuts.
The IIO was set up to be civilian oversight for police in use of force incidents. How or why the IIO seems to think they should be involved in incidents like this is beyond me. They simply should have read the watch commander’s report and said this doesn’t concern us. But they didn’t.
The officers involved were heroic. Whatever caused this man to be in the water at that time of night is under investigation by Ridge Meadows RCMP as it would be for any sudden death investigation. Why the IIO would insert themselves into this situation is flat out mystifying. The officers don’t deserve the stress of what they’re about to go through. They should get medals.
Ridge Meadows RCMP publicly aren’t commenting. They did confirm a fatality to me when I called but said they would not be issuing a press release, presumably because the IIO have control of the investigation and they insist any public comment must come from them.
Being a cop is a tough job. It’s made even tougher by the IIO for no good reason. This appears to be nothing more than the IIO trying to justify their existence.
My guess is that they will come to the inevitable conclusion that the members did nothing wrong and they will release jurisdiction. But seriously, why are they wasting their time and putting these officers through the stress of interviews, having their uniforms seized and all that goes with it?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the IIO as it is constituted, is fatally flawed and an enemy of police. This is yet another example.
Tomorrow, Friday, May 13th, is Catherine Galliford’s last day as a member of the RCMP. She will officially be pensioned off the staffing rolls. It comes ten years after she left the office for the last time and being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Galliford is well known in BC from being the face of the RCMP for many years as a Media Liaison Officer (MLO) from her days in Coquitlam, to the Pickton serial killer investigation during the long days of searching his pig farm for DNA evidence in the 65 plus Missing Women’s case that dominated headlines nationally and internationally. She was also the spokesperson for the RCMP when the Air India terrorist attack case was being prepared for trial and during the prosecution.
She was a poster child for RCMP recruiting. Attractive, fit and female.
She’ll retire with a Corporal’s pension and whatever big number in cash the RCMP had to come up with to settle her sexual harassment lawsuit filed back in the Spring of 2012. She fired the first shot in the Fall of 2011 in the war against the misogynist culture in the RCMP when she used her profile to go public about it all.
The RCMP denied everything of course. But they did settle last week for a big number because there is no possible chance the RCMP brass wanted to test her evidence in open court. Not in this lifetime or the next.
Her allegations made against three senior RCMP officers, a Force doctor and a member of the Vancouver Police Department were explosive. Her standing up against the Force encouraged many others to come forward including a class action lawsuit that has been launched involving over 400 female members at last count.
The RCMP brass did what they always do in cases like this. They deny, try to blame the complainant, then they try to trash the complainant, drag their feet, delay and more delay, try and force the aggrieved person to drop it because their pockets aren’t as deep as the federal government and in the end, instead of testing the evidence in a court of law, they settle for a big bag of taxpayer’s dollars. All, they would say if they actually gave a comment after the settlement, which they did not, would be to protect the reputation of the RCMP. The unwritten rule in the RCMP, is, whatever else you may do, don’t tarnish the buffalo, referring to the buffalo head at the centre of their logo.
I have long said the RCMP is 143 years of tradition unhampered by progress. And I say that as a former member and a member of the RCMP Veteran’s Association. And they proved that again in the Galliford case.
When one files a lawsuit, one files a statement of claim. The defendant files a statement of defence. Lawyers for each side hold discoveries of pertinent witnesses and either a settlement is agreed or the matter goes to trial.
Galliford was forced to participate in 11 discoveries. There were lawyers in the room representing the federal government, individual members, the provincial government, the Attorney General and, well you get the idea. The only lawyer in the room who wasn’t being paid by various governments was Barry Carter who Galliford was paying out of her life savings. She lost her house in the process and had to move in to her mom’s basement. Despite all of this she persevered and survived somewhat intact. And good for her I say.
In Galliford’s case, she wasn’t talking about a fellow constable slapping her butt or making a ribald joke. No, nothing like that. These were her bosses, older men in positions of power who did their level best to get her into bed. And, in her words, “When they are trying to get into your pants it becomes an obsession. It seems to consume them.”
