A disgraced ex-cop’s apology, for the record

Retired Winnipeg Police Service Const. Michael Hall’s full written apology, as read by him to Judge Sandra Chapman during his child pornography sentencing Wednesday.

“Your Honour, I stand here in front of you ashamed, disgusted and remorseful and full of guilt. I want to express my feelings and understandings of what I have done to you and those in this courtroom and to offer all of the people I’ve hurt an honest apology from my heart.

I first want to address how horrific this crime is and how it affects the children whom these computer pictures display. I feel disgusted and ashamed to have been part of such a sickening crime that robs these kids of their innocence and affects them negatively for their entire lifetime.

I am truly sorry to them and I give them my heartfelt apology.

I also want to address how I affected the life of my family that I once had, I had a loving daughter and a loving fiancee that I was to wed this year. After the arrest, their worlds fell apart into chaos. I left my daughter without her father for over a year now. No daughter should ever be put through going without a father.

And I haven’t forgiven myself for missing this year of her life.

(Name withheld) is my daughter whom I love more than anything else and the most important person in my life and I’m very sorry that I haven’t been a dad to her.

I also want to express remorse to (name withheld) my ex-fiancee, and that I’m so sorry for putting her through this. She’s an amazing woman — never deserved the pain I caused in her life and I give her my sincere apology.

I also want to express how I affected the life of my parents. They have supported my throughout my life with all my positive achievements, and they have supported me through this negative ordeal as well. Emotionally, my parents have endured excruciating sadness and shame that I have caused them, and I am so embarrassed and ashamed to have let them down. I am sorry for what I have done.

My actions have had a wide-spread negative effect reaching to my past co-workers, friends and friends I no longer have. And undermining the laws that society had in place.

I will say I’m sorry to all those that I’ve affected.

I also would like you to know Your Honour that I have lost everything in my previous life because of my horrible actions and have been given the chance to start anew.

I feel I was at a crossroads in my life after the arrest, and I had the choice to either give up because of what transpired — what has happened to me transpired — or use every minute of every day in a positive way.

I want to be a father again and be an upstanding member of our society so I chose to start working hard to get there.

I found Christianity and I embrace every day now and I’m becoming an active member in my new church. I’m bettering myself with ongoing psychotherapy with Dr. Kolton.

I’m enrolled and currently in a post-graduate study to add to my degree. I’m working part-time to help with my daughter’s child-support.

I know I will never make these mistakes again in my life and I will achieve my goal of being a father for my daughter in giving her all the wonderful things life has to offer.

I’m sorry, Your Honour, for what I have done, and I hope society will forgive me for my actions and I may join them again as a positive individual.”

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Shawn Lamb: the record, for the record

(Chris Procaylo/Winnipeg Sun/QMI)


In recent days, many have requested the publication of accused Winnipeg serial killer Shawn Lamb’s extensive record of criminal court convictions in full, given his case has raised so many questions about chronic offending.

I present it here, in full, for the public record.

Entries listed note the court centre where the convictions were entered, the charge and the resulting sentence imposed.

Background on what you’re about to read below can be found here, here, here, and here. And here.

  • 1976/08/18 Toronto

Attempt Fraud

Conditional Discharge, 1 yr probation

  • 1976/11/02 Barrie 

Theft over $200

Theft under $200

Breach probation

Break, enter and commit offence

6 months jail on the theft over, with lesser periods noted concurrent on other charges.

  • 1979/04/13 Barrie

Break, enter and theft

18 months jail, the sentence was appealed and reduced to 9 months

  • 1979/05/30 Barrie

Break, enter and theft

6 months jail consecutive to sentence already being served

  • 1979/09/25 Barrie

Possession of a narcotic

15 days jail

  • 1979/11/27 Guelph

Escape lawful custody

9 months consecutive to sentence already being served, later appealed down to time in custody.

  • 1979/12/14 Port Hope

Mischief

30 days concurrent with sentence already being served

  • 1980/07/07 Barrie

Drug possession

Possess for the purpose of trafficking x2

9 months and probation on possession, 2 years on the trafficking counts.

