Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Feb. 16, 2009)

Raising the Stakes

By Bob Cooper



In years gone by traditional organized crime operated in accordance with some very strict rules and all involved abided by them.  Among those rules was a prohibition against harming judges, policemen, reporters, or family members of rival gangsters.  The first 3 were just smart business as to do so would bring the roof in on them and make it impossible to conduct their illegal enterprises.  The fourth was a combination of honour and the realization that all of them were equally vulnerable in this respect.

In the wake of Mondayís fatal shooting of the wife of a reputed gangster who was travelling with their four-year-old son in the car, various journalists have engaged in endless speculation over whether the wife was the target or the bullets were meant for her husband. 

If this speculation is correct then I doubt that it would be a case of mistaken identity.  Firing a handgun is a lot harder than Hollywood makes it out to be especially when that gun is in the hand of an untrained thug whoís shooting car to car.  To do that and score one hit let alone three, as reported, youíd have to be close enough to see who you were shooting at.

What the pundits donít realize is that, either way, it doesnít matter.  Traditional organized crime took care of business quietly.  They knew that shooting people in crowded public places was bad for business and they stayed away from it.  Theyíve now been replaced with groups of amoral savages who donít think twice about it.  For the past 20 years theyíve been hunting each other armed to the teeth and itís beyond me how more innocent people havenít been killed.

That was bad enough.  Now itís gone from business to extremely personal in one of the worst possible ways.  The last rule has been tossed out the window and the ante has been upped to frightening proportions.  I fear the consequences of crossing this line will make the past couple of years seem like a cakewalk.

Another disturbing aspect was the appearance of the Mayor at Vancouverís latest killing to make a stump speech for a regional police force.  I donít necessarily disagree with him on the subject but he should have made the comments from his office.  His action in using working cops at a fresh murder scene as a political prop shows a lack of propriety and respect for tradition.  The last time something like this occurred it was a city councillor turning up at the scene of the eviction of the Frances Street Squatters to score some political points.  This earned her a well-deserved rebuke from then Mayor Gordon Campbell who pointed out on the news that in Canada politicians are kept at arms length from the police for very good reason.

Sorry, did I say the last time?  I forgot about another city councillor who phoned the Chiefís Office full of indignation at not being invited to be on the podium when we announced arrests in the Aaron Webster murder.  He felt that being an openly gay politician gave him the right to show up and make political capital on something he had nothing to do with.

I had the same uneasy feeling this week as I watched the Premierís anti-gang announcement at ĎEí Division Headquarters.  One journalist aptly commented that it looked more like a political rally.  Right.  Complete with an elaborate backdrop plus a de facto endorsement from the top policemen in the province.  An ad agency would have billed them a fortune but this didnít cost them a dime.

This trend should concern everyone in law enforcement.  The last Chief who had the balls to keep City Hall out of the VPD was Bob Stewart and weíve lost ground ever since.  Itís about time His Worship and others got a civics lesson.  The police must stand completely independent.  Trading off favours with politicians is an unholy alliance that never works as they care about nothing but themselves and the next election.  Like the recent Governor of Illinois, they donít do anything for nothing.  My daddy taught me that thereís no free lunch.  Sooner or later the note comes due and no good can come of it.

Whatís happened to the RCMP is proof enough of that.

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009