Why was Shawn Lamb out of jail?


(Carolyn Sinclair)

Looking at the math, either I’m missing something about the recent release date of accused serial killer Shawn Lamb, or we need to seriously re-examine the early-release provisions regarding career criminals.

Today, Lamb is facing three second-degree murder charges in connection to the deaths of:

Tanya Nepinak (on Sept. 13, 2011)

Carolyn Sinclair (Dec. 18, 2011)

Lorna Blacksmith (Jan. 11, 2012)

On May 26, 2010, Lamb was sentenced by Judge Linda Giesbrecht (now retired) to the following after admitting guilt to 16 charges, including two violent robberies of innocent people.

27 months at double credit (his charges pre-dated the legislative amendment forbidding granting this to him) for time served on the robberies.

PLUS 19 months going forward of real jail for possession of property obtained by crime and forgery and theft, fraud and utter forged documents.

ONLY after this period of jail was served would the many months remaining on a Conditional Sentence he was given in Jan. 2009 for attempted robbery then begin to resume (to be followed by three years of supervised probation — court heard the sentence handed down in May 2010 would ultimately mean he’d be supervised in various forms for six years).

The Crown attorney was very specific in how she wanted the sentence structured.

If he was sentenced to 19 months real jail, that takes us to December 2011 before that in-custody period expired.

Looking at the offence dates police say the women were killed, that raises an issue. It would appear, on the surface, that Lamb was released many months prior to when he was supposed to be from a provincial jail.

I can accept in some cases early-release provisions apply for both federal and provincial inmates.

But in Lamb’s case, I can’t. This is an accused person with more than 100 prior convictions, many of them for violent acts and court order breaches — along with parole and statutory release violations.

How it was determined that he be granted early release — given his prior history — needs to be examined in detail.

‘We’re treating your body as a crime scene’ — Laporte trial notebook 2

(Winnipeg Law Courts/Winnipeg Sun File)

Editor’s note: This post contains foul language. 

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene.”

That’s what Peter Laporte was told while cuffed and being held at bay by three police officers in a third-floor interview room at the city’s Public Safety Building early on Nov. 24, 2008.

The comment was made by now-Det. Sgt. Mark Philippot of the Winnipeg Police Service, called to testify this week in Laporte’s ongoing sexual assault trial in Winnipeg.

Laporte has pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent of all charges he currently faces.

Currently, the Crown and Laporte are locked in a high-stakes Charter rights-related battle over the admissibility of evidence gathered from penile swabs taken about five hours after his arrest at a Cumberland Avenue apartment block.

Laporte is arguing police stomped on his fundamental rights in how the swabs (a non-invasive procedure where cops use a wet and dry cotton swab to mop a suspect’s penis to gather evidence) were collected.

Philippot testified that after almost immediately after receiving information from child abuse investigators that a boy had disclosed been anally raped, it was his right to go in and get the swab samples.

“There’s no warrant required here,” Philippot said, explaining that in his experience, there’s no need for cops to get a warrant to take the samples, even if Laporte was unwilling to offer them as it’s considered incident to arrest.

One of the major issues Queen’s Bench Justice Perry Schulman will have to wrestle with is this: Laporte repeatedly requested (I’m being generous here, see below) to speak with a lawyer prior to the samples being taken, but cops didn’t comply.

Why is that? Don’t they have to? (Question is silently mine, sitting watching the proceedings)

According to Philippot, then a sex-crimes unit investigator (now homicide detective), the denial of Laporte’s “phone call” (to be cliche about it) had a lot to do with his demeanour and attitude.

A video of Laporte’s interactions with Philippot was played in court, starting from the time general patrol officers brought him into the interview room and put him on continuous video.

The video starts with a short haired, moustachioed Laporte, wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, being escorted into the room. “Do not kick,” he’s warned.

Earlier this week, we covered how cops viewed Laporte as combative and violent with them.

22:28 Nov 23, 2008: Philippot, not necessarily an imposing physical presence, enters the room.

“I’ve done nothing,” Laporte tells him.

“What’s your first name?” asks Philippot, trying to fill out a required prisoner’s log sheet that asks a number of questions of a suspect (it’s a matter of routine).

