‘I never had that kind of power!’

‘I never had that kind of power!’

Pissed off at their gang pal being maced and mugged by a rival banger, five people — all relatively young — elect to get revenge.

Their chosen method of retribution?

Storm out of their Furby Street safehouse armed with hockey sticks, head into a basement suite at a nearby Sherbrook Street apartment block and torch the place by stuffing paper, sheets, blankets — whatever — onto the hot stove. And then run.

“Gonzos,” a co-accused is reported as saying as he put stuff over the hot stove. “Everything’s on fire.” The entire building was destroyed. Many lost everything except the clothes on their backs.

“As soon as I saw the fire, I ran,” the youth said. “I couldn’t believe the smoke.”

What proof did the Bloodz gang have to show this apartment should be targeted?

They once saw a Mad Cowz member hanging out in there. So, nothing conclusive. Basically just a hunch.

One result: a $1-million dollar devastation, 40 people left homeless, 19 of those people [including a bunch of kids] hospitalized, a pregnant woman’s miscarriage, and a whole whack of terror and fear for innocents who to this day still have trouble sleeping lest they not get out alive again.

Another result? A 17-year-old ‘kid’ now entertaining the option of being able to run his own gang crew because of the notoriety his despicable act of arson gained him.

Another result: Three adult suspects likely to skate easy in court because it’s going to be difficult to prove who actually did what and when.

And the final result: A suspect on the lam for nearly a year now because family members are choosing to hide him from police on some reserve instead of doing the right thing and hauling him into the nearest police detachment to face justice.

Yes. Oh yes. There have been very few crimes in Winnipeg of late that have both intrigued me, sickened me and infuriated me like the gang-retribution arson at 577 Sherbrook St. — perpetrated Jan. 14 in the early morning hours when many of the children, women and men peacefully living out their lives there were likely sleeping and had to run like hell to save their skins.

I wonder how they’d feel today knowing one of the people who caused their misery — he’s 17 today — now stands to gain from it if he so chooses.

From the Crown, referencing the psych report conducted for the youth’s benefit after he pleaded guilty:

“I think the most jarring part of this is his gang membership and how he feels about it … when asked about his future plans regarding gang association, he states he’s not certain what else he wants to do. On one hand, he says he’s considering quitting the gang association. However on the other hand now he could be a leader, have his own gang or crew,” Ericka Dolcetti, quoting from the report.

“And he added as an exclamation: ‘I never had that kind of power!,’

“He’s not learned from this at all. In fact, maybe this has given him some street cred,” Dolcetti said.

“… He is absolutely a danger to the public,” Dolcetti said today. “He uses his fists and he doesn’t use his words.”

When the group fled the scene, they returned to the safe house and continued partying.

“Yeah, we got them!,” “I lit up the kitchen!,” and “I lit up the couch,” were their happy cries.

When cops arrived a few minutes later, the officers themselves heard though the door:

“I burnt the whole fucking place down — go check it out!,”

The party ended when cops came through the door at gunpoint. The jig was up.

—-

Since the age of 6, the offender in question has been bounced from CFS foster placement to CFS foster placement — as many as 15 times in a decade.

He drinks, yes, but weed is his daily drug of choice (although he’s experimented with cocaine, morphine, ecstasy and Restoril).

“Weed is my best friend … I can’t answer if I’d ever stop,” he told a probation officer.

In recent years, he’s had several family members die. That’s been hard on him.

Due to the constant shuffling around, he has major attachment issues, feels “frequently worthless and has been diagnosed with PTSD due to his upbringing. He lives “vividly in the moment of past trauma,” a leading youth psychotherapist says. He has an “overreaction to threats, real or imagined.”

He says it was a female cousin who “pressured” him into tagging along with the group that morning — pushed him out the door, telling him to go back up his brothers.

“He is remorseful,” his lawyer says.

The youth gave an oddly-worded apology for his actions in court. Odd in the sense his words seemed so careful and structured that one couldn’t help but question their sincerity.

“[I] take responsibility on my part — [I] burned down that apartment building. I know it’s irreversible what I’ve done. I’m very remorseful for the people I hurt, the pain I caused  and damage I caused [to] people in that apartment building.

Alcohol and drugs had a really bad effect on me that night. I plan to work on that during my stay at the Agassiz Youth Centre. I also plan to work on my social skills, my employment skills and other skills that are available to me at the Agassiz Youth Centre.

