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AL: All of the coverage of the shooting incident at Kingston General
Hospital by Millhaven Institution inmate Corey Ward has tended to
focus, understandably, on the effects it has had on the Hospital: staff
are feeling “traumatized” and “violated” according to Dr.
David Messenger, an emergency room doctor and head of the Queen’s
University department of emergency medicine. The
danger to other patients, the shock and fear of patients, their families and friends, and staff, and the need to bring in counselors and support all those deeply upset by the shooting, has been emphasized – again, understandably. The
Kingston-Whig
Standard
ran
with a story November 21
about the security and policy
changes that may take place at the Hospital, as well.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers has told the press that both officers feel “shaken up” by the incident, while Correctional Service of Canada officially praised the escort team for being “very diligent and professional.” Ward’s criminal record – 10 years for uttering death threats, violent assault and assaulting a police officer in 2012 – has been released as well.

This local story interests
me for a few other reasons. Initial reports from
CTV via the Canadian Press said Ward was “found unconscious”
in his cell –
this is why he was brought to emergency. But
unconscious
from what? Why? During his arraignment, Ward
asked for a 30-day psychiatric assessment and
complained
that his medications were being withheld – was he on medication?
For what? Is that connected to the medical emergency in his cell?  He
was charged with attempted murder and firing with intent. but
aside from the initial reports saying the firearm was discharged
during a struggle (it’s not unknown for guns to be fired
accidentally during such a situation) and not aimed at anyone
directly, there is no publicly available evidence to back up these
charges. The
Kingston Police claim the escape was not premeditated, either. Again,
during his arraignment, Ward shouted out: “they
[the
correctional officers]
took the cuffs off me and dared me to attack them.”
This
may be a post-hoc justification, of course, and perhaps his escort did nothing of the sort, but given the history and
current relationship between staff and inmates at Millhaven – not
good is an understatement – this is not out of the realm of the possible.

Ward is being transferred to the Regional Reception Centre
in Saint-Anne-Des-Plaines, Quebec, which also houses the super-max Special
Handling Unit – a punitive measure without a doubt. This will also make his legal defense more difficult. Finally,
during the few seconds Ward was taped by CTV being dragged into the
courtroom by the Emergency Response Team escort (doing their best
security theatre routine) he yelled something about “suicide” and
Ashley Smith.” What was he trying to say? Why has this not been
reported on by the CBC or the Whig-Standard in their coverage? Does
this not bear further investigation, that an inmate, no matter how
violent or dangerous, might have a strong historical and communal
understanding of the connection between prison conditions, mental health and suicide?

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How a band of youthful criminals launched forth on a career of
bloodshed, and for months waged a relentless war against society. Their
terrible doings caused a regular reign of terror in Chicago, but
finally, after a series of exciting episodes, the outlaws were run to
earth.

EARLY on the morning of August 30th, 1903, occurred
the sanguinary climax of as audacious and merciless a series of
outrages as ever blackened the records of the great city of Chicago.
Three boy outlaws, already steeped crime and murder, walked into the
car-barns of the Chicago City Railway Company at Sixty-first and State
Streets, and “held up” the office of the cashier for the night’s
earnings of the company. In so doing they murdered two men and wounded
two others, but for that they cared nothing, since they themselves
escaped temporarily without detection. The very boldness of the crime
committed in the heart of a city of two million population, and the
callous recklessness which produced such unnecessarily fatal results,
would of themselves have sufficed to strike horror into the citizens;
but when it is added to this that there had preceded it a series of
hold-ups extending over several months and involving several deaths, it
may be conceived that Chicago promptly woke up and demanded justice on
the perpetrators. The people wanted to know what the police were going
to do about it, and the police accordingly strained every nerve to find
the guilty bandits. They remembered that holdup after hold-up had
occurred in the past few months without anybody being punished. Nor did
the highwaymen leave any clue by which they might be traced. They
vanished into the night, and that was the last of them.