“I want to talk to my lawyer,” he’s told. Laporte moves to cradle his arms on the small table in front of him.

Philippot gets up and leaves for about an hour. The video is skipped ahead by Crown John Field.

 23:36: Laporte is seen lying on the floor of the interview room. Oddly, the sounds of Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ can be heard in the hallway outside the door. (cops play music so suspects can’t hear anything that’s going on in the office).

 ‘For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself,’ wails Thom Yorke.

The music ends.

In the process, Laporte gets up, gets back in the chair as Philippot re-enters the room, again, ostensibly to try and get the log sheet filled out. Laporte again requests to speak with a lawyer.

Philippot asks him the standard question: Are you part of a gang?

“Go fuck yourself,” says Laporte.

Philippot repeats the question, prompting anger to literally erupt out of Laporte.

“Look at me, take a good look at me you fucking piece of shit,” he barks. “Go fuck yourself.”

Philippot doesn’t waver.

“I’ll put you as uncooperative right now for your behaviour,” he says in a measured tone, apparently unmoved or riled by Laporte’s ire. He verbally notes and jots down a few minor scrapes and cuts he has on him.

The “interview” progresses to the point that Philippot tells him he’s being arrested for sexual assault “or some similar offence” times three, and offers Laporte notice of his rights to counsel.

“Beat it you fucking clown, you fucking monkey,” Laporte spits.

His rant continues, rising and ducking in force.

“Go fuck yourself you fucking goof… you fucking piece of shit,” he exclaims.

He’s asked again if he wants to call a lawyer.

“Beat it — take your suit and shove it up your ass,” Laporte spits.

“Beat it clown. Beat it. Beat it.”

Philippot exits, and reemerges a few minutes later.

 12:12 (Nov. 24, 2008) Laporte says he wants to call lawyer Ian Garber. He’s asked if he has his number. The angry tirade renews.

“I’m being reasonable with you,” says Philippot. Do you want a lawyer?

“Poop your fucking head,” Laporte says.

“Poop my head, is that what you’re saying?,” Philippot asks, and again leaves.

Laporte lays his head on the table.

The tone changes roughly six minutes later.

 00:19 Philippot re-enters, this time with latex gloves on and patrol cops in tow. He tells Laporte officers are seizing his clothing as part of their investigation.

“No, you don’t get my clothes,” he says.

Laporte is told cops are going to take penile swabs from him.

“I think not,” he says. “You guys remember the last time you took one. We’ll do this on (inaudible) way. Call my lawyer and fuck off,” he says, moments later adding if cops want his clothes, they going to have to “tear ’em off me.”

So, essentially, they do. Not tear, anyways, but remove by the application of force.

Laporte is pushed up against a wall out of camera sight and cuffed.

“Stop resisting,” he’s told. “Keep that foot down.”

Then, dear reader, the screaming begins. It’s hard to hear.

Laporte howls and cries and then howls some more in what sounds like — sounds like — sheer, utter agony.

His clothes are removed and bagged, piece by piece.

They move to take his shorts. More howls.

“I’m not doing anything to you. That’s just you screaming,” one of the four cops says.

When they move for the white socks Laporte’s wearing, the screams take on a tone of unadulterated rage.

He’s told he’s just fine. “Fuck you,” he responds. “Get the fucking handcuffs off me,” he shouts.

“Because you’re being aggressive with us this is what we’re forced to do here,” a cop says.

 At this point, the tape is stopped. Philippot is still on the witness stand.

“You’ve heard screaming several times. What’s that?” asked Field.

“I can only give you my opinion,” said Philippot, explaining the cuffs were placed on Laporte for officer safety.

“No one was applying any pressure to him,” he says. He’d just scream,” later testifying: “I don’t know why he’s screaming.”

The video is started again. Now, cops are obtaining the contentious penile swabs.

“We’re treating your body as a crime scene,” Philippot tells Laporte.

The process is explained again.

“I’m HIV positive,” Laporte says.

“Thanks for sharing it with us,” says Philippot.

More yowls of rage.

“Just relax now,” Laporte is told.