  • 1980/12/21 Winnipeg 

Armed robbery

Assault peace officer x2

2 years on the robbery, 6 months on each of the assault PO counts (consecutive)

  • 1984-04-18 Winnipeg

Assault causing bodily harm

5 months jail

  • 1984-11-29 Winnipeg

Theft under $200

1 month jail

  • 1985-02-28 Winnipeg

Assault cause bodily harm

Mischief

6 months on the assault, 1 month concurrent on mischief. Assault sentence was hiked on appeal to 12 months to be followed by 18 months of probation.

  • 1987-03-11 Barrie

Assault x2

Assault

Fail comply with bail conditions

6 months consecutive on the first two assaults, 3 months each on the other assault and bail breach, consecutive.

  • 1987-08-20 Guelph

Attempted obstruction of justice

Assault

Fail comply with bail conditions

Fail attend court (in Calgary, Alberta)

Theft over $1,000

Fail comply with probation order

5 months less a day on each charge, concurrent

  • 1988-06-06 Chilliwack, British Columbia

Assault

30 days and 2 years of probation

  • 1988-08-05 Vancouver

Care and control of a vehicle while over .08

$600 fine and 40 days time in custody noted

  • 1989-04-19 Edmonton

Mischief

$250 fine and 10 days time in custody noted

  • 1989-11-15 Edmonton

Utter threats

Possession of a weapon

1 day jail on each charge.

  • 1990-01-29 Edmonton

Uttering a forged document

30 days jail

  • 1990-07-12 Edmonton

Theft under $1,000

Obstruct peace officer

$200 and 15 days time served on the theft; $50 and three days time served on the obstruct

  • 1990-07-16 Edmonton

Theft over $1,000

3 months

  • 1991-02-21 Edmonton (RCMP High Prairie arrest)

Theft under $1,000 x2

Fail to appear

Fail to attend court

Fail bail condition

$200 fine on thefts plus 20 days jail, $100 fine on fail appear plus 10 days, $100 fine plus 10 days on attend court breach, $200 plus 20 days on bail breach

  • 1991-03-13 Slave Lake

Assault

5 months jail 

  • 1991-08-01 Edmonton

Theft under $1,000

$50 fine and 10 days TIC

  • 1992-02-06 Slave Lake (Slave Lake RCMP arrest)

Sexual assault

4 years prison plus a 5 year firearms prohibition

  • 1992-06-08 Innisfail 

Fail to comply with probation order

30 days concurrent with prison sentence

1993-06-17

PAROLED

1994-06-29

PAROLE VIOLATION, RECOMMITTED TO PRISON

1995-11-28

STATUTORY RELEASE

1995-11-28

STAT RELEASE VIOLATION, RECOMMITTED TO PRISON

  • 1996-07-05 Edmonton

Assault

9 months

  • 1997-07-09 Edmonton

Fail to appear

Theft under $5,000

1 day on fail to appear, $150 fine and three days TIC on theft

  • 1997-12-19 Edmonton

Break, enter and theft

4 month conditional sentence and 1 year probation

  • 1998-09-17 Winnipeg

Possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000

Public mischief

3 months on each charge consecutive plus two years of probation

  • 1999-06-23 Winnipeg

Utter forged document

Possession of property obtained by crime

30 days jail and a restitution order

  • 2000-01-14 Winnipeg

Utter forged document

Possess property obtained by crime over $5,000

Utter forged document

Possess property obtained by crime under $5,000

Fail to comply with bail condition

45-day intermittent sentence on first 2 charges, 30-days intermittent on next two, 1 day on the bail breach

