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Abdication of Responsibility

When a state refuses to enforce its monopoly on violence—allowing others to arrogate that prerogative to themselves—that negligence destroys public confidence in its institutions.  This is precisely what has happened at Caledonia’s Douglas Creek Estates; whether the land belongs to the natives or developers and homeowners ought to have been a question of law and torts; instead it has given rise to a de facto dual standard in law enforcement.

Publius at Gods of the Copybook Headings has two excellent posts on the subject, the first being a lengthy and meticulous précis of the Caledonia affair, and the second delving into former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino’s failings as both a peace officer and the Conservative “law and order” candidate.

The Ontario government has created a precedent whereby it has tacitly accepted the right of certain ethnocultural groups to take up arms and oppose the Crown, which hardly seems like a long-term recipe for peace and amity in a province whose heterogeneity is steadily increasing.

That’s quite the string of “honest mistakes”

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre was “simply relaying information provided by another officer”—which included viewing a portion of the cellphone video shot by a bystander—and yet came up with these whoppers in front of the national media:

But many details subsequently released by Sgt. Lemaitre were wrong, and the spokesman did a string of interviews in the next couple of days that repeated the errors. For example, in one CTV interview shown to the inquiry, Sgt. Lemaitre is shown telling interviewers that Mr. Dziekanski did not respond to the first police taser, and that he struggled and fought, even while on the ground.

However, the bystander’s videotape, which was later made public, shows that Mr. Dziekanski screamed and fell to the ground after the first taser.

Sgt. Lemaitre also told reporters in October 2007 that police tasered Mr. Dziekasnki twice, when in fact four electronic shocks were delivered. And in another news briefing that October, Sgt. Lemaitre was asked point blank by a reporter if there was video of the taser struggle.

Sgt. Lemaitre told the reporter there was no video, even though he himself had already viewed it.

When asked Tuesday on the witness stand why he told reporters there was no video of the incident, Sgt. Lemaitre replied that he meant there was no airport security video of the incident.

On the witness stand, Sgt. Lemaitre insisted these erroneous statements were honest mistakes on his part. He was handed this information from a fellow Mountie, Corporal Dale Carr, the media spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which handles serious crime.

Later, when he found out the information was wrong, he was upset and said he took the matter to his boss. But by then Sgt. Lemaitre was taken off the Dziekanski file and the record wasn’t set straight.

But reporters Tuesday questioned the RCMP line that Sgt. Lemaitre was simply a messenger who was handed the wrong facts. If Sgt. Lemaitre watched the amateur video, he would have seen Mr. Dziekanski drop to the ground after the first taser hit.

“Wasn’t that a flat-out lie?” one reporter asked Sgt. Shields.

“No,” the officer said. “Sgt. Lemaitre gave the information that he had, that he had been briefed with. A police media relations officer is only as good as the information that he or she has been given. And in this case Sgt. Lemaitre made public the information had been given.

— Jane Armstrong.  “RCMP ‘sorry’ for inaccurate remarks on Dziekanski incident“, Globe & Mail, April 21st, 2009.

Even if that information contradicted the video evidence he had eyeballed himself.  So let’s see.  Sgt. Lemaitre viewed the video footage, but then went on to tell reporters no such footage existed, and contradicted it multiple times in favour of the account as reported by his fellow officer.  Then his superiors, blind to the damaging effects of having appeared to deliberately mislead the media, refused to allow him to set the record straight?  What were they thinking?  No one will notice; it’s not like tasering the fellow was an international incident or anything.

I like to believe the best of our men and women in red serge, as I know they do an exceedingly difficult job at the best of times.  But this just stinks on so many levels.  It strains credulity, to say the least.

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Your gums are flapping, but no sense is coming out

So multi-force police raids netted 36 arrests and 443 charges, ranging from weapons smuggling to narcotics trafficking.

Here is an excerpt from the National Post‘s account, including a particularly unintelligible remark from OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino:

Dubbed Project Blackhawk, the investigation began in 2006 as a result of a tip from U.S. law enforcement officials to Waterloo regional police that 237 handguns had been smuggled into Canada. The Waterloo police force then notified Toronto police and the Ontario Provincial Police weapons enforcement unit.