“Fuck you,” he says.

 The tape again is stopped. “What’s he screaming about?,” Field asks.

Philippot explains that the process is non-invasive. Basically, one of two swabs obtained is soaked with distilled water and then rubbed on the shaft and tip of the penis. The other is bone dry.

 The video resumes.

Prior to the first swab being taken, Laporte cries: “Why are you doing this to me?” and then asks to use the washroom. “Okay, enough,” he exclaims.

“I gave you the opportunity to do this yourself,” says Philippot.

“It hurts!,” cries Laporte. “My fucking wrists!” He comments that his wrists were bleeding.

 The video is again halted. Philippot says there’s no indication Laporte’s wrists were bleeding, cops in fact, by this point, had loosened his cuffs somewhat.

Field: We’ve just heard copious amounts of screaming,” he says.

“I don’t know why he was screaming,” says Philippot.

 The video resumes, largely more of the same.

“Fuck you, Not fair, not fucking fair,” Laporte is heard saying.

“What’s not fair?,” he’s asked.

He doesn’t reply.

Oddly, Philippot asks the court to stop the video so he can comment. As you can see, he tells Schulman, we loosened his cuffs.

“I don’t see why the screaming was happening,” he says.

 Tape resumes: Laporte is escorted to the washroom, and then given some water and left alone in the room again by 00:37.

Video ends. 

Field: A decision was made to take the swabs. How did that come to pass?

Philippot: It’s part of the sex crimes investigative process. In Laporte’s case, he testified, his “hostile and volatile” demeanour kind of predicated how it would go down, that the decision to take the swabs was made after a boy disclosed being anally raped, and  cops wanted to preserve evidence. The boy’s disclosure was “grounds enough” to get the swabs.

Philippot says it was the first time in his career he’s ever had to use force to get the swabs, that usually the suspect is allowed to gather them under their own power. “Normally,” he said, “They do it themselves.”

Interestingly, Philippot remarked that studies have shown how 75 per cent of penile swabs net DNA evidence, compared with 25 per cent of vaginal swabs.

The key is gathering the sample in time, he said. “The longer you wait … the more opportunity you have to lose it,” he says.

But why do it with four cops and handcuffs?

Philippot: considering Laporte’s “hostile and volatile” demeanour, it was necessary. “I just felt as best practice for officer safety” — and Laporte’s own safety.

“In this case, for safety reasons, because of his attitude, we decided to go that way.” “It took four officers just to get has arms behind him,” said Philippot.

As for giving Laporte a phonebook to look up a lawyer’s number, his demeanour precluded that from happening, the cop said.

 The cross-examination: 

Philippot is asked how many people could have walked by and seen what was happening in the interview room (privacy rights breach?).

Philippot says setting aside the four in the room itself, there were about 18 other cops that could have walked past.

What about Laporte’s repeated demands to speak to a lawyer when the interview first began?

Well, Philippot said, there was the matter of getting that preliminary, but mandatory, prisoner log sheet taken care of first.

He said as the interviewer, he was required to feel comfortable to know that Laporte was, in fact, Laporte.

“I want to know who I’m dealing with. Get a bit of a background here,” he said.

What about when he specifically mentions wanting to speak with Ian Garber?

“I’m not going to give him a phonebook at that time,” said Philippot, “(Or) introduce any kind of weapon into the room,” he said, again referencing Laporte’s demeanour.

 How can you take a potentially-incriminating swab from a suspect when they haven’t talked to a lawyer yet?

It’s a matter of generally-accepted practice, said Philippot. “Generally, I would take the swab before giving them access to counsel,” he said, later adding it was taken as soon as possible after learning there may be evidence to be gained from it.

He was unyielding in his answers: There is no requirement to let a person talk to a lawyer prior to obtaining the swab, even though it could be incriminating. 

“There’s no warrant required here,” he said.


Major crimes: a week in review V

Jessica Bondar (CBC)

Nothing like starting the week with a quick re-hash of the last. We all have traditions, tho.

