column was published in the
Nov. 3, 1999)
By Leo Knight
usually leave the cut and thrust of book reviews to those better
equipped to analyze the world of literary endeavors.
the books on crime and such sent by publishers hoping for a
favourable plug, I tend to avoid using this space to pick or pan
deliberate divergence was a column written in these pages almost
two years ago about former Vancouver cop, Gary Cameron, whose Shots
Fired, in my view, stands alone as a realistic trek into the
world of policing the mean streets and a "must read"
for anyone who actually wants to know what a cop's life is
the past few weeks I have tried to illuminate the problem of
organized crime to help you understand the insidious problem it
represents and to underline the difficulties honest,
hard-working cops have in trying to fight the war against the
singular case of corruption in our consular operations in Hong
Kong and the efforts of two men, former foreign services officer
Brian McAdam and now-suspended RCMP Cpl. Robert Read, stand as a
glaring example of how the system works against those who would
dare to fight on the side of right and justice in that war.
brings me back to the book review aspect. I have recently
finished reading Police Undercover: The True Story of The
Biker, The Mafia and The Mountie.
is the work of Mark Murphy, a retired Mountie corporal, who
steered one of the few successful prosecutions of organized
crime ever put together in Canada. It is part biography,
describing his part in taking down the heads of the Commisso
family, one of the major players in what is known as
"traditional organized crime" or TOC in the vernacular
of law enforcement.
I feel I must add here that Murphy's publisher did not send me a
copy of this book. I stumbled across it while doing some
research into organized crime and was taken aback by its brutal
honesty and startling accusations against senior management who,
by Murphy's analysis, were more concerned with the politics of
their positions than going after the bad guys.
book, published this summer, begins with a quote that sets the
tone for the story being told. The quote underlines what, in my
view, hampers the cops who are in the thick of the battle with
begins, "The galleries are full of critics. They play no
ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they
attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make many
mistakes because they attempt many things."
ends with, "The man who makes no mistakes lacks boldness
and the spirit of adventure. He never tries anything new. He is
a brake on the wheel of progress."
story Murphy unfolds is how he, as a police officer in Toronto's
National Crime Intelligence Section (NCIS), developed an
informant, a member of the Satan's Choice outlaw motorcycle
gang. The informant, Cecil Kirby, was to lead Murphy on a
roller-coaster ride through the world of organized crime -- from
Toronto to New York City, from bombings to contract murder.
the process, Murphy developed a friendship of sorts. Not the
bosom buddy type of relationship, but the one borne of mutual
respect for a worthy adversary who was finally coming down on
the right side of the coin.
the investigation, which took place over several months of
spine-tingling intrigue, petty politics and ever-increasing
bureaucracy, Murphy chronicles how Kirby merits more trust and
respect than the people heading the police sections tasked with
investigating organized crime.
the efforts of Murphy and his handling of Kirby as an informant,
many criminal convictions were obtained against the Commissos,
including: conspiracy to commit murder, counselling to commit
murder, arson, counsel to commit extortion, robbery and a host
of other offences.
separate members of the Commisso family were convicted and
sentenced to a collective 92 years in jail.
a bad job one would think. But, as Murphy illustrates, the
senior management of the RCMP were bent out of shape because he
conveniently ignored some policy and decisions made by those who
hadn't a clue. Decisions that put at risk the life of the very
person without whom the RCMP wouldn't have had a chance of
convicting the Commissos for jaywalking.
street-level members of the RCMP harbour no illusions about the
quality of their leadership.
high-ranking officers in the force have never made an arrest or
prosecuted an investigation from start to finish. Instead of
working their way up through the ranks, the path to high office
is one of higher learning, political correctness and kissing the
in his book Murphy takes the common knowledge one step further.
He has identified a singular connection which explains, to a
degree, the reasons our national police force has been
remarkably ineffective in the fight against organized crime.
me leave you with the words of retired corporal Mark Murphy in
the epilogue of his book.
feel that many police officers who rise within the ranks of the
RCMP do so because of their Masonic connections, not their
performance as a police officer. In my opinion, some lack the
ability to fight crime, especially organized crime and
commissioned officers that I know never made an arrest, never
conducted an investigation and never had an informant. I can
only think they went to the top because they were well
concludes, "In my opinion the network of masons placed in
positions of power throughout the RCMP and other organizations
is a breach of public trust."
Explains quite a lot, doesn't it?