(This column was published in the North Shore News on June 14, 2000)


Government failing to protect its citizens

By Leo Knight

WEEKLY I try to explain to you the inherent problems with the criminal justice system. The system, such as it is, is broken. From top to bottom.  


And nowhere is it in more dire shape than right here in Pitiful British Columbia. Through too many years of social engineering by the hand-wringing socialists and the blissful ignorance of the federal power-brokers, our justice system is on the verge of collapse. 


Organized crime is flourishing and the ramifications are affecting every one of us. Equally, the system is seemingly incapable of delivering any meaningful consequences to those who do get arrested, charged and brought before a court. No consequences, no problems and the criminal activity continues unabated.  


Stats Can continues to trumpet a falling crime rate and the politicians try to use skewed numbers to somehow justify their inaction. But the reality on the streets today is a vastly different picture.  


In trying to tell the true story to you, the reader, I try to bring real stories and events to illustrate the nature and scope of the problem. But, this week, I want to give the stage to one of you.  


This week I received an e-mail from a North Vancouver couple whose neighbourhood is under siege. I have not used their full name to protect them against any retribution, but the rest of the letter is published here in its entirety. Their frustration is evident and, a stark example of the inadequacies of our justice system.  


Dear Mr. Knight:  


First off, let me state I enjoy your articles. Second, I support the men and women of our police force 100%. But events have occurred in my neighborhood that puzzle me. We are, to put it plainly, under weekly attacks.  


Come the weekend, teens gather in our community park. I can put up with the drinking, noise and other such activity, but this weekend stunned even me. A group of neighbourhood teens went on a rampage that left car and homeowners angry and amazed.  


Apparently from reports in the neighbourhood the events started with setting fires in the park and nearby streets at around 11 p.m. Then by 1:30 a.m. I was awakened (I live a few blocks from the park) by the noise of teens. I looked out my window in time to see a group breaking into my neighbour's car. I then watched shocked, while searching for my cordless phone in the dark, as they removed small items and a large box of full soda cans.  


They then, with great delight, aimed full cans at the neighbourhood cars. Pitching like rookies at a big league tryout. From all reports they had gone down the street breaking front and back windows of vans, denting cars and stealing. My neighbour followed in his van to see if he could get some of his things back, only to be turned on as the teens tried to reach into his car to attack him. His car was pelted. I and perhaps dozens of others called 9-1-1. The results? The youths apparently told police that they were waiting for a taxi. The police just told them to go home.  


Excuse me, but what is going to happen next week? Or, to my poor neighbour ... do you think they will be back? I'd bet the farm on that one. Already two weekends in a row he has had problems. Last week a rock was put through his window.  


So is that the new law: get in a large enough group and you can bully an entire community? We have endured a string of tires having screws put into them, bikes and even motorcycles stolen, car windows smashed, fences destroyed, trees being snapped in half, fires started and theft.  


What's next?  


They can walk into a home and take what they want ... because they are with a drunken mob.  


And the big question, where on earth are the parents? I am not attacking the cop on the street, because I know they are doing their best, but what is left for us to do? Continue to shell out insurance payments to fix windows, dents, and fire damage?  


If this situation continues somebody is going to get hurt this summer as the weather warms and teens have long summer nights ... perhaps a frustrated homeowner taking things into their own hands or the kids.  


What can we do to get some peace, beyond lighting up the 9-1-1 callboard like a Christmas tree every weekend? Only to have the naughty darlings sent home to sleep it off and save up their beer pennies for next weekend. Perhaps you could tell me?  


Kindest regards  


M. W.  


I don't know what to tell M.W. Clearly, there are no easy answers. Equally clear is that the system, as it exists, is totally dysfunctional.  


I have said many times that the first and foremost duty of any government is to protect its citizenry. In that, both our federal and provincial governments have failed miserably.  






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