JAMES G JEWELL

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SENTENCING INSANITY - THE PRISONERS ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM

After twenty-five (25) years in law enforcement I have my fair share of war stories to tell.

 

I have seen much, the bright side and the dark side of life.  I have witnessed great triumphs and horrific miscarriages of “Justice.”

 

As I reflect on my career one of the things that still troubles me is the complete and utter lack of consistency that I have witnessed at our law courts, a place that I spent countless hours sitting in the hallways waiting for my turn to provide evidence.

 

We see it every day in our news papers.  Articles written by dedicated crime reporters exposing the dirty secrets that occur almost daily in our criminal courts.  Respect for criminal “justice” at an all time low as socially aware citizens grind their teeth after reading every column.

 

The inconsistencies never more apparent than it two cases I worked on during my career.

 

The first involved an offender named William James Bradford Canning who went on a Robbery spree in Winnipeg in the mid 1990’s.

 

I met Mr Canning on the very first night of my assignment as a Detective in Division #23, the Robbery / Homicide Squad.  

 

Canning was into robberies in a big way.  His modus operandi was to steal a vehicle, arm himself with a knife, pull on a balaclava and go to work.  He liked to hit a variety of businesses that included Hotels and beer vendors.  Although he liked to brandish a weapon, he never used it, nor did he injure any of his victims.  

 

It was after a robbery at a beer vendor on Keewatin Street that Mr Canning was introduced to the business end of my Benelli shot gun.  His eyes big as saucers as he gripped the steering wheel of his hot ride following my directions not to move or else.  

 

The balaclava pulled from his face by my partner Det George “Jungle” Murray, exposing Cannings thick bushy afro like hair and scrubby bearded face.

 

Canning was ultimately charged with over twenty such robberies.  He represented himself at trial and was convicted of dozens of robbery and related charges.  He received a twenty (20) year sentence with no parole eligibility for ten (10) years.  He received no credit for the two years “dead time” he did in pretrial custody.

 

Twelve (12) guaranteed years behind bars for Robbery offences.

 

The second case also occurred in the mid 1990‘s and involved an infamous criminal we know as Richard Daniel Wolfe.  

 

“Richie Wolfe” was one of the original gangsters who is largely credited with being the founding father of the Indian Posse street gang.  An extremely hard core violent criminal.

 

(Not to be confused with his violent, now deceased, gangster brother Daniel Richard Wolfe.)

 

“Richie” was armed with a sawed off shot gun and laid in wait for an unsuspecting pizza delivery driver who he would mercilessly blast in the stomach in predatory robbery offense.  Wolfe fled the scene with the proceeds of his crime as his victim lay on the ground with the majority of his internal organs splayed on the ground.

 

The victim suffered extensive long term physical and psychological injuries as a result of this incident.  

 

This case was also hotly contested at trial but the result the same, a conviction for Attempt Murder and a significant sentence of nineteen and a half (19.5) years incarceration.

 

I personally don’t take issue with the sentences bestowed upon Canning & Wolfe.  Both had extensive criminal histories and were not candidates for any form of leniency or soft justice.

 

The irony......if either Canning or Wolfe had killed one of their victims they would have received much softer sentences.  

 

In both cases, the circumstances would likely have dictated that charges of second degree murder would have been laid.  If convicted, both offenders would likely have only received sentences of ten (10) years before being eligible for parole.

 

The message this kind of sentencing sends to offenders should concern all of us.  

 

I really don’t want to live in a society where criminals are much better off committing murder that simply robbing or wounding their victims.

 

As recently underlined by WFP crime reporter Mike McIntyre in his article “Getting away with murder” published on June 16th, 2012, Homicide is one of the most under punished crimes in our Country.

 

My argument for mandatory minimums and increased sentences for murder & manslaughter offences is made.  

 

As Winnipeg struggles with the most violent City in the Country moniker, I wonder what it might take before someone in a leadership capacity picks up the fight to make the changes so desperately needed.

 

Political leaders who live in the murder capitol of Canada should be leading this fight.

 

Yet our leadership remains mute and apparently apathetic.

 

It’s not just murder offences.  The entire justice system is broken and in desperate need of repair. 

 

This reality has never been more evident than in the recent controversial sentence imposed by Judge Ray Wyant on a first time offender for impaired driving.  

 

Judge Wyant took a stand and sent a strong message to the public, a message that was almost immediately undermined by one of his fellow judges on the bench.

 

The reality is Judges are just people, people with different beliefs, ideals and value systems.

 

Inconsistent Justice is Justice denied.

 

Time to take away the flexibility given to our Judges so that a more consistent and balanced approach to Justice can be restored.  They had their chance and they blew it.  

