Tabula Rasa

Written by Harold McNeill on July 3rd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


tabula-rasa-kristen-lippert-martin

March 22, 2017, Updated Story (1750)

Each week across Canada dozens of domestic violence cases are reported. While the definition of domestic violence varies, it often involves a pattern of behavior where someone desires to establish power and control over another family member through physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or economic abuse. The cases often remain hidden as abuse usually occurs behind closed doors with victims reluctant or not capable (e.g. a child)) of coming forward.

Police officers, health-care and social service workers are often among the first to intervene. In follow-up investigations, it usually emerges that other family members and friends were aware of what was happening, but were hesitant to become involved. The challenge for everyone is finding the ways and means to effectively intervene to protect an adult or child from what might be ongoing abuse.

As for the background causes, fingers are often pointed at families struggling to make ends meet or at cultural or religious practices, they suggest, produce the abuse.  My experience suggests the socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are as varied as is the make-up of our society. In the context of the cases outlined below, a skilled professional manipulates the minds of his wife and child in a manner that satisfies his need for control.

Tabula Rasa (Merriam-Webster): 

English speakers have called that initial state of mental blankness tabula rasa (a term taken from a Latin phrase that translates as “smooth or erased tablet”) since the 16th century, but it wasn’t until British philosopher John Locke championed the concept in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 that the term gained widespread popularity in our language. In later years, a figurative sense of the term emerged, referring to something that exists in its original state and that has yet to be altered by outside forces.

Introduction

While watching a 1999 rerun of a Law and Order1 episode by the above title2, it struck me how the theme, minus the murder, paralleled an Oak Bay case in which I became involved 40 years earlier.

In the TV episode, the husband, a psychiatrist, had taken his two young daughters and disappeared from his wife, the girl’s mother. The man assumed a new identity for himself and the girls, then remarried. His first (legal) wife spent years searching for her children.

Fifteen years later, with the girls now in their late teens, a University Professor, who knew the couple in the early days and maintained contact with the first wife, recognized the woman’s former husband at a subway stop.  On realizing the woman might well tell his first wife, the man pushed the woman in front of an oncoming train and she was killed.  The follow-up investigation led to the man, but one of his daughters maintained it was she who had murdered the woman.

As the story unfolded in the courtroom, it became chillingly clear that both daughters and the second wife were being held under the absolute control of the husband – they were not allowed to think for themselves, nor perform a single action without first having his approval.  While the Oak Bay case was not as extreme as the TV episode, the psychological principles were precisely the same.

The Oak Bay Case

While working day shift in the Detective Office, two University of Victoria students arrived with a story to tell. They believed a twenty-year-old female friend, a classmate at University, was being mentally, and possibly physically abused by her over-controlling father. During their time in class, they learned the father was a highly skilled professional practicing in the field of psychology or psychiatry.  According to the students, every movement the girl made (who she was allowed to visit, where she went, what time she had to be home, what she studied at University, etc.) were scripted by her father. The girl always acquiesced as she felt there was no option.  The friends also felt the man’s wife was similarly controlled.

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Oak Bay Bank Heist

Written by Harold McNeill on March 3rd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


Bank of Nova Scotia Oak Bay

Photo (Author Files): This bank was robbed several times over the years.  While all bank robberies have the potential for violence, the robbery in this story had a particularly tragic outcome for an ordinary family.

Bank robbers come in all shapes and sizes
as well as from varied backgrounds

The recent story of the young Calgary woman, a University Student Union President, made National headlines that thrust her into a certain kind of notoriety. Living a secret life, she is alleged to have committed several frauds as well as at least one bank robbery, the one for which she was recently arrested.

While the Oak Bay case is not a carbon copy it follows a similar circumstance, but is one in which the ending was far more tragic.  Again, Detective Sergeant Al Campbell, was the lead investigator, the same Detective Sergeant who arrested one of the FBI’s Most Wanted – a multi-millionaire drug trafficker from Indiana who had been tracked down in south Oak Bay. (Link Here)

At one time during the 1970s and early 1980s, Oak Bay might easily have been tagged with the dubious distinction of being the Bank Robbery capital of the British Columbia, if not all of Canada. With a population of barely 15,000, there were several banks along Oak Bay Avenue and a lone bank on Estevan Avenue, banks that acted like catnip to robbers. Each bank was hit at least once and a few, more than once. For staid old Oak Bay, it was big news as bank robberies were still considered to be the most flamboyant and, at times, the most glamorous of crimes.

