Monday, February 26, 2024

Companion lost

I cried a lot today.I know, I know, I’m a big tough guy. But today I had to put down my beautiful German Shepherd, Holmes, after 12 and a half years of being my unconditional friend and companion.We are masochists us dog owners I think. We know we will outlive our pets and we get the gut-wrenching inevitable end such as I experienced today. Yet we will do it again and again.Holmes was a terrific dog. I got her when she was just six weeks old. And walking her in those days down around Second Beach in Vancouver illustrated what a chick magnet she was. Or I suppose any puppy really. But damn, she was cute.My friend John Daly, the BCTV, now Global, reporter was responsible for her improbable name. She was little ball of fluff when he first met her. The first words out of his mouth were “Yo Holmes” and thus she was named.I spent a lot of time with her in the early days. She learned all the usual commands plus a few more. When she was told to “get busy,’ she went off the beaten path and did her business in an area where no living creature would likely tread. I remember a day when she was ill and had diarrhea. I had to go out for the evening and was concerned about the state of the house upon my...

Tax man finally shows up in OC battle

The extraordinary announcement of the successful conclusion of Operation Colisee by police in Quebec and Ontario is stunning. Not just because they took down members and associates of the Rizzuto crime family, including patriarch Nicolo “Nick” Rizzuto. Nor is it stunning that they have arrested 73 of them with warrants fro 17 more. But, largely because this project was done with the full involvement of Revenue Canada investigators and they are actually going to seize assets of the mobsters.For years the police have been trying to get CCRA to take an interest in organized crime files to little or no avail. Especially when it came to taking on the Hells Angels, the tax guys were conspicuous by their absence. Too scared was what the cops were saying. Using income tax law to go after organized crime is a tried and true method, dating back to the days of Al Capone. Not so in Canada, at least until this week anyway.Organized crime may use legitimate fronts for their various endeavours, but make no mistake about it, the vast majority of their money is dirty and untaxed. It’s about bloody time CCRA got engaged in a game they have for too long ignored.Leo Knightleo@primetimecrime.com

Another over-reach by the IIO

I played golf with a few of my former VPD colleagues last week, all retired now, but with Major Crime and/or Internal experience and one, retired as the Inspector running the VPD Traffic Section. As we sat down for a post game libation, I got a press release from the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) saying charges of Dangerous Driving causing bodily harm had been approved against a Nanaimo Mountie, Cst. David Buchanan. My immediate thought was that he’d been ordered to shut down a chase and hadn’t, risking lives of pedestrians as he careened down the sea wall in the Port of Nanaimo. But no, nothing of the sort apparently. As I read the release further, it turns out the CJB believe that he was in a pursuit involving a scooter. A scooter? You know, something like a Vespa. A scooter, capable of burning up the pavement at something between 50-60 KMH. Again, my mind conjured up a chase on a sidewalk with pedestrians diving out of the way.  But no, no such thing. This occurred around eleven o’clock on a wet, rainy February night in 2016. When I told my golfing companions that the charge involved the interaction with a scooter, the speculation began as to what the officer might have done to get over the bar to be charged criminally with Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm. All suggestions involved innocent members of the public being put at risk by the actions of the officer. I began to look into the circumstances and the...

Media Sheep

Years ago, when John Yorston hired me into the mewsroom of the now defunct Montreal Star, I was taught that jounalists had to question everything and to source what you were being told twice or more. I wonder where that dogma has gone in the mainstream media in Canada today.Last week, Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman testified before the Air India inquiry that he had seen a piece of raw intelligence that indicated an attack was imminent on Air India and had promptly marched it over to an unnamed Mountie who said he had already seen the intel. Bartleman then said he'd heard about the Air India bombing in which 329 people lost their lives as he was packing the family up to go to the lake for the weekend. And for twenty plus years he said nothing!The Central Canadian mainstream media may swallow this wholeheartedly as is their wont, but please, is there anyone in the real world, who believes that a career bureaucrat who was in the posession of some information that seemed to play out to be true, wouldn't engage in a "cover your ass" exercise by telling someone superior immediately after the event?Give me a break!Bureaucrats learn, very soon after they are weaned from the nipple, that they must engage in an exercise called CYA - Cover Your Ass. Go on, I defy you. Ask any civil servant what "CYA" means and you will hear the response "Cover Your Ass."So, back to the...