I’ve suffered lots, lots of deaths in my life — losing my mom and dad [is a] big problem for me … depression, overwhelmed with anger … I still have major thinking errors.”

—-

At the time of the arson, the youth was on probation and had been AWOL from his latest group home for just shy of a month.

Prior to that, he breached conditions of his probation on Dec. 5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. It wasn’t stated in court why he wasn’t breached and put back in lockup after he came back on the 6th.

Prior to that, between October 21-29, he also breached by not returning to his group home.

Prior to that, on Aug 22-23, he didn’t check in as directed to do so. He was arrested for this and got bail.

There’s no real point of presenting any of the above, except a certain professional satisfaction that there will be a record of this somewhere — a record beyond the basic newspaper retelling of what happened, and how such a major crime was dealt with by the system.

This kid is a mess, and you could with a straight face make the argument he never really had a chance to be anything but.

At the end of the day however, he’ll be free 27 months from now. And I hope, sincerely, we’ve seen the last of the worst he’s capable of doing.

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Downtown Winnipeg: Personality Sketches II

This is the second in a series of sporadic reports about criminally-involved people who habitually inhabit and wander downtown Winnipeg.

There’s a lot more to them and their lives than I’d bet most care to realize.

These are true stories. 

(Arson rates, Winnipeg, click for larger image)

Downtown Winnipeg tales #2: George Leslie Guimond, 54 (*See note at bottom*)

Garbage bin fires are a big deal in Winnipeg and have been for years, regardless of how one feels about their stature on the overall arson hierarchy.

Look at it from a firefighter’s point of view: He or she doesn’t care that the blaze began in an Autobin or a recycling blue box. It has the potential to spread quickly and become lethal. They’re treated as emergencies.

They cost real dollars to extinguish and are potentially very dangerous. That’s the bottom line.

In the chart provided to city council just a few months ago, you can see that rushing out to trash can fires outstrips other Winnipeg Fire Department emergency calls by not just a long shot — but a long, long shot.

George Guimond sets garbage bin fires.

From the information I have before me today — largely collected in 2005 and 2006 after cops tediously tracked an arson spree of his and linked him to 16 trash fires over four days — Guimond doesn’t know or particularly care why he sets them.

He just does it. Last time, in August 2011, it was because a housecat caught his ire for some unknown reason and he light a blue box alight in a Langside Street lane.

The damage was exceptionally minimal — $100 — but that’s not really the point.

His history is the point.

Guimond is 54. He’s homeless and has been homeless and transient for years. But he’s one of us, a citizen of Winnipeg.

He has the equivalent of a Grade 6 education. In 2005, he couldn’t say who the Prime Minister of Canada was at the time — and Mayor Sam Katz was “that baseball guy … after Glen Murray.”

Guimond appears hopelessly addicted to sniffing paint-stripper fumes.

“Mr. Guimond also acknowledged that he has, in the past, experienced visual hallucinations and blackouts, both ‘when high,” a forensic psychologist wrote to the provincial court at the time, when his mental fitness to stand trial on 16 arson-related counts was in question.

Guimond also appeared to understand the mental damage his huffing could cause, but appeared not to care all that much.

“Mr. Guimond was adamant that ‘no one can stop me, I get lots of it on Main Street,’ and firmly expressed his intention to continue using such substances.”

In terms of his understanding of crucial elements of the legal system: his defence lawyer was the guy whose job was to “get me out.” The prosecutor: “trying to get me to do time.”

He’s childlike and vulnerable judging from reports and his demeanour in court.

At the time it was years since he had a stable place to live.

But for me, here’s the tragic kicker of Guimond’s life: He’s messed himself up so badly sniffing laquer fumes that there may be no coming back from it or assisting him.

What I mean by this is: there was no programming for him because his mental illness isn’t a “diagnosed mental disorder” by which he could access assisted-living programs and possibly get right.

Hell, when probation services called an agency (name wasn’t given) to try and get him involved in some kind of “mentor” program that may have been of great help, the agency didn’t even bother to call the officer back.

Then again, in 2005-06, Guimond wasn’t exactly amenable to being helped when it came to trying to find himself a permanent home with the help of Manitoba’s probation services.