  • 2000-04-06 Winnipeg

Unlawfully at large

30 days consecutive to sentence already being served

  • 2000-09-11 Winnipeg

Unlawfully in a dwelling house

Assault cause bodily harm

Fail to comply with probation order

2 years jail and two years of probation

  • 2001-09-11 Winnipeg

Possess property obtained by crime under $5,000

Fraud over $5,000

1 year jail on each charge concurrent

2001-09-22 Winnipeg

Possess property obtained by crime under $5,000

Fraud over $5,000

1 year concurrent with sentence already running

  • 2002-03-26 Winnipeg

Utter threats

Time served of 68 days

  • 2003-04-25 Winnipeg

Theft under $5,000

Utter threats

Assault peace officer

Time served of 6 months and 7 days

  • 2004-12-24 Winnipeg

Fail to comply with bail order x2

Fail to appear

Time served of 45 days on each charge concurrent

  • 2005-06-30 Winnipeg

Utter forged document

Break, enter and theft

Theft under $5,000

Theft over $5,000

Posess. property obtained by crime under $5,000

12 months jail with 11 months TIC noted and 3 years probation

  • 2006-08-31 Winnipeg

Assault peace officer

Possess property obtained by crime under $5,000

Time served of 115 days

  • 2007-09-07 Winnipeg

Possession of property obtained by crime under $5,000

Theft under $5,000

Posession of stolen credit card

6 months jail and 274 days of pre-sentence custody noted

  • 2008-11-07 Winnipeg

Carry concealed weapon

Possess property obtained by crime

Time served of 205 days

  • 2009-01-16 Winnipeg

Attempted Robbery

18 months conditional sentence, 3 years probation, supervised

  • 2010-05-26 Winnipeg

Possession of property obtained by crime — motor vehicle

Forgery x9

Theft under $5,000

Robbery with violence x2

13.5 months at double credit (27 months) noted, 19 months going forward AND the resumption of the 2009 conditional sentence order and the 3 years supervised probation.

-30-


SHAWN LAMB: Where does the buck stop in Manitoba Justice?

(Carolyn Sinclair, one of Lamb’s alleged victims)

After having a couple of days now to be immersed in the information on suspected city serial murderer Shawn Cameron Lamb, there’s still so many more questions than answers.

And it’s not the usual questions eating away at me.

For me, and I admit it’s really gotten under my skin, the number one thing that’s been eating away at my mind is:

Why was Lamb free prior to the full expiry of his 19-month jail sentence (from May 26, 2010).

He served only 13 of the months despite his horrendous record.

But more importantly:

Why was a provincial judge’s order regarding how Lamb’s sentence should be served either totally ignored or at least countermanded by Manitoba Corrections?

It’s a little convoluted, but please bear with me – the context is uber-important.

In January 2009, Lamb got a major break from Judge Wanda Garreck: an 18-month long conditional sentence and three years of probation (supervised) for an attempted robbery of a mom who simply happened to be in the area pushing her baby near where Lamb was smoking crack.

As it’s often touted, a CSO is “a jail sentence” where a criminal is allowed to serve it in the community, usually tied to several stringent conditions which are supposed to be supervised and enforced by a “sentence supervisor” and probation officers.

Breaching CSO conditions is supposed to lead to immediate rearrest and incarceration and the possibility of having the remainder of the CSO terminated and turned into real jail time in a real locked jail.

Some of Lamb’s CSO conditions included: mandatory counselling, mandatory residential rehab, Narcotics and Alcoholics anonymous provisions, 100 hours of community service, no drugs, no drinking, seeking and maintaining employment or schooling, medical or psychiatric treatment as directed.

Most importantly, it included a strict curfew, structured as follows:

First 6 months: Absolute. 24-7 curfew.

Second 6 months: 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Third 6 months: 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

So. Lamb walks out of the Remand that day and roughly a week later is re-involved, or as the Crown put it: “He gets right back to work.”

Lamb swipes a Ford Taurus from a banquet hall and then forges signatures on 9 cheques stolen from inside the vehicle. He’s not arrested right away because police didn’t immediately recognize him on surveillance tapes.

He’s not arrested until April 2009, not until after he’s committed two “opportunistic” violent robberies and admits he’s been using crack while out on his conditional release.

Anyhow, he sits in jail for 13.5 months until that fateful day when Lamb appears before Judge Linda Giesbrecht on May 26, 2010.

She’s told of his horrendous record, the facts of his slew of crimes and given a complete breakdown of how many violent convictions he’s had.

Giesbrecht said Lamb’s rap sheet was “coming very close” to the worst she’d ever seen.

Lamb, when given the opportunity, goes on an extremely lengthy tirade about how he’s changed, the steps he’s taken to correct his life; that he was “doomed to fail” when he was granted the CSO in 2009 because things didn’t immediately fall in place for him as expected.

He’s taken responsibility and doesn’t want to hurt anyone any more, he says.

(Remember, Lamb’s been in front of 45 or more sentencing judges since 1976. He’s old hat at how things work by now.)

