“There is no damned degree that will ever teach you humanity.” A dialogue on CFS

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People. From all walks of life. In one room. Talking about Child and Family Services in Manitoba.

Setting aside the fact Sunday’s meeting of minds at the River Heights Community Centre was sponsored by Manitoba Liberal Leader Dr. Jon Gerrard — he’s been one of the NDP government’s harshest critics on the CFS portfolio — I couldn’t help but be struck by the event just because it was happening at all.

Again: People. From all walks of life. In a room. Talking about CFS in Manitoba.

No intervening high-minded lawyers, no awful tragic child’s death anchoring it all and (virtually) no ranting and raving, or for that matter, much finger-pointing.

If there were one thing I could say I took away from the discussion (aside from the oddity that people rationally discussing a very live and vital issue in our society is somehow a marvel to behold), it would be this: People — the average Joe and Jane citizen — feel completely in the dark about CFS, how it works and what it does. But they care. 

To many, it’s a gigantic government machine — “the feared child police” — which operates largely in secret and appears completely unaccountable for the decisions it makes — and that it make decisions about the lives of others which don’t appear to be working in a long-term sense. It bears remembering that many people touched by CFS aren’t the most sophisticated to start with.

Navigating complex legal and bureaucratic systems, for them, is unthinkable. And there’s not a whole host of advocacy routes to travel.

But let’s face facts: We have a terrible problem in Manitoba.

There’s an overwhelming number of kids in CFS care (many, if not most, aboriginal) and most they’re there not because of “abuse” — a nebulous and shifty term as set out in the CFS Act — but because of parental neglect.

No food in the fridge, mom and or dad or both drinking or splitting up, a shaky housing situation. These are just some of the instances of neglect which could move CFS to pull a child from his or her family and into care, and the parental issue triggering the apprehension may or may not get attended to.

It can’t be overstated: pulling a child from its family is no small thing. The aftershocks of that broken bond could last an entire lifetime. We have evidence in droves, including that unearthed by a years-long public inquiry, that the foster care and child-welfare systems is a feeder for youth jails, addictions and gang-involvement and, later, adult prisons.

[Two quick, but admittedly extreme examples: A 19-year-old man who lit a guy on fire in the north end and killed him? He had nearly 20 different foster placements in his short lifetime. Another man, who torched his Sherbrook Street apartment block around Christmas — he had 36 different CFS placements as a youth. The mass rejection a developing mind would feel from the constant shakeups is staggering.]

So, what do we do? Blaming the government won’t help. Blaming social workers won’t help.

But being given information and ideas to contemplate and question the status quo is a start.

And that’s what we should be doing.

Sunday’s meeting was an excellent example of this.

There were five speakers, and I’ll summarize a few of their views [as I understood them], briefly. This is not exhaustive.

First was Bernice Cyr, executive director of the Native Women’s Transition Centre and former CEO of Metis Child and Family Services.

Cyr spoke of several key areas, including the problem the system has in terms of dealing with the competing concepts of ‘safety’ and ‘risk’ assessments.

While it’s pretty apparent what constitutes ‘safety,’ for kids — the concept of ‘risk’ (in the long-term sense) to a child is one that’s harder to get a grasp on. Because of new risk-assessment tools used by CFS (the Structured Decision Making computer risk evaluation, sarcastically dubbed the “cover your ass tool” by some), Cyr suggested that long-term risk can’t be addressed through apprehension of kids into care (because of the later “desperate outcomes” many of them encounter in other systems: health, criminal justice) and advocated for a greater use of what she described as “safety networks” for families in crisis.

Ultimately, Cyr believes child-welfare is a public concern to be addressed by the community/public agencies as a whole and not simply left to the ‘system’ to deal with in isolation.

Key point: in northern isolated communities, CFS is often the only resource available. The presence of health and other agencies can be skimpy or non-existent to meet people’s basic needs and protection centres for kids aren’t there, but CFS is, so a lot of burden is placed on the system.

Cyr also said the definition of ‘abuse’ in the CFS Act needs to be narrowed because it prevents social workers from developing more progressive practice habits. She also called for the expansion of the mandate of the Children’s Advocate office and the redirection of already-existing funding for family support interventions.

Next — and most interesting to me — was Lore Mirwaldt, a child protection and family support lawyer who practices up north.

In frank terms, she argued the CFS system as exists today is one that’s been thrust into isolation because of legislation and a hierarchical management/government system which operates in “crisis management” mode brought on by fear of making mistakes which become public controversies (Phoenix, Gage Guimond etc.).

“The name of the game is, ‘keep your cases off the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press,'” Mirwaldt said.

She took the 40 or so people gathered through the genesis of the so-called ‘devolution’ of the system as advanced by the AJI in 1991 and talked in depth about the problems which came out of the so-called “master agreement” the province signed with aboriginal leaders in 2000. While the principles of the agreement were to be lauded, Mirwaldt suggested the implementation was where it all went awry. As a result, the CFS system continues to wrestle with the problems that arose from the transfer of cases to aboriginal-run agencies years after the May 2005 ‘go-live’ of the new system.

“The problem is the government lost its nerve — they got scared,” she said. “They didn’t want to see any more dead children.”

In the north, some social workers handle astronomical caseloads of 70, whereas the recommended maximum caseloads are about a third of that.

As for the SDM tool, the standardized risk assessment questions (often called ‘probability of future harm’) that social workers must use in a case are often biased against northern kids, where ‘risk’ can be determined by the lack of a community store or other resources. Northern kids routinely come out of the computer-generated tool as “medium to high risk” and the solution for the worker is to apprehend, Mirwaldt said.