How he ended up on social assistance and wandering the streets of Winnipeg’s downtown and West Broadway while high out of his mind (and often locked up in the drunk tank) is hard to say.

Born in Fort Alexander to parents Margaret and Alfred, Guimond says he was never involved in the CFS system and never sexually, physically and emotionally abused. His parents only occasionally drank liquor. He has 15 siblings who live in areas across the country.

For some reason, as a youngster, he says he spent a lot of time away from the home but wouldn’t divulge why.

Dad died in the mid-90s.

Guimond says he’s never been married, but says he was once involved with a woman named Flora whom he had lived with for five years. Asked to give up her address or phone number, he couldn’t.

Guimond also said he had two adult kids with a woman named Margarita years ago, possibly when he worked as a painter in the 1970s for the Logan Heights company, or on railway boxcars that — like himself — pass quietly and lonely through our city, largely unnoticed.

The kids, they don’t live in Winnipeg, Guimond said. He couldn’t say where they’re at or when he last saw them.

His friends, Guimond said at the time, were pawn shop employees.

Sadder still is that those pawn workers apparently didn’t know that.

“The (probation officer) contacted ‘Joe’ from Broadway Pawn. Joe [did not want to provide last name] informed the subject has come into the pawn shop to sell some movies but does not know the subject personally and therefore can not provide any relevant information,” the PO says.

Another name offered — a Robert Chartrand who worked for the government — didn’t pan out either.

All of this is not to say that Guimond hasn’t taken steps to deal with his problems. He faithfully attended a full-time, month-long detox program in 2004 at Pritchard House.

The problem, however: Although he attended and participated in the treatment regime, the concern was he simply didn’t understand any of it; he lacked the mental capacity to apply what he learned to his life.

Now, as we so often see in the justice system, it falls to a judge to try and sort out this mess, to balance what’s best for society with what’s best for the offender, George Guimond.

There’s more to his story to come, however.

Judge Sid Lerner has kept him behind bars as probation services takes another kick at the can of trying to figure out the apparently confounding problem that is George Leslie Guimond, repeat garbage arsonist and citizen of Winnipeg.

-30-

Important note to the reader: Many of the details here are taken from court ordered reports authored in 2005 and 2006. A new, updated report is in the works. Now, while it should be said there appears to have been a lengthy gap in his fire-setting or other criminal behaviour from 2007 to August 2011, the underlying social issues that have plagued him don’t appear to have changed. I can’t stress this enough: at the time of the August bin fire, Guimond was witnessed leaning up against an AutoBin clutching a pop bottle filled with a murky brown/yellowish liquid. He had two cigarette lighters on him at the time. 

It also must be said that although that great amount of time had passed, his defence lawyer presented no new information about any material changes to Guimond’s life or circumstances on Friday, if that’s an indication of anything. 

Downtown Winnipeg: Personality sketches

This is the first in a series of sporadic reports about criminally-involved people who habitually inhabit and wander downtown Winnipeg.

There’s a lot more to them and their lives than I’d bet most care to realize.

These are true stories. 

Downtown Winnipeg tales #1: H. M. Jr., 53

There’s something so incredibly sad and yet telling about Mr. M. and his circumstances — also about the hard and lonely realities of his adult life, a good chunk of which has been spent on the streets of our humble downtown.

M. grew up in what he describes as a “good,” religious and abuse-free home on Fisher River First Nation.

The aftermath of an arson M. caused (Tamara King/Winnipeg Sun)

He hasn’t been back there in 20 years.

His dad died 40 years ago of ALS.

He suspects his mom has died of old age but can’t be sure. He hasn’t seen her in two years.

He knows his three brothers and one sister live in Winnipeg, but says they have their own lives. He says he speaks to them “when [he] sees them downtown,” as he believes this is where they work.

He asks for nothing from them and they of him.

M. survived a number of years at a Brandon-area residential school as a young man.

It was an experience he describes as “difficult” — one where instructors beat him frequently when they got the chance, he says.

M.’s parents also attended the same school and they were also “punished” and had their “language forced out of them,” he told a social worker.

Despite these considerable hurdles, M. graduated high school and attended two years of Arts at the University of Manitoba.

He’s employable, with a decent track record of steady work, and has in the past been a willing and co-operative participant in counselling and job-placement programming provided by government agencies.

