Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Feb  7, 2011)

Good Start to a New Year

By Bob Cooper




I was watching the news yesterday morning and was about to turn it off (figured I could get through life without knowing how many tattoos Miley Cyrus has) when I caught the story of RCMP Constable Jim Moir who was seriously injured on a highway near Yale when he placed himself in the path of a truck to save the life of a 15 year old girl by throwing her to safety.

The last few years have been rough ones for the RCMP.  It’s like they’ve been lurching from one disaster to the next all the while being the lightning rod for some of the most hysterical vitriol I’ve seen come out of newsrooms in well over a decade.  The news stories were bad enough.  Then there were the editorials, the talk shows, the on-line forums.  In the Dziekanski case, Bill Good said the four members acted like “judge, jury, and executioner”.  Yes, the same Bill Good who can’t see one bit of evidence of corruption in the BC Rail case.

I can sympathize because I remember the 70s and 80s when the shoe was on the other foot.  The VPD were the media’s favorite whipping boy and the RCMP could do no wrong.   The effect on morale is something you have to have lived through to truly understand.  I could only describe it as slow, but relentlessly crushing.

Even the clearing of the Surrey 6 murders which was one of the RCMP’s greatest victories was overshadowed by the news that one of the investigators stumbled and fell into one of the witnesses (hey, it could happen) while another was padding his overtime.  Instead of a couple of quiet transfers as would have occurred years ago, the RCMP were up front with the press on this one.  Did that earn them marks for honesty?  Nope, just another helping of abuse.

What the news media either missed or ignored was that throughout all of this, all over BC and the rest of Canada, individual Mounties carried on.  Despite the constant negative headlines, despite being understaffed and spread way too thin, they continued to go out every day making a difference in the communities they served, risking, and sometimes giving, their lives in the process.   Often in weather and surroundings that would make most of us shudder.  This fact alone clearly demonstrates that whatever organizational problems the RCMP may have, lack of work ethic or devotion to duty are not among them.

Hopefully in 2011 things may finally be starting to turn around for them.  Like a team that manages to score just when things look their darkest they’ve logged an impressive number of wins in the last few weeks.  Eight more gangsters are now charged with murder and other crimes linked to Metro Vancouver’s bloody gang war.  As criminal investigations go these cases are among the toughest to solve and are extremely labour-intensive.  The day before that they cleared the 2007 murder of Amanpreet Bahia of Surrey charging 3 people including the victim’s husband with First Degree Murder.  The victim had 3 small children one of whom, a one year old baby, was found sitting beside the body in a pool of blood.  A ‘genuine victim’ as we used to say.  Clearing this one was no easy feat either but they refused to give up.  The prominent coverage of these events by the news media is perhaps another indication of positive change.

By the way, the 15 year old girl in Yale was aboriginal not that that made any difference to Const. Moir.  I just mention it because I hadn’t seen any laudatory comments from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and it’s not like he doesn’t have the number for every newsroom in BC.  Perhaps he’s busy visiting Const. Moir in the hospital wishing him a speedy recovery.

Then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any better:  Embattled RCMP boss calls it quits.  A previous engagement prevented me from dropping in at 37th & Heather but I suspect that NCO Messes from Fairmont Barracks to Labrador were rocking last night in a way they haven’t since the day the pepper spray flew at APEC.

Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver policeman.  He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.


Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2011