Overwhelmed by the soaring caseloads, workers on the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation were encouraged by the director of their agency to “think outside the box.”

So they did, by moving to a philosophy Mirwald, tongue in cheek, called “apprehend the parent.” Through a band resolution passed by the NCN chief and council, parents who were creating unsafe atmospheres for their kids were removed from homes (remember, its the band who owns the property) and replaced by grandmothers and other appropriate caregivers to look after the kids. When parents protested, they were told to go work on their issues before they could return.

Most parents “eventually see the light,” she said, prompting the CFS agency to implement supervision orders to reunite the families with conditions.

The child stays in the home with relatives and is safe. The parent deals with the presenting problem or can’t return.

As a result of this “circle of care” strategy, Mirwald said Child Protection dockets in Thompson court have shrunk from 70 cases to as low as 22.

The problem is, she says, “bean counters” at CFS don’t know how to pay for the increase in in-home supports.

In the question/answer portion towards the end, Mirwaldt made an interesting point: Our priorities seem out of whack when a child can die in care and nobody gets fired, but if it was questionable spending a person is caught doing, they’d likely be turfed in a heartbeat.

She also said a worry is that declining caseloads will trigger a funding issue.

“We’re really afraid we’re going to lose our funding because our numbers are down,” she said.

Next to speak (and the last I’ll discuss in this post) was Bertha Traverse, a member of Little Saskatchewan First Nation and former long-term child welfare worker who specialized in working with at-risk youth.

She’s a staunch advocate of finding means to prevent apprehensions.

“Apprehension doesn’t work,” she said. “The bond that you have with family is broken the minute you’re taken out of your home — it’s irreparable,” she said.

Traverse spoke in scenes of realism — pointing out how on the 4th floor of the law courts building in Winnipeg, outside room 410 (where child-protection docket court is held), the vast majority of people there are aboriginal young mothers.

She also talked of how the government’s standards for social workers’ educations don’t always mean the workers are invested in the work.

There is no damned degree that will ever teach you humanity,” she said.

Speaking of humanity, several in the audience offered insight into their personal predicaments and thoughts on the CFS system as a whole.

One of the most touching moments came from the undertaker who buried Gage Guimond.

He seemed to be questioning the entire philosophy of the social-welfare system and wondered what role “corruption” [his word] played in our society being unable to find solutions.

“The more you keep people poor, the more you keep them just running — the worse problems you have,” he said.

Another man spoke of the fear people have of CFS, and called for more advocacy resources for people to be able to navigate the system.

But it was one woman — an adoptee — who really gave me pause.

What the real problem is, she says, is how society has changed so much from when she was a child, when she would walk home from school and people would inquire of her if they hadn’t seen her sister or father that day.

We don’t look out for each other or even know each other any more, she said.

If we simply stuck together more, paid attention and cared, we’d be able to find solutions for the long-term benefit.

Maybe she’s right. But the cynic in me says we’ve come too far afield now to get back there.

I stand to be corrected, because ideally, I think she’s probably bang-on in her assessment.

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Accused serial killer Shawn Lamb and ‘the pain of being a rabbit’

(Shawn Lamb is arrested by Winnipeg police/Chris Procaylo/Winnipeg Sun/QMI)

Accused serial killer Shawn Lamb didn’t want to talk to me today, instead referring me to his lawyer, Evan Roitenberg through a very polite officer at the Winnipeg Remand Centre.

Roitenberg, always a gentleman, politely declined to discuss the triple second-degree murder case, in which Lamb is presumed innocent. He said he had little information and was awaiting disclosure from the Crown via police.

But that doesn’t mean Lamb, a career criminal with more than 100 convictions on his record, doesn’t have things to say.

Below, is a verbatim reprint of a handwritten piece of his original musings submitted to Judge Linda Giesbrecht on May 26, 2010 — the day where Giesbrecht sentenced him to serve 19 more months and Lamb ended up serving 13, despite his record.

“I’m just a coward pretending not to be afraid, sounding confident powerful, looking bold and fearsome as I could rip off the heads of my opponents.

But in my belly the wee bottom of my little belly is a boy still afraid, feeling alone, unknown if what he has will be enough to win to survive.

Hoping only hoping in its place I could feel the anger slowly filling up my empty belly and I loved the anger. It killed fear. It was easier to attack than to run.

It felt better to be lion not a rabbit. Oh, the pain of being a rabbit.

Once upon a time there was born a baby boy, a lovely indian boy as sweet and fat cheeked and gifted by the crater as any baby anywhere.

Except for the slightly darker hair and skin, he would have looked like your little boy and like your little boy he was born innocent, as innocent as a puppy.

Now take a puppy, when he comes up to you, tail wagging, you pick him up and love him, if you kick that innocent puppy instead “just kick him” and when he’s hungry you throw him out in the cold without food, and when he wants to be warm and safe you let the vicious neighbourhood dogs rip and tear at him, well, what about that, puppy?

How will that innocent puppy grow up?

A baby doesn’t choose where or to whom he is born, nor nationality, think, the nationality of an innocent baby is judged, treated.

An innocent baby deserves not to be torn apart from its mother, well the baby is the wrong nationality, expendable, send the child away, damn the damage this may cause.

The innocent child’s mind can not understand, “who are these strangers?” “WHY?” Why do they tease and torment and hurt this child body and soul?

The child’s psyche tortured, and with the innocent wonder of a child he can’t understand why the rights that even a puppy understands were taken from him, why as a member of this human species on the face of the earth he was do despised when he was so innocent.