…Authorities in the U.S. said they also arrested a gun shop owner in Chicago who is believed to be responsible for providing guns that were smuggled into Canada.

“Cross-border crime presents a serious threat to the safety and security of communities on both sides of the border,” said U.S. immigration and customs official Gary Hartwig.

Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino added: “the worse aspect of crime guns being smuggled into Ontario is that all too often, these guns fall into the hands of those who are responsible for taking innocent lives such as those we witnessed in last weekend’s horrific spate of gun violence.

Come again, Commissioner?  The worst aspect of crime guns being smuggled into Ontario is that criminals might, well, use them for more crime?  You don’t say.  Who do you think wants black-market guns pre-used in prior crimes, anyway?  Retired grannies looking for self-defence?  Olympic medallists looking for competition-grade rifles?

Lazy or Just Stupid, Part III

Talking back to Post editorials:

There may never be final answers to why a Polish citizen, Robert Dziekanski, died while being arrested at the Vancouver International Airport on the morning of Oct. 14. A preliminary autopsy report offered no clues as to the reason his heart stopped when he was tasered by RCMP officers in a secure room at the airport.

— “Why was he zapped“, National Post, November 16th, 2007.

No clues at all?  I have one for you.  Your own reporter, Doug Ward, hinted at it in an earlier story, printed Wednesday.

Mr. Van Blaricom said that Taser-related deaths don’t stem from the electrical voltage carried by the electric-control weapon but from the exhausting physical struggle that follows.

Often the cause of death is cardiac arrest, or asphyxia, in which the person being arrested builds up so much lactic acid that they can’t breathe any longer, said Mr. Van Blaricom.

“They develop an oxygen deficit that they just can’t overcome.”

— Doug Ward, “U.S. experts question RCMP Taser tactics“.  National Post, November 14th, 2007.

Maybe you can ask the coroner about that.  Or positional asphyxia.  Just sayin’.

Lazy or Just Stupid, Part II

Once again our media correspondents give vastly different and conflicting information regarding the same story.

A Brampton high-school teacher has been charged with various sex-related criminal charges—two counts of sexual exploitation, one count of Internet luring of a child and one count of sexual assault (touching).

Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe & Mail, prints an account with the following details:

…the charges were laid after a relative of the boy glimpsed the text of a sexually explicit message on the screen of his home computer, said Detective Sergeant Greg Knapton of the Peel Regional Police special victims unit.

The sexual assault charge was laid after the boy subsequently told police that on one occasion, on school property, Ms. Calautti had lightly caressed him in his genital area…

Police believe the relationship dates back to the beginning of October, based on what were described as two lengthy and explicit e-mail exchanges in which sex acts were allegedly discussed….

Det. Sgt. Knapton agreed the charges are unusual, but rejected any suggestion that because the accused is female and the alleged victim male, the consequences are not serious.

“I can tell you we totally disagree with that,” he said. “I’ve seen enough of the aftermath and the counselling that’s required.”

The 16-year-old is “confused” by what happened, Det. Sgt. Knapton said.

— Timothy Appleby, “Teacher faces sex charges“. Globe & Mail, November 16th, 2007, 0507 ET.

Sounds serious enough, no?  Now read some excerpts from the Toronto Star‘s account:

A Brampton high school student is outraged with Peel police for charging his teacher with allegedly committing sex-related offences against him, insisting all she did was help him get over an emotional breakup with his girlfriend.

The 16-year-old teen yesterday denied having any sexual or romantic relationship with his 35-year-old teacher but admitted he sought advice from her during online MSN Internet chats after his girlfriend dumped him.

“She did nothing wrong. She helped me get over my ex-girlfriend,” said the Grade 11 student, who can’t be named. “She did nothing to me. All we did was talk. Our conversations weren’t sexually explicit.

“She never touched me. Police have taken this way, way too far. When they told me she was going to be charged, I was speechless.”