Up until the other day, he had virtually no criminal record except for a theft under $5,000 conviction from the early 90s.

Despite these positives (and a large amount of government intervention) stability and security remain elusive for M. — who has no kids or wife to rely on.

(He has, however, been engaged twice but the relationships ended mutually)

Here’s how M. described an average day in his life to a probation officer:

“The client was asked to describe his typical day. He responded by stating he usually does any of the following: ‘Go downtown, go try to find work, hang around downtown.'”

Soak that in. Drink up its sadness: There’s nothing else M. — nearing 60 years old with half a university degree and a good amount of job and life experience — can identify to do with himself other than hang around downtown Winnipeg.

It gets even more sad when you consider why he hasn’t been seen in the core over the winter.

Arson was suicide attempt

M. is currently a guest of the province for at least the next few weeks as he serves out a roughly year-long jail sentence for arson, disregard life.

He’s been in custody since last fall when he torched the curtains of his Alexander Avenue rooming house suite in what he told cops was a suicide attempt.

Four people, including M. himself, were injured in what ended up being a fairly dramatic blaze.

The elderly caretaker of the ramshackle home was one of two people who lept from an upper-floor window to safety.

M. told his probation officer he was “tired of living” and didn’t think anyone else living in the house was there at the time he set the fire. He changed his mind and fled the burning house.

It was his second suicide attempt in five years. The earlier was thwarted by a friend who found him and called for an ambulance.

M. wasn’t interested in talking to a probation officer about those friends, however.

He did say he has about five of them, who he sees about twice a week when he bumps into them while wandering downtown.

“The sole activity they undertake is to walk around downtown,” the PO notes.

Sometimes, however, they go and drink at somebody’s home.

It’s not explicitly stated what happened to M. in his 30s, but it appears the bottle got a good grip on him at that time and hasn’t really let go since.

He started drinking at 18, he says. More frequently in his 20s.

A few years later, booze became a major issue and he started finding himself repeatedly taken to the drunk tank under the provisions of the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act to dry out.

He has taken at least some steps to deal with his “significant” alcohol problem.

What’s worse is that M.’s mental health appears to be a growing concern as he ages.

In February, he was assessed as a “high” risk to reoffend.

How that might happen, that’s not explicitly stated.

“Drinking too much just happens,” M. says.

Sadly, that’s also when he gets suicidal.

-30-

For the Record: Fort Rouge arson-prevention meeting

(Staff Sgt. Kelly Dennison is a supervisor in District 6, and a former Public Information Officer for the Winnipeg Police Service)

About 100 Fort Rouge residents gathered Wednesday night to her presentations from fire officials and police about the rash of arsons in the area.

Bill Clark from the WFPS gave a great and concise presentation, as did one officer from the Fire Commissioner’s Office who’s name I didn’t catch.

But, as I suspected would happen, it was the police district representative, Staff Sgt. Kelly Dennison, who was on his feet the most to respond to people’s concerns during the Q and A portion.

And, I might add, there was much buzz in the Twitterverse about how cadets are used in the city based on reported comments by Dennison in the Free Press at a separate meeting the night before. Specifically, the implication was there in the story that the province and police service wouldn’t allow the blue-shirts to work anywhere but downtown. Some were upset there was no follow up to clarify this statement because cadets have appeared in many places in the city.

I didn’t make that meeting, but I did the next night. What’s presented below are Dennison’s comments to two questions, reprinted verbatim. Any questions about accuracy and I’ll post the audio on Archive.org.

I won’t make any comments regarding what Dennison says below.

But I wonder if the service knew how popular the Cadet program was to be when it dreamed it up a few years back.

People in the area clearly appear to be pondering lately the level of police service they’re able to access.

-30-

Question: “This question is for District 6 (Dennison)  — are you using bicycle patrols and or cadets in the wee hours to patrol? [Inaudible] fires have been set between 2 and 4 a.m. Are you using that [inaudible]?”

Dennison: “The Winnipeg Police Service does have a very small bicycle unit. The District 6 police, themselves, they do not. Our Community Support officers are not deployed on bicycles in your area — in this area at this time. So I guess the easy answer to that is, ‘no, we don’t have police officers on bicycles — full time — here in District 6.