He has only loved his mother, he had only done no wrong, but he was so despised and he felt the horrid heat of hate against him — why did they stomp out the last tiny vestiges of self-worth from this child? What wrong had he committed? Why was he kicked and beaten, raped and abused in both mind and body? Why?

The pain, the shame, the guilt, the confusion, this lost soul of a child (illegible word).

A path of anger, stealing, living on the streets, never enough drugs to escape the pain, dull the memories, the nightmares. A young boy in a man prison, a lost young man in prison, a middle-aged man in prison throughout all, a dim light, glimmer of hope a feeling of worth.

Ask for help unload the shame.

I’m wanting and worthy of a better life!”

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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.

Illuminating the darkest corners

How lit up is your neighbourhood? (and not by gunfire)

How much crime takes place there?

And is there the possibility that a $1 lightbulb costing pennies a day to light up could have prevented it — or at least, helped the police in their efforts to nab a suspect?

I think a night time lighting survey of the city’s high-crime areas may be in order.

Until then, I leave you with this, from the good folks at the Toronto Star:

Toronto Police illuminate the city’s darkest corners – thestar.com.

The TPS also provides a handy primer on CPTED, one of the more progressive areas of policing. Winnipeg police have 2-3 CPTED experts on the service (last I checked in early 2009), but their skills and knowledge are seldom — if ever —  talked about.

CPTED primer is here: cpted

What I’ll miss about Winnipeg’s 2010 election

Winnipeg Cat, Oct. 27, 2010

1] A concurrent and unifying theme in Winnipeg’s alternative media: Over the past few months, there’s been an esprit de corps among Winnipeg bloggers, social-networkers and (dare I say it) select members of the mainstream media. While many seem to have their own leanings in terms of the issues, I’m going to miss the diversity of opinion and criticism surrounding the mayoral and candidates (non)campaigns.

2] #wpgvotes on Twitter: I guess tomorrow it would be safe to start #mbvotes, given the provincial campaign machinery will now be grinding forward (federal byelection excepted) — especially, I hope, for the Progressive Conservatives. They have a lot of policy work to do to garner people’s votes and imaginations in 2011, I think. Anyhow, #wpgvotes was a good time. See ya in 2014, if anyones still using Twitter.

3] Daily doses of sarcasm from @bkives in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press and elsewhere.

4] Commentary like today’s Winnipeg Cat. Enough said. But, my own contribution appeared the other day, a proud moment for me…

5] Former police department mucky-mucks weighing in on the platforms. Funny how both Cassels and Zacharias are opposed to Katz. Interesting stuff, if one properly considers the source. I found Cassels’s comments and endorsement interesting — if not somewhat jarring or unfair — given that the landscape of crime in the city has so drastically changed since he was chief.

6] Someone, please buy Brian Kelcey a drink as a reward for all the intelligent banter!

7] Having to spell Wasylycia-Leis at 20 times a day for the last month. Even if she’s mayor after tonight, That ratio should drop considerably.

8] Probably my most favorite thing about this election — and it’s my bias, I admit — has been hearing the content of the crime debate. Winnipeg has a problem. I’m just not so sure we’ve heard that the leadership knows (or will admit) what the problem actually is. Disheartening, but at least it frames one’s expectations. Lingering question raised by Menno on Tuesday: Why hasn’t Katz — or better yet,  Scott Fielding — trumpeted the CCTV project?

9] #kickskids

10] Public candidates forums. I love watching them and attending them.

Perverse, I know.

Now go and vote, if you haven’t already.

And may the WPS quickly catch the North End’s Saturday Shooter.

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“Some voters don’t trust you on crime”

Feature interview (and a puzzling headline) with mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis in today’s FP.

Some interesting stuff there, but it’s odd how “the most important issue of the election” is buried 22 paragraphs in, and there’s two paragraphs of response on it. Still, here’s what was said.

I understand that not all of what she said would make into print — after all, it was Bart Kives himself who taught me to “kill my orphans” when transcribing a Q&A for the paper.

But let’s look at how Judy responded [at least in part]….

FP: Some voters don’t trust you on crime. What would you say to them?

JWL: I think Winnipeggers understand this is a difficult issue. You have to get at the roots of crime, not just policing and not just building law-and-order stuff. You have to approach this from all angles.

I know (Winnipeggers) are looking for solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with this issue. I’ve put my plan on the table and I hope Sam will put his on the table. This is probably the most important issue of the election, one that requires the most thoughtful debate and discussion.

Yes, it is a difficult issue. The problem is that crime-prevention programs largely take time to take effect — sometimes over a generation. That’s a noble goal.

But as much as Winnipeggers may be looking for “solid, serious approaches to problem-solving to deal with” crime, there’s a level of frustration with the general feeling of lawlessness in the city that people want something done about, pronto.

Gun crime seems rampant. Hauls from drug busts keep getting bigger and bigger all the time (an indication of demand). Extreme violence seems to erupt out of nowhere. It’s unsettling.

We can have all the effective problem-solvers in the room that you want, but people probably would prefer action.

People want to trust that the city’s given the police executive the tools and expertise to do what’s truly necessary, but that’s a story for another day.

Katz has proposed additional officers — 20 to check and monitor gang bangers, 18 for a new cruiser car etc. He hasn’t said definitively when we’ll actually get them or how we’ll pay for them, but that’s beside the point.

There’s a cop chopper about to take flight, which, while a cool idea, won’t directly put handcuffs on anybody.

