(This column was published in the North Shore News on June 26, 2002)


Murders without borders

 By Leo Knight

Part of the fallout of the so-called Missing Women's Task Force and the Pickton pig farm investigation is the implementation of a decision to establish a regional homicide investigation unit.


Every Mountie detachment is allocating manpower and monetary resources to the unit on what is ostensibly an equal basis. But, as with most things, it is with the "equal" statement that politics begins to rear its ugly head.


And with that comes the parochial nature of Lower Mainland politics. And it is that very parochialism that guarantees Vancouver, and by that I mean Greater Vancouver, is doomed to never be the so-called "World Class" city so many people here seem to crave.


But in the same breath, it also means that unless this regional homicide unit is done right, there is every risk that the lessons which should have been learned in the Clifford Olson case, the Missing Women's case, and countless inter-jurisdictional files will not be put into practice.


The issue of regional policing has been debated in Vancouver on and off for at least the 25 years since I first came to Beautiful British Columbia as a baby Mountie. Despite those many years of debate, we don't seem to be any closer to a rational decision than ever before. Quite the contrary, the debate recently in North Vancouver District council over the regional homicide unit seems to show that parochialism in our part of the world is alive and well and as irrational as ever.


At that council meeting the subject of the regional homicide squad was on the table. This, in spite of the fact that not one solitary police officer will actually depart East 14th Street and St Georges Avenue for the wilds of Vancouver RCMP subdivision headquarters. The reality is that the North Vancouver RCMP detachment will likely fulfill their commitment by allocating the funding for three officers (a little more than $300,000) as their contribution to the squad.


So, predictably, instead of taking a more "global" look at the world, we now are witnessing the parochial bitching by some, complaining we will be paying for the investigation of homicides committed in Surrey.


It is ridiculous in the extreme to think that we, on the North Shore, live in a vacuum. To believe, that somehow, whatever happens here is unconnected to any other jurisdiction is simply stupid and totally unforgivable in a local politician.


I can't think of a homicide committed in North Vancouver or West Vancouver in the past decade that didn't have some connection in some element of the crime associated to another jurisdiction in the Lower Mainland.


Equally, the Indo-Canadian gangs of Surrey, Richmond and East Vancouver are closely aligned to the drug dealing ethnic gangs of the Iranian community of North Vancouver. The Hells Angel upper echelon of the East End and Nomad chapters of Burnaby and Vancouver live in the British Properties, Deep Cove and Lynn Valley.


Would anyone care to guess how many homicides in the past six years are connected in some way, shape or form to the bikers? Whether the bodies fall in Lynn Valley or the Fraser Valley, all things are connected. For example, Ernie Ozolins was connected to the Haney (Maple Ridge) chapter of the Hells Angles, but was killed at his home in the British Properties. The missing North Vancouver man linked to the Vancouver Stock Exchange scene, along with his wife, were last seen alive at a dinner engagement at the Bayshore hotel in Vancouver.


Sticking one's political head in the sand on this issue is not only parochial, but it is frankly stupid and decidedly short-sighted. Long gone are the days when villains were local rogues. The lure of huge profits from the illicit drug trade and the violence that goes with it has greatly expanded the area of operations from the low-level gangsters who ply their trade in the mean streets. The dope dealers are Iranian, East Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Russian, bikers, prostitutes, bouncers and pimps. They live all over the Lower Mainland. They will kill to protect their business, their territory and their "respect." They will go anywhere to fill the requirements of that protection. The regional squad is being formed so there is a continuity of experience being brought to bear on complicated and linked cases, not to investigate the aftermath of a little trailer park foreplay gone wrong in Cloverdale. The detachments will still have their local serious crime units for the decidedly local issues.


But then again, there is a reason why we have the duplication of government and services in North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Langley Township, Langley City, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam.


Anything for an empire to call their very own.






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