(This column was published in the North Shore News on Nov. 24, 1999)

 

Local bouquets for the boys in blue

By Leo Knight

PERHAPS it's time to take you from the world of organized crime and corruption and give you a peek into the world of the street cop in your community.  

 

You see, in North Vancouver, largely due to the cost of living, most of the people who toil in our streets don't actually live here. They commute to our little corner of paradise to earn their daily crust. Fortunately for all of us, whether they live here or not, they care.  

 

In taking this little look, I'd like to toss a few bouquets and, while I'm at it, a few brickbats.  

 

Being a police officer is a job like no other. At any given time you might be called upon to put yourself into the line of fire, into the danger zone none of us can even conceive of. In harm's way. It takes a special calling to do the job, not only for the potential dangers of the job, but, to a large degree for the way the job is so all-encompassing, intruding into your private life as well as your duty hours.  

 

North Vancouver Mountie Marc Sylvestre is an example of a dedicated officer who has made the North Shore his home and will do whatever he has to to protect his community.  

 

Last Friday, his kids weren't in school because of yet another so-called professional day. He thought he'd take a day's leave to spend with his girls instead of leaving them with a sitter.  

 

While he was sipping his morning coffee, contemplating his day, he spotted a ne'er-do-well out of place in his quiet Seymour neighbourhood. While most of us might not have taken notice of the individual, he put down his coffee and went outside to see what the guy was up to.  

 

Within short order he observed a theft from one of his neighbours' yards and the suspect continuing down the street looking for another target of opportunity.  

 

As the street rat was skulking around another neighbour's house sizing it up for a break-in, Constable Sylvestre collared the rat and held him down until on-duty officers arrived.  

 

The bad guy is facing a charge of theft thanks to the diligence of an off-duty officer who lives and cares for our community and the neighbourhood was spared being victimized by another punk trying to prove that Charles Darwin was correct.  

 

A bouquet to Constable Marc Sylvestre who showed that being a cop is more than just a job; it's a commitment to your community.  

 

While I emphasize the positive, we can also toss a brickbat at former North Van Mountie Scott Simpson, accused of trafficking marijuana to kids and failing to appear at a court hearing.  

 

Simpson was under suspicion for a number of months and the cops did their job despite the fact the target was one of their own.  

 

Too often the police are criticized for the so-called blue wall of silence, protecting other cops who may have crossed the line. The reality is underlined by the Simpson case.  

 

While the case is before the courts, I'm prohibited from discussing the details. Suffice to say, those who worked with Simpson were shocked when they heard of the arrest of a colleague.  

 

Then, when he failed to appear in court to face up to his accusers, he pushed the line even further. He ran to Ontario and dared the police to come and get him, thinking the system wouldn't issue a Canada-wide warrant for a relatively minor criminal offence.  

 

Whatever his fate may be, his colleagues and co-workers will never understand. He crossed the line.  

 

The blue wall of silence has another side to it. The side only seen when a rogue cop goes bad. Then the blue wall turns its collective back. As it should be.  

 

And on the good side, there's North Van Mountie Pat Thibault, lauded in this month's Pony Express, an internal RCMP publication, for his dedication and long hours spent devoted to coaching minor hockey in North Vancouver.  

 

For Constable Thibault and those other officers who dedicate not only their public life, but their private life as well to the community they live in and serve, a bouquet, well-earned.  

 

Then, a bouquet to North Vancouver Mounties who did a kick-in on a crack house, on Saturday, and recovered a house-full of stolen property. And, a coincidental brickbat to the judge who let the same house holder out on bail just a couple of months ago with a finger-wagging, after the same North Van Mounties executed a search warrant and recovered -- wait for it -- a house-full of stolen property.

 

The revolving door of our justice system keeps spinning around. But at least there are cops who care about our community and keep doing their job.  

 

Finally, a bouquet to newly elected Doug Mackay-Dunn on his recent election to North Van District council. Doug has served Vancouver City as a cop for almost 30 years. During that time he never fell victim to the game of petty police politics, serving with integrity and dedication. If he brings those same qualities to his new position, the North Shore will be a better place.

 

  -30-

 

 

 

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