Point is, Katz’s proposals seem to point to somewhat of an immediate — albeit very in-the short-term — “solution” to today’s issues.

I’d bet for the average person, hearing about more police on the way must be somewhat reassuring. And that, ultimately is what’s playing well for Katz on the crime front in this campaign. Even if it is blase.

People don’t get the same level of reassurance from knowing gangsters will get jobs, or that there’s a number they can call to tip off police about crime activity.

We’ve had the latter in the form of Crime Stoppers for eons now and it does what it does, which is good, but it’s difficult to say it makes anyone safer in a tangible sense.

I’d urge Judy to look over the eight weeks of the Police Public Reporting Project to get a real sense of what police are contending with.

Namely, a trend of repeat, often violent offenders who are released by the courts and quickly become reinvolved and have to be rearrested.

While there’s little the city can do to effect change on what’s a provincial and federal responsibility, the data could possibly point to some possible solutions.

In turn, that would reassure people that those in charge — or those who say they want to be — know what the problems actually are.

Speaking of which, that’s the one thing missing from the public talk of Katz’s and the WPA’s GRASP program, and it’s surprising given all the comparison it gets to the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy.

Data.

WATSS was built on a comprehensive survey and study of police and Justice data about the top teen auto-theft offenders in the city.

Watching who was involved, when, with who else, how long they spent in jail, when they were released. By identifying patterns in the data, solutions were found.

It also was a tri-level initiative. Police, prosecutors, probation officers (and MPI). Everyone worked together.

[BTW – how much of a factor did mandatory immobilizers for ‘most-at-risk’ vehicles play in slashing auto-theft rates?]

So far, what I’ve heard about GRASP (which, correct me if I’m wrong, was first announced in Sept. 2009, again BTW) is that it’s a solely police-led program. That’s a red flag for me, personally. They can’t do it all.

But the timing of the GRASP program’s [re]announcement shows us something.

Remember,in September 2009, the public outrage over gangs after the shooting death of a woman at a wedding social on Main Street was at its peak. The police and justice officials were getting hammered daily in the press.

And then, voila! A solution is announced.

And the public was reassured. Gangs quickly died off as a top-of-mind issue.

Cheryl Roberts killing remains unsolved, at least publicly.

After the Taman Inquiry, people’s confidence in Manitoba’s police in general was flagging. Fairly or not, that’s the way it played out.

The province brought in a new police act, which was supposed to deal with the most pressing issues the public had with police and their accountability. It also disbanded the East St. Paul police force.

And the public was reassured.

As of next April, it will be two years since the new police act was introduced.

Maybe the province is saving its implementation for this election year.

Y’know, to reassure people.

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‘What the public doesn’t hear’ week 7

—An ongoing examination of publicly-recorded police activity and media reporting from the WPS. This is for the M-F period of Aug. 30 to Sept. 3

Apologies for the lateness of this. It’s been a crazy busy last two weeks.

(I also promised some kind of analysis, but it’s gonna take a bit longer due to the volume of data collected in the first six weeks.)

Notes:

PO = fail probation, unless preceded by the words ‘assault’ or ‘obstruct.’ in those cases PO= police officer

Fail attend= fail attend court

M= male, FM = female

If an offence or offences are in brackets, those are charges already laid an arrested person was pending on.

Monday

No briefing, emailed news release. info on missing girl found, the death of kylie armishaw from a fall at the colony square building, and results of a round of free vehicle inspections. Later in the day the announcement of the arrest of a guy named Trent Minski, who was wanted for a string of suspected credit card frauds.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • FM, fail bail x2 mischief property under $5K
  • M, fail bail x2
  • M, fail bail [fail bail]
  • M, fail youth sentence conditions
  • FM, assault with weapon, fail bail, aggravated assault, fail bail x3
  • M, fail bail x6
  • M, fail bail x3
  • FM, fail attend, fail bail x3
  • M, sex assault
  • M, fail PO [sex-offender-related]
  • M, fail bail x3, drug possession x2, possess property obtained by crime, HTA x2
  • M, fail show for fingerprinting as required
  • M, fail youth sentence x3, fail bail, fail attend, theft under, fail bail x2, obstruct PO, theft under, fail attend
  • M, fail PO
  • M, theft under
  • FM, fail attend, fail PO x2, fail bail x4, theft under, mischief under, utter threats, fail PO, fail youth sentence
  • M, fail PO x2, theft under 9 x credit fraud, 11 thefts,  house break enter and theft, possess criminal property, mischief
  • M, robbery with firearm, fraud, theft under, weapons
  • M, robbery with firearm, weapons
  • M, fail PO
  • M, fail attend ( assault weapon x9, house break enter and commit assault with weapon. Wanted on manslaughter warrant
  • M, drug possession, public mischief
  • FM, fail PO x2
  • M, theft under
  • M, fail bail x3, public mischief, HTA ( fail bail, possession for purpose of trafficking x2, drug possession)
  • M, fail police release
  • M, fail police release x4, fail attend

Tuesday

No briefing, no release.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Monday- does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • M, weapons, uttering threats, mischief over $5K
  • FM, fail report for ID [theft under, prostitution x2, fail bail x2]
  • M, break, enter and theft [fail attend, fail youth sentence]
  • M, fail attend x2, 3x firearms, drug trafficking, possession of property obtained by crime, drive disqualified
  • M, fail bail
  • M, fail youth sentence x3, robbery with violence x2, personation, house break enter and commit robbery x2
  • M, fail PO, theft under
  • M, possess purpose trafficking, drug possession, possess criminal property (mad cowz)
  • M, possess purpose trafficking, drug possession, possess criminal property (mad cowz)
  • M, possess purpose trafficking, drug possession, possess criminal property (mad cowz)

Wednesday

Briefing held on city’s largest ever meth bust (but the suspects released on a promise to appear?), a school arson, the arrest of two wanted prisoners, and the arrest of the city’s latest HIV/AIDS assault suspect (cops say aggravated sexual assault x3, the crown says aggravated assault x2. Wires crossed)

Later in the day, some lost medication is announced.