Another good cop held down

You're kidding me! What, is the Winnipeg Chief Constable taking lessons from Calgary's Jack Beaton? The story headlined on Prime Time Crime about the Staff Sergeant going from hero to zero for not telling some biker schmuck that some other schmuck said someone wanted him dead is another example of an out of touch chief making what appears to be a knee-jerk decision to avoid criticism and instead inviting more. Unfortunately, he seems to have hurt a good cop in the process.Does Jack Ewatski actually expect that every time a cop hears some asshole in custody blows his mouth off about so and so "is a marked man" or "he's gonna get it" or whatever nonsense comes out of their flapping gums, that the investigator has to go running to the guy and tell him what the jagoff said? Give me a break. What's with chiefs named Jack? Quite apart from anything else, bikers, wannabee gangsters, wiseguys and pretty much anyone else involved in organized crime knows that somebody wants to kill them and pretty much, sooner or later, someone will. Or they spend they waning days in jail. It goes with the territory. And frankly, society doesn't miss them when they get whacked from this mortal coil. So, why destroy a good cop's career over something like this? Unless there's a lot more than meets the eye in what has been published in the media on this file, the Winnipeg Chief is doing a disservice to not only...

Politics of policing bar the right way

For a number of reasons, the debate has been raging in the Vancouver area about the potential amalgamation of the various police services into a regional police service. The new Chief Constable of West Vancouver Police Department, Kash Heed, weighed in with his comments that it was high time for a regional police force. In the aftermath, I spoke a number of times on various radio talkshows essentially explaining that the talk of this has been happening since at least the 70's when I was a baby Mountie transferred into the Lower Mainland.I received an email from a friend who is from BC, but is now a cop in California. The problem is the politics of policing. A nebulous term perhaps. But it is a prevalent issue. Here are his thoughts pasted in:Hi Leo, I thought I would add my observations to the current media storm of police dept. amalgamation in metro Vancouver. I think it will never come about for the following reasons: 1. Unlike in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa it is not the simple task of amalgamating a bunch of smaller agencies with one larger agency. That's why it went so smoothly in those places. 2. Vancouver has three police masters to appease: V.P.D. , the R.C.M.P., and, the smaller municipal depts. as a group. Both V.P.D. and the R.C.M.P. have the attitude their way is the only way and would never surrender to the other. The sdmaller "munies" at least work operationally as part of both...

On a “Good” Friday

I have decided on this Good Friday, to post a Blog for a little back and forth on some of the issues that plague our country, our justice system and our police officers.I will continue to write more formal columns, but I was thinking this format would allow some of you who vent away in emails, to be able to share some of your thoughts with other regular visitors to Prime Time Crime.So, here it is and let's see where it takes us.Regards,Leo Knight

Jack be nimble

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 Knightleo@primetimecrime.com

The eyes have it

Yesterday's announcement by the BC Crown Counsel's office that there would be no criminal charges laid in the tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanskie should come as no surprise to anyone with the ability to think and analyze what they were able to see with their own eyes in a little over a minute of very available video, broadcast widely on news stations in Canada and on the internet. I said at the time that the RCMP members who responded to a violent and apparently emotionally and mentally unstable man at Vancouver International Airport did exactly as they were trained to do and now the Crown Counsel has backed up those members.  That Dziekanskie died is sad indeed to those that knew and cared for him.  Albeit, the information that has come to light in the intervening time seems to indicate that there were precious few of those. No indeed, the bloodlust whipped up by the media seems to have been all about their own particular ideology which in general is to play "gotcha" journalism and, in specific, is to attack the actions of the police.But despite the attempts of the assembled media hounds baying for the blood of the RCMP members in this case, the Crown has made the correct decision and the police officers involved have been vindicated in the actions they took on that fateful night.But, let's be very clear, every media outlet in this country all but called this an execution of an innocent man at the...

‘Skids’ clean up needs support

I'm more than a little heartened to see Vancouver Police Inspector Bob Rolls talking tough about cleaning up the world's largest open air drug bazaar, the Downtown Eastside. Or, as it was known when I walked a beat on its mean streets, " The Skids." But talk is cheap. And the real test of this is whether the courts, the Crown and the Department itself, will withstand the inevitable pressure they will face as they proceed with their stated "zero tolerance" policy. When I first set foot on the "beat" in the Skids it was a different job. In those days, in the early '80s, the beat was a coveted job. It was only given to those officers who had proven themselves in patrol cars to have the right stuff. In those days, the beat squad in the Skids was totally self-driven in terms of the work that was done. We weren't responsible for radio calls and our work as part of the 12 man crew was totally self-generated. We went out and found the bad guys and put them in jail. In some ways it was a much more simple life. Within hours of a new guy arriving on the beat he was challenged. Not in the way the word is used today, but in the manner of the Wild, Wild West. To see how tough you were. One of the local street thugs would throw down the gauntlet and you either picked it up and hit him...

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