The worst example of it was an Inspector, at the time in charge of a different section, who managed to ingratiate himself into the Air India file and begin travelling to, ostensibly, meet with family members of the victims and demanding she travel along. Now, there is no earthly reason in a file like that, that the MLO should travel all over Hell’s half-acre with a ranking officer to meet with family members of victims. No, this was just another case of a lecherous man in a position of power manipulating a situation to try and get her into his hotel room.
On one trip to Montreal, they were having dinner when – surprise – they were met at the restaurant by another, more senior officer, also from BC, who, during the conversation, suggested they re-convene at one of that city’s nefarious strip clubs. Needless to say Galliford declined and she returned to her hotel room, alone.
It’s shocking really. Galliford knew she had to, in her words, “play along to a point”.
“I knew that, for my career sake, I had to play along to a point. If I went to anyone to complain about it I knew I would be the one who was destroyed. So I tried to out-maneuver them,” she said to me earlier today.
By the time she left work she said, “If another officer asked me to sit on their lap I was going to become homicidal.”
The worst part of all of this is that everyone knows, they snigger and giggle but they condone it. The RCMP came to allow women in the fold rather late in the game. I was in Regina training in 1975 and only the second female troop was going through then. In contrast, VPD had female officers for decades before that.
But that doesn’t excuse the culture of the RCMP. Bob Paulson became Commissioner shortly after Galliford went public with all of this. He has mouthed all the pat phrases, all the platitudes saying there is no place for harassment and bullying in the workplace. Yet he, as Commissioner, is bullying the entire membership in ending the members’ advocates, the Staff Relations Representative program, by decree, and instituting something called the Members Workplace Advisors program. SRR’s had privilege in that anything members told them could be kept confidential in perpetuity. Not anymore.
The SRRs are done as of May 16th. The new program was initiated on May 9th. No consulting, just Commissioner’s decree. And the SRR’s have been ordered not to speak out. After all, no one may tarnish the buffalo.
As for Galliford, I wish her well. I have known her since 1997 when she was the MLO in Coquitlam Detachment. When I spoke to her earlier today she had an upbeat tone I hadn’t heard from her in years. I hope she is able to heal and be satisfied that she fought the bastards and won.
The more time I spend looking into the case of the four RCMP officers who responded to a call to YVR in October, 2007 which resulted in the tragic death of Robert Dziekanski, the more it appears they were railroaded, or scapegoated if you will.
The YVR four have been put through the ringer in this, pawns in a political game of blame, cultural ass-covering by their employer, the RCMP, and ultimately had their lives changed utterly and their careers effectively ruined. And two of them still face perjury convictions that are at best, a flight of fancy. Yet, all they did to deserve this was their job.
Regular readers will know that I have said publicly that they responded according to the way they were trained. The question then becomes “why?”
The mess started with then Media Liaison Officer (MLO) Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre released information which contained some factual errors and extrapolations or assumptions he should not have said.
The problem is not specifically with some inaccurate information in the ‘fog of war’ and all that, provided to Lemaitre in his initial briefing. That can be corrected as more information came to light as the investigation progressed. The problem was that the RCMP knew at the time that it was inaccurate and stood mute. They then exacerbated the problem when the officer in charge of the section responsible for the investigation, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), Wayne Rideout, made a conscious decision not to correct the public record. That decision made it appear as though the RCMP had engaged in a cover-up with the release of the now infamous Pritchard video.
This, coupled with the public outrage over yet another death resulting from the use of a Taser, supposedly a non-lethal use of force, triggered the political knee-jerk that became the immensely expensive Braidwood Inquiry which led to another review by the Commission for Public Complaints (CPC) against the RCMP, which was also flawed, and ultimately to the formation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). Talk about a bad decision.
