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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  • Mike Fedorowich

    September 1, 2023 |

    I have gone through the above noted text and have found it quite informative.
    I am a former member with several law enforcement agencies from across Canada.
    I worked in the First Nations service under the authority of the RCMP with the over sight of the OPP. My law enforcement service was conducted under the authority of the Nishnawbe – Aski Police Service in North West Ontario the Louis Bull Police Sevice in Hobbema AB, the Kitasoo Xaixais Police Service in Northern in side passage on Swindle Island, the Lac Suel Police Service North West Ontario and the Vancouver Transit Authority Sky Train Police Service. I’m presently dealing with an RCMP member for falsifying a report against me for a road rage event. Court case is finished and the charge was dropped but I have an on going complaint with the member and have forwarded to the WATCH DOGS IN OTTAWA FOR the RCMP review and consideration. I believe the said officer is in violation of his oath of office and should be held accountable for falsifying his RTCC all the while dragging me through the court system here in Nanaimo. RCMP continue to stonewall the appeal but Ottawa and the crowns office are still looking into the matter. if your able and find the time or the interest in this very brief introduction, I would very much like to speak with you and would be grateful to hear any wisdom that may come across from your end. I served with First Nations Police Services for ten years in isolation and six years with Transit Police out of New West Minster. I do value and appreciate any time you could spare to chat for a bit on this particular subject matter. Respectfully with out anger but an open mind, Mike Fedorowich Nanaimo BC 250 667 0060

  • Harold McNeill

    February 28, 2022 |

    Hi Robert, I do remember some of those folks from my early years in Cold Lake (Hazel was my aunt and our family spent many fond times with Uncle Melvin, Aunt Hazel and Family. I knew Lawrence and Adrian. Having read a half dozen accounts it is clear their were many false narratives and, perhaps, a few truths along the way. I tried my best to provide an even account from what I read. Cheers, Harold. (email:

  • Robert Martineau

    February 25, 2022 |

    Its been a long time since any post here, but its worth a shot. My Grandfather was Hazel Wheelers brother Lawrence, and son to Maggie and Adrien. Maggie Martineau (nee Delaney) is my great grandmother. The books and articles to date are based on the white mans viewpoint and the real story as passed down by the Elders in my family is much more nefarious. Some of the white men were providing food for the Indians in exchange for sexual favors performed by the Squaws. Maggie was the product of one of those encounters. Although I am extremely proud of my family and family name, I am ashamed about this part of it.

  • Julue

    January 28, 2022 |

    Good morning Harold!
    Gosh darn it, you are such a good writer. I hope you have been writing a book about your life. It could be turned into a movie.
    Thanks for this edition to your blog.
    I pray that Canadians will keep their cool this weekend and next week in Ottawa. How do you see our PM handling it? He has to do something and quick!
    Xo Julie

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.