Changing the way police do business (Part II)

Written by Harold McNeill on July 24th, 2019. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Police Notebook, Editorials


As in society, diversity within the police is all about being Canadian. The opportunities provided by working together in a common purpose, while recognizing and encouraging individuality, far exceeds any gains that might be made by forcing everyone to follow the same path.

Introduction to Series

Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation.
Part III, The past as a guide to the future
Part IV The integration of police services

Link to CBC Podcast: Policing in the CRD

Contact: Harold@mcneillifestories.com

(When reading this series it is recommended you start with Part I as each part builds towards the next.)

PART II  Comparing Differing Police Cultures

Originally, I intended to move directly to the process of implementing change within and between police departments but decided it was first necessary to compare and contrast the differing organizational philosophies that underpin each.

In Part I, it was posited that over their history, Oak Bay, Saanich, and Central Saanich have come to share a similar policing style. Victoria and Esquimalt, even before the merger in 2003, developed a very different style. The RCMP in the West Shore, North Saanich, and Sidney, being part of a national organization, have followed a path quite distinct from their municipal counterparts.

This part of the series will delve into the historical specifics of those differences as well as the positive and negative effects this has on each agency in the present day.

The history and process of implementing change will now be set over to Part III.

3. Introduction:

Within the CRD, a large part of the difference between departments is revealed in the historical events that shaped each.  From the early 1960s to the present day leadership made all the difference. If leaders nurtured the development of other leaders, they progressed, if they tended towards a command and control style, progress was slowed.

While there are a time and place for Command and control leaders (times of crisis, etc.) they do tend to favour subordinates who follow rather than lead. Innovative, forward-thinking leaders, on the other hand, tend to encourage subordinates to take on leadership roles, the type of person willing to explore new ways of doing things. Until the 1960s, most police departments followed the Military/RCMP model of command and control, but over the decades since, many have moved towards a more progressive style.

It is also clear, the larger a police force becomes, the further leadership is removed from contact with the rank and file. In a heavily weighted, top-down system, leadership can lose sight of what is happening within those lower ranks. This is clearly a large part of the challenge faced by the RCMP in the current day and one reason behind that recent billion-dollar settlement with rank and file members.

To gain a better understanding of how we reached this point, and why some of the challenges seem intractable, take a few minutes to read Footnote (1), A Short History of Policing in the Capital Region.  While reading, give some thought to the challenge of merging police forces that have evolved different leadership styles?  Then, take a moment to think about private sector mergers and takeovers.

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Changing the way police do business (Part I)

Written by Harold McNeill on July 19th, 2019. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Police Notebook, Editorials


I don’t think anything demonstrates the solidarity of police officers more than when attending the funeral of a comrade killed in the line of duty. This photo, taken in Moncton in 2014, captures the essence as officers from across Canada and around the world bid farewell to Constables Fabrice Georges Gevaudan, 45, David Joseph Ross, 32, and Douglas James Larche, 40, killed during a shooting spree.

The shields of Central Saanich, Oak Bay, RCMP, Saanich, and Victoria represent the ideals of comrades in arms.

Introduction to Series

Part II, Comparing differing police cultures
Part III, The past as a guide to the future
Part IV The integration of police services

Link to CBC Podcast: Policing in the CRD

Contact: Harold@mcneillifestories.com

This series of posts will explore some of the past, present, and possible future directions of policing within the Capital Region. It will include discussions about differing police cultures, how they clash and how they work together; and, of course, thoughts about amalgamation, a topic frequently thrust into the public eye.

The Victoria/Esquimalt joint force will be singled out for additional scrutiny, as over the past sixteen years the debate about that merger is also kept in the public eye. While the administrators of the joint force often use the challenges they face as a bargaining chip, it is also used by others to advance an ideological purpose as in a recent letter penned by the President of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. (1)

Although the post will deal with sensitive areas of police work and police personality, I steadfastly maintain police officers in the CRD and across Canada, are among the very best in the world.  Corruption is not a part of our police culture and while it was present in the last century, it was rooted out and systems put in place to ensure it did not return.

When Canadian police officers swear their Oath of Office, they take that oath to heart.  What is sometimes lacking is solid, independent oversight of the sort that provides an unbiased assessment of police actions when those actions are called into question be they external or internal.

Also, in press articles, when references are made to ‘dysfunction’ or ‘a broken system’ by the press or others, they are overstating their case.  While the challenges to be addressed are difficult, those challenges do not stop our police officers from maintaining an even-handed approach in enforcing the law and helping citizens within our largely peaceful communities.

Part 1:   Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation

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First Nations Policing

Written by Harold McNeill on June 26th, 2019. Posted in Police Notebook, Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


On June 24, 2019, a feature-length article appeared in the Globe and Mail,
No Weapons, No Charges: A Yukon First Nation’s solution for keeping the peace.