First, a positive, from the University of Winnipeg’s Uniter:

Partnership to provide legal assistance to low-income families

The University of Winnipeg has announced that, in partnership with the University of Manitoba, they have opened the Legal Help Centre in the MacNamara North Building on Spence Street. The centre, staffed by University of Winnipeg Global College and criminal justice students, students from the University of Manitoba’s faculties of Law and Social Work and volunteer lawyers, is part of an initiative to provide legal assistance to disadvantaged members of the community. People with household incomes under $50,000 a year will have access to free legal advice, and the centre also offers drop-in services and workshops.

This, given the area the U of Dub exists in, is a great idea. Even from the position that legal advice will be offered to those in the area, many of whom would likely meet the guidelines for access.

2] Those interested about learning more about Gladue courts can, thanks to the Robson Hall Law Department, watch Jonathan Rudin explain them and what they’ve been able to do for Toronto. The future is now. Check it out.

3] The Province finally announced a public inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair, just when one thought there was no way that was going to happen with an election looming. Even the fine print is promising, with the judge overseeing it being given a sweeping mandate to investigate whatever he sees fit. No dates announced, but justice Ted Hughes’s report must be complete in just over a year from now. Another Sinclair matter (an inquest) — that of Brian Sinclair — is still pending.

4] A number of suspects in one of the Winnipeg Police Service’s recent major drug investigations have been rearrested and directly indicted into court for trial. This case — just by virtue of the characters involved — is very interesting. More to come.

5] Convicted sex-offender Kenneth Rhodes appeals his conviction. Claims wrongful conviction. Grinding of teeth can be heard all over the country. I’m a big fan of Christie Blatchford.

6] Kim Bolan of the Vancouver Sun has a very interesting feature on the underworld politik of cross-border crime and why some are choosing to face justice in the U.S. instead of fighting the charges. Seems those big-ticket jail terms do make an impact.

7] The winner of last week’s story containing the most heartless allegations… But this one’s equally as bad.


Major Crimes: A week in review II

(Winnipeg police)

Without a doubt, the top local crime story this week involved the arrest of Thomas Brine, 25, in connection to the death of Elizabeth Lafantaisie. First degree murder is the charge, and strangulation the cause of death. No matter what, what happened to this woman is atrocious. Brine, despite his young age, is no stranger to the justice system in Manitoba. What may be interesting down the line is whether the “forensic evidence” police claim link Brine to the killing is a win for the RCMP DNA databank. I’m skeptical of that given the rapid-fire turnaround in what appeared to be a red ball homicide case one day and solved just a few days later. Fingerprints is my guess — but it is only a guess.

In other news, lawyer Robert Tapper had a better week than last with an even score in terms of his conviction rate. There was more (unfair) gnashing of teeth about his role as special prosecutor after WPS Constable Ken Anderson was acquitted of sex-related charges — but there was really no reason for it. Anderson was found not guilty after a full and transparent shake in the justice system. The story about the abuse was found to be just that — a story. I note no one has called for a review of the case in light of the acquittal, so here’s hoping Anderson can somehow get back to work and be able to put this behind him. But it won’t be an easy task, as Mike Sutherland of the WPA told CBC this week:

“Just the allegations alone cause challenges and sometimes they’re difficult to rebound from,” Sutherland said.

Tapper said he won’t appeal the Anderson ruling.

The lawyer’s week got better by Thursday, when former RCMP officer Benjamin Neufeldt was sent packing to jail for sexually exploiting a teen girl on a Manitoba reserve. Mike Mac of the WFP had a good story on the details of the case.

One thing good comes out of the recent Tapper cases, however — it’s brought to the surface the process by which independent lawyers are appointed in cases where a suspect has a direct connection to the justice system. As I’ve learned, Manitoba appears to be the only province where local lawyers are actually hired to prosecute cases independently from, but in consultation with, the justice department. Justice Minister Swan is promising to sit down with head of prosecutions Mike Mahon and see what’s what. It comes on the heels of a recent review of the provincial policy by retired Judge Ruth Krindle.

