Prime Time Crime


Letter to Prime Time Crime  March 11, 2005

By Shawn Walton

I read with anger Jim McNulty’s column in Thursday’s Province.  His self righteous examination of how he viewed the tragedy in Mayerthorpe would make one laugh if it wasn't so sad.

Besides the one deceased member who truly was new to the job having only 3 weeks in the field, McNulty grouped them all as "rookies" though the others had between 2 and 5 years of service. Were McNulty to call some detachments and ask about the service ranges of the members serving there, he’d find that most would be glad to have a glut of people with 3 to 5 years service, because many detachments and watches are running with less.

An RCMP member can write for promotion at only 7 years of service.  Three of those men in Alberta were experienced Constables, though civilians like McNulty can't begin to know the reality of that.  Three to five years of police work in today’s environment mean that they had experienced much of the dirty side of society they're sworn to protect.  They were well trained and they were armed.  It's like the Cpl. from Mayerthorpe said, it probably wouldn't have turned out much different if he, with 28 years of service, had been on scene.  McNulty has caused a great disservice to the fallen men by calling them "rookies" and for that, shame on him.

He downplayed the grow-op aspect of the operation. From his high horse he says that proper precautions weren't taken and there was no on-site supervision.  If he cares to learn more about police operations and take my suggestion to "ask around", he’d find that the police are battling impossible odds.  They're understaffed, overworked and the number of calls answered increases every year.  They're constantly putting out fires, as opposed to preventing the blazes.  It's frustrating, tiring and more often than not thankless work with the courts being the soft underbelly of the justice system. 

Every community has one or more James Roszco's in it and they're left to the police to deal with.  Charges follow charges and yet still they roam the streets.  McNulty implies without saying specifically that the deaths of the 4 members is the fault of the RCMP! 

Who is responsible for Roszco being a free man in society in the first place?  Maybe when the investigation is complete and as many facts as possible are known, the RCMP will determine that those members shouldn't have been there in such circumstances.  But I can tell you, warrants are executed in like manner every day in this country and police officers do the absolute best they can against impossible odds.

Grow-ops and the gun registry not the problem he says.  Grow-ops are rampant, they're out of control and police in any region can point out their locations and the often times dangerous and unpredictable people who man them.  But they can only get to a fraction of those operations because of the onus placed on authority to combat them and the lack of resources to tackle the problem.

The handcuffs were removed long ago from the criminals and are now squarely on the wrists of the police.  The gun registry is a colossal waste of time and money and despite McNulty’s opinion, the Mayerthorpe incident is a classic example of why it doesn't work.

The registry was spawned by anti gun zealots like Alan Rock who is on record saying only the police and military should have guns.  The murder of those women in Montreal was carried out by a "nut" carrying a weapon that could not be registered in Canada, even post gun registry, because it was illegal.  The registry doesn't address such issues.  The incident in Montreal merely provided the excuse to spawn the registry, though common sense and actual facts dictated otherwise.  Providing that money toward more law enforcement resources and increased border security aimed at stemming the tide of illegal firearms is what is really needed. 

James Roszco wasn't allowed to own firearms because the country already had, prior to the gun registry, a system in place that screens those who should not legally be in  possession.  Contrary to what McNulty says, the fact that he had weapons is very much a gun registry issue and a justice system issue.

He calls those who initially spoke out as offering a misleading portrayal and "armchair experts".  Yet, he falls precisely into that category.  He should speak not of which he knows little or nothing.

I retired from the Mounted Police last July with over 30 years of service.  Working rank and file police officers are rarely asked for their opinion on weighty issues such as the gun registry and the lenient justice system.  For politicians and journalists to do so would only undercover that which they don't want to hear, and that which they wish to hide from the general public - reality.

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