The story
of these hold-ups was always the same — some unsuspecting men at work or
taking their ease; the sudden appearance of three boyish desperadoes; a
shot or two to break the silence of the night; and another murder to be
added to the list of Chicago’s crimes. Within three months no fewer
than eight men had died to the sound of cracking revolvers in the hands
of these downy-faced youths, and at least half-a-dozen others carried
the scars of wounds. Otto Bauder, Adolph Johnson, and B. C. La Crosse
were murdered in different saloon hold-ups, and Peter Gorski was shot
down during an attack on his establishment. To vary the monotony, T. W.
Lathrop, agent for the Chicago and North-Western Railway, was wounded
during an attack on Clybourn Junction, the station at which he was
agent. In nearly every case the shooting’ was wanton, as it was quite
unnecessary to proceed so far to secure the booty. One curious feature
of the case is the very small amount obtained by the robbers. The death
of one saloon-keeper netted them only two dollars thirty-five cents. At
the next hold-up they did somewhat better, since they bagged two men and
got fourteen dollars from each of them. At this rate they could make
more money by honest labour, and they decided to go after something big.
The car-barn robbery followed.

It was in the small hours of the
night of August 30th that the dramatic finale to this series of outrages
was enacted. The employes in the cashier’s office of the railway
company were busy balancing the receipts of the night. The last
conductor had just turned over his money and left the barn. Suddenly
sinister shadows fell on the floor, and Frank Stewart, the assistant
clerk in the office, looked up in surprise. An instant later a revolver
cracked and Stewart fell, fatally wounded. Almost instantly Henry Biehl,
another clerk, dropped from his stool wounded in the head, and William
B. Edmond was struck in the thigh. In an inner room lay Motorman J. E.
Johnson, asleep. He was awakened by the sound of firing just in time to
meet his death. Then the bandits broke open the cashier’s desk with a
sledge-hammer and took from it two thousand two hundred and fifty
dollars in silver and bills. Thirty minutes later the youthful outlaws
were sitting in the under-brush of Jackson Park waiting for the day to
bring light enough to divide the plunder. Then they calmly boarded a
street-car and rode over to the West Side, reading in the early morning
newspapers the account of their exploit. For weeks not a car left the
barns that did not bear in big letters a notice offering a reward of
five thousand dollars for the capture of the murderers.

For a long
time the police found not the slightest clue to the identity of the
criminals. In the office exploded cartridges proved that automatic
revolvers had been used. The same kind of shells had been found at the
scene of several of the other hold-ups, and since this weapon was new to
the highwayman industry the police naturally concluded that the same
persons were responsible for all the crimes. Then out of the clear sky
came the thunder-bolt of discovery. A young man named Gustave Marx, who
had been drinking heavily of late, showed an automatic revolver and
boasted that the police could not take him alive. Chief of Police O’Neil
detailed Detectives Quinn and Blaul to arrest Marx. At a saloon which
he frequented they found this young man. He was quiet, self-contained,
and quite master of himself. Apparently he had nothing to conceal from
the world, but when the detectives stated their mission his true nature
flared out. There was a sudden gleam of steel, a flash, a report, and
Detective Quinn pitched forward in his tracks, dead. Blaul was saved
only by a hitch in the working of the weapon. Before Marx could right
the defect in the mechanism Blaul was grappling with him for dear life.
Assistance came to the detective, and he succeeded in securing his man.
In Marx the police felt confident they had secured one of the murderous
gang of bandits who had terrorized Chicago for many months.

It had
been understood among the band that if any member of the gang were
caught the rest were to dynamite the prison to secure his escape. Marx
waited for a few days, expecting his comrades to attempt to rescue him.
It appears that such a rescue was intended. According to Peter
Niedemier, the chief of the gang, the attempt was planned. When the
fewest men were known to be about the station the outlaws were to walk
in at the front door, kill the man at the desk and any other officers
who happened to be in the way, and then take the keys from the
gaol-keeper or blow off the lock with dynamite. But Marx did not know
about this. He grew moody and bitter because he alone had been captured,
and concluded that his accomplices had deserted him. Perhaps in pique,
perhaps in fear, he blurted out the full story of the car-barn robbery
and murder.

Meanwhile his comrades, Peter Niedemier, Harvey Van
Dine, and Emil Roeski, of whom the former was leader of the gang and the
latter a weak youth whom they had lately got to join them, had been
haunting the home of Detective Blaul, whom they had decided to kill in
revenge for the capture of their comrade. Fortunately for himself,
however, the officer happened to be out of town. The outlaws devised
several futile plans to rescue Marx, but, learning suddenly that he had
made a concession to the police, sought safety in flight. It shows the
desperate nature of these young ruffians, not one of whom was over
twenty-three, that they waited in Chicago for weeks, though they knew
that the entire police force was hunting high and low for them. Word
came to the authorities at last that Van Dine and Niedemier had been
seen at a grocery store at Clark, Indiana, where they had gone to buy
provisions. Immediately the officers were rushed to the scene, seven
policemen arriving at Clark from Chicago on a Friday morning. They were
met by H. F. Reichers, who had reported the clue, and who had tracked
the trio secretly to the “dug-out ” where they were hiding.