A joint recommendation for a sentence is proposed, and accepted for guilty pleas to 16 charges.

The sentence was: 13.5 months of time-served at double time credit (27 months), 19 months going forward, and an order that the remaining months of the previous conditional sentence (Y’know, the one he totally breached within a week or so of being out on it) would not start up again until he was released from jail on the new 19-month term. 

Importantly, the Crown stayed an allegation he breached the conditional sentence order. This is key. The CSO was not converted into jail time.

It was simply suspended — held “in abeyance” is how it was put in court. There was discussion between the lawyers as to whether this was the case, and it was agreed: The clock on the CSO stopped ticking when he was rearrested and was not completed.

In pronouncing Lamb’s sentence, Giesbrecht couldn’t have been more direct as to her wishes.

“It’s clear when you’re released the conditional sentence — whatever’s left of that — starts up, and that will be a considerable restriction on your liberty,” she said. “There’s going to be lots of help for you in the community when you’re released.”

She repeated same a few minutes later:

“That (CSO) will not run while you continue to serve your 19-month sentence … and whatever is remaining (13-14 months) will continue to run after you’re released for your 19-month sentence.”

But it didn’t. The province confirmed as much on Tuesday.

Seemingly adding insult to injury, Lamb — despite his extensive record of giving his middle finger to the law — still got automatic “earned remission,” and had six months lopped off his jail time.

So much for community supervision. So much for Giesbrecht’s ruling.

I asked the province the following prior to writing on this in Wednesday’s Winnipeg Sun.

“Just wondering about that request I asked for on Shawn Lamb’s release date last year?
Also, is there a chance I could please speak with someone in corrections about this case?
Upon his release last year, Lamb was supposed to have completed the remainder of an 18 month conditional sentence handed to him in January 2009 (he was rearrested a few months (after)  it started and held in abayance until his 2010 sentence was complete.
Wondering if that’s the case here.”

Here’s the two sentence response I got:

LAMB was released on June 24, 2011 (including 27 months of remand credit).
On the question of serving out the Conditional sentence order – for all intents and purposes the conditional sentence was satisfied, including the period of incarceration, so it had been served and all conditions and requirements had been met when he was released on June 24, 2011.

My request to speak with an official in corrections was not addressed.

(To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be. For the largest department in Manitoba Justice, you strangely seldom hear a scurrying word about their operations.)

Justice Minister Andrew Swan wouldn’t comment when asked about Lamb’s early release, citing the start of the criminal prosecution and ongoing police investigation.

I’d ask you to note how this issue really has nothing, except very tangentially, to do with the murder or sexual assault allegations Lamb now faces.

It does, however, have everything to do with where the buck stops in Manitoba’s justice system.

The only way I can see to put it is like this: A judge’s order regarding how best to sentence Lamb was either disobeyed, ignored or countermanded by corrections officials. 

I don’t know who allows the department to do this.

The public expects that a judge’s decision is final and should be obeyed.

If a Manitoba Justice department doesn’t seem to take judges’ rulings on sentences seriously, why should criminals? Why should you or I?

I expect that a judge’s decision be respected and followed as it was directed.

In this serious case, it wasn’t. We don’t know if Lamb took the mandatory rehab and psychological programming. Did he complete the 100 hours of community service? We don’t know.

We’re not really allowed to know and it’s ridiculous.

And I think we all deserve answers what happened here.

-30-

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!”

-30-

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.

Police spending: at a crisis point?

(Public Safety Building, Winnipeg)

Is police spending in Winnipeg reaching a crisis point?

That’s the question I had this morning when looking through the latest — however scant and vague — information available on city financial forecasts.

Quarterly Budget Forecast Document

Just weeks after the department’s nearly $224-million 2012 budget was adopted, the department is already forecasting a small deficit for the year of nearly $1.3 million.

“The Police Services department’s expenses are anticipated to be over budget due to overtime,” the explanation goes.

The current financial forecast indicates by the end of the year, WPS spending will cross the quarter-billion dollar mark.

I can fully accept that OT is necessary and unpredictable for most, if not all, organizations.

About 85 per cent of the overall WPS budget, however, already goes towards labour costs.

I get the sense something has to be amiss when I see despite the considerable — and ever-increasing — police budget, officers are going hat in hand to city committees for tiny cash grants to purchase mountain bikes to patrol on.