The media glare continued to shine on Justice Robert Dewar this week and several local stories examined past court decisions he’s made, at least one of which is under review by the Manitoba Court of Appeal, which could rule to order a new trial any day now. Alternately, it could not. The judge’s week got worse when the judiciary came forward with a statement about his status about not hearing cases of a sexual nature, followed by the news he either was punted or asked to recuse himself from sitting in the Wegier manslaughter trial — a decidedly non-sexual case.

(Allan Fineblit/Lawyersweekly.ca)

However, the most interesting information and reaction about the whole affair came from blogger/WFP reporter Melissa Martin, and an op-ed in the Free Press from Law Society head-honcho Allan Fineblit. While Fineblit starts off obviously referring to the Dewar furor but goes on the describe how the process of judicial appointments could be altered, he provides some useful information. I’d bet if you asked the average person what they think about the appointment of judges in Canada, you’d get a blank stare, followed by ramblings about blood sacrifices and cloaked old coots hunched over in some stone room waiting for a phone call from the PMO. We now know, through him, that that’s not the case.

I was waiting, though for someone to comment on the first few paragraphs of the piece that says the following [again – referring to, but not naming Dewar and his current predicament]:

Let’s face it, even good judges sometimes make mistakes, or lose their patience, or say the occasional dumb thing. They are, after all, human beings and to my mind the more humanity the better. Mistakes can be fixed. That is what the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court do for a living. But I am not writing this to tell you about what I think about our judges. I am writing it to tell you how we can do better.

Something strikes me that given the outcry about Dewar, many people don’t think he simply made a mistake, lost his patience or simply said a dumb thing in the sex-assault case ruling that brought all the attention.

But again, I have yet to see full transcript of the ruling, let alone the full trial testimony.

The Freep’s FASD series continued  — with today’s comprehensive look at youth justice and the disorder. It should come as no surprise to anyone, however, that the Manitoba Youth Centre is a convenient warehouse for kids with cognitive or other disorders. Still waiting on that mental health court, NDP.

In other news:

  • The united front known as the Devil’s Gap Cottagers have taken a unique land claims situation and are trying to turn their misfortune into some kind of advantage by suing their former legal team for millions.
  • In the days after the city settled with Manitoba Hydro over a long-standing tax dispute, the city filed a suit against local company J.A. Robinson for alleged problems with a tech system for its fleet of vehicles worth more than $600,000.
  • On the flip side, the WRHA is going after the city and trying to force it into arbitration over a dispute over rents involving one or two community health clinics. In court documents, the WRHA says it is seeking reimbursement of  alleged rent overpayments to the city between 2000-2007. The dispute has been brewing since 2006 and could be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, lawyers for the health authority say. The amount is very much in dispute. An affidavit says the city has failed to respond to the WRHA’s letters “seeking the co-operation in the appointment of an arbitrator under the arbitration clause” of a lease agreement.
  • This guy has admitted responsibility to using  a former roommate’s kids he used to babysit to make child pornography with, among other things. Has to be one of the fastest turn-arounds for a major case I’ve ever seen. He was just arrested in January. Sentencing was adjourned to a later date.

Finally — kudos to Manitoba Justice and Crown attorney Lisa Carson [and by extension now-Judge Dale Schille] — for this. Although the penalty to some may seem like small potatoes for the blood that was shed, it’s the maximum allowed by law in Canada. In the U.S., he’d have likely faced execution or consecutive life terms for all three murders. I’m waiting to see if he’ll appeal, and on what grounds. That’s two adult sentences in two weeks for Manitoba Justice, and a third to follow this week, which I’ll be covering in detail.


Panhandlers may have to wear vests


As the city continues its study of the possibility of stopping the practice of street-median panhandling, I’ve heard rumblings that a compromise may be in the works that would allow the practice to continue, conditionally.

Instead of stopping the practice completely, panhandlers who stand on medians or otherwise enter the roadways to solicit donations, may be forced to wear bright orange safety vests in order to operate.

This according to a self-described veteran panhandler I had a conversation with at the courthouse on Monday.

He was there to pay a police-issued ticket he was handed for soliciting from drivers.

He said he was okay with the idea, as long it allowed him to continue to make a living.