The
position of the besieged was an excellent one for defence. The country
was very rough, sandy, and broken, and dotted at intervals with
gravel-pits. Furthermore, the hut was on a hill-top, so that it
commanded the approach from the railroad embankment below. It was up
this incline that the police had to charge. The officers advanced in a
circle, guided by Reichers, and were allowed to get so near that they
thought the robbers had escaped. Driscoll, one of the detectives, picked
up a stick and flung it playfully at the hut. There came a flash, a
sharp report, and Driscoll fell forward. At the same instant Roeski
appeared at the door, and was ordered to surrender. He darted back into
the cave, and promptly the magazine guns of the bandits began to volley
at the officers. Concealing themselves behind trees and bushes as best
they could, the police returned the fire. Suddenly, through the smoke,
two men ran crouching; from the “dug-out.” One of them, Emil Roeski,
sped away in flight, but Harvey Van Dine, the second outlaw, was made of
different stuff. He had been a soldier in Cuba and seen service in the
Philippines. He retreated slowly, step by step, keeping up a withering
fire meanwhile.

A minute later Niedemier emerged from the hut and
fatally wounded Driscoll. The two young desperadoes were not in the
least excited by the firing, but backed away toward the tracks of the
Michigan Central Railway, the revolvers in each of their hands speaking
steadily. Detective Zimmer exposed himself slightly, and Van Dine shot
him through the arm. Before he fell to the ground another bullet from
Van Dine’s revolver had entered his head. With one dying man on their
hands and one very seriously wounded, the police were in no condition to
give immediate pursuit to the robbers. Van Dine and Niedemier had flung
themselves flat on the railroad track and were keeping up a steady
revolver fire, but presently they retreated with the honours of the day.
Roeski, unnerved and wounded, could hardly drag himself after his
leaders. He was oppressed by the fear that they would murder him in
order to get rid of him, and he took the first chance to slip away into a
cornfield by himself. From here he retreated toward Tolleston, Indiana,
to which point he was traced by five citizens. They found him in the
Wabash Station at Etna, lying unarmed and asleep, and without any
trouble captured him and sent him to Chicago.

Directly the result
of the skirmish became known fifty policemen, armed with rifles, were
rushed to the front on a special train, and the man-hunt was renewed.
Van Dine and Niedemier had cut across country for a mile till they
reached the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railway. Here on the side-track
lay a switch-engine, with a train of cars attached to it.

The
fugitives, driven to extremity, decided to seize the train and escape.
They sprang boldly into the cab of the engine, where they found Fireman
Frank Coffey, the engineer being absent at the time. Brakeman Sovea
crawled over the tender in an attempt to warn Coffey before the outlaws
should reach him. He arrived just in time to confront Niedemier’s
revolver. The outlaw leader commanded him to throw the switch. The
daring brakeman refused to do so and grappled with him instead, trying
to wrest the pistol from his hand.

“The man doesn’t live who can take a gun from me,” said Niedemier, coolly, and killed Sovea instantly.

The
unfortunate man pitched head-first out of the cab with a bullet in his
brain, while the terrified Coffey uncoupled the engine from the train
and flung open the lever on a wild run for Liverpool. A few hundred
yards away in the woods were a number of armed farmers who had heard of
the escape and were out to cut off the fugitives. They reached Tolleston
about noon, just as the engine dashed past them. Some of them ran
across the plain to a curve of the road, which swings round at this
point, and reached a locked switch, just closed by telegraphic order to
stop the stolen engine. Here Fireman Coffey stopped the engine of
necessity, but the bandits, with ready resource, forced him to run it
back for a mile along the track which they had just traversed. There the
fugitives leaped to the ground and took to a swamp. But they could not
escape from their pursuers. Hundreds of men were now out after them, and
they were trapped like wild beasts. Even as they fled a band of
rabbit-hunters caught sight of them crossing a fence into a cornfield.
The sportsmen turned loose a volley of bird-shot upon the weary
refugees. It caught Niedemier full in the face, while Van Dine also
received his share in the hands, face, and throat. The country was
rough, and the outlaws were weary to the point of exhaustion. It was
easy for the officers and farmers to track them through the new-fallen
Snow.

“The game’s up,” said the leader, and Van Dine nodded a
surly assent; but for some time they continued to exchange a rapid fire
with the enemy.

“There’s no use killing any more of those fellows. Let’s give up,” said Niedemier.

The
two emerged from the cornfield and surrendered. Chained wrist to wrist,
their hair matted with dried blood, their eyes haggard and their faces
pallid, these two beardless outlaws were put aboard a train for Chicago.
That night they sat before Mayor Harrison and Chief of Police O’Neil,
calmly confessing their share in the four months’ war which they had
just finished waging against society. Marx and Niedemier, posing as
desperadoes of the worst kind, even confessed to murders which they did
not commit. Yet it is probable that Niedemier, as a boy of fifteen, shot
a detective in Ontario for ordering him from the top of a freight
train.

These curious criminal types offer a strange study. They
appear to have come by their lawlessness legitimately, so to speak, for
the father of Van Dine is a fugitive in Mexico and Marx’s father is in
prison. Entirely without moral instincts, these degenerates spoke of killing men as callously as other youths of their age speak of shooting rabbits.
Van Dine was an excellent engineer, while Marx was a painter by trade.
But the fascination of criminal life allured them. As Van Dine phrased
it, “I wanted something exciting; something with ‘ginger’ in it. That’s
all there is to it.” Their nerve stayed with them till the last. They
were tried, and the three leaders were condemned to be hanged, their
tool, Roeski, receiving a life sentence. A few days before the date set
for the execution Peter Niedemier made two deliberate attempts to commit
suicide. For weeks he had been borrowing and saving matches. He
swallowed the phosphorus of which the heads were made, and then
proceeded to sever an artery in his left wrist. He had boasted that he
would never die on the gallows, and he did his best to keep his word.
But in this he did not succeed. Too weak to walk, he was carried to the
scaffold in a chair. Gustave Marx, Harvey Van Dine, and Peter Niedemier
were executed on Friday, April 22nd, 1904. They left an appalling record
of bloodshed behind them. At their merciless hands Otto Bauder, Adolph
Johnson, Benjamin C. La Crosse, J. E. Johnson, Frank Stewart, John
Quinn, J. D. Driscoll, and John Sovea suffered death, and many others
were badly wounded. Including themselves eleven lives have been
sacrificed to pay the penalty of their wild attempt to disregard the
laws of society.

– M. W. Raime, “The Boy Bandits of Chicago.” The Wide World Magazine, October 1904.  pp. 79-83.

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“Chicago Courts Drive Back The Mounting Wave of Crime,” Chicago Sunday Tribune. October 15, 1933. Pages 4 & 5.

The ‘War on Crime’ – frequent arrests, violent shoot-outs, harsh sentences, anti-corruption drives, mass incarceration – to break ‘commercialized crime’ in Chicago.

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“Woodstock gripped by a Thanksgiving of terror,” Toronto Star. October 9, 1984. A7.

Keeping contact: While police blocked off roads around Woodstock, a remote-controlled robot vehicle, front right, was used to establish voice contact with a man who had barricaded himself inside a home after a weekend shooting spree that left four people dead. Police used the cover of an armored truck, left, to position the robot near the house. Photo: John Mahler, Toronto Star

Watching: An Ontario provincial policeman peers through binoculars at the Woodstock home where a gunman was thought to be holding hostages after four people died in gunfights. Photo: Colin McConnell, Toronto Star

Under siege: A crowd of curious onlookers gathers at a home in Woodstock where police staged a 20-hour siege after a man barricaded himself inside following a shooting spree that killed four people, two of them policemen. The man, flushed out last night, was being sought for the Saturday night killing of a policeman and another man in Montreal.
Photo: Colin McConnell, Toronto Star

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“They buried Harry Snedden with honor last week. They placed his cap upon a Canadian flag, which lay across his coffin, and from the crowded pews of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in suburban Toronto they sang him to rest, privately measuring the

meaning of his death. Afterward, in a solemn processional, they marched— 1,100 policemen, six abreast, their shoes bright with polish, their hands gloved in white—through the very streets Constable Snedden had patrolled and not far from where he had been shot, with his own gun, while trying to break up a domestic dispute.