Now, I would never presume to understand the RCMP’s media relations strategy, but having had a foot in both camps over the course of my career I do come at this with a little knowledge. Had the RCMP come out at the time and said, “We’re sorry, but our MLO was given initial information which was later found to contain factual errors. We strive to be as accurate as possible but in rapidly unfolding investigations this sort of thing does occur from time to time and was in no way the fault of Sgt. Lemaitre.” and gone on from there, the matter would have died in the news cycle of a day or two.
But they didn’t. And then, in the wake of the flawed Braidwood Inquiry report and the report made with great fanfare by Paul Kennedy, Chair of the CPC, the then-Commissioner of the RCMP, the bombastic bureaucrat, William Elliott, doubled down.
He conceived of a strategy that the Force would provide “Operational Guidance” to each of the four members blaming them for essentially, acting too quickly. The “discipline” isn’t that actually. It came in the guise of Form 1004’s which are designed to be “at the time” opportunities for supervisors to provide guidance to subordinate officers. You know the sort of thing where a direct supervisor says “That might have been handled better if you had. . . “ The RCMP policy says: “All entries on form 1004 are considered official notes. Each entry must be discussed with the member at the time or the incident and the member should be requested to initial and date the entry.”
They are to be kept on the member’s file for a period of two years. Unfortunately, Elliott waited for 37 months to provide “at the time guidance.”
The first drafts of the 1004’s were even back-dated to 2007-10-14, the date of the incident at YVR. The one that actually was served on the members was dated 2010-11-26. I have seen copies of both.
The document was grieved by two of the four members and an Early Resolution (ER) discussion determined that the forms should be removed from all the members’ files.
But, what this was really all about was scapegoating the four so that the RCMP could say publicly they were “disciplined.”
They had a set schedule, everything timed to a fare-thee-well complete with talking points all set by Elliott. The brass at “E“ Division all smartly saluted and did their parts, emailing draft documents back and forth, making revisions, suggesting changes, but at the end, Elliott got his way and no one spared a thought, officially and publicly, for the four members at the sharp end.
I have seen many, if not most of the email traffic, the timing schedule and the talking points memo labelled, “Q&As on Discipline in the YVR Case.”
This went on for months and God knows how many hours of very expensive persons’ time to give the Commissioner the ability to use the word “discipline” in relation to the four members who responded to the violent actions of Dziekanski.
And the worst of it is even though the 1004’s were wrong-headed, they are not supposed to be used for “discipline,” but for guidance. And the senior members of the RCMP knew that info contained within the 1004’s was just plain wrong.
An email exchange took place on November 26, the date on the final 1004, between Assistant Commissioner Peter German, then the Lower Mainland Commander and Staff Sergeant Mike Ingles, the Staff Relations Representative. Says German, “Good talking to you Mike. Attached are the draft 1004’s…plse get back to me re your wishes. As indicated, I hope to have the final versions on Monday for service on Tuesday….tx…pete.”
Ingles replied, “Peter, I’m not going to get into the merit of a 1004, that is the right of the organization to provide guidance that is misguided. What these members can’t accept is statements that if they accept become integrity issues. (sic) They didn’t meet privately with anyone. They were in police buildings in full view of everyone from start to finish. They didn’t discuss or fabricate notes, statements, or anything resembling that. I would like to be a part of helping to conclude this, but there is no way these will be accepted. What you had in June was what was appropriate for a 1004: guidance. These are a media release consistent with Braidwood’s report. Everyone in policing knows that the response was not as good as it needed to be, including the members involved no doubt, but that it was a response within the parameters of training.”
Then there’s this. In an email addressed to many of the the senior RCMP management in BC of the day, including Gary Bass, then the Commanding Officer of BC, A/Comm. Darrell Madill, then in charge of Contract and Aboriginal Policing (CAP), said: “Good evening Peter (German), as discussed with the Commr I have prepared the 1004’s and attached them for you.”
