column was published in the
Oct. 27, 1999)
a symptom of sick justice system
By Leo Knight
week's hit and run tragedy in Surrey surely must cause the
attorney general to re-think his approach to supposed
non-violent offences and the whole issue of police chases.
theft has become a major crime problem in British Columbia.
over a 100% increase over the past four or five years, it has
reached epidemic proportions.
of addressing the problem with aggressive enforcement action and
backing that up with a zero tolerance policy in courthouses
across the province, the AG has declared it a non-violent
offence and insisted on alternative methods of sentencing for
the perpetrators, which does not include jail -- or any sort of
meaningful consequence for that matter.
week I told you about how the AG is handcuffing the police with
new legislation effectively preventing the cops from being able
to do many aspects of their job.
tragedy in Surrey merely underlines how wrong Dosanjh is (again)
in aiming at the police instead of the real problem.
day in Surrey and Vancouver alone, almost 50 vehicles are stolen
on average. Every day. Toss in North Vancouver, Richmond,
Burnaby, Coquitlam and, well, you get the idea.
and large it's the same people stealing the cars over and over
and over again.
sure, they sometimes get caught only to get zipped through the
revolving doors on the front of our courthouses.
double fatal hit and run in Surrey is a direct result of this
broken system. Of the three people suspected of being
responsible, two are young offenders who cannot be named because
of another ridiculous law.
were arrested by Surrey RCMP the day after the fatal crash
attempting to steal yet another car.
third suspect, 19-year-old Jeremy Matthew Coles, finally
surrendered to the authorities on Monday after being sought by
the police following the accident.
a lengthy list of so-called non-violent offences to his credit,
Coles now stands accused of having the blood of two innocent
people on his hands. One of whom was a six-year-old boy, a mere
child on his way to school with his dad.
1994 when auto theft numbers began to rise, the government took
aim at the police in restricting how they conduct themselves
when chasing suspects.
they reasoned that if the police didn't chase the thieves,
innocent lives would not be lost in the occasional collisions
that resulted when the irresponsible car thieves began doing
crazier and crazier things in the effort to escape.
the punks do things like taunt the police while driving stolen
cars trying to incite a chase.
cops know there's no point in trying to stop the bad guys. The
chase will be called off as soon as they call it in by a
supervisor cognizant of the rules stacked against the police.
Vancouver police sergeant told me last week, "It's real
simple. If any of my guys start chasing a car, as soon as I hear
it on the radio, I shut it down. I don't need the grief."
it's really important to note that the police were not chasing
the vehicle when it hit that motorcycle head-on in Surrey. No
amount of hand-wringing and obstructing the police by Dosanjh
will change that.
I might add, were the police chasing another stolen vehicle
earlier this month when it ran a red light at Cassiar and
Hastings and creamed a horse trainer on his way to Exhibition
Park in the early hours of the morning.
dead and one seriously injured in that crash. The car thief
limped away and to date has not been apprehended.
the outcry in these incidents?
the police been chasing these stolen vehicles, the media would
be setting their collective hair on fire.
people dead in just a couple of weeks and nobody seems to have
noticed this is the direct result of the policies of the B.C.
if one looks at the numbers over the past 20 or so years, there
are probably as many, if not more, of these types of incidents
in which drivers of stolen cars caused a crash and fatally
injured someone as when the crash occurs while the police are
trying to apprehend the car thief.
where does our self-professed defender of public safety focus
his attention? Not on the thieves who are causing the problem,
but on the police who are paid to protect the public.
anyone understand this lunacy?
Dosanjh really wanted to do something about all of this, he
would buck up the millions of dollars needed to get a police
chopper in the air over the city.
allows the police to conduct chases in a more passive manner
while still monitoring the target vehicle in order to use
methods such as spike belts to stop the idiots before someone is
would also focus his attention on ensuring there are real, not
imagined, consequences for the perpetual car thieves. And
please, I don't want to hear the argument that the judiciary is
independent and, yadda yadda yadda, they are sentencing within
the range prescribed by the Criminal Code.
reality is our system is so broken that judges have no
confidence that any sentence they impose will be carried out.
Which is the specific and direct responsibility of the attorney
People are being killed and the police are virtually powerless to stop it.
AG is too busy with politics to do his job.
AG is too busy with politics to do his job.
media at large are silent on the subject. Something is very
wrong with this movie.