Intervention, the key to fighting crime

Written by Harold McNeill on June 11th, 2017. Posted in Police Notebook, Editorials



This post is created from an interview with RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia (file photo above) as published in the National Post (front page) June 7, 2017. (Link here).

The following National Post article is only modified by replacing the word terror with the word crime.

Making this simple change leads to an entirely different perspective in the article. To my mind, it suggests everything the Assistant Commissioner had to say about terror serves only the interests of the RCMP and other security agencies and not the interests of the general public.  It’s a means to build the budget to build the agency.

As background, in 2015 (the most recent year readily accessible when this article was written) there were over 380,00o violent criminal acts in which 605 people were murdered, with attempts being made to murder a further 774.  Over 200,000 reported aggravated sexual assaults (this does not include other aggravated assaults), with 22,000 reports of robbery and 3,500 reports of abduction.

When these real-life criminal cases, which present a clear and present danger to Canadians, is cast against the almost negligible possibility of a terrorist act, it makes it seem as if the Assistant Commissioner has no concept of how trivial his suggestions are. Why not early intervention (with youth) when it involves the potential of becoming a criminal?

Statistical Source: Canadian Criminal Crime Statistics 2015

Asst/Commissioner Malizia on Early Intervention being the key:

Criminal attacks have become fast-moving and harder to anticipate underscoring the need to prevent Canadian youth from falling into violent criminal activities in the first place, the RCMP’s top counter criminalization officer said Tuesday.

While criminal plots used to evolve over months of recruiting and planning, giving police opportunities to detect them and make arrests, many recent criminal attacks have unfolded quickly and made use of vehicles, knives, and guns as weapons.”

“If you’re looking at trying to prevent somebody from jumping into their car and running somebody over, well there’s not much you can do about that,” said Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, who oversees all national criminal investigations.

The key is to step in before someone becomes criminalized: “There may be an opportunity to actually intervene to try and disengage that individual from heading down a path of violence,” Malizia said in an interview.

Families and friends are often aware that someone is being criminalized but are reluctant to come forward he said. “They know that something’s up. They might not know exactly what’s going on, but certainly, they’re starting to see indicators and changes in behaviour. If we could get in then — and I say “we” because it’s not necessarily a police issue. It’s a social issue where families, social networks, need to get involved,” he said. “It’s just about getting early identification so we can see if there’s an opportunity there.”

The article then goes on to give an example of criminal case wrapped in a terrorist blanket.  The article continues:

On Tuesday, a Toronto woman appeared in court accused of an attack at a Canadian Tire Store in the city’s east end. Police said the woman walked into the store’s paint section and started swinging a golf club. (Note: incidents of this type, some with weapons, were reported over 62,000 times in 2015).

The 32-year-old who had allegedly expressed support for a criminal gang in another country produced a knife from under her clothes. Employees and customers restrained her and pried the knife from her hands, police said. One of the employees was injured.

The RCMP’s Integrated National Criminal Enforcement Team is investigating whether more serious criminal charges are warranted. In an interview with the National Post, Malizia outlined what he said the RCMP was doing to lessen the chances that Canadians will see other attacks like this in other parts of the country. He said a national criminal joint task force centre that includes the RCMP, CSIS, CBSA, Global Affairs Canada and other police agencies across the country was created after attacks like this occurred in other countries.

The centre gathers information about the 380,000 cases of violent criminal acts, where criminals are leaving, arriving and transiting through various cities in Canada each year. “Within minutes we start getting a picture of who these people are — what’s their travel history?”

Another concern is with criminals traveling to other places where criminals gather. “There’s no doubt about it, you will have individual criminals such as murderers, rapists, and robbers, who are determined, and if they can travel freely will often look into doing something in another city,” Malizia said.

RCMP Intervention teams now work side-by-side with other national crime investigators so that when lower-level criminals are identified, police can take steps to steer them away from a life of criminal activity, the commissioner said.

As we’re investigating, we’re identifying people that will already be criminalized to violence, people that may be on the fringes and others that may be influential in criminalizing other youth or other adults,” he said.

While hardcore criminals may be beyond redemption, “there are others on the fringes, they may be younger, it may be still early in the criminalization process and they may not have been criminalized toward violence,” he said.

“As Canadians, we need to ensure this criminal threat, although a threat that is real, it doesn’t keep us from living our day to day lives,” Malizia said. “We are working extremely hard obviously with our domestic and our inter-provincial partners to ensure Canada remains a safe place and really at the end of the day it’s about remaining vigilant.”

End of National Post Article

Link here to the National Post Article

Editorial Comment:

Even though crime continues to fall in Canada, it remains an ongoing challenge as a violent criminal action affects everyone. With nearly 400,000 violent crimes per year, a large number of people are being directly and indirectly affected.

Although our situation is not as critical as in many parts of the world (e.g. the United States) it still demands serious, ongoing attention.  This brings me to compare the dangers presented by acts of “terrorism” versus acts of “crime.”  Of all the things that might bring death or serious harm to a Canadian citizen (from health to car crashes and crime) where do you think terrorism sits on the list? From my perspective, it wouldn’t even be on the list (see the list in the footer).

Very early in my thirty-year policing career, it was apparent that early intervention was the most effective strategy for reducing crime, particularly among young people. Vulnerable youth and young adults are where it all begins.

While our department ran a few youth drop-in programs (they were called preventative programs), they were not well funded and tended to be public relations add-ons. Our high profile programs tended to focus on the hardening potential targets against criminal action (e.g. lighting in alleyways, alarms, keeping safe on the streets,  proper locks, neighborhood watch, marine watch, marking property, etc.).