This excerpt: “In Whitehorse, colonialism and crime have damaged the people of the Kwanlin Dun’s relationships with the RCMP and one another. Now, a pilot project is trying to do policing differently – earning trust and respect in the community, as well as national international attention.”

Back in the 1970s or 80s, while in the early mid-stage of my police career, I became heavily involved in promoting ‘community policing’ efforts both in Oak Bay and around the Province. At one point, I participated in several community policing workshops involving persons with various backgrounds searching for and promoting new ideas for policing. One idea that had surfaced, and seemed to hold considerable promise, became known as the “Indian Constable System”.

Following the seminar, I spent a few weeks researching the subject, then writing and distributing a paper summarizing the program. Because my interests weren’t directly related to policing First Nations lands, I never ended up doing any follow-up work. However, I did occasionally communicate with a few people who were involved, including one or two First Nations individuals who became police officers on their home reserves. Over the years, I simply lost track of how the program progressed until I read the above article in the Globe and Mail yesterday.  The Globe article suggested this was a new concept.

In fact, the program in Whitehorse is almost an exact summary of that which was being researched and promoted back in the sixties and seventies. A Google search suggests that early impetus in community policing on First Nations lands and by First Nations members fell by the wayside. Neither did the search reveal any in depth information on the subject other than this summary from a BC Government Web Page:

The province provides policing services in First Nations communities in rural areas or in First Nations communities in municipalities with populations up to 5,000. Municipalities with populations greater than 5,000 provide policing to First Nations located in their boundaries.

The Stl’atl’imx (Stat-la-mic) Tribal Police Service is the only First Nations administered police force in British Columbia. The Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service is a designated policing unit under the Police Act. It is like an independent municipal police department and has a police board comprised of community members.

Stl’atl’imx police are experienced officers or graduates of the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Its officers are appointed under the Police Act.

The First Nations Community Policing Services (FNCPS) program provides many First Nations communities across the province with police services. This enhanced local police service is provided by additional RCMP members who are familiar with First Nations’ cultures and traditions.

See First Nations Policing for more information.

This lack of information on Google suggests a program that held out great promise back in the mid-late part of the last century simply fell by the wayside.   I wonder what happened that forty years later, we are now again just looking at this as being a program with great promise.  I find it most perplexing and shall try and dig out that old paper and see what was actually being promoted so many years ago.

Harold McNeill
Oak Bay Police
Det/Sgt (retired – 1994)

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Canada: That Which Makes us One

Written by Harold McNeill on January 7th, 2019. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Diversity in Canada Has The Capacity to Inspire The World

Celebrating at a Ukrainian Christmas (1) dinner gave me pause to think about how these cultural
celebrations help to define Canada – that which makes us one. One dinner you ask? Well, it goes much deeper as it also includes coffee breaks at Tim Hortons, restaurants and the Canadian Soccer teams. It all fits into the fabric of our national identity.

1. A Ukrainian Dinner Celebration

On Sunday, January 6, 2019, Lynn and I went to dinner on the eve of Ukrainian Christmas at the home of one of my former police partners. We both retired twenty-five years ago and for years our families lived a stone’s throw from one another in West Saanich. Ukrainian Christmas was, and is, always a big celebration in their home (1). In addition to Al and Mary and their immediate family, three other couples, also long retired police members and their wives, were at the table of eighteen.

As we dined, surrounded by that uniquely Ukrainian bounty, we were not just celebrating a special event in the Gregorian calendar year, we were celebrating what it means to be Canadian. That feast and those friends served to remind us of how fortunate we are to live at peace in a mix of cultures, languages, traditions, religions, and varieties of food types that is unprecedented in the world. It is a mix that accompanies us every day, not just on special occasions.

Photo (Web source).  This table represents about half the set for our special meal. All items were prepared at home and served piping hot. 

2. Tim Horton’s and McDonald’s:  The coffee crowd

Earlier in the day (Sunday), I made a couple of visits to Tim Hortons at the Royal Oak Shopping Centre (2). It was, as usual, overflowing. I grabbed a seat beside an acquaintance from Syria. He and his delightful family are making their way in a new country they now call home. When he left for an appointment, I struck up a conversation with the man on my right, a person I did not know.

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The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada

Written by Harold McNeill on August 24th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 8.14.26 PM

The Changing Landscape of Politics in Canada:

August 24, 2018: With the bombshell just dropped by Maxime Bernier, this post, which I began researching and writing a couple of months back, has taken on new significance.  There seems little doubt that at least some of the unseemly tactics that plagued the recent Ontario election will also mark the next federal election.  The question asked, and which I try to answer is, “to what extent will the effective use of social media define the winners and losers?”