 

Mandatory minimum sentences provide for even justice and take away the discretion that has been so horribly abused.

 

The criminal code is in desperate need of repair as is the manner in which “Justice” is being delivered in our Country.

 

Lets stop the insanity.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CALLS - THE INSIDE STORY

As I enjoyed a cup of java this morning my attention was drawn to a Winnipeg Sun article titled “Domestic calls cops hopping” written by columnist Mr Tom Brodbeck, an opinionated and respected crime reporter in our City.

 

Mr Brodbeck suggests that its time for a review of the WPS Domestic Violence Abuse policy with a view to reduce the ever increasing number of calls experienced by our front line troops with the Winnipeg Police Service.

 

The justification for such a review is self evident.

 

In 2011 the WPS responded to a daunting 17,240 domestic calls.

 

This number represents the second highest number since Police started recording this data.

 

Brodbecks report draws a correlation between the high call volume and the tragic murder of sisters Corrine McKeown & Doreen Leclair in 2000, the first year of my assignment to the WPS Homicide Unit.

 

I worked the case and was one of the Detectives who participated in the arrest of the killer, William “Billy” Dunlop.

 

Dunlops intriguing interrogation conducted by a grizzled Homicide veteran, D/Sgt Robert Mcquat and his partner, rookie Homicide Detective Michael Brooker.

 

I remember watching in stunned silence as Dunlop readily confessed to the killings apparently relishing the status that he perceived came with being charged with “double homicide”......a term he would use several times during his interview.

 

He appeared to enjoy that status as he provided straightforward brutally graphic details of the murders.  Not one ounce of remorse or true responsibility expressed.

 

It is true, these killings sent shock waves thru the Police Service and caused the expected knee jerk reactions regarding the need to  amend policy.  

 

"Zero tolerance” an inflexible reality, domestic dispute calls received higher priority and the front line troops started running from domestic abuse call to call to call.

 

The story ponders the need to review the policy so that critical police resources might be diverted to address other areas such as gang crime, violent crime, internet and other sophisticated crimes.

 

It was a conversation on twitter that I viewed this morning that inspired me to step into the debate.

 

Brodbeck & Gabrielle Giroday, crime reporter for the WFP, going at it on a social media site debating the issue.  It was good stuff.  Brodbeck suggesting that cops aren’t social workers and shouldn’t be running to these calls.  Giroday countering with “do you think it would be wise to dispatch social workers as first responders to violent situations.”

 

As someone who has literally attended hundreds upon hundreds of these types of calls I have to declare the debate a draw.  Both parties have valid and intelligent points.  Both agree that posing questions is a good thing but neither express anything in the way of potential solutions.

 

The truth of the matter is that Domestic Violence calls are one of the most dangerous types of calls that a Police Officer attends.

 

The potential for violence is always there, and that includes before and after Police arrival.  Emotion and adrenaline surge during these volatile and unpredictable incidents which are often fuelled by drugs or alcohol.  

 

I have personally had cases when I have had to fight with the abuser only to be assaulted by the victim as I tried to make the arrest.

 

I agree, Police are not social workers, but social workers simply could not and should not ever attend these calls.  The privilege of attending these calls should only be reserved for well trained, armed, professional police officers.  

 

That doesn’t mean the policy should’t be reviewed.

 

As a Sergeant working in uniform patrol I was in constant contact with the front line troops attending these calls.  

 

One of the common issues I observed was when Domestic Disturbance calls were reported by alleged victims who frequently took off before police arrival.  Under policy, officers had to stay on these calls until they could locate and interview the complainant. 

 

Countless hours wasted conducting computer checks, interviewing relatives and driving around looking for the alleged victim.  These calls often “time held” and passed on from a day shift crew to an evening shift crew to a night shift crew.  

 

The alleged victims often under the influence of alcohol, using the police as pawns in their persecution games, not truly committed to making a legitimate report and taking off before police arrival.

 

Unfortunately, none of that matters, once the call is made the Police “own” it.

 

A potential fix I proposed when I was still employed with the WPS was the introduction of something called “shared responsibility” in the Domestic Violence Policy.

 

It’s a simple concept that requires that when an alleged victim of a Domestic Violence incident calls the Police, they have a responsibility to remain at a safe location and wait for Police arrival.

 

If the victim fails to remain at the safe location the call is closed and Police are cleared to take the next call.

 

The idea never gained much traction, to radical to expect the victims to wait for the police once they’ve initiated a call.

 

This is only one of many issues that exist regarding Domestic Violence calls.

 

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Domestic Violence policy, but I do agree that the policy should be reviewed and amended where possible so that a real reduction in the Police resources required to respond to these matters might be realized.  

 

Much like the vast majority of other crime, the primary driver of Domestic Violence is drug and alcohol use and abuse.

 

Another serious social issue facing law enforcement that requires a  multi-dimensional community approach with a much greater commitment to address the problem. 

 

We may need to see calls surpass the 25,000 mark before Mr Brodbeck gets his review.

THE INVISIBLE BLUE LINE

“Time off, without taking time off” was the headline.

 

A column written by Gordon Sinclair Jr for the WFP shining light on an apparent epidemic of abuse in the WPS regarding “time theft” or “blue slip” abuse as it might be referred to in the Police world.

 

The inspiration for the article an apparent informer from within the Police ranks seemingly motivated by some sense of guilt related to the Taman affair, or so Mr Sinclair speculates.

 

“Deep Blue would tell me time theft goes deeper than safety slips, or even general patrol” Mr Sinclair writes.

 

Supervisors thrown into the mix, accused of leaving the workplace after being relieved by night shift Sergeants several hours before their shifts end.

 

These allegations are limited to evening shift cycles which essentially occur once a month.  The scheduled shifts can be anything from four to six days in duration.

 

The charges leveled against the Constable rank allege “time theft” on the last day of their shift.

 

The charges leveled against the supervisors suggest that the “time theft” might be occurring on every night of their evening shift.

 

Mr Sinclair paints an ugly portrait of immoral police officers stealing time from the Police Service and the public they are supposed to be serving.

 

Is this truly the reality in the WPS?

 

Is this story accurate and balanced?

 

I was a supervisor with the WPS for a total of seven years.

 

Between 2006 & 2007 I supervised the District 6 Crime Office in Fort Garry.

 

It was a small, inexperienced crime fighting unit that consisted of approximately ten officers working days and evening shifts.

 

I was truly impressed and inspired by the level of commitment and dedication of these young officers who I often observed to be sitting at their desks up to two hours before their shift started.  I would see these officers still sitting at their desks, entrenched in their work, as I packed up my things and left work after completing my eight hour day.

 

It was so common place that I found it necessary to meet with the officers to stress the importance of work / life balance.  My concerns were rebuffed and the trend continued.  

 

Their commitment and sense of duty inspired me and I appreciated their dedication.

 

I used to keep track of their “voluntary” hours so I could defend myself if I was ever challenged for letting an officer go home an hour or so early on the rare occasion that a family issue or some other event presented itself.

 

As a supervisor, I exercised my discretion and let officers leave work before their shifts ended on these infrequent occasions.  My conservative estimate would be that the voluntary time was donated at a ratio of at least 4-1.

 

I personally donated hundreds upon hundreds of voluntary hours during my career creating power point presentations and training programs for members in our junior ranks.

 

The subject matter of one of these presentations was the TJ Wiebe murder case.  The case study consisted of over 100 power point slides and hours of video taped interview segments. This training was ultimately delivered to over 200 Police Officers.

 

This case study took me almost one full year to develop.

 

No one instructed me to develop this training and peer education was not part of my job description.  I did it because I cared about sharing experience and training our Police Officers to enhance their performance and abilities.

 

A great number of my former colleagues with the WPS brought the same level of commitment and dedication to their duties.

 

As a Sergeant in uniform patrol I frequently attended work up to three hours before my start time.  I did this because once the night shift Sergeant came on duty my job was redundant.  To be sure, I would leave up to three hours before my shifts official end time.

 

It is my belief that several of my former colleagues in the Sergeant rank do the same. 

 

For the later half of my career I carried a cell phone and fielded hundreds of off duty phone calls providing advice and direction for on duty officers and supervisors.  These calls came at any time, day or night and often came during the wee hours of the morning.

 

The hours spent on the phone all voluntary.

 

(The collective agreement only recently provided for compensation for these types of phone calls.)

 

By strict definition you could also accuse me of “time theft” because I also left early on evening shifts from time to time, however, I think not when one takes into account the hundreds of voluntary hours I donated during my career.

 

There may be instances where time off is abused by individuals who don’t bring the same level of commitment to the WPS regarding the donation of voluntary time, as I suspect may be in the case of Mr Sinclairs’ informer, “Deep Blue.” 

 

I believe these cases are in the vast minority.

 

In a perfect world, middle managers, such as Police Supervisors, should be trusted to exercise discretion in the manner in which they manage their workers.  

 

I know that I would have had absolutely no difficulty in providing fair and reasonable justification anytime I authorized time off or took time off that was not put “on the books.”

 

Supervisors should be held accountable if they cannot provide such justification.

 

Connecting this issue to the Taman case is a stretch at best and malicious at worst.

 

In my mind, the informers motivation is highly suspect and reeks of someone with burning personal issues with my former colleagues, supervisors and the Police Service.