We do have the opportunity and ability to import officers that do ride bicycles. We have a small unit of those officers that, upon request from myself or a division commander, we can ask for those officers to come in to our division and help us with some patrols.

As far as the cadets go — I don’t know if you guys are all aware — cadets were very active in this last investigation, very active in assisting us in this community. They were here, they spent countless hours walking in our community and up and down the streets.

They’re basically, as you know, the eyes and ears for the police officers that are out there, so they have been here. I can tell you that the Cadet program is something that — as you all know already — is relatively new to the Winnipeg Police Service. It’s not a program that’s been around for a long time. It does have some growing pains, and it is expanding. This program is expanding.

Those officers, currently, are being deployed by the police service, basically, for efficiency and operational needs. And you have to understand that it’s one unit, and the police service, our service, has to take a look at the entire city.

In saying that, however, there are bright things in the future for that program, I can tell you that. And we are hoping that more cadets are coming online and we do anticipate seeing cadets in your community in the future.

Please don’t ask me a date or time for that, sorry, I can’t do that for you. That’s basically where we stand with that.

[clapping]

Question: Paul Hesse, Liberal candidate in upcoming provincial election: Some of the things we heard last night [at a meeting at a Stafford Street church] was that community support officers in this area have been redeployed out of the area. So one question I have is: Can we ever expect community support officers to remain deployed here, or is there just a shortage of officers throughout the city and more resources needed? Also, there has been a safety plan developed downtown, I understand there hasn’t been a formal safety plan developed in the Osborne Village or Fort Rouge areas [inaudible] create one? My third question is there has been [inaudible] for more foot patrols, especially in the Osborne Village area, and also we’re hearing that request in this area, [inaudible] expansion of the cadet program — what would be needed to make that happen

[clapping]

Dennison: Ok, I’ll try and go through that as best I can. Yes it is true that the community support unit that is in your area has been redeployed downtown. That redeployment came as a result of very, very serious incidents that we’re all probably aware of here in the City of Winnipeg.

Those officers and their skill set and expertise was required in a different part of the city to deal with some very, very serious crimes that we have going on right now. I hope you can all please understand that — and I’m sure you do — that when we have serious crime in the City of Winnipeg, as a police service, it’s incumbent on us to deal with that crime as a whole no matter where it happens in the City of Winnipeg.

I’m lucky — I’m one of the lucky guys — who gets to work out in this beautiful part of town, but we’re not all that lucky. So our officers do have to be redeployed. And as a service we do our best to redeploy our officers where the need arises and where it’s most efficient and [inaudible] operational.

And that is something that the police service takes very seriously, because it’s never easy, pulling an officer out of one area and into another. I can tell you as a commander out here in District 6, I look forward to having my officers back, and I’m sure you all want them back as well.

I can’t tell you that they’ll be back tomorrow, I can tell you two of them came back today [laughter from crowd].

So the community support unit is something that all of you rely on whether you know it or not. In this room, you do rely on your community support unit very much and we as police officers rely on them quite extensively as well

We do have [inaudible] of officers. They’re the ones that come out into the community and talk with you, they’re the ones that deal with community complaints, and of course we don’t have enough. You know, of course not.

Will we ever have enough, probably not. That’s the nature of policing, and that’s the nature of the growth of our city — that’s the nature of the demographics of the city we live in.

As far as deployment goes, however, I do have to stress that the police service does take that very seriously having to redeploy officers from other areas of the city to deal with emergent criminal activity.

As far as the downtown safety plan and has one been developed for Osborne Village? Yes, one has been developed in Osborne Village. We developed it at the start of the summer. It was developed by two extremely talented officers out here in District 6, It obviously [inaudible] — has started to be put in place, when serious crime happened here in Winnipeg.

We had some gang issues, as you all know, our officers had to be redeployed and deal with some of that. A safety plan has been put in place, an action plan — we call it an action plan — that’s what we term it as — I guess it’s kind of, where you’re going — We call it an action plan here in District 6 because it helps us plan our day to be out in the community with you, have our officers out there and involved.

That action plan hasn’t fully come to fruition. Basically because of the circumstances and situations we here in Winnipeg find ourselves in everyday. I don’t know if that helps or not?

As far as the Cadets … is there an expansion of the Cadet program?