And, this post will also outline why I think, in a four-party system, it is possible that 65% of Canadians who split the vote between three parties, could hand a majority to 35% who didn’t vote for one of those three.  It is also a process by which a man such as Doug Ford could, in the federal election following the next, become the Prime Minister of Canada.  (2008 Federal election split)  (2011 Federal election split)

1. Party Platforms, where did they go?

In the past, party platforms were meant to draw voters to a particular set of principles developed by a party over months and years (1). They were the centrepiece of every election campaign and, there was plenty of room for debate at all candidate meetings from the party leaders to grassroots.  However, in this new age, winning or losing seems to be based more on who best controls the message and who owns the most effective means of smearing an opponent or idea (2). If you followed the leadup to the Brexit vote or the last US election, the winning sides resorted almost exclusively to messages of fear and hate, mixed with a good measure of fake news.

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Are insurance rates soaring across BC?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 29th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Car Crash

Scenes like this are all too common in BC and take a tragic toll in lives lost and families destroyed. The cost is high and we all pay but are Insurance Rates out of control in B.C.? Check out this article, as you may be surprised to see where British Columbia sits in relation to other Provinces.

This article is brought forward following an article in the Saanich News stating ICBC rates for some classes of vehicle are grossly inflated as compared to Alberta.

Update: August 20, 2019.

A further article debunks the statement that ICBC rates are soaring and that they are among the highest in Canada:  BC News Outlets Exaggerated the Costs of ICBC Insurance

Update: August 13, 2019.

A Global News broadcast this afternoon quoted heavily from an article prepared by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, an Ontario based private enterprise organization which promotes private insurance, which states BC has the highest auto insurance rates in Canada and that rates could be lowered through ‘competition’.  There was also an article in the Saanich News which similarily quoted the IBC information and also indicated ICBC is facing a huge deficit. The article made no mention of the considerable sums of money the government has removed from Crown Corporations such as ICBC and BC Hydro.

I just re-read the article the original article (below) and was again astounded at how high Ontario is compared to the rest of Canada. While that province has a population density far greater than BC, it is also a province in which auto insurance is managed entirely by private enterprise system.
 
No wonder the Insurance Bureau of Canada, has made such a finding, as one might suspect they are acting on behalf of the private insurers in Ontario, Alberta, and other areas, and might prefer to destroy the public-private system as it tends to expose the excesses of system base solely on private enterprise.
If we had the proper means of checks and balances in our system, the Ontario and Alberta private system might now be under investigation for fraud. I think it unconscionable to first make insurance mandatory and then to then allow private enterprise to charge exorbitant rates, particularly as they do in Ontario.

I have reached out to friends in the Auto Insurance industry to have them fact check the calculations I quote in order to insure they have legitimacy.  (Updated August 14, 2019)

Original Article:  (January 29, 2018)

The Apocalypse Now Narrative

While I do not subscribe to a “fake news” narrative, it seems newspaper reporters often pick the worse possible narrative and treat that as if it was the only fact.  That is what is now happening with respect to insurance rates in BC where private providers have been fighting the public system, ICBC, for years.

One headline reads, “Drivers facing rate hike as ICBC deficit is expected to hit $1.3 billion” (Vancouver Sun headline, January 29). Other BC News outlets carry a similar doom and gloom narrative about looming debt and rate increases. (note this link became broken for some reason).

I do not argue ICBC faces a deficit, for reasons noted below, but would it surprise you British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (the three provinces with public auto insurance) are among those with the lowest rates in Canada? Who has the highest? Alberta and Ontario. Alberta is about $1100 per year higher than BC and Ontario, at $5,500 per year, about three times higher.  Now to the ICBC debt.

Over the last several years, the provincial government (under the Liberals aka Conservatives) transferred millions from the Corporation into general revenue. It was one means of making the corporation look bad while helping the Liberals to try and balance the books. Following are just two of news reports which soundly criticize the practice.  In effect, the Conservatives have constantly placed the Corporation in lose-lose position vis a vis their customers.  Now the rate comparisons among the Provinces.

Times Colonist (August 2016)
Global National (August 2016)

Some years back the BC government attempted to raid the BC Pension Corporation of a multibillion-dollar fund in the same manner, but an uprising among pensioners and other interested parties help to thwart that attack. By having all that money transferred to an ‘unfunded liability’ of the government you can only imagine the disaster that would have become.  Today, those reserve pension funds are among the largest in Canada and growing hourly.

Now to the ICBC situation.