“The only changes to the 1004’s from those provided by the Commissioner for our joint review the other day were the following:
- I amended the date to 2010-11-26 for each 1004
- I amended the last line in the first paragraph after the list of “deficiencies” in each 1004 to read “”It is critically important for the RCMP as a whole, other members and you an an individual to learn from mistakes and shortcomings and to make appropriate statements.” and
- In the Robinson 1004 “duty of care” for Mr. Dziekanski was referenced in the last line of both the 2nd last and last paragraph of the last page. I removed the second reference in the last paragraph so the repetition was eliminated.
Call if you have any questions.
(So, an Assistant Commissioner is admitting that the RCMP was going to back-date an official document and he decided not to at the last minute and they were all, up to that point, going along with it? Isn’t falsifying an official document illegal?)
To which Bass replied copying German and the Commissioner Elliott, “As discussed in our telecom I have been in touch with the POBC (The Government of the Province of British Columbia) and they are fully briefed. In discussion on the issue of “failures at several levels”, they agreed and added that the POBC could be added to that list, that the fact that policy was inadequate was everyone’s responsibility. I add this as I think it further strengthens my suggestion that a re-ordering of the various documents, as discussed, would be beneficial.
I am enroute (sic) Ottawa this AM for a meeting and will be back in BC tonight.
One might ask what in the world the wording of Elliot’s “discipline” has to do with the provincial government? One might. But clearly this whole thing was a sop to the government and conceived by Elliott.
Why then? Well, there was the matter of the multi-billion dollar policing contract that was due to expire in two years and the fact that the government had served notice on the RCMP that they intended to have the RCMP fall under the BC Police Act in any new contract negotiations, which I might add, incensed Elliott .
Is that what this is all about? Is that why these four police officers were put through the meat grinder when they were just doing their jobs? To ensure the government was happy so the RCMP would keep their contract?
It seems to me they define the word scapegoat.
Last week the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) in Victoria released a statement saying that no charges would be approved in a case involving a relatively minor motor vehicle accident. That isn’t surprising, based on the facts where a female RCMP member was trying to effect a traffic stop and a motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction dumped and the rider suffered a broken leg.
The IIO investigation tried to allege that it was due to the mountie, who had lights and siren activated, had somehow contributed to the accident and therefore would have been charged with something like drive without due care and attention. Which, of course, is nonsense and so said the CJB.
But what was interesting to me was the media release was six pages long and 3,134 words explaining why they were not going to charge the police officer. Yet, in the case of Delta Police Constable Jordan MacWilliams who was charged with second degree murder, the media release consisted of a single page and was 414 words in length and said absolutely nothing about why this extraordinary charge was laid against an ERT officer doing his job at an armed hostage taking situation.
The last media release by the CJB was on January 14 in a case where the IIO tried to get charges laid against two dog handlers in incidents where the suspects were bitten in the course of the arrest. In that release, also announcing no charges would be laid, the CJB made the announcement in 4,144 words.
In the one before that, on Dec. 23, 2014, the CJB announced no charges in the case of an Abbotsford police officer who made an arrest during which the suspect suffered a broken finger.The CJB used 3,357 words for that particular announcement.
Lots of talk about why no charges would be laid in relatively minor incidents but precious little in a singular case where a charge of murder was laid against a police officer engaged in the execution of his duty. This makes no sense. If the public deserves to know why a charge wasn’t laid, surely it is entitled to know why a charge was laid.
Equally, the police community needs to know. As it stands now in the MacWilliams case the thousands of police officers in BC don’t know why MacWilliams was charged when for all appearances he did the job he was paid to do on that fateful day in November, 2012.
In not telling them why, the CJB risks the possibility of a police officer hesitating, second-guessing what he or she is doing instead of following their instinct and training. That hesitation could cost someone their life.
In December the President of the BC Police Association, Tom Stamatakis, had this to say on the subject of a police officer being charged with murder in the execution of his or her duty: “The expectation is that police officers respond proactively to protect the public, if in responding proactively we are going to now face these kinds of charges, I worry that police officers will hesitate to intervene in circumstances like these, and if they do hesitate than that means the safety of the public is at risk.”
He went on to say that the charge against Macwilliams was “absolutely unconscionable.”
I have to agree with Stamatakis but it is equally unconscionable not to tell the public or the policing community why this is being done.
The shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, were shocking. Everyone feels that viscerally. But the rush to blame guns and the gun culture in the US is, at the very least, only a part of the issue.
In the first place, none of the guns used in this incident were illegal and nothing that President Obama has done with his nearly two dozen Executive Orders would have changed that.
Secondly, there has been precious little discussion about the impact that mental health had in this case. Relatives have said the shooter was on some form of medication for “depression.” So, we can assume some sort of psychotropic prescription pills.
The more we look at other similar events it would seem a pattern emerges. A law enforcement friend sent me the following chart. While I haven’t personally verified all of the information, I did have a look at a sampling and it seems accurate. Regardless, a pattern emerges that bears discussion.
The Sandy Hook shootings have ignited a gun debate that is polarizing America and is causing politicians to do something for no better reason than to be seen as doing something in the midst of the debate. But new legislation or Executive Orders, no matter how well thought out, will only guide the behaviour of the law abiding.
And no matter where you stand in the gun debate, this chart indicates what the real debate should be about. The prolific use of psychotropic meds is a relatively recent phenomena. It goes along with diagnoses of things like ADD and FAS.
I’m no physician, but in my school days ADD was dealt with by a cuff behind the ear not psychotropic meds. If we are going to have a gun debate, that’s fine as long as we talk about all contributing factors. And this chart shows an incredible common denominator that is being ignored.
What Drug Date Where Additional School Shooting Prozac WITHDRAWAL 2008-02-15 Illinois ** 6 Dead: 15 Wounded: Perpetrator Was in Withdrawal from Med & Acting Erratically School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 2005-03-24 Minnesota **10 Dead: 7 Wounded: Dosage Increased One Week before Rampage School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2001-03-10 Pennsylvania **14 Year Old GIRL Shoots & Wounds Classmate at Catholic School School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant & ADHD Med 2011-07-11 Alabama **14 Year Old Kills Fellow Middle School Student School Shooting Zoloft Antidepressant 1995-10-12 South Carolina **15 Year Old Shoots Two Teachers, Killing One: Then Kills Himself School Shooting Med For Depression 2009-03-13 Germany **16 Dead Including Shooter: Antidepressant Use: Shooter in Treatment For Depression School Hostage Situation Med For Depression 2010-12-15 France **17 Year Old with Sword Holds 20 Children & Teacher Hostage School Shooting Plot Med For Depression WITHDRAWAL 2008-08-28 Texas **18 Year Old Plots a Columbine School Attack School Shooting Anafranil Antidepressant 1988-05-20 Illinois **29 Year Old WOMAN Kills One Child: Wounds Five: Kills Self School Shooting Luvox/Zoloft Antidepressants 1999-04-20 Colorado **COLUMBINE: 15 Dead: 24 Wounded School Stabbings Antidepressants 2001-06-09 Japan **Eight Dead: 15 Wounded: Assailant Had Taken 10 Times his Normal Dose of Depression Med School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 1998-05-21 Oregon **Four Dead: Twenty Injured School Stabbing Med For Depression 2011-10-25 Washington **Girl, 15, Stabs Two Girls in School Restroom: 1 Is In Critical Condition School Shooting Antidepressant 2006-09-30 Colorado **Man Assaults Girls: Kills One & Self School Machete Attack Med for Depression 2001-09-26 Pennsylvania **Man Attacks 11 Children & 3 Teachers at Elementary School