Stranger, and later still (about 9 pm) police announce arrest of suspect who drove stolen military vehicle onto active runway at the airport. It happened at 5:15 am Wednesday.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Tuesday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • M, fail bail x2, fail PO x2 [house break enter and theft]
  • FM, fail attend, fail youth sentence
  • FM, theft under, fail PO
  • M, house break enter and robbery, robbery with intent to assault
  • M, theft under, fail PO
  • M, forcible confinement, sexual assault, fail PO, anal intercourse
  • M, possess, possess purpose trafficking
  • FM, assault
  • M, theft under, possess break in tools, fail bail
  • M, fail attend court [possession, fail attend, fail bail]
  • M, fail PO x2, fail bail x3, possession

Thursday

Briefing held. More on military stolen vehicle, an assault weapon arrest and a bust of a grow-op. Later in the day: some corrections to the prior media release, but nothing fatal, just some wrong dates.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Wednesday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • M, possess purp trafficking x3, trafficking, possession, possess criminal property over $5K
  • M, break, enter and theft x2
  • FM, fail attend, fail bail x2
  • FM, fail bail, possession, [possess purp trafficking, possess criminal property, hta]
  • M, fail bail [break enter with intent to steal/assault, possess break in tools, fail bail, theft under]
  • FM, fail bail
  • FM, witness warrant [theft under, fail attend court x2]
  • M, theft under [theft under x2, possess criminal property]
  • M, fail attend
  • M, theft under, possess break-in tools [theft under]
  • M, possess purp trafficking, break, enter with intent, possess weapon dangerous

Friday

Briefing held. Back to school safety, strong-arm robbery of a 13 year old, Man shot – request for help, commercial robbery- request for help , assault of cabbie.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Thursday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • FM, report for ID
  • M, fail PO
  • M, fail bail
  • M, possess criminal property under, obstruct PO, ID fraud, possess purp trafficking
  • M, assault, utter threats x4, possess weapon dangerous
  • FM, assault with weapon, possess weapon dangerous, fail release from RCMP custody

-30-

‘What the public doesn’t hear’ project week 5

The latest instalment of an ongoing examination of publicly-recorded police activity and media reporting from the WPS.

Monday

No media briefing; however the PIO makes time available to talk about the arson that destroyed a home-in-progress in southeast Winnipeg on Sunday night. Also on the emailed blotter is a firearms arrest.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket:

Note: PO = probation except where it’s assault or obstruct PO. That’s a police officer.

  • Male, fail conditional sentence x2, fail probation, HTA
  • Male, flight from PO, drive dangerous, possess property obtained by crime under $5K, fail probation x2, weapons possession x2, HTA x7
  • Male, fail bail x2
  • Male, robbery, fail bail, housebreak enter and theft [pending on theft under $5K and fail PO]
  • Female, fail PO x3
  • Female, fail bail
  • Female, drunk-driving
  • Male, assault with a weapon, fail bail [pending on assault weapon, fail bail x4]
  • Male, fail release conditions issued by a police officer
  • Male, robbery with firearm x2, fail bail x4, weapons possession
  • Male, robbery with firearm x2,
  • Male, robbery with firearm x2,
  • Male, break, enter and theft, theft over $5K, assault with a weapon
  • Male, fail attend court [pending on theft under $5K, assault]
  • Female, posess criminal property, housebreak enter and theft, theft under $5K x3, break, enter and theft, fail release conditions x2
  • Male, fail PO
  • Male, fail bail x3
  • Male, theft over $5K
  • Male, possess property obtained by crime [pending on fail bail x2, arson to car x4, break, enter and theft x4]
  • Male, drug possession x2, fail attend court x2 [pending on drug possession and fail bail]
  • Male, robbery with violence, theft over, HTA
  • Male, aggravated assault, possess weapon dangerous purpose
  • Male, assault, fail PO, fail bail, possess break-in tools, fail bail, drug possession x2 [pending on possess property obtained by crime x9, fail attend court, fail PO x2, theft of motor vehicle, possess property obtained by crime under $5K, theft under, possess break-in tools]
  • Male, fail youth sentence x2, fail bail, fail to abstain from the possession of incendiary [arson-causing] devices
  • Male, HTA, possess purpose trafficking x2, trafficking, possess property obtained by crime x2
  • Male, fail PO, fail bail
  • Female, fail attend court [pending on fail attend x2, fail to show up for fingerprinting, fail no contact]
  • Male, fail bail x2
  • Male, mischief to property x2, utter threats
  • Female, fail PO, fail bail
  • Female, theft under $5K, fail PO x2
  • Male, fail attend court [pending on theft under $5K]
  • Male, fail attend court
  • Male, drug possession, fail PO, fail bail
  • Male, assault with weapon, mischief to property under $5K, cause public disturbance, fail POx3, fail bail x3
  • Male, fail PO x3
  • Male, drunk-driving, drug possession, HTA, fail PO x4, fail conditions of protection order
  • Male, aggravated assault, fail PO
  • Female, fail bail
  • Male, fail Po x3
  • Male, assault with weapon, assault, fail bail x2
  • Male, break, enter with intent to commit an offence x2, theft under $5K, fail bail x2
  • Male, possess weapon dangerous, utter threats, fail PO
  • Male, drunk driving, refuse to give breath/blood sample, HTA
  • Male, HTA, theft under $5K, fail PO x2