At 22, fit and industrious, Harry Snedden had contemplated a long career in his chosen profession and, for his family and friends, his death had the awesome absurdity of random fate. But police forces everywhere viewed it as one more justification for their campaign to restore capital punishment. In fact, Snedden died less than two weeks after a national gathering of police chiefs had urged a federal referendum on the death penalty and only days after Justice Minister Otto Lang and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau—once regarded as firm abolitionists—had themselves mused out loud about just such a possibility.

Ottawa’s apparent turnabout on the issue may have stunned party loyalists, but it plainly tickled the police. “Thank God,” sighed AÍ Evelyn, president of Toronto’s 5,300-member police association. “Let’s have a referendum. There’s no doubt in my mind that the majority wants capital punishment.”

There is no doubt, either, that on the hanging question—as on many others— Canada’s cops have become increasingly outspoken. “We’ve had to,” explains Halifax policeman Joe Ross, the militantly pro-hanging vice-president of the Canadian Police Association. “There’s not a week goes by that police aren’t shot at. We have to be more political—for our own protection.”

And so they are. From St. John’s to Surrey, the nation’s 65,000 policemen are making themselves heard as never before. Frequent conclaves, media blitzes and the long parade of appearances before legislative committees have given this country’s most visible minority a new and sometimes disturbing dimension. The newest centurions are not only peace officers, but lobbyists, influential shapers of opinion.

“Those who would enforce the law are now trying to determine how the laws should be made,” warns Toronto lawyer Harold Levy. “That concerns me. Every time the Criminal Lawyers Association goes to Ottawa to present a brief, the police chiefs have been there before us. This is not public relations and this is not education. It’s very close to intimidation.”

Whatever it is, the police show little inclination to stop. Joe Ross’s 600-member Police Association of Nova Scotia hopes to make capital punishment the major issue in next spring’s federal election. Its Ontario counterpart has set a $100,000 fund-raising target to promote the police viewpoint—one shared by 68 per cent of all Canadians, according to last April’s Gallup poll. Says Toronto Police Superintendent Frank Barbetta (see box): “I think the death penalty is a deterrent and I think it’s a fit punishment, not just for the murder of police officers and prison guards—that was never our contention—but for all premeditated murder.”

The new tempo of police politics does not stop with capital punishment. At almost every level, Canadian police forces are now engaged in a quest for more equipment, more personnel, more money and more -power. Especially power. Among their specific demands: the right to open mail (with a judicial warrant); changes in the Human Rights Act, to prevent criminals from gaining access to federal police files; withdrawal of Ottawa’s freedom-of-information proposals; enough federal aid to double the size of police intelligence units, to fight organized crime; and amendments to the Criminal Code that would make any car owner liable for all offences involving his vehicle—even if it were stolen. Insists Stan Raike, newly elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: “The war on crime is a war indeed.”

Still, the campaign for extra clout comes when the growth rate of crime itself is levelling off. For example, between 1961 and 1967 crimes of violence increased by an average of 12 per cent annually.

But between 1975 and 1977, the average rate of growth plummeted to less than one per cent per year. Asks Dr.

Paul Reed, director of Statistics Canada’s justice division: “You’re wondering why the police need more power? I would encourage you to wonder.”

But statistics are a fruitless game; they yield more questions than they answer. Is the curve dipping because the most crime-prone age group (15 to 24) is maturing? Or is it because in an era of economic restraint, police forces—the source of most crime statistics—see no advantage in reporting new crests in the wave? No one can say conclusively.

One category that shows an indisputable advance, however, is cannabis offences, which now account for one in every eight charges laid against adults (compared to one in 57 nine years ago).

In several American states, possession of marijuana or hashish is no longer a crime and even the Canadian Bar Association—never exactly aggressive in pursuit of reform—and the government’s own 1972 LeDain Commission have called for decriminalization of simple possession. Yet last year alone, more than 40,000 possession charges were laid.

The gargantuan effort expended to curb dubious violations of the Criminal Code is not restricted to cannabis. Laments Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Grant: “Senior officers know they’re catching the mackerel and leaving the whales; that’s what accounts for their frustration.”

Something certainly accounts for it. Although, as University of Saskatchewan law professor Brian Grosman notes, “public support for the police in this country is at an all-time high,” police morale is with few exceptions at an all-time low. Easy bail, plea bargaining, criminals acquitted by loopholes in the law, soft judges, quick parole—these are the verses of the policeman’s complaint. Staring into a coffee cup in northern B.C., an RCMP constable reflects: “Out of 20 charges you might get five or six convictions. We don’t get any support from the court. You spend hours on an investigation, paper work, court time. There’s no incentive for initiative. That’s why the guys are getting out.”