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Church and State

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


church-and-stateChurch and State Street: The Canadian Experience

Canada has made considerable progress over the past 150 years (mainly within the past 100 years) in advancing individual rights, particularly those of women, children, visible minorities and in areas involving lifestyle.
Yet, in every community across the country, there exists a safe haven for discriminatory practices not allowed in any other part of our society. In addition, the freedom to practice that discrimination is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It is an unusual situation in which a more accepting set of human values is applied to those considered non-religious than is applied to Christians, Muslims, Jews and other faith-based organizations.

Link Here for a 2014 historical perspective on Church and State

A Continuing Conflict Zone In Canada

As Canada continues along the path of finding a balance between Church and State, we clearly have much rocky terrain yet to negotiate.  There is little doubt an open debate would be useful, but if the current flashback and heated rhetoric over the wording of a government funding application is an example, the time has not yet arrived. It is unlikely any current government, Liberal, Conservative or NDP would dare open the discussion as an election issue.

Hence, it will be left to the occasional bold government action and the courts to draw the line as did Trudeau in 1969 when the Liberals removed abortion from the Criminal Code, then again in 1982 when the same government brought home the Constitution and developed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since that time a series of court, parliamentary and legislative decisions, at the provincial and federal level, have helped to push forward individual rights, particularly those affecting women, children, visible minorities and the LGBTQ community. While women have made considerable gains, many barriers still stand in their path as they march towards equality with men. (For an earlier article on the subject link to Women’s Suffrage.)

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R. vs. Stanley: Saskatchewan Court of Queens Bench

Written by Harold McNeill on February 18th, 2018. Posted in Editorials, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Chief Justice

Martel D. Popsecul, Chief Justice
Presiding over the R. vs. Stanley Trial 

The following Charge to the Jury by Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, the Honourable Martel D. Popescul, is likely the most reliable document yet published providing insight into the R. vs Stanley trial.

(This post outlines my analysis of why I think the Chief Justice led the Jury directly to a finding of not-guilty. It was not a directed verdict in the usual sense, but his words had the same effect.)

And, in those words, all 11,000 of them, the Chief Justice attempts to summarize every aspect of the trial as well as the law governing the charges.  It took the Chief Justice just over one and one-half hours to read his document in court with copies then supplied to the Crown and defence as well as to each juror.

In the copy below, those parts which, in my mind, inexorably led the jury to conclude that Gerald Stanley was not guilty on all counts, are highlighted.  There is little doubt the majority of jurors would have found some parts of the summary so complicated as to render them nearly useless in their deliberations.

Having spent thirty years in law enforcement and a further twenty-five reading and writing about various law enforcement issues, I have some degree of understanding of these complex issues, but even at that, I found some sections of the summary tough slogging.

The jury, on the other hand, deliberated a mere fifteen hours before reaching a ‘not guilty’ verdict on all counts.  Fifteen hours is scant time to consider the various pieces of physical and verbal evidence presented over the two-week trial let alone give full consideration to the details provided in the Judges Charge to the Jury.

The jury was made up of random citizens selected from the community and while the process was random, many who have experience with law enforcement (police members active and retired, lawyers and judges, as well as a myriad of others involved with the criminal justice system) would have been removed from the jury pool. This is routinely done to remove any suggestion of bias.  Additionally, “pre-emptive” removals can be used to remove others that either the Crown or Defence think may not be impartial. It was by that process Defence Counsel removed all aboriginals from the jury.

As for the those selected, most are unlikely to have had any experience with jury duty and, before selection, will have been exposed to considerable information about the killing which led to the charge. Given the role played by ‘confirmational bias’ in the lead-up to and during the trial, the Judge’s charge seems the best source for an unbiased view of the case. Or was it?

While the Judge read his comments to the jury before handing them a copy, it is hard to rationalize how, in 15 hours of deliberation, the jury could absorb the complicated issues to a degree that would allow them to render an informed decision.  Because jury deliberations are secret, we shall never know exactly how they reached that verdict in such short order.

If you have the time and inclination to read the Judge’s words to the jury, you may or may not come to the same conclusion I have about a clear path being set out for them to render a ‘not-guilty’ verdict on all counts.

In the following copy, I have separated the ‘Charge to the Jury’ into several parts for easy reference and have highlighted some comments in bold (those I consider important) and in yellow, as ‘very important’.  In addition, I have made a few short comments on some numbered sections.

Before presenting the complete text of his remards, I will submit the thread comments the Honourable Justice, made that I think pushed the jury towards a finding of ‘not guilty’ on all counts.  The fact the jury  deliberations took less than two days suggests the Jury had likely made up their minds very early in the process.

Harold McNeill (Det. Sgt. Retired)

Note: Here is a short discussion along related links regarding the rights and responsibilities of private citizens to use firearms as a means of Protecting Life and Property

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold