column was published in the
Oct. 20, 1999)
getting help from AG
By Leo Knight
attorney general, Ujjal Dosanjh is given more credit than
not Colin Gablemann and that's in his favour, but that doesn't
necessarily make him competent.
would argue that he has made B.C. a haven for criminals and
continues to do little to discourage criminal behaviour and that
will be his legacy as the province's chief law enforcement
an issue that brings out the emotional, if illogical, reactions
of the ill-informed, the legislative changes dealing with police
vehicle pursuits being instituted by Dosanjh defy logic and are
another example of his inability to understand the crime problem
and his unwillingness to do anything positive.
the police are involved in a car chase resulting in an innocent
civilian being injured or killed, the police are immediately
there's no doubt each incident should be examined to determine
what was done wrong and what was done right, the tendency is to
immediately blame the police as if they were the ones who
initiated the pursuit and not the person fleeing from
in his infinite, if ill-advised, wisdom, has now made it open
season for criminals in this province to do what they may and
fear little from the very people paid to protect our interests.
starters, he has decided to make individual police officers
personally liable for any and all ramifications of a vehicle
chase the officer is involved in even if the officer follows all
about this for a moment. Would any police officer risk his
family, his house, his savings, everything he or she has worked
for in life to apprehend a street rat trying to evade capture if
he or she can be held financially liable for any damages
resulting from that chase?
it was the employer who bore the liability not the individual
officer. No more though, courtesy of the man who would be
the lunacy doesn't stop there. No, in the new rules, the cops
must activate their emergency equipment (lights and siren) as
soon as they spot a suspect and begin action to stop the
it sounds fine right up until you actually look at how police
work is really done. Take, for example, a typical drunk driver
cop patrolling down the street spots a car going in the opposite
direction driving in an irregular manner. In reality, the cop
turns around then quickly catches up to the vehicle and
immediately begins to monitor the driving of the suspect to form
the opinion required by law to demand a breathalyser test be
the new rules, the cop must activate the emergency equipment
immediately rendering it impossible to gather sufficient driving
evidence to request a breathalyser test. No grounds for the
demand, no test. No test, no criminal charges. No charges, no
deterrence. No deterrence, more drunks driving their vehicles
risking more and more lives of innocent people.
the original aim of the new legislation to protect the innocents
caught up occasionally in police chases? Yes, dear reader, but
as usual the government is wrong. Their ill-thought out ideas
actually will put at risk far more lives than ever they could
hope to save by implementing this stupid law.
other reality is just as simple. How many more dangerous
pursuits will be attempted by people who see the lights of a
police car come on a block or two back?
the police activate their gear immediately behind the target
vehicle, in most cases the futility of running is, more often
than not, realized and the suspect is stopped without incident.
Then there is the whole question of investigation techniques
such as surveillance. Unlike what we see on TV, in reality, the
police do not conduct a vehicle surveillance tucked up on the
exhaust pipe of the target vehicle.
enough, the crooks tend to notice that.
police conduct surveillance with multiple cars in a
"set." The police car with the "eye" is
several vehicles behind the target. The other cars in the set
are in parallel on adjacent streets, in most cases breaking
every rule of the road to stay even with the target and in
position to take the "eye" as needed.
very dangerous and highly stressful work undertaken only by
highly-trained, skilled individuals. But it's needed to put
together a criminal case in many complicated criminal
a relatively simple "dial-a-dope" trafficking
investigation requires many hours of surveillance done covertly
to ensure the courts are satisfied with a pattern of behaviour.
will no longer be allowed under Dosanjh's new rules.
same with a bank robber the police know is active. He can go
about robbing and stealing, armed with a gun threatening God
knows how many innocent people, and the police will be virtually
powerless to gather the requisite evidence to take the bandit
off the streets.
could go on and on with various examples of why the new
regulations will render it impossible for the police to do their
job. The bottom line is that Ujjal Dosanjh and the genetically
disenfranchised people who advise him have not thought this
the police have pointed out some of this to him, he responded,
"I don't take their concerns lightly, but I have to keep in
mind the matter of public safety."
method of taking care of public safety is to ensure the police
cannot effectively do their job and the criminals have carte
blanche to wreak whatever havoc they want without fear of
we may appreciate the concern, Dosanjh should do us a favour and
stop trying to have our safety in mind. Inevitably he screws it
up and leaves us in a worse position than before.
It's hard to believe he's considered to be a front-runner for the premier's job. But then, look at the remaining talent pool.