Impaired Driving stats – Winnipeg 2010 Christmas

Straight from the horse’s mouth (with thanks for the breakdown:)

Total Number of Vehicles Stopped — 2471 (30% decrease from 2009)

Total Number of Individuals charged:
Drive Impaired, Drive Over 80 mg% and/ or Refusal- 98 (72% increase over 2009)
Highest Blood Alcohol Concentration 280%
Lowest Blood Alcohol Concentration 90 mgs%
Average Blood Alcohol Concentration 136 mgs%
Arrest Times:
Earliest Arrest Time — 3:00 pm
Latest Arrest Time  — 5:47 am
Statistics for individuals charged:
85 males (age range 18 to 67 years)
13 females (age range 19 to 52 years)
Average age —  37 years
Offenders with previous Impaired Driving Charges: 26
  • 1 prior offence-   17
  • 2 prior offences-   5
  • 3 prior offences-   2
  • 4 prior offences-   1
  • 6 prior offences-   1
Alcohol Screening Device Tests  Administered— 596 (710% increase over 2009)
In 23% of the 2471 vehicles stopped (which is 596), alcohol had been consumed by the driver
Alcohol Screening Device —Pass— (Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0 to 49 mgs%)- 415
Alcohol Screening Device —Warn—(Blood Alcohol Concentration of 50 to 99 mgs%)- 125
Alcohol Screening Device —Fail— (Blood Alcohol Concentration in excess of 99 mgs%)- 56
Provincial Offence Notices Issued— 245 (41% increase over 2009)
Individuals arrested on Arrest Warrants- 9 (33% increase over 2009)
14 Novice drivers were issued province offence notices for driving with alcohol in their blood.
Total Number of Vehicles Stopped- 3225
Total Number of Individuals charged:
Drive Impaired, Drive Over 80 mg% and/or Refusal to Provide a Sample- 57
Alcohol Screening Device Tests Administered— 84
Alcohol Screening Device —Pass— (Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0 to 49 mgs%)- 55
Alcohol Screening Device —Warn— (Blood Alcohol Concentration of 50 to 99 mgs%)- 21
Alcohol Screening Device —Fail— (Blood Alcohol Concentration in excess of 99 mgs%)- 9
Provincial Offence Notices Issued -174
Individuals arrested on Arrest Warrants – 6

Winnipeg impaired driving arrests, by location

Couple of notes:

  • Suspects typically are not identified until they make their first court appearance. Most are suspended at the roadside and then issued an offence notice to show up at 408 York on a specific day. Police are promising to release the names once they’re charged.
  • Impaired driving arrests make defence lawyers happy. The vast majority of their clients have cash — or at least more means than the average criminal — to pay for representation. Given the heartbreak a DUI conviction can have on one’s relationship with MPI, a lot of people will fight tooth and nail to avoid owning up.
  • Drunk driving cases continue to contain probably some of the most thorny and complex legal issues. Virtually everything officers do from the moment they pull you over will be pulled apart, scrutinized, disputed and contended by lawyers should the case proceed to trial.
  • Always keep in mind: Drunk drivers are as prevalent as the service makes officers available to catch them, so there’s likely a heck of a lot more than they’re catching. Be safe out there.
  • Shame is widely under-used as a deterrent by police, who sanitize every official statement they make. The annual Checkstop program, and the releasing of accuseds’ names is a deviation from that.

The silence is deafening

Let’s say for the sake of argument I’m a city councillor in Point Douglas, Old Kildonan or the Mynarski ward in Winnipeg.

Let’s also say that once a month or so, I’m responsible for sitting on a committee at city hall where people come forward to present problems, update me on situations and make presentations to me — giving me the chance to ask for feedback and to probe deeper into what’s actually going on in my ward.

Sometimes, even police officials turn up to talk about crime and what the Winnipeg Police Service is doing about it.

Given the high-profile nature of crime in the area in recent weeks, what with three unsolved slayings and four unsolved “random” sexual assaults, a handful of home invasions and other assorted mayhem— in the Mynarski ward especially — I’d likely have some questions about police enforcement, right?

Well, no — at least not in Winnipeg, it seems.

