Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive July 23, 2014)

Stick to the funnies

By Mauro Azzano

I used to say that I only read the newspaper for the weather and the comics. I hardly believed the news. 

Way back in ‘the old days’ before the internet, the newspaper was our main source of misinformation.    

Now, of course, we have everything from MSNBC to YouTube, so we can read about, and comment on, topics ranging from terrorism in Yemen to skateboarding squirrels. 

I mention this because, whenever police are involved in any incident, no matter how rational and reasonable their involvement, the usual response from the media is to call their actions into question. 

Whether it’s arresting suspected gang members, or tasering a belligerent man in an airport, there is no shortage of people who will second-guess, given a week or two, a decision that may have been formulated in mere seconds.  Sometimes, even the most straight-forward, by-the-book actions are reviewed by amateur critics who feel they are entitled to offer their opinions on the actions of officers. 

In the late 1980’s we lived in Winnipeg; our apartment building was very nice, and most of my neighbours were, like me, straight forward and pleasant. 



One person, however, made himself stand out. He had been interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press, complaining that he’d been unfairly targeted by the RCMP. It seemed that he was a truck driver, and “something happened” that caused his truck to veer across the road and crash head-on into a car full of people. Several died on the scene, some of whom were related to a local member of the RCMP. 

The newspaper story carried a photo which showed this person, with teary eyes and a sad face, complaining that it was all an unfortunate accident, and that the RCMP were waging a vendetta against him because there were deceased family members. He was charged with a number of offences, and his trial was pending. The RCMP claimed that he was drunk at the time of the accident, but due to certain circumstances, there was no way to conclusively prove this.   

Therefore, he argued, there was no proof he was drunk, and he shouldn’t have been persecuted.

Nonetheless, he was fired by his employer, who didn’t want a drunk at the wheel of one of their trucks.

That being said, on more than one occasion I had to jump out of the way as he screeched his rusty Camaro to the curb, and one time in particular he staggered out of the car beside me, unloading cases of beer, and smelling like a brewery. I certainly believed he had been drunk at the time of the accident, and I knew he was still certainly driving drunk.

At it happened, I worked part-time for the Free Press then. I casually asked one of my coworkers whether a reporter should revisit this story, and perhaps rescind the earlier slant given this person.

The answer I remember was that ‘if it bleeds it leads, if it sighs it dies’; meaning that it’s great to show where someone else did wrong, but they weren’t very interested in saying that their earlier story was wrong.

After that, I stopped reading the paper for the weather report. I just stuck to the funnies.

Mauro Azzano is the author of the Detective Ian McBriar series of crime novels.



Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2014