In thirty years of policing and now in twenty-five of retirement, the option of early intervention never gained any real strength. Enforcement and incarceration was and remains the first line of dealing with criminal behaviour.

While the potential of youth becoming ‘radicalized’ to an extremist ideology is possible, the chances of rooting out and changing the path of a single individual within extremely rare events, is fanciful at best.

Consider the general population of Canada to be a large field of grass within which criminal events appear as dandelions. Now think of a field of clover in the same manner and a four-leaf clover to be a terrorist looking for an opportunity.  Identifying and getting rid of the dandelions is going to yield more opportunities for success than searching for a four-leaf clover.

If you have minutes, read the article in which the Assistant Commissioner James Malizia has much to say about rooting out ‘terrorism’ in Canada. While terrorism does not even show on the radar of challenges we face or, for that matter, the same in almost every other ‘non-war zone’ in the world, it has generated massive military and police response. An amateur act like that planned by the Toronto 18, led to massive changes in our laws and the allocation of billions of dollars towards dealing what is no more than a perceived threat.

Look at the example of that woman in the Canadian Tire store or those few incidents of potential terror we have experienced in Canada. If that woman in Canadian Tire, or the two who were alleged to have planned an attack on the Legislature in British Columbia or, prior to that, the Via Rail Bombers or the Toronto 18, they were just a minuscule blips on the radar of dangers compared to the tens of thousands who have actually committed a grievous crime or those we have failed in our treatment options for the mentally ill.

We could easily develop programs to help the mentally ill but, instead, we set them adrift until there is a violent episode ending with the police killing of an individual or a police person being killed. All that follows is the wringing of hands, perhaps an inquiry.

In other instances, as in the case of missing women in Vancouver or along the Highway of Tears, or a multiple shooting in a remote northern community, very little changes in our approach. But tag one woman in Canadian Tire as being a potential terrorist and suddenly it becomes an issue of national concern where the RCMP and other agencies are expected to step in and provide long-term solutions by identifying potential ‘terrorists’.

While we can’t fault Assistant Commissioner James Malizia for having been assigned the role in which he finds himself (who would say they would refuse the job), or for the mindless solutions he suggests (he is, after all, just following a script), but it should cause everyone to wonder why the RCMP and other agencies, as well as the government and press, can’t see the forest for the trees.


Major Causes of Death in Canada

While even one murder is tragic, does that particular type of death deserve the TV minutes (and hours) and Newspaper column inches, it is given?

Check the following Statistics Canada “Death List for 2008 and consider your risk factors:

Cancer……………………….70,568 (Lungs, Colorectal, Breast, Pancreas, Prostate, etc.)
Cardiovascular……………69,648 (Heart Disease, Cerebrovascular, Heart Failure,  etc)
Other Disease…………..…40,270 (Alzheimer, Diabetes, Kidney, Liver, etc.)
Respiratory……………..….20,728 (Pneumonia, Influenza, etc.)
Mental Health………….….11,535 (Dementia, Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, etc.)
Accidents…………………….10,234 (Transport 2,848; Non-transport 7,294)
Infectious Disease……..…..4,796 (TB, Whooping Cough, Hepatitis, Intestinal, etc.)
Other Medical…………..……3,756 (Medical Complications, Pregnancy, Congenital, etc.)
Suicide  Suffocation…..…….1,678
Suicide Poison…………..…….935
Undetermined Cause……….685
Suicide Firearms……………..518
Suicide Jumpers……………..200
Killed by Stabbing…………..183
Killed by Shooting…………..167
Killed by Clubbing…………….31
Killed by Police………..……….16
Killed by Terrorist……………..0 (25-year average)
Wounded by Terrorist………..0 (25-year average)

(Note: the number of murders in Canada (over recent years), averages between 500 and 600. The number in 2008 seems slightly less. This may be due to the source of the figures).

Struck  by Lightning……….160 – 190 (not necessarily causing death)

Index and Links to Related Articles

Terrorists or Warriors: What is the Difference. Some of the little-discussed background to “Canada’s Terror Trial” and why the public was misled. When you compare the Toronto 18 case with the Caledonia standoff, you may likewise become concerned.  (February 2012)

Caledonia: Dark Days for Canadian Law Enforcement:  Summary of events in Caledonia, Ontario, where the rule of law was suspended. (February 2012)

Winnipeg vs Edmonton:  How murder capitals seem to rotate around the country on a regular basis. (November 2011)

Politics of Fear:  How political parties use fear to manipulate the population (November 2011)

Crime and Punishment: Ideology trumps reason.  Comments about the Federal Governments War on Crime. (September 2011)

Remembrance Day:   Why the Viet Nam War (the forgotten war) should be remembered. (September 2011).

Border Security Gone Crazy: Why have we continued along the path of continually increasing border security between Canada and the United. Perhaps we cannot trust those Americans. (August 2011)

Preserving our Civil Liberties:  Why it is important that we should all care. (July 2011)

NRA: position on the Second Amendment  Can this position be justified?

NRA Attack Ads  Attack Ads, they really do work? Discussion of their use in political campaigns.

Freedom of Speech in Denmark:  Another perspective on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Twenty-First Chromosome Leads to Enlightenment: A discussion of intolerance.

His Holiness, the Dali Lama: An Open Letter.   On why the Dali Lama should return to Tibet. (May 2012)

Amalgamation in Greater Victoria:  Discussion of the issues from a different perspective (October 2011)



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    […] 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