Today, the man in charge of policing the crime-riddled North End — Insp. Brian Cyncora — appeared before the Lord Selkirk community committee to present on — and answer questions about — the area’s crime issues.

I’m sure he came in wondering if his head would be pounding by the time he was done.

He need not have worried.

Not one of the three councillors on the committee had a substantive question for the veteran, well-educated officer, despite the recent mayhem — and despite the fact that if anyone knows anything about crime in the North End, he’d be the guy who likely knows and should be able to offer an answer.

Cyncora realistically talked about the “significant challenges” police in the area face (and stated have faced over the last two years), along with the local citizenry’s historical lack of trust of the WPS that he’s been trying to win back.

“I’m out there in the front,” he said. “Historically, we’ve lost a lot of trust in the community,” he said.

He talked about the efforts the department has been making to bolster “crime prevention through social development.”

Cyncora talked about the merits and expansion of a hockey program for inner-city youth that the WPS has undertaken. He also spoke of reaching out to other area social leaders in hopes of expanding crime-prevention plans. No specifics.

He talked about enforcement: about the fact that there are three unsolved homicides (he used the word murders) — two that sparked a massive police response — and said that a special detail, dubbed Project Guardian, has been set up to gather leads and tips and follow up on them in relation to the killings.

Cyncora didn’t elaborate on the nature of the project or offer much insight into how successful it’s been so far.

But then, nobody in a position to ask, asked.

The investigation has uncovered many tips, he said, but there’s been nothing conclusive.

“We need them, we need the community to help us,” he said.

Not one of the councillors asked Cyncora to elaborate on a single word he said.

Not one of the three asked about the recent sexual assaults or Tuesday’s home invasion. Not one asked if there was something they could do to further police efforts, or how the force is measuring its progress in the area.

What were the recently (re) elected area councillors’ major concerns, you may ask?

Cyncora was asked only about the incoming police cadets, and whether they’d be used in his district.

Officially, they’re just fresh into field training and are being supervised by a senior officer.

However, The WPS brass hasn’t yet shared the deployment plans for the new, blue-shirted cadets in terms of how they’ll fit into North End, Cyncora said.

Despite the fact there’s no plan in place yet to say how they’ll be used in his area, rookie Coun. Ross Eadie pondered aloud about the possibility the cadets may be too “aggressive” in the conduct of their duties in the most hard-core crime area of town.

He wondered if the cadets would have enough life experience to be able to handle what they’d see and do working in the area.

But, Cyncora said, they won’t be viewed as police officers, and will “not be confrontational or aggressive.”

He struck me as a police official who was kind of hoping someone would ask him a question that mattered.

Too bad not one of the area councillors could be bothered to do so.

Full audio of Cyncora’s statements to the committee below.

[AUDIO http://ia600302.us.archive.org/26/items/LordSelkirkCommunityCommittee231110/Cyncora.mp3%5D

[ADDENDUM] John Dobbin writes:

“At the very least, councillors should have been asking if the forensic evidence led them to conclude there was three shooters or just one. Or is that giving away too much?”

Good question, John, how about also:

“What is the status of the mobile command unit? Is it still present in the area?”

“You talk about ‘significant challenges’ — what exactly does that mean?”

“Why do you single out the last two years as being particularly challenging for police in the North End?”

“What are some things we, as councillors, could be doing that may make a difference to the WPS’ efforts?”

[ADDENDUM 2] More questions left unasked are posed in the most recent post on the A Day in The Hood blog:

I went for a walk today, on my own. This was the first time I have ventured more than a block from my home on foot alone since the shootings in October. The shootings are no longer a topic of news, and are drifting from peoples memories.
I have tried to get back to normal, but things kept happening.
A few days after the murders, there was the sound of a shot gun coming from behind my house, somewhere in the back lane, or very close. Then I watched a person steal a car, right in front of my window. And there were the other actions occurring within view of my house. Then last week I had an unfortunate encounter with a person on a bicycle. I have been looking at bicycles along the side streets of the North End in a different light since the murders. I remember the Police said the individual or individuals doing the shootings were seen traveling by bicycle.