Again [inaudible], I’m not the expert. And everyone seems to think I’m the expert on the cadet program. I’m not. I run District 6. The Cadet program is the program that is just [inaudible] — it’s a growing program. It’s still growing within the City of Winnipeg.

More Cadets are being hired. And those Cadets are the eyes and ears of the Winnipeg Police Service. And they go out into the community — those are the young men and women that you see walking up and down the street. And I know for myself, I love seeing them out there, and I know you must love seeing them out there too, it gives you a sense of security that somebody’s out there watching on your behalf.

They have a very strict mandate. And they follow that mandate basically to the letter. Because they’re not peace officers.

A lot of young cadets are very energetic and are great young people. And a lot of the reason they join the Cadet program is they want to further their career in law-enforcement someday. So we hire cadets, we train the cadets, they get the experience and the next thing you know, we hire them as police officers and we have to hire more cadets.

So, the cadet program is expanding, and I can tell you I know there have been beats identified in the Osborne Village for the cadet program, but I can’t stand here today and give you a definitive answer as to when you can all look out your window and see a cadet walk by.  [Laughter from crowd]

I’d love to be able to tell you they’ll be there tonight when you get home. But that’s just simply not the case and I just hope you can understand that it’s resource-driven, that it’s efficiency driven and it’s operationally driven by the Winnipeg Police Service.

[Clapping]

Other questions included:

Why don’t police release mug shots of suspects upon their arrest (one man wanted to know if an encounter he had in his garage was with Brandon Sutyla, the suspected serial arsonist police have charged with 18 of the Fort Rouge fires)

Another woman asked why we have a helicopter but police keep talking about having not enough bodies to service neighbourhoods (Gerbasi handled this, assuring her she tells WPS Chief Keith McCaskill her concerns every time she sees him).

At this point, I was on my way out the door when a young man got up and asked the panel (but really, the police representatives) a question along the lines of: ‘You tell us you don’t have enough. What can we do to see that you get what you need?

The mic was passed to MLA Jennifer Howard, who spoke of “investments” made in policing by the province — but I had to write to deadline so I had to leave.

-30-

‘In a battle of wits, he’s unarmed’

(James Turner/Metro)

The suspect in the recent arsons in Fort Rouge has the mind of a ten-year-old due to mental challenges and diagnosed ADHD, his lawyer says.

This is confirmed by the court record of a September 2010 hearing where Judge Kelly Moar heard Brandon Sutyla’s “intellectual deficits” seriously hampered the police evidence and prosecution against him after being accused of a string of River Heights-Tuxedo-Assiniboine Park arsons eerily similar to what’s taken place since late May in Fort Rouge-Crescentwood-Earl Grey

He did, however, plead to one count of arson for setting a Wellington Crescent garage alight in August 2009. It was an arrangement with the Crown that today Glazer describes as “a sweetheart deal” that he preferred the young man not take.

Hmm.

In the present case, there’s no independent police evidence linking Brandon Sutyla to the recent crimes that have stunned and shaken an entire neighbourhood, Martin Glazer alleged in a telephone interview today.

“Taking a statement from him is like taking candy from a baby. In a battle of wits, he’s unarmed,” the veteran lawyer says.

Glazer stated Sutyla was held for questioning for roughly 24 hours by police, and despite their knowledge of his past, interviewed him alone.

“In a case such as this, it’s very easy to break down someone like him,” Glazer says.

Two weeks ago, officers went to Sutyla’s mother’s home and questioned him, saying something along the lines that his clothes fit a particular witness description, he added.

They left without charging him.

Nonetheless, there’s a suspect in custody now, an obvious relief to many Fort Rouge Residents.

What remains to be seen, however, is if the fires continue. Glazer says that will be a key sign police may have the wrong suspect.

Police said this morning that a fire in the rear of a home on Fleet Street early Thursday likely isn’t connected [Sutyla was in custody].

Judging from the damage, the MO seemed the same to me, but it’s possible it could be a copycat.

A question remains: Why was he arrested at the scene of a car fire miles away from Fort Rouge at the time of his arrest?

Sutyla’s case has been remanded to Aug. 15 pending a bail application.

 

Say hello to last year

(Winnipeg Police Service)

One month before 2011 is set to begin, The Winnipeg Police Service officially releases its annual report for 2009.

 

Oddly, they’re also holding a press conference for reporters to discuss, ask questions about and dissect last year’s news.