Even beyond the courtroom, though, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one these days. In Moncton, for example, Chief Greg Cahoon, a former RCMP sergeant, has upset his force with sweeping policy changes. Several senior officers have resigned. More recently, Cahoon has tried to force team policing upon the department.

In Charlottetown, friction between Chief Donald Saunders—imported from Ontario in 1974—and his staff continues. A 1977 provincial inquiry said the force was flying on a wing and a prayer, had lost public confidence and should immediately adopt formal rules and regulations—a code it had astonishingly managed to do without.

The Newfoundland Constabulary wants the right to carry guns; Halifax cops are threatening a strike; and the Quebec Policemen’s Federation (9,800 members—among the most militant blue-knight organizations in the country) predicts politicians will soon try to destroy police unions. “The storm clouds are forming,” says Guy Marcil, the federation’s executive director. “For the next three years, we won’t be fighting to gain new things, but to keep what we have won in the past.”

All of that is but a barely audible murmur to the raucous vibrations touched off by police forces in Ontario. At week’s end, the province’s police commission had completed one investigation (finding “management by crisis” in Thunder Bay), had two more under way and two others were contemplated. In tiny Ingersoll (pop. 8,200), Chief Ronald James had the temerity to suggest recently that epileptics be barred from the town’s restaurants. “Some guy barfing on the floor is not good for business,” the chief maintained.

Even Metro Toronto’s well-greased operation is sputtering. Three killings by police officers last month have raised anxious questions about police racism, emergency task forces and the adequacy of training techniques.

The most serious abuse occurred in Waterloo, Ont., former home of the Henchmen motorcycle gang, a group whose lifestyle blended into the community as punk rock blends with Beethoven. In 1977, the Waterloo Regional Police Commission hired a new police chief—Syd Brown. He was a daring and controversial choice, in part because he had been a constable—and only a constable—for 23 years.

Brown made numerous changes in Waterloo, many of them positive. He gave junior officers more authority, believing then and now that officers on the street are more in tune with reality than desk-bound administrators. But he also set up an eight-man tactical squad. This past March, it raided the Henchmen clubhouse. Ostensibly, it was a drug raid. In fact, it was an exercise in terrorism. Gang members, an Ontario Police Commission inquiry was subsequently told, were handcuffed and forced to kneel against a wall while police walked on their legs. They were made to run a gauntlet of police punches. They were beaten with nightsticks. Their clubhouse was destroyed. An improperly trained police dog inflicted more than 20 bites. Only one charge, for possession of marijuana, was laid.

“Hell, even the Pope made mistakes,” offers Constable Charles Neegy, now standing guard outside the coronary unit of Kitchener-Waterloo General Hospital where Brown, with pulse rate of 28, was admitted last month. “I tell you, Syd brought policing out of the dark ages. None of this hiding behind bushes to trap some motorist for speeding. We were doing police work.” The commission inquiry is expected to recommend next month that Brown be relieved of his duties.

The Henchmen affair and other probes have made the whole process of police investigating themselves a matter of considerable debate. Two Ontario commissions in recent years have urged formation of a citizen review board to monitor complaints of police conduct. So far, the cops have lobbied successfully against its creation.

Out west, the B.C. Police Commission has established an enviable track record, overseeing an average 1,100 citizen complaints a year, about 25 per cent of which involve allegations of police brutality. Most are unfounded. “The police are more cautious now,” says Vancouver’s senior Crown Prosecutor Bruce Donald. “The squads set up under the Police Act can lead to formal hearings. The guy on the street is thinking: ‘Why should I put my ass on the line? All I face is a truckload of grief.’ ”

Indeed, police relations with the publie, the press and the courts seem generally more amicable west of Ontario. The central grievance of Winnipeg’s 1,007 cops is wages (they rank about 50th nationally), but it hasn’t affected performance. Violent crime in the. city’s core declined 9.7 per cent last year, thanks largely to Operation Affirmative Action, which took policemen out of their cruisers and put them back on two-man foot patrols.

Still, tension is the rule. New recruits are better trained and better educated, but they are still governed by old ideologies. They are especially puzzled by what they regard as Canada’s double standard on police morality: it’s okay to beat and harass—it’s even expected. But woe unto the constable who gets caught. Says York University sociologist Hans Mohr: “We ask them to do a lot of the dirty business we can’t be bothered with and then we say, ‘Why did you shoot? Was that chase necessary?’ But the examination is healthy. We are finally zeroing in on the issue: what police powers are really needed?”