Tuesday

No media briefing. On the docket: an arrest [no name] of a suspect in an MPI fraud and later in the day, an update on the Mildred Flett missing persons case, with a sly reference to a wanted man who may have info about where she is, who is, co-incidentally, wanted on what police said was an ‘unrelated’ warrant.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Monday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, assault cause bodily harm, forcible confinement [kidnapping], utter threats
  • Male, assault with weapon [pending on breaches, assault with weapon, fail bail x4]
  • Male, assault
  • Male, assault with weapon, intimidation of a justice system participant [in this case a Crown witness was intimidated and wanted since Oct ’09], point firearm [pending on fail attend, utter threats, fail bail x2, break, enter and theft x5]
  • Male, drive drunk
  • Male, fail PO x2
  • Male, fail bail, fail PO [pending on possess weapon dangerous purpose]
  • Male, mischief [pending on drug possession and fail bail x3]
  • Male, fail to appear, fail bail x3, theft under $5K [pending on breach x5]
  • Female, utter threats [pend on assault with weapon, fail attend, breaches and theft under $5K]
  • Male, Break and enter with intent to commit crime, theft under $5K

Wednesday

Begins with a bang with a notification about the release of Kevin Scott Steppan and the risk he poses to the public. A briefing is announced, but prefaced by the “The Motorcycle Ride for Dad” annual event, at which chief McCaskill is slated to attend. The news of the day involved requests for help finding suspects in a robbery, same regarding a violent robbery, the arrest of a teen for assault with a weapon and another request for help locating suspects in a stabbing.

The harried reporters who turned up at the Ride location for the news briefing got a bit of a surprise, I’m told. The WPS decided the thing to do was have the ride announcement then the ride, and finally, then the news of the day [why they were there in the first place]. Some unhappiness ensued, I’m told, at the blatant attempt to manipulate the message.

Later in the day, the WPS announced that Anthony Martin was located in the Mildred Flett situation. They didn’t say that he was wanted on a warrant for violating a protection order against her.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, sexual indecency in public place, possess property obtained by crime under $5K, fail PO, possess prohibited weapon
  • Female, robbery with violence, theft over $5K, HTA
  • Male, aggravated assault x3, drive dangerous cause bodily harm, possession of property over $5K [motor vehicle], possess weapon dangerous
  • Male, fail attend court [pending on a release breach]
  • Male, attend court
  • Male, mischief to property under $5K, fail attend court [pending on mischief]
  • Male, fail bail, fail attend court [pending on DUI and HTA, assault PO and uttering threats]
  • Male, assault cause bodily harm
  • Male, fail to report for ID, fail attend court
  • Male, fail bail [pending on criminal harassment]
  • Male, drug possession, theft under $5K and obstruct justice.

Thursday

Briefing held to talk about an aggravated assault. Later in the day a request is sent out for help locating a suspect in a credit fraud invest.

Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, utter threats x2, cause public disturbance, obstruct PO
  • Male, HTA, DUI, fail bail [pending on fail bail, ID fraud, drive disqualified, not be in motor vehicle and fail PO x2]
  • Female, material witness warrant, robbery
  • Male, robbery, fail bail x2
  • Female, robbery
  • Male, fail bail
  • Male, intimidation, utter threats
  • Male, fail bail
  • Male, escape from police custody, obstruct and resist PO
  • Female, fail bail
  • Male, fail bail [pending on breach prior release x6]
  • Male, fail attend court [pending on HTA x2, drug possession and fail attend court]
  • Male, fail bail [pending on attend court x3, theft under $5K x2 and escape lawful custody]

Friday– A briefing held to announce the annual truck convoy and torch run charity event. Followed by  the news of a 4th arrest in a new home arson.

On the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

  • Male, theft under $5K
  • Male, theft under $5K, fail PO
  • Male, fail attend court, mischief to property under $5K
  • Male, HTA, fail bail x5, fail youth sentence x3
  • Male, [Sex offender] fail bail x5, fail attend court
  • Male, fail bail x2, fail PO

After the conclusion of week six, we’ll do an analysis of sorts of what I think we’ve seen so far over the short life of this project.

-30-

    ‘What the public doesn’t hear’ week 4

    The latest instalment of an ongoing examination of publicly-recorded police activity and media reporting from the WPS.

    Monday

    – No briefing held. After a crazy busy weekend for crime-fighters and criminals alike, police release two reports electronically [by email’s statement]. They are: the seizure of a handgun and other weapons from a car four days prior and an assault/attempt robbery in Fort Rouge early Monday. Later in the day they released on a baby who fell through a window screen, but survived.

    Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from the weekend – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

    • Female, robbery with weapon, aggravated assault, carry conceal, possess dangerous purpose
    • Female, fail bail [pending on theft under $5,000]
    • Female, fail bail x2
    • Male, fail attend court [pend. on fail probation, fail bail and 2 breaches in June]
    • Male, fail recog x6
    • Male, 3 x aggravated assault, 2 x take auto no consent, 2x bail breach
    • Male, 3 x aggravated assault, 2 x take auto no consent
    • Male, 2 x aggravated assault
    • Male, assault weapon x2, house break and enter with intent to commit an offence, 2x gun offences
    • Male, breach bail, operate impaired causing bodily harm, drive disqualified
    • Female, fail attend x2, pend. on possession of criminal property from 2008
    • Male, assault with a weapon, weapons offences x3, fail release from police custody
    • Male, drug-trafficking, drug possession x2 and possession of prop. obtained by crime over $5,000
    • Male, assault cause bodily harm
    • Male, assault cause bodily harm
    • Male, gun offences x9, careless storage and carry concealed [WPS released on this]
    • Male, possess weapon dangerous purpose
    • Male, fail conditional sentence order x3
    • Male, aggravated assault
    • Male, aggravated assault
    • Male, house break and enter with intent, possess gun for dangerous purpose, weapons offence and fail bail
    • Male, house break and enter with intent, possess gun for dangerous purpose, weapons offence and fail bail
    • Male, house break and enter with intent, possess gun for dangerous purpose, weapons offence and fail bail [all three co-accused]
    • Female, theft under x2, fail probation x2
    • Male, fail police release conditions
    • Male, fail bail
    • Male, theft under, possession of property obtained under $5,000, fail probation x2
    • Female, fail bail, pending on fail probation from 1994!
    • Male, aggravated assault
    • Male, fail bail
    • Male second degree murder [police released on this over weekend]
    • Male, uttering threats
    • Male, robbery with fake gun, fail probation
    • Male, assault cause bodily harm
    • Male, assault cause bodily harm
    • Male, fail bail x2
    • Female, fail conditional sentence x3, theft under x2
    • Female, fail probation [pending on a bail breach]
    • Male, robbery x3, possess weapon dangerous x2
    • Female, fail attend x2
    • Male, breach of court-imposed weapons ban, fail attnd court, possess weapon dangerous
    • Male [sex offender] fail stay away from parks, playgrounds or other places kids might be, fail no-contact order, fail abstain from drugs/alcohol
    • Male, aggravated assault x2, drug possession, fail probation
    • Male, fail bail x6 [pending on mischief, utter threats x2, assault x2 and assault with a weapon x2]

    I should point out that there were a handful of RCMP events outside the city on the docket worth noting, as you’ll never hear about them from them.

    Thompson, MB – a woman charged with drunk and disqualified driving, but pending on a prior drunk driving charge laid just a few months ago.

    Fisher Branch, MB – a woman is charged with aggravated assault, impaired driving causing bodily harm, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and fail probation.

    Tuesday

    No briefing held. Of the information released electronically, it was a stabbing that police were seeking information about.

    Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Monday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

    • M, fail youth sent, fail bail, obstruct PO
    • M, drive disqualified, fail bail, fail prior police release, HTA x2
    • M, fail police release x3
    • FM, fail PO x2
    • FM, theft under $5,000
    • M, obstruct police
    • M, possession for trafficking x4, drug possession, obtain crim. property under $5,000, 4 x gun offences, fail prior police release
    • FM, fail PO, fail attend x2
    • M, possession purpose trafficking, possess crim. property under $5,000, fail attend court
    • M, fail bail [pending on assault, overcome resistance by choking]
    • M, sexual assault, robbery with violence, fail bail, fail youth sentence

    Wednesday

    No briefing. On the E-docket from WPS was a carjacking arrest, and two break and enter arrests. One involved a woman accused of a string of break ins that they had never discussed prior to the announcement she had been charged.

    Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Tuesday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

    • M, bail breach x2
    • M, fail youth sentence x3, possession weapon dangerous
    • M, fail bail
    • M, bail breach x4 [pending on 2x car arsons, break, enter and theft and drunk-driving]
    • M, fail conditional sentence x2, HTA, mischief, fail PO, drink driving
    • FM, Possess pup. trafficking, criminal property under $5K, fail bail [pend. on trafficking, possess prop over $5K, possess prohibited device or weapon]
    • M, assault weapon x2
    • M, possess pup. trafficking , drug possession, criminal property under $5K
    • M, assault, overcome resistance by choking [pending on Assault weapon and restraining order breach]
    • M, breach non-communication order x2, fail bail, obstruct justice

    Thursday

    No briefing, but a news release e-issued about more charges in the Lathlin homicide [including a very rare ‘aiding and abetting-related charge for a woman who harboured one of the suspects, ‘allegedly.

    Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Wednesday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

    • M, HTA, robbery with weapon, possess dangerous purpose, drive dangerous, flight from PO, fail PO [police released on this on Wednesday]
    • M, robbery, fail bail [pending on breaches, theft over $5K, sex assault and robbery]
    • M, fail bail, fail attend court [pend. on assault with weapon, theft under $5K and 3x bail breaches]
    • FM, fail bail, fail attend court
    • M, robbery
    • M, fail conditional sentence
    • FM, theft under $5K x2 [pending on theft under $5K]
    • FM, accessory to murder after the fact [police released on this]
    • FM, breach [pend. on breach]
    • M, fail release from police custody x5
    • M, obstruction, fail bail, ID fraud
    • M, theft under $5K [pending on theft under $5K]
    • M, flight from police, possess stolen car worth more than $5K, assault weapon x2, drive dangerous, theft under $5K
    • M, possess pup trafficking, mischief, theft under $5K, fail prior release from police
    • M, fail bail x2
    • M, aggravated assault, fail PO x3
    • M, [Manitoba Warriors associate] assault weapon x2
    • M, aggravated assault, attempt to take auto without owner’s consent

    Friday

    Media briefing held on the blotter was an update to a massive MPI fraud investigation, a comment on a homicide in the West End.