 

My advice for “Deep Blue”.......if you truly believe in what you say, stand up and be counted, be a man.....own it and put your name on it.

TIME TO CUT THE BULLSHIT

THE TRUTH ABOUT CRIME IN WINNIPEG

Stats Canada has crowned Winnipeg the Murder Capital of Canada for 2011 and awarded our City the highest rating on the Violent Crime Severity Index in the Country.

Winnipeg scored 173.8 on the index, which is an increase of 6% over 2010, edging out second place Saskatoon by almost forty points.

The response from the Mayor and the Chief of Police were disappointingly predictable.

"If crime were going up in our city I'd then I'd be very, very concerned. When I see it's been dropping over the last few years I know we're headed in the right direction," Mayor Katz is reported as saying.

Chief McCaskill reportedly added his perspective by stating "Our efforts are working, The violent crime rate is coming down, property crime rates are coming down."

The status quo fed to the public and media again, more explanations, minimizations and justifications.....don’t be fooled, its all B.S.

Our status as the most violent City in the Country is simply shameful & unacceptable.

I spent eleven years of my twenty-five year Police career working in units specifically tasked with investigating violent crime. Eight years in Homicide and three and a half years working in Division #23 Robbery / Homicide. The balance of my career was spent in patrol and other areas where I was exposed to violent crime on a daily basis.

If I know anything about anything, I know about violent crime in Winnipeg.

The fact is, Winnipeg is a very violent City.

That is true today and has been true for a very long time.

Winnipeg is not a “SAFE” City despite the rhetoric that is spewed from our Political leaders and Chief of Police.

That is the uncensored truth.

I was shocked when I read a quote from Mayor Katz in which he is reported to have stated; "I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”

This kind of denial is reckless and dangerous. Worse, it minimizes the very real problems that plague our City.

In March of 2011 I supervised a Homicide Investigation regarding the murder of a twenty-two year old man who was killed during the early evening hours behind the Portage Place Mall.

During the investigation, Detectives interviewed a young male witness who provided a very real and a very scary description of the dynamics of downtown Winnipeg.

This individual was a friend of the murder victim and was at the scene of the crime at the time of the killing. He readily admitted to gang association and to being armed with a sawed off shot gun on the night in question.

It wasn’t just talk or bravado, the deadly weapon was seized by search warrant as part of the investigation.

He didn’t stop there, he described the area as a virtual war zone crawling with rival gangsters all armed with dangerous and offensive weapons of one description or another, guns, knives and pepper spray.

That’s the reality of downtown Winnipeg, that is the truth.

Ask any “informed” Police Officer if they share the Mayors sentiments and you will receive a resoundingly negative response.

The truth is, the downtown and north end are very violent and dangerous parts of our City.

Violent gang members and dangerous adult and young offenders roam our streets every evening and night. If you paid attention you would see that our latest murder occurred at 5:30 a.m.

Cherie Anne Richard-20 years, senselessly killed in the 500 block of Furby Street.

The truth is that gangsters and criminals currently own the streets in Winnipeg.

The Police are overwhelmed as they respond to seemingly endless emergency calls while the thugs run wild on our City Streets. “Patrol Time” an apparent thing of the past, taking back the streets a romantic idea but simply not possible with current resources.

After indulging myself in local print media this morning I find prospective solutions in articles written by Tom Brodbeck (SUN) & Dan Lett (WFP).

Brodbeck the usual tough on crime sentiments and Lett, a softer perspective suggesting a social solution.

Both reporters offering thoughtful solutions that would miserably fail in isolation.

As someone who has extensive experience investigating violent crime in this City, I can tell you that the perpetrators of these crimes often come with significant addiction issues.

I have personally investigated hundreds of offenders who have committed violent robberies and can assure you that the vast majority of these crimes were not committed for financial gain or profit. These offenders were almost all addicts chasing the next high, be it drugs or alcohol.

My experience in Homicide was similar.

Most killings driven by offenders who were affected by drug or alcohol addiction issues. Drugs or alcohol factoring into the tragic circumstances in one way or another in the majority of cases.

It is my experience that violent offenders are often habitual criminals who have enjoyed decades of “limp dick” justice. Feeble sentences, grossly applied early parole and release philosophies, countless breaches of recognizance and other orders. Horrific crimes, habitual offenders, inadequate sentences, minimal consequences.

The scales of justice so horribly out of balance.

More needs to be done and more must be done.

Any enlightened person who works in Criminal Justice can tell you that drug and alcohol addiction fuels crime and social dysfunction in our City.

Addiction, the number one factor.

Soft justice exacerbates the problem.

Brodbeck & Lett both got it right.

Real leaders would not deny these problems, they would see them as opportunities.

Real Leaders wanted!!!