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San Remo Restaurant Burglary

Written by Harold McNeill on February 12th, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


The San Remo Restaurant on Quadra at Hillside, has been a fixture in
Victoria for nearly 30 years. With an array of authentic Greek dishes as well Italian and American favourites, the warm and welcoming atmosphere provided by Dino, his daughter Zoi and the friendly staff makes a visit well worthwhile and repeat visists a must (see photos at end of story).

Quiet Times

It was 2:00 am Monday as I sat in my patrol car at the corner of Foul Bay Road and Fort Street working on a vexing problem. The problem? Trying to stay awake. As usual at the end of a week-end, not a thing was happening throughout the city and the radio barely crackled. You could fire a rifle down Douglas Street or along Oak Bay Ave and never fear of hitting anyone. It was nice to have an interlude, but the challenge at 2:00 am was keeping the mind occupied and off the thought of sleep.

As I whiled away the time, another car would occasionally book off with a vehicle, but nothing of consequence. I reflected back upon those times when my friends Blake Green, a Victoria Police member, and his wife Joanne, lived just a few door’s from where I was parked. The coffee pot was always on and the door open, but not a 2:00 am.  The Green’s had moved in a few years back and the street, Goldsmith, was now long gone as the houses were torn down to make way for a Seniors Housing Complex and the Oak Bay Recreation Centre.

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Police Pursuit

Written by Harold McNeill on February 7th, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


The Question of Police Pursuit

Post Updated, March 12, 2017
(Note: If you go to one of the links, please do an arrow return to the main story, as the post links feature is not creating a new tab)

While there are many factors that contribute to the decision of an officer to either continue or call off a pursuit, the accident in the above photo, which occurred on January 18, 2014, (Times Colonist News Report) might have been avoided had a police pursuit earlier in the day not been called off. The danger, of course, had the earlier pursuit continued, an equally tragic accident may have occurred.  The police were caught in that “damned if you do, damned if you damned if you don’t” dilemma.

For a police officer in pursuit, the adrenaline rush is significant. If the pursuit ends in the arrest of a suspect, that person is well advised to mind their “p’s and q’s”. If they don’t, they could easily end up on the short end of a nightstick. It’s easy, in retrospect to criticize the police. however, the situation is more complicated. This aspect of police pursuit is discussed more fully in the reference paper noted at the end of this story.

This post was originally made a few years back and is being updated here.

Police Pursuit: Public Debate and
Department Policy

Introduction

The following short stories outline various cases of police pursuit, some humorous, but most having the potential to end in tragedy either during the chase or following the chase having been called off.

In cases that end in tragedy, with the driver or passenger of the pursued vehicle, a policeman or in the worst case, an innocent third party, being injured or killed, the media devolve into a feeding frenzy.  From the police perspective, it is a tough call as there is seldom less than a few seconds to make a decision – to pursue or not to pursue. If the decision is to pursue, at what point should it be called off as being to dangerous?

Time of day, the amount of traffic, speeds involved, prior knowledge of the vehicle pursued as stolen or involved in a violent crime, and dozens of other factors all come immediately into play.  Over the course of my career I was involved in several dozen high-speed pursuits the majority of which resulted in the arrest of the driver, but on occasion, when it became too dangerous to continue, the pursuit was terminated. On a few occasions, accidents resulted when either the suspect vehicle or my police car became involved in an accident.

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Oak Bay High School Confidential

Written by Harold McNeill on January 25th, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


The Case of the $20,000 Teddy Bear

LV-Steiff-Teddy-Bear

This Teddy Sold for £130,190 on 14th October 2000, even though it was slightly smaller than the $20,000 Teddy that was part of an Oak Bay Heist.

Prologue

As affluence tends to define Oak Bay, at least in the eyes of outsiders, there is no better place to continue this series, than with a case about money, a lot of money, well, a lot of money for several dozen Oak Bay High School students.

Who would expect, that over a few days, early one spring, we would learn of parties at which $100 bills were being used to light cigars, stores where students were paying $500 for sport cards, and, of parents being given $100 bills by their kids, all with few questions being asked. Sound a bit far-fetched? Perhaps, but remember, this was Oak Bay and in Oak Bay, anything could happen.

The case developed, first by the keen observation of a fellow officer, and then, by information which pointed to three groups of students, who, in this story, we call the Uplands, Panhandle, and Rockland Boys. The Robin Hoodesque generosity of the three groups played a key roll in the distribution of tens of thousands of dollars throughout the school. What was going on? Had they opened up a counterfeiting ring in the school shop or had they found a bank vault left open along Oak Bay Ave? Not even close. The truth is even more interesting than fiction.  

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Tickets, Tickets, Tickets 4/4

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


Note: This is Part 4 of this particular post. Go to Different Strokes for Part 1

How might you handle a bully, especially a bully with gold braid surrounding his epaulettes? Well, you could challenge him directly, but there were inherent dangers with using that approach. Perhaps it would be wise to take a more circuitous route. The challenge I made in this story would only be the first of many times I stepped over the line when feeling chaffed by the actions of a senior officer. Over my thirty years of service, I managed to turn the art of challenge into a science, but there was a cost.

As mentioned in the previous story, our Chief Constable back in the late 1960s, was a notoriously dictatorial fellow. At 6’4 inches, 260 pounds, in excellent shape and with a deep baritone voice, he was a formidable sight, especially to a lowly, junior Constable. That he brought to the Police Department his full military Regimental Sergeant Major attitude and bearing (minus the swagger stick), left him a bit out of touch with rapidly changing world of policing.  Given his personality, one only challenged the Chief’s authority at their peril. 

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Please Send a Car 3/4

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


Oak Bay Police Department

S/Sgt (later Inspector) Charlie Bates (front row, second from right)
(Served with the Oak Bay Police, 1946 – 1976)

Note: this is Part 3 of this four part series. Go to Different Strokes for Part 1
Part 4 Link to Tickets

Once again, better judgment failed to penetrate my clouded my brain as I picked up the phone and called a taxi. While it seemed funny at the moment, after hanging up the phone, I wondered whether the Inspector would appreciate the little joke.

Throughout these stories, I will intersperse a number of anecdotes such as this that have little to do with policing but a lot to do with explaining the camaraderie that existed within our department. In every department, whether large or small, men and women must learn to work closely in order the gain trust needed to accomplish the job in an effective manner. At times this involved black humour that outsiders might find offensive, at other times playing practical jokes and very often, spending time together in social situations where families came to understand the broad support system that existed within the force1.

With a few exceptions, senior ranks were not immune to being the brunt of a practical joke and in this case it involved the 2 I/C of our Department, Inspector Charlie Bates (pictured above).2 Charlie was one of the most knowledgeable, honest and straightforward men of senior rank I had the pleasure to work with over my early career.  He certainly provided much needed balance to the dictatorial, ex-Regimental Sergeant Major who was then our Chief Constable.  Inspector Bates, however, subscribed to the old school motto: “rank hath is privileges”.

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Attitude, Attitude, Attitude 2/4

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


c729b_domestic_cleaning_prices_domestic-violence

Domestic Disputes: Can be among the most difficult and dangerous of calls to attend.

Note: This is Part 2 of the series.  Go to Different Strokes for Part 1

Introduction

The Saanich PD Constable stood in the living room of a Cadboro Bay residence facing down two angry people. It was evident by his words and actions that this meeting was not likely to have a happy ending. Meanwhile his Sergeant was sitting, watching and waiting as chaos slowly began to envelope the scene. There was must have been more to the Sergeant’s inaction than I could at first discern. As I had just arrived on the scene as a back-up, it would take a few minutes to understand reason for his just waiting and watching.

With two departments on the boarder of Oak bay (Victoria and Saanich) Oak Bay officers often covered off east Fairfield as far north as the Jubilee Hospital for Victoria, and, for Saanich, the Pan Handle, Cordova Bay and Ten Mile Point.  Victoria and Saanich members often jokingly referred to the Oak Bay Patrol Units as their ‘East Side Prowlers’. In return however, patrol officers from those departments always reciprocated as, over the years, we had developed very close working relationships on our parallel shifts and usually followed each other’s calls on the joint radio system.

Domestic Dispute

Late one night I covered off a family dispute at a residence in the area of Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay.  When I arrived, two Saanich police cars were parked on the street with the Saanich Sergeant quietly sitting in his unit. The engine was off and he was having a cigarette as I walked to the driver’s door. I didn’t even have to ask if they needed help as that was obvious. Through the picture window of a house across the street, we could see the another Saanich officer, (he had arrived before the Sergeant) standing in the living room facing down a man and woman who were in the midst of a heated argument.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother

  • Louise

    December 21, 2018 |

    Amazing collection of photos of the weekend ❤️❤️

  • Harold McNeill

    December 21, 2018 |

    Hi Dave,

    Not sure if you are the same Armit as was at Oak Bay PD or not. Interesting to see your comment on Danny Cain and your birthdays and family friendships. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Thanks, Lynn. It appears there was a problem with the comment system. Cheers, Harold

  • lynnmcneill

    November 19, 2018 |

    Hi Harold – looks great!

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.