I’ll save you the trouble. There’s none to be found in it. Well, almost.

Problem is it’s unfair to claim this data as reflective of anything because it’s so old.

Once again, the report notes police spend a lot of their time going to domestic disturbances. It’s far and away the patrol officer’s #1 job.

 

 

Homicide clearances are the same as in 2008, at 81 per cent. So, roughly 1 in 5 go unsolved. Not bad, given the gang problem in the city.

(Winnipeg Police Service)

Two other things jump out: (see chart)

 

1] The number of firearms/offensive weapons crimes jumped 46 per cent over 2008 — what appears to be a jump of about 200+ occurrences. A reflection of how much more potentially dangerous the city’s become — not just for the public — but for police officers as well.

2] A spike in robberies of 30 per cent, with a clearance rate of 29 per cent.

Robberies, however, were up 30 per cent last year over 2008.

That’s concerning, as robberies are frequently identified by the general public as a crime they are greatly concerned about. They should be.

In 2007-08, we saw a drop in robberies of about 16 per cent, but the clearance rate remained the same.

Arsons were also up in 2009 — by 35 per cent — but the clearance rate a slim 16 per cent.

The year before that, arsons jumped by a whopping 58 per cent, but the clearance rate was standing at about 26 per cent.

The thing that jumped out at me the most from last year’s report, however, has to be this statement:

Analysis has revealed that about 70% of the 5,000 missing person reports managed each year by the WPS are wards of child protection agencies. Many of these youths are chronic runaways, some with more than 150 police contacts. Research and experience has taught us that these chronic run- aways are frequently victimized, criminalized and exploited by predators while on the run from child- care facilities.

That just says to me the province is offloading its responsibility to care and watch over these kids to the police service and the city.

More must be done to supervise them, or the province should be kicking in more to pay for apprehending them.

Better yet — one thing the province could do is detail some probation officers to a quasi missing persons unit to head out and look for these kids. Would cost less and free up police officer time to bust robbers and gun-traffickers, instead of babysit.

But, who knows. It’s year-old news. Maybe everything’s changed since the dawn of 2010.

2009_wps_annual_report_english – PDF is 2+MB in size.

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PS: I did love this picture in it to accompany the page describing the “investigative” units:

(Winnipeg Police Service)

The suit-wearing suspect just says something to me, I guess.

It happens more often than you think

While the WPS may publicly choose to call it an “unbelievable event,” it’s simply not true.

History belies the notion that its unusual for Winnipeggers to get set on fire by suspects  like what happened to Gerald Dumas overnight Friday.

“It’s an unbelievable event, really and truly. These things don’t happen very often in our city, thankfully,” said Const. Natalie Aitken, a spokeswoman for Winnipeg police.

—Wpg. Sun

However, this kind of horrific attack typically befalls someone in Winnipeg at least once or twice a year.

(Probably more, but the public just doesn’t know it or hear it).

I guess it all depends on your definition of “very often.”

It’s also happened here and here.

And here and here – with the latter containing this interesting quote from Sgt. Kelly Dennison:

The woman escaped the house with burns to her hands, arms and upper body and wandered about a block before someone found her and called 911, police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Dennison said.

“It’s very disturbing, isn’t it?” said Sgt. Dennison. “It’s not the first time in my career that I’ve dealt with an incident like that.”

There was also another case of a man being set alight downtown for his iPod in late 2008 or early 2009, but damned if I can find a link.

And, horrifically, here as well.

Finally, here’s one from a police press release in May 2005:

10-Year-Old Boy Set on Fire

Around 10:30 p.m. last evening, two male youths and a female youth were playing with lighter fluid in the area of Aberdeen Avenue and McKenzie Street. Three young boys aged 9, 10 and 11 years approached the youths to watch what they were doing.

When asked if they wished to play along, the three young boys declined and the female youth insisted they had no choice in the matter. The youths chased the young boys catching the 10-year-old. The female suspect and the two male suspects held the victim down while spraying his shoes and pants with lighter fluid. The female suspect then lit the lighter fluid and the victim’s shoes and pants caught fire.

There should be a separate aggravated assault charge in the Criminal Code for people who would intentionally try to burn someone else alive.

It should carry a 10 year mandatory minimum, and a trip to hell when they’re dead.

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