On May 22, The East-Kildonan-Transcona community committee approved a per-capita grant of $1,500 towards a patrol bike request (the service asked for $2,500).

Here’s the stated rationale for the ask:

The citizens of Winnipeg, specifically Transcona have contacted the Winnipeg Police Service on several occasions in regards to ongoing issues on the Transcona Trail. The Transcona Trail experiences a high volume of pedestrian/bicycle traffic through out the year with limited accessibility for emergency services. The ability for the Winnipeg Police Service to patrol the trail by bicycle will provide a visible police presence as well as a tool to assist police in apprehending offenders on the trail. Bicycle patrol also allows for a unique way for members of the Winnipeg Police Service to patrol the “Hi Neighbour” Festival, and escort parades in the Transcona area.

Monday, the Riel community committee will entertain, at the request of Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital), another $2,500 request for same.

Essentially, that request is the same as above (Mayes’s ward also encompasses, partially, the East District Station’s catchment).

I have no issue with bikes for police officers. In fact, I’d like to see more bike patrols on the street when seasonably appropriate.

In fact, I take absolutely no issue with paying police well to do what many would agree is a challenging, difficult and dangerous job.

But what I can’t help but question is this: How does it make any sense that with a $224-million dollar-plus budget, the service can’t find a measly $5,000 to buy simple mountain bikes and avoid the optics of forcing an officer to go begging to city councillors?

It doesn’t look good.

I’d like to say that I could offer more information on what’s causing the OT spike leading to the deficit forecast, but there’s virtually zero public disclosure when it comes to actual police spending.

My sources tell me, however, that the thirst for OT hours in recent times has been seemingly unquenchable.

It’s interesting: Many (I think) would agree that working OT is seen by many as a burden.

I don’t get that sense when it comes to police OT.

I get the distinct feeling it’s seen as opportunity.

For the Record: Fort Rouge arson-prevention meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-30-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[clapping]

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

[clapping]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Clapping]

Other questions included:

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

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

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

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

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24 city homicides, a list:

There’s been some confusion in the twitterverse recently about the number of homicides in Winnipeg so far in 2011. Here’s a quick reference list of victims and suspects. The details of the crimes are not comprehensive.

Updated Friday July 22: Deletes the arrests in Roger Michelle’s death [see below] and adds the criminal-negligence related arrest in a car-person collision in April.

Updated Wednesday July 27: Blogger Rae Butcher makes a point in the comments below: Joe McLeod was charged with manslaughter in connection to the death of a nursing-home patient. 

Updated again, same day: A story from 2008 where WPS asserts Criminal Negligence Cause Death Cases are no longer counted:

I guess the issue is, if I take out the ones below, that leaves us at 22, when the official tally is at 23. Therefore, I leave the Crim Negs for the record.

1] Jan 6: Darryl John SINCLAIR, 45, stabbed. Robert Carl PRINCE, 44 charged with 2nd-degree murder.

2] Jan 16: Zenon Sylvester BOZYNSKI, 48 injured, perhaps beaten outside a Redwood Avenue apartment block. Jamie Jossens MORRISSEAU, 27 years of Winnipeg and Gamielle William Harry COURCHENE, 25 years of Fort Alexander, Manitoba have both been charged with 2nd Degree Murder.

3] Jan 28: A 16-year-old male stabbed on Allegheny Drive. 28 year old Matthew Craig KRASNY of Winnipeg has been arrested and charged with 2nd Degree Murder as a result of his alleged involvement.

4 and 5] Feb 5: Darren Joey SWAMPY, 19 years of age and Lee Brady SPENCE, 22 shot on Elgin Avenue. Randy Murray WILLIAMS, 27 years of age was arrested and subsequently charged with 2nd Degree Murder x 2 as a result of his alleged involvement.

6] A 22-year-old man arrested in connection to a criminal negligence cause death case where a man was killed in a snowmobile crash on Jan. 13.

7] Feb 18: Casandra Lydia KNOTT, 27 is arrested for the homicide of Orzias Joram KNOTT, 34.

8] Feb 24: Senior citizen Elizabeth Lafantasie is found dead, stuffed in her trunk. A few days later Thomas Brine is arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

9] March 16, Abdul Rahim Mah JEMEI 22 is stabbed to death downtown. a 16 year old male is arrested soon after, and Ramsey SWAIN, 24 is charged March 29.

10] March 28: Frank Alexander dies after an alleged assault at Parkview Place. Joe McLeod, an alzheimer’s patient, is charged with manslaughter.

11]April 13: Joanna Storm died crossing Henderson Highway. An 18-year-old man is charged with criminal negligence cause death.

12] April 20, 42-year-old Sheila Fontaine is killed outside the Merchant’s Hotel on Selkirk. The arrest of Teya Wynter SPENCE, 18 is announced a few days later. She and three other teen girls face manslaughter charges.

13] April 29: 20-year-old  Trevor Harper is shot in the 500 block of Portage. 15 year old male youth was located and arrested in the area of Pembina Highway and Plaza Drive on May 4 .

14] May 10: Solomon Joseph Andrew TURNER found dead — stabbed — in his home. The next day, Lloyd Alfred Lindsay is charged with second-degree murder. Wanda Lisa RAHMAN (Bruce), 32 is charged with the same crime May 27.

15] May 14: Gina Swanson, 33 is found dead in her Edderton Avenue home. Case currently unsolved. anyone who may have information regarding this investigation is asked to contact them at 986-6508 or CrimeStoppers at 786-TIPS (8477).

16] May 16: Gerald Crayford, 54, dies after an apparent assault at a Pizza Hotline outlet. A 15-year-old is charged with second-degree murder. Byron Charlie Bushie, 18 is arrested and charged with the same crime a few days later.

17] May 21: Leslie Alex OKEMOW, 29 is found dead at the St. Regis. Arnold Harper turns himself in to face a manslaughter charge on May 21.

18] June 26: Steven Kyle DODGE, 26, found stabbed on Arlington. Same day: Nathan Allan BRICKLIN, 18 years of age is charged with second-degree murder.

19, 20, 21, 22, 23] Lulonda Lynn Flett is charged with five counts of second degree murder for the arson-related deaths of  Norman Darius ANDERSON, 22 years Maureen Claire HARPER, 54 years, Kenneth Bradley MONKMAN, 49 years, Dean James STRANDEN, 44 years, and Robert Curtis LAFORTE, 56 years. She also faces three attempted murder charges.

24] Cara Lynn HIEBERT, 31 is found dead in her home and is considered a homicide. Case as-yet unsolved. Anyone who has information regarding this incident is asked to call investigators at 986-6508 or CrimeStoppers at 786- TIPS (8477).

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Kinda bizarre is how the two as-yet unsolved homicides involve young mothers found dead in their homes.

As well, arrests were made in a 2009 homicide in January. June 13, 2009: Wayne Roger MICHELLE, shot. William Evan LAPORTE, 21 years and an 18 year old male, who was a youth at the time of the offence, have been charged with 1st degree Murder and Attempt Murder with a Weapon.

Homicide: best practices

[Note: For those looking for how to commit the perfect crime as the headline could suggest, this post is not for you.]

There’s been a lot of debate lately over the Winnipeg Police Service homicide unit’s operations, largely driven by a former supervising sergeant’s labour board complaint about how he was treated and how he believes the Winnipeg Police Service’s transfer policy hampers the effectiveness of the unit.

As previously stated, I won’t go into much greater detail about the Labour Board hearing so far, as it’s really Mike McIntyre and the Free Press’ baby (Links hereherehere and here).

But there’s a question I’ve been asking myself and finally dug into a but yesterday.

What, from an operational/internal POV makes for a (quote-unquote) good/effective homicide unit? The rate at which crimes are solved? Convictions? Response times?

Turns out a retired homicide commander in the U.S. wondered the same thing in 2007-08. A rising national homicide rate was worrying him and he began formally asking around among his peers.

Timothy Keel’s study, published by the FBI, is available here.

He sets out the issues as follows:

Nationally, the number of homicides reported by police departments to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program is on the rise.1 Equally disturbing, the clearance rate for those crimes continues to decline.Law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about the reasons for these statistics and what they can do about them. Although most homicide unit supervisors are confident in their detectives’ abilities to solve cases, they might be asking themselves if, from a management perspective, their current practices and procedures allow for the highest possible clearance rate.