Don’t steal cop cars

In what was one of the more bizarre police incidents this year (at least of the ones we hear about), an Alberta man who managed to steal a traffic cruiser in Winnipeg while handcuffed and smash it into a concrete wall while kicking at a cop will spend the next 3 1/2 years as a guest of the federal government.

In fact, the total sentence Torben Timothy Campbell received for the April 23 incident was four years — but that includes the penalty for a separate incident where an RCMP officer was tossed to the road after he reached inside Campbell’s car to grab the keys during a traffic stop.


Apr. 23, 2010: Campbell is sitting in the driver’s seat of a rental car in an Alexander Avenue back lane being, uumm… pleasured by one of Winnipeg’s many sex-trade workers.

When the cops — riding in a traffic cruiser — pull in behind the vehicle and catch Campbell and the woman in the act, they approach the car and ask him his name.

He gives them a fake one.

In order to sort out the story, Campbell is handcuffed with his hands behind his back and placed in the unmarked. As police talk with the prostitute, Campbell manages to slip the handcuffs underneath his legs so they’re now somewhat usable in the front of his body.

He climbs through the divider-less section between the front and rear of the police car and begins to drive off.

One of the officers manages to jump into the passenger seat to try and stop him – for which he’s treated to kicks.

The car travels about 150 metres until it smashes into a concrete fence.

When the officers yank Campbell out of the car, he continues to struggle. One of them puts a baton under his throat and begins to squeeze.

“If you don’t stop now, I’ll squeeze so hard your eyes will pop out,” the officer says.

Campbell gives up, but he keeps on some bizarre tirade even while being treated at HSC. At one point, he makes some reference to having killed as many as 40 people.

It’s later determined that he’s high as a kite, and becomes “semi-comotose” during a videotaped police interview.

The drug: crack cocaine.

Just a few days before getting nabbed in Winnipeg, Campbell was pulled over by an RCMP officer on the highway. He told the patrol cop he was headed from Alberta to Kenora. A check of his ID doesn’t add up.

A CPIC check on PROS shows Campbell’s in a vehicle registered under someone else’s name while under a court condition to not be in a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.

The officer goes back to him and asks him to turn the car off.

“I don’t think so,” Campbell says.

The officer asks nicely one more time and then reaches into the vehicle to wrest the keys from the ignition.

Campbell accelerates, sending the Mountie to the roadway and speeds off at 130 km/h.

The above two events are Campbell’s 4th and 5th dangerous driving convictions, respectively.


—above from court transcript of sentencing hearing Nov. 22, 2010 in front of Judge Lynn Stannard.

Fort Rouge Yards Master Plan

(City of Winnipeg/Gem Equities/Lexington/White Architecture)

The city has tabled the master planning document for the Fort Rouge Yards [Lord Roberts area] Transit-oriented-development.

Complete document is here: FRY-planning.pdf

According to the developers, the plan — if approved by four levels of civic oversight — would see the following happen:

The development will be built in three phases:

  1. Phase 1 – townhouses (construction expected to begin in 2011)
  2. Phase 2 – mid-rise apartments and condominiums (2012-14)
  3. Phase 3 – high-rise apartments and condominiums (2013-15)

Personally, if the development does anything to bring a wine and cheese store to the area that I can stagger to, I’m all for it.

Anyhow— goes before city centre committee on Tuesday, then must be approved by public works, EPC and then council as a whole at subsequent dates.

Be interesting to see who’s paying attention, and what issues get raised along its path to likely approval.

Not to say it hasn’t been without at least some measure of controversy.

It was also the first I had heard of Gem Equities involvement — and I admittedly haven’t been paying too much attention — as a developer for the land they swapped with the city for the rapid transit line.

But, as I learned through the Google, the company had already voiced plans to redevelop the land for housing way back in 2008.


At least it’s not another suburb on the southern outskirts.

[UPDATE] This document contains the Strategic Economic Agreement with the developer, the bylaw amendment proposals and “rules” of the amendments, along with studies about the effect the high-rises will have on the area in terms of vista and shadow creep.

It also provides a look into a the future, which is interesting:

(City of Winnipeg)
(City of Winnipeg)
(City of Winnipeg)
(City of Winnipeg)