That question is not likely to be settled soon. If anything, the debate over police powers and accountability seems certain to swell in the months ahead, changing the way Canadians view their policemen and adding new meaning to the year’s cosmic salute: may the force be with you.

– Michael Posner,

“The New Centurions: Law and order on the march,” Maclean’s. October 2, 1978.

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“En attendant une autre prise d’otages,” La Presse. August 29, 1980. Page 06.

Jean-Guy Dubuc

La prise d’otages du pénitencier
de Saint-Vincent-dePaul
s’est terminée par la capitulation
des mutins. Le suspense
a cessé, le drame n’a pas eu
Ijeu. Il ne faudrait pourtant pas
oublier trop facilement ce qui
s’est passé et s’en laver les
mains.

Il faut se rendre compte qu’une
prise d’otages comme celle
que nous venons de connaître
est un signe de la détérioration
de notre société, de l’échec de
notre système de réhabilitation
et de la pauvreté de nos conditions
de détention. Il faut se rendre
compte qu’il devient urgent
d’apporter des changements
radicaux à notre système pénitentiaire
si nous voulons entretenir
un climat social capable de
nous protéger contre les éléments
qui mettent en péril la paix sociale.

Bien sûr, on peut être tenté de critiquer les autorités pénitentiaires et de leur imputer tout le
blâme. Souvent, les policiers ont
le goût de se révolter contre un
système qui permet aux criminels
de constamment remettre
leur propre vie en danger.

Quand un criminel peut recouvrer
la liberté pour quelques
heures, il est prêt à tout: le
meurtre ne lui fait plus peur.
Certains des détenus engagés
dans la prise d’otages de Laval
avaient déjà participé au meurtre
de policiers. Ils n’ont plus rien à
perdre et ils sont prêts à se rendre
au bout des possibilités
qu’ils s’approprient. On comprend
que tout le monde les
craigne. Mais on ne comprend
pas qu’ils aient pu concocter
leur projet, qu’ils aient été réunis
dans un même lieu, qu’ils
aient pu se retrouver dans un
même atelier et se procurer des
armes. Il est bien évident que les
autorités pénitentiaires auront à
répondre de plusieurs anomalies
qui ont permis cette prise
d’otages qui aurait fort bien pu
se terminer dramatiquement.

Les policiers ont raison de se
plaindre d’un régime de détention
qui ne les protège pas adéquatement
contre des condamnés
qu’ils doivent trop souvent
rattraper au risque de leur vie.
Ils sentent qu’ils doivent combattre
un système en même
temps que des hommes.

Quel système?

Laissons la réponse à M.
Jean-Paul Gilbert qui s’adressait
cette semaine aux chefs policiers
du Canada: «Il ne faut
pas se cacher, disait-il, que nos
prisons fabriquent des monstres.»

M. Gilbert est le responsable
québécois des libérations conditionnelles.
Il est celui à qui on
reproche, parfois, le fait que
certains prisonniers aient obtenu
trop rapidement une liberté
jugée dangereuse; il est aussi
celui à qui d’autres reprochent
de vouloir garder, derrière les
murs, certains prisonniers, de
ceux qui s’appellent «politiques»,
au-delà d’un temps que
l’on croit normal. M. Gilbert
connaît bien le système où il
garde et dont il libère les condamnés.
Et il considère personnellement
que ce système fabrique
des monstres.

C’est pourtant quand ces
«monstres» échappent au système
qu’il devient dangereux de
les trouver en liberté ou en position
de force avec des otages. 

Le problème réside dans la
nature même d’un système qui
tente, avec des erreurs nombreuses,
de protéger la société
contre des détenus qui ont «une
dette à payer» et qui paraît de
plus en plus incapable de remettre
à la société des individus qui
devront un jour, selon nos lois,
presque toujours retourner à
une vie sociale que l’on définit
comme normale. Notre système
s’emploie à punir, ce qui doit faire
partie de la peine. Mais il
n’apprend pas à vivre, ce qui est
pourtant partie essentielle de la
réhabilitation. En fait, tellement
de responsables des services
pénitentiaires refusent de croire
dans le seul mot réhabilitation
qu’il devient évident qu’on ne
sait miser que sur la peine.
Quand, en plus, on le fait maladroitement,
on fabrique des
monstres. 