    Now, on the adult criminal intake docket [people arrested and locked up] from Thursday – does not include domestic violence-related arrests, youths arrested or people arrested and released on a promise to appear. Neither does it include RCMP arrests resulting in people being locked up in Winnipeg, which show up on the docket.

    • FM, fail PO, fail bail
    • M, drug possession, mischief, fail bail
    • M, fail attend court, fail bail x2 [pend. on assault PO, assault, fail prior police release]
    • FM, possess stolen car over $5K, fail police release x2, housebreak enter and theft, break enter and theft, theft under x3
    • M, fail conditional sentence
    • M, fail bail x3
    • M, possess criminal property under $5K x2, drug trafficking x3, criminal property under $5K, and HTA
    • M, fail bail x4, drug possession
    • M, mischief, uttering threats
    • M, aggravated assault, fail PO
    • M, fail bail x3
    • FM, aggravated assault
    • FM, fail PO
    • M, fail attend court [pending on sex assault x2]
    • M, mischief x12 [from March], fail PO [pend. on fail PO x2]
    • M, assault cause bodily harm, fail PO

    —-

    To be frank, this wasn’t the best week for the WPS and their public reporting mechanisms. Only one briefing out of five days and it was very busy, crime-wise.

    On Monday, a man wanted on a 10-year-old warrant was picked up at the airport at 9:45 p.m. His story is very interesting, and shows that you can run from the law, but not forever. There was no comment on this. Would have been good PR for the department if spun the right way.

    On Wednesday, there was a serious assault by gang members in the West End, and bullets flew in a park. Those bullets entered a woman’s nearby apartment. There was no comment on this.

    Above, you’ll also notice a number of serious assaults that took place that went unreported.

    Also, there was key arrest in a long-ongoing child-pornography case that I’ll discuss in a forthcoming post.

    Early Thursday, there was a homicide in the West End that nothing was said about until 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Not a word. I understand it was a complex investigation [dead guy apparently killed by man acting in self-defence after “victim” broke into his home; lots of information to sift through to get to the truth] but to say nothing despite repeated requests for the most basic information just leaves massive gaps that the media HAS NO CHOICE but to fill in with unofficial information.

    Let’s put it this way. Based on what the cops had to say about the homicide, the WFP’s Friday story about “a street fight with deadly consequences” was off the mark. Not wrong, but not right.

    Other media saying the “victim” was ‘beaten to death’ was off the mark. Mea culpa.

    The gaps piss off the investigators who blame the media for being irresponsible and basing their reports on speculation and rumour. It frustrates the media because 9 times out of 10, they hate having to do it.

    [As a side note, the vacuum of information also helps foster a sense of mystery about what may have happened (which in the end is likely pretty dull), which feeds the speculation.]

    But, the deadline doesn’t disappear. A reporter can’t just come back to the office and say, ‘I’ve got nothing, sorry. It will have to wait.’

    A couple of times a year, the WPS holds a media course for officers who are interested in the PIO job. The officers in question shadow a reporter for the day to get a feel of what they’re after and how the beast is fed everyday.

    I’ve done it, and I can honestly say for both parties, it’s an eye-opening experience.

    Typically, I give the officer a basic run-down of the courthouse information system as part of our day together and they’re astonished at what you can find out given a little time and patience.

    They get a look at a newsroom and the freneticism in which it operates and they come to realize the media aren’t just sitting around dreaming up ways to make the department, politicians, CFS and others look bad.

    They may even come to see that for some folks, journalism is a calling that’s taken pretty damn seriously. Kind of like law-enforcement would be for many, if not the vast majority of police officers.

    As a part of the course, there’s a bull session where both sides sit down at some point and discuss how to better the relationship between the two sides.

    Inevitably, there’s a discussion where the police agree that having a senior officer at a scene be empowered to give out basic details of why they’re there is a good thing, because 9 times out of 10, the media will bugger off and let them do their work if this simple information sharing happens.

    Except on very rare occasions, it does not happen and I cannot fathom why. We accept that we’re not gonna get state secrets or the ‘inside track’ on a story. But in an age of virtually instant communication, it’s hard to imagine why it’s not happening.

    But the WPS doesn’t seem to see, or is ignoring the fact that by doing this one simple thing, the Winnipeg public sees their police department in control of what to many may seem like a scary or dangerous situation.

    It’s proactive PR and it should be happening.

    In complete fairness, the WPS has gotten better at calling out a PIO to scenes, even in off-hours.

    Examples being: last weekend’s bizarre standoff in the West End that acting PIO Const. Robert Carver spent his whole day at.

    The weekend prior, he was also in attendance at a different scene near the Maryland Street bridge, if memory serves.

    Const. Jason Michalyshen has twice in the last two months come in after hours to be at the scenes of shootings.

    We know officers have better things to do than chit-chat with reporters.

    But our reality is that the public says they want us out there 24-7, just as they demand of their police.

    And we’re all doing our part to try and give the public what its said it clearly wants.

    Building a public information strategy into every police investigation at the start is one way to reduce the friction that exists today.

    Just my opinion.

    -30-

    Tiny memorial

    Walking by Bar Italia at Cockburn and Corydon a few minutes ago and noticed a small, unadorned memorial for Gary Rent has been erected by a mysterious someone.

    Rent died last week after allegedly being pushed and smacking his head on the pavement.

    An employee of Bar I has been charged with manslaughter.

    Full story here and here.

    And now, FP reporting about a brawl outside/near the place. Hmmm….