His teacher, Dina Calautti, a married woman with a young child, has been suspended with pay from Notre Dame Secondary School where she has been teaching since 2000…

It is not known who filed the complaint against her [Mrs. Calautti]…

The alleged victim said he understood that talking online with his teacher about his personal problems was wrong but he never expected any criminal charges to result. He admitted he liked her but just as a friend and never thought she had any interest in him other than wanting to help him.

“We talked maybe for five minutes on MSN at a time. … We talked about personal stuff but nothing sexual. I probably shouldn’t have text messaged her but I was going through a rough time,” said the teen, who has known the accused woman since Grade 9. “I needed help and she was the only person there to listen to me.

“She was. She is an amazing teacher.”

— Bob Mitchell, “Teen denies teacher sex charges“. Toronto Star, November 16th, 2007, 0430 ET.

These stories are filed within a half-hour of each other.   Both refer to “Ms.” Calautti, who is acknowledged to be married in both stories.  Which would make her a “Mrs.” Calautti, you’d think.  Or at least that’s how I referred to married female teachers in my youth.  I understand the lexicon has been broadened now, so as to render any descriptive title useless.

The Globe says a relative saw explicit conversation.  The Star says they don’t know who filed the complaint.

The Globe says the lad told police she touched him in the genital area.  The Star quotes the boy himself saying that’s not true.

The Globe quotes the police saying the teen is “confused”.  If we’re to believe the Star, he’s actually fuming mad.  He also denies any sort of sexual content to the conversations, so it ought to be interesting to see what sort of evidence is introduced.

Maybe Timothy Appleby and Bob Mitchell are highly talented neurosurgeons that merely moonlight as reporters for various national outlets.  In that case, I can understand their inability to focus on trivial journalistic details when they’re trying to save lives through risky, faint-hope experimental surgeries.

But more likely than not, gumshoe reporter is their day job, and they are rushing crap into print without bothering to collect all of the salient data.  Somebody—a reporter or a kid—doesn’t have their facts straight.

You’d think that maybe that in itself would be worth investigating, a little.

UPDATE: Welcome SDA readers!  Particularly commenter “A“, who says:

This is such a non-story — “Different reporters have different sources!” Big deal!

I beg to differ.  The two stories share the exact same sources — Detective Sergeant Greg Knapton of Peel’s SVU, and Bruce Campbell from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board.  The Star talked to the actual victim, whereas the Globe did not.  But the other two sources are the same.

Given that both papers talked to the same guys (presumably at the same press briefing), don’t you find it interesting that there’s such a disparity in the facts presented to us? Even if the kid didn’t know who ratted him out, the police certainly do.  The Star‘s reporter shares the same police source as the Globe, but makes no mention of a relative seeing the correspondence.

Which means, as the title implies, that one of these reporters is either lazy or stupid.

UPDATE 090739Z JULY 2009: Dina Calautti received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to internet luring.  The Toronto Star has the best account:

She left court emotionally devastated, but without a criminal record.

But Dina Calautti’s career as a teacher remains in jeopardy despite receiving a conditional discharge for what a judge described as “an error in judgment” by continuing Internet communication with a lovestruck high school student.

Calautti was placed on 12 months’ probation and ordered to get counselling. She is also prohibited from communicating with the victim.

The 16-year-old boy initiated the online contact and Calautti ended it after a week.

But by then the damage in the eyes of police and the law was done.

…In the facts previously read into court, the teen, whose identity is protected, started their communication because he was depressed over breaking up with his girlfriend.

By the time she was arrested on Nov. 13, 2007, the boy had romantic feelings for Calautti, though there was no evidence she had any for him, court heard.

They never met outside school and she ended their online chats once she realized she was in dangerous territory as a teacher.

The teen and his family are supportive of Calautti, court heard.

…At the time of her arrest, Peel Police also charged Calautti with sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation. Those charges were withdrawn.

— Bob Mitchell.  “Teacher avoids jail for Web chat“, Toronto Star, January 16th, 2009.