Bien sûr, il n’existe pas de
solution miracle et il faut s’attendre
à ce qu’une partie des détenus
ne puissent jamais de leur
vie s’insérer normalement dans
la société qu’ils ont trahie. Mais
il y en a d’autres dont la société
a besoin. Ceux-là ont le droit de
vivre normalement un jour. 

Il faut laisser aux spécialistes
le rôle de présenter des solutions
de rechange face à la situation
actuelle. Il faut bien se
dire, également, que le Canada
ne représente pas le pays au
plus sombre tableau au chapitre
de la détention et de la réhabilitation.
Mais après palabres et
congrès, après réflexions savantes
et récriminations nombreuses,
on demeure toujours
au même point, avec des prises
d’otages et des évasions de plus
en plus dangereuses. En dehors
des aberrations de la Ligue des
Droits de l’homme, il doit bien se
trouver, quelque part, des intuitions
positives qui permettraient
à une société en évolution de
refaire sa pensée sur la façon de
survivre malgré tout. 

La solution peut se trouver
dans une plus grande collaboration
des divers groupes concernés,
dans un meilleur échange
avec la population et dans une
nouvelle notion de la détention.
Mais cela ne peut que suivre
une certaine hiérarchie des valeurs,
un amour de la vie et un
respect des personnes qui existent
de moins en moins.

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“No Jury For The Inquest Being Held Today,” Sudbury Star. August 21, 1918. Page 03.

Witnessses to Tell Story of the Shooting of Defaulter.

The inquest into the death of Cyprien Gareau, the Blezard Valley defaulter shot by Dominion Officer Tougher at a farm house last Saturday morning, is taking place this afternoon before Coroner Dr. W. R. Patterson, without a jury. The body has been at Henry’s morgue since last Saturday.

SHOT AT UNDERTAKERS.
Undertakers who went to the farm house at Blezard last Saturday afternoon report having been shot at from the bush, near the house, several times, while several automobiles have also reported that they have heard bullets whiz by in the same locality. While the police do not place much credence on the reports of shooting, which they attribute more or less to imagination, the undertakers are emphatic they heard the reports of the rifles and the whiz of the bullets close to their rig. It was while returning with the body that the shooting incident occurred.

OFFICERS GIVEN SAFE CONDUCT
In direct contrast to the visit of the undertakers is that on Monday afternoon o provincial officers headed by Inspector Storie. The inspector reports he drove purposely past the spot from which the shots were supposed to come, and all was peace and quiet. This may be accounted for, however, by the fact that a brother of one of the defaulters who is at large was in the vehicle with the officer.

There seems to be no doubt but what there was shooting. The undertakers say they met several soldiers, belonging to the district and home on harvest leave. The soldiers took to the bush as soon as the firing started. They later emerged with their tunics under their arms.

STORIES VARY SOMEWHAT
Visits to the scene of the shooting were paid by Inspector Storie on Monday and again on Tuesday. An investigation was conducted and witnesses subpoenaed for the inquest. The Inspector found that the stories of the Dominion Police and that of the relatives of the deceased man tally up fairly well, except that there is a difference of opinion as to who fired the first shot. Those at the farm house say the officers fired first, but this is not borne out by the investigation. 

FOUR BULLET MARKS
There are four bullet marks inside the house. These bear out the story of the Dominion officers that the first shot, from which Officer Tougher bears powder marks on his face, passed through the roof of the lean-to of the house, where the deceased man was located when Tougher pulled back the curtain. The bullet mark is in the roof. There is also a bullet hole in the front door, which tallies up with the police story that a shot was fired through the closed door at the officers as they were retiring from the house. The next shot was apparently fired by Tougher after the door had been re-opened. This shot passed through the body of the dead man, who was apparently standing in the door of the bedroom, hit a knob on the bedpost and careened off into the wall. There is also a shot in the window sill, also fired from the inside, which so far has not been connected up with the story, unless it was fired to scare the officers away.

MAY GIVE HIMSELF UP
Hopes are held out that a younger Gareau, brother of deceased, also a defaulter, will give himself up before the inquest. Relatives have given the police assurance that they will advise the young man to take this course, and it was hoped that he would surrender on Monday, but the plan did not materialize. The authorities were given assurance that he would be produced before August 24th, the last day of pardon extended by the Minister of Justice.

Crown Attorney Miller is acting for the Crown at the inquest and Mr. B. Boutet for the family of the deceased. Mr. Boutet has also paid a visit to the scene of the shooting.

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