To explore these issues, the author conducted a study of homicide units across the country. He developed a questionnaire that pertained to a variety of operational and management issues and focused on how the well-performing units investigate homicides.3 Departments chosen for this study met two criteria: 1) they have more than 25 HPY (homicides per year) over a 5-year average, and 2) they submit crime data for the UCR Program.4 Eighty-one departments received questionnaires, and 55 completed and returned them.responses.

The finer points of the article break down trends and arrive at some kind of consensus about what ‘best practices’ are for murder police and their bosses. The summary goes as follows, bolded bullet emphasis mine.

Keys to a Successful Homicide Unit

  • No more than five cases per year as a primary for each detective
  • Minimum of two, two-person units responding initially to the crime scene
  • Case review by all involved personnel within the first 24 to 72 hours
  • Computerized case management system with relational capacity
  • Standardized and computerized car-stop and neighborhood-canvass forms
  • Compstat-style format
  • Effective working relationships with medical examiners and prosecutors
  • No rotation policy for homicide detectives
  • Accessibility to work overtime when needed
  • Cold case squads
  • Investigative tools, such as polygraph, bloodstain pattern analysis, criminal investigative analysis, and statement analysis
  • Homicide unit and other personnel work as a team
Personnel Rotation

The issue of rotating detectives out of the homicide unit after a set period of time, regardless of their effectiveness as an investigator, is a relatively new phenomenon plaguing many supervisors. While the concept of a rotation policy may have benefits from a management perspective, this study suggested that chiefs considering implementing such a policy for homicide detectives should proceed cautiously. For example, only 3 of the 55 departments had a rotation policy of any type within their detective division. No department with an average of over 80 HPY (ed: homicides per year) reported having a rotation policy for homicide detectives. Even agencies that currently have a rotation policy extend the period of time that a detective can remain in the unit.

[Aside: interestingly, Keel’s ‘study’ also reports a rise in clearance rates [clearance meaning a suspect was arrested/charged] when a prosecutor visits the homicide scene. But the involvement of prosecutors can also take away from clearing a homicide, likely because the lawyer demands more evidence be gathered prior to officers charging someone.]
Departments that typically involved a prosecutor in the early stages of an investigation had a higher clearance rate on average. The average clearance rate became progressively lower when prosecutors became involved during the later stages of an investigation. Conversely, departments that require detectives to consult prosecutors before issuing an arrest warrant had a 6.6 percent lower clearance rate than those that did not have such a requirement. Perhaps, departments that allow detectives to use their judgment pertaining to prosecutor notification and prosecutors comfortable enough to allow detectives that discretion have a better working relationship.
Typically, the Winnipeg Police Service’s homicide clearance rate has been very good, with — by my counting — roughly four out of five homicides being cleared by charging a suspect.
Annual reports from the WPS say 81 per cent of homicides cleared in 09-10 and 08-09. 
Seventy-seven per cent were cleared in 07-08, up 23 per cent from the year prior. 
Time will only tell how 10-11 and 11-12 pan out.
But no matter what police do in terms of the HR structuring of the unit, the investigators placed there, and the vagaries of their working conditions, Keel’s report is blunt when it comes to the number one thing cops need to solve killings — an aspect desperately lacking in the city when one considers the most recent unsolved murders in Winnipeg.
When questioned about the biggest barrier to achieving higher homicide clearance rates, one common theme occurred among all ranks: the lack of public/witness cooperation.
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Policing, (internal) politics and public policy

(Arne Peltz is the arbitrator overseeing a police Sergeant's labour dispute)
News flash: The Winnipeg Police Service — with roughly 2,000 employees and multiple divisions, mandates and priorities — is a large bureaucratic work environment that experiences human-resource headaches, policy-wonkery and management-employee conflicts.

Anyone else find the above statement a bit of a truism?

Because, at the end of the day, that’s really what’s being revealed at a Manitoba Labour Board hearing into a dispute between Sgt. James Jewell and WPS management over the so-called “1+1+1” transfer policy brought in a couple of years ago (see footnote).

Jewell’s stated concern — up until recently a supervising officer in the homicide unit — is that a policy of transferring people out of the “high-stakes” unit after a maximum of three years doesn’t meet the needs the complex cases require.