School Shooting Related Luvox 1993-07-23 Florida **Man Commits Murder During Clinical Trial for Luvox: Same Drug as in COLUMBINE: Never Reported School Hostage Situation Cymbalta Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2009-11-09 New York **Man With Gun Inside School Holds Principal Hostage School Shooting Antidepressants 1992-09-20 Texas **Man, Angry Over Daughter’s Report Card, Shoots 14 Rounds inside Elementary School School Shooting SSRI 2010-02-19 Finland **On Sept. 23, 2008 a Finnish Student Shot & Killed 9 Students Before Killing Himself School Shooting Threat Med for Depression* 2004-10-19 New Jersey **Over-Medicated Teen Brings Loaded Handguns to School School Shooting Antidepressant? 2007-04-18 Virginia **Possible SSRI Use: 33 Dead at Virginia Tech School Shooting Antidepressant? 2002-01-17 Virginia **Possible SSRI Withdrawal Mania: 3 Dead at Law School School Incident/Bizarre Zoloft* 2010-08-22 Australia **School Counselor Exhibits Bizarre Behavior: Became Manic On Zoloft School/Assault Antidepressant 2009-11-04 California **School Custodian Assaults Student & Principal: Had Manic Reaction From Depression Med School Shooting Prozac Antidepressant 1992-01-30 Michigan **School Teacher Shoots & Kills His Superintendent at School School Shooting Threats Celexa Antidepressant 2010-01-25 Virginia **Senior in High School Theatens to Kill 4 Classmates: Facebook Involved: Bail Denied School Violence/Murder Antidepressants* 1998-05-04 New York **Sheriff’s Deputy Shoots his Wife in an Elementary School School Knifing/Murder Meds For Depression & ADHD 2010-04-28 Massachusetts **Sixteen Year Old Kills 15 Year Old in High School Bathroom in Sept. 2009 School Stabbing Wellbutrin 2006-12-04 Indiana **Stabbing by 17 Year Old At High School: Charged with Attempted Murder School Threat Antidepressants 2007-04-23 Mississippi **Student Arrested for Making School Threat Over Internet School Suspension Lexapro Antidepressant 2007-07-28 Arkansas **Student Has 11 Incidents with Police During his 16 Months on Lexapro School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-11-07 Finland **Student Kills 8: Wounds 10: Kills Self: High School in Finland School Shooting Paxil [Seroxat] Antidepressant 2004-02-09 New York **Student Shoots Teacher in Leg at School School Threat Prozac Antidepressant 2008-01-25 Washington **Student Takes Loaded Shotgun & 3 Rifles to School Parking Lot: Plans Suicide School Shooting Plot Med For Depression 1998-12-01 Wisconsin **Teen Accused of Plotting to Gun Down Students at School School/Assault Zoloft Antidepressant 2006-02-15 Tennessee **Teen Attacks Teacher at School School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 1999-04-16 Idaho **Teen Fires Gun in School School Hostage Situation Paxil & Effexor Antidepressants 2001-04-15 Washington **Teen Holds Classmates Hostage with a Gun School Hostage Situation Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2006-11-28 North Carolina **Teen Holds Teacher & Student Hostage with Gun School Knife Attack Med for Depression 2006-12-06 Indiana **Teen Knife Attacks Fellow Student School Massacre Plot Prozac Withdrawal 2011-02-23 Virginia **Teen Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison For Columbine Style Plot School Shooting Celexa & Effexor Antidepressants 2001-04-19 California **Teen Shoots at Classmates in School School Shooting Celexa Antidepressant 2006-08-30 North Carolina **Teen Shoots at Two Students: Kills his Father: Celexa Found Among his Personal Effects School Shooting Meds For Depression & ADHD 2011-03-18 South Carolina **Teen Shoots School Official: Pipe Bombs Found in Backpack School Shooting Threat Antidepressant 2003-05-31 Michigan **Teen Threatens School Shooting: Charge is Terrorism School Stand-Off Zoloft Antidepressant 1998-04-13 Idaho **Teen [14 Years Old] in School Holds Police At Bay: Fires Shots School Shooting Antidepressant WITHDRAWAL 2007-10-12