He feels he’s been unfairly punished by being transferred out of the unit for taking his concerns over the heads of his supervisors to the police brass.

His supervisors deny this is the case.

Anyone who has seen a homicide cop undergo cross-examination in a murder trial will understand: Jewell’s point is sound. You have to know your stuff or risk getting torn to shreds.

Some (but not all) homicide cases are complex and require focus, dedication and — as Jewell asserts — experience in homicide investigation to investigate and prosecute successfully.

His superiors suggest that’s not necessarily the case.

“To get good at homicide, you’ve got to know homicide, correct?,” Jewell’s lawyer, Keith LaBossiere asked Staff Sgt. Mike Stephens on Friday.

“I don’t draw the parallel, I’m sorry,” Stephens replied.

I won’t go into much greater detail about the Labour Board hearing so far, as it’s really Mike McIntyre and the Free Press’ baby (Links here, here, here and here).

I attended yesterday afternoon strictly out of interest as a private citizen (but reserved the right to blog on what I took away from it).

I wrote about the transfer policy for the Free Press in 2009, when the service was drafting it.

Much of what’s been revealed at the current hearing echoes concerns raised by the police union (actually a bargaining association) at the time.

But setting aside the stated concerns about the policy  for just a sec, there is another side to it.

My limited understanding of the need for the term limits (from the executive’s perspective) was that it was to ensure front-line, street level operations and officers have veteran guidance as new officers come on to the force and do their mandatory general patrol time.

From a core public-safety position, that seems and sounds reasonable.

But at issue really here is how, (as stated above), there’s a steep learning curve for murder police, and it’s not much of a leap to believe having them come and go from the unit too quickly can reduce institutional knowledge and case continuity as well as the mentoring of new investigators. That can be said to have a negative influence on the goal: public safety and enforcement of the law. Nobody wants murderers walking the streets.

A thought experiment: Imagine if the Free Press decided to move McIntyre out of the courthouse and put a GA reporter (not an inexperienced one, but one lacking systemic knowledge) there. There’s no doubt that over time, the newbie would ‘get it,’ but you hire a McIntyre, see his skills and keep him there for a reason. Simply put: He’s learned the ropes, produces original stuff and it just seemingly wouldn’t make sense to lose his experience in that genre in a high-stakes media landscape.

[UPDATE, Monday July 11: After thinking about this further, a glaring omission struck me that I should have mentioned — The key difference is that reporters don’t solve serious violent crimes, nor typically risk their lives. There are naturally rare exceptions, but…]

But — a conjunction which segues into the point I wish to make: like it or lump it, there’s a caveat when you don’t sign your own paycheques.

Management reserves the right to…

There’s two competing sides that I can articulate at this time: One faction says the WPS brass is hampering its core public-safety goal through its own internal policy. The other suggests new direction is needed; that other priorities — AKA building for the future — are at play here, that like any corporation or bureaucracy, those who run it have to have the discretion to make changes as they see fit.

In other words, a rock and a hard place. For all involved. No matter how this plays out, it’s hard to say if there’s a way of seeing if there will be a clear “winner” or “loser.”

Naturally, at issue in Jewell’s case is whether he was treated fairly in the circumstances.

A final note:

I’d suspect there’s an uneasy feeling on the fifth floor of the PSB given the details about the internal operations of homicide and HR activities being revealed at the MLB hearing.

For years, the force has taken great lengths to try and ensure the internal operations of the WPS stay on the down-low, that its public messaging stays focused. And yes, that access to such internal information often be denied.

But what we’ve seen over the last week is that there’s been no great calamity because the public got a glimpse of how the quote-unquote elite homicide unit operates, that there’s fraction and friction and internal conflict and politics at play.

In my personal view, it has served as a reminder that the cop you see on the street, the one that may be your neighbour or fishing buddy, faces the same workplace frustrations as virtually all citizens who work for someone else do.

In effect, it’s been terribly humanizing.

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Footnote:

In Division 40 – WPS policy states there are maximum assignment lengths of:

Constable — three years (one year guaranteed and each of the other two years reviewable each year)

Det. Sergeants — four years maximum.

Most if not all, when assigned to the division, stay for the maximum allotment without being transferred out at the direction of the management.