Index to Police Notebook

Written by Harold McNeill on February 9th, 2011. Posted in Index to Posts


Index to Police Notebook

This section provides an introduction to the story lines posted over the past few years – the most recent story appears at the top. Some stories will be indexed in more than one category.  While each story will ‘stand alone’ others, particularly the shorter stories, will be added in groups of three, four or more.  Feature length stories are listed below the initial index.

Harold David McNeill

Introductory Posts

1. Policing in a Land of Millionaires (September, 2011):  Over the century since incorporation, the Municipality of Oak Bay gained a reputation as having more millionaires per capita than any other city or town in Canada.  Whether that is true or not, the Municipality certainly exudes a sense of affluence and boasts some of the most pristine waterfront of any city or town in the country. Link Here

Photo (1994 Family Photos): During my last few months of service I was assigned to an Quick Response Team during the Commonwealth Games being held in Victoria.

2. AmalgamationHardly a week goes by that the Mayor of Victoria, the City Police, or the Times Colonist, are not beating the drums for amalgamating area police forces. Last week was no different as the dispute between Victoria and Esquimalt, again boiled over onto front page of the Times Colonist… Link Here

3. Harold David McNeill: About the Author (September, 2011):  As a thirty-year member of the Oak Bay Police (1964 – 1994) it was my intention for several years to write a series of stories about policing in Oak Bay and Greater Victoria. This post provides some background on my family, work and study life.  Link Here

Oak Bay Police Notebook and Related Stories
(Scroll down for other Categories)

Police Notebook Stories (Most Recent at Top)

22. Intervention, the key to fighting crime: The RCMP have beefed up their efforts to identify and intervene where it is believed a young person is being drawn into a life of crime.  An Assistant Commissioner in the RCMP states this is the only way to reduce the risk of young people becoming involved in a life of violent crime.

21. Part III: Conspiracy to Rob the BC Ferry Terminal at Swartz Bay  On this week-end in May 1983, I was involved in something entirely different than today May Day, 2015). It seems like yesterday that a group of police and civilians with whom I worked at the time were involved in a major robbery investigation that would see us sitting the entire week-end waiting for action from a gang of dangerous robbery suspects we had been tracking for nearly five weeks. The gang had amassed a small arsenal of firearms, dynamite, police scanners and sundry other equipment that they fully expected would lead lead them to vast riches at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. Ah, but the police had an entirely different outcome planned for the gang.

20. Part II: Conspiracy to Bomb the BC Legislature On July 1, 2013, at about 9:30 am, a contingent of some 50 or more RCMP members in plain clothes milled about the B.C. Legislature grounds in Victoria in anticipation of a major event. Then, on the command of a senior officer, two plain-clothes officers swooped in and grabbed a pair of dangerous terrorists who had just planted several pressure cooker bombs. The news would soon flash around the world as a shaken Premier of B.C. and Prime Minister of Canada made statements about a catastrophe having been narrowly averted. But, after the arrest, things took a strange twist.

19. Part 1: Oversight of Police and Security Services  For those having an interest in security matters as they relate to Bill C51, I think the background provided in the article will prove interesting. It is not all that many years back that our government turned loose the Security Services in a very similar manner and it turned out very badly for a lot of people including those in the Security Services

18.  Abducted, the First Twelve Hours  (July, 2014): While this post begins with an Editorial on the challenges faced by people living at the margins of our society, the post includes the story of a young woman who ran away from abuse in her home near Bonnyville, Alberta, lived on the streets of Edmonton and after moving to Oak Bay she was abducted.  Link to Abducted

17. International Pursuit of a Felon (January, 2012):  Do not get on the FBI Most Wanted list, then have your mugshot broadcast by around the world. It could be the beginning of the end. In 1987, when Robert Stack was hosting the popular TV Series, Unsolved Mysteries, the faces and profiles of two men was broadcast and so began a new case for the Oak Bay Police. Link Here:

16. Sealand of the Pacific  (January, 2012):  Three killer whales, Tillikum (pictured left), Nootka II and Haida II, continued to playfully push a young woman around the display pool as she screamed for help… This story traces some of the history of the trade in killer whales that was, for years, based in Oak Bay, a story of Sealand of the Pacific and the tragic deaths that lead to its closing.  Link Here

10. Different Strokes for Different Folks (November, 2012):  More than a few police officers work their entire career and never learn some basic skills that would have made their lives so much easier. I was one of those officers, but my challenges were oriented more toward the political than the practical. Different Strokes

15. Attitude, Attitude, Attitude (June, 2012)(Updated March 2017):The Constable stood in the living room facing down two angry people. It was evident by his words and actions that this meeting was not likely to have a happy ending. The man’s Sergeant stood by just watching and waiting for chaos to envelope the scene…  Link to Attitude

14. Please Send a Car (May, 2012) Once again, I let better judgment cloud my brain as I picked up the phone and called a taxi. While it seemed funny at the moment, after the call was complete I wondered my Police Inspector would appreciate the joke.  Link to Send a Car

13. Tickets, Tickets, Tickets (April 2012): How might you handle a bully, especially a bully with Gold Braid adorning his epaulettes? You could challenge him directly, but there was an inherent danger in using that approach. Perhaps it would be wise to take a more circuitous route.  Link to Tickets

12. Oak Bay High School Confidential (October, 2011) As affluence has defined Oak Bay, it also defined a few dozen Oak Bay High School students in unique case. Follow how these Oak Bay students suddenly fell heir to piles of money.  Link to High School Confidential

11. Police Pursuit (September, 2011) (Updated March 2017): A five-part series on police pursuit includes an Introductory Section, followed by four samples of pursuits in the Greater Victoria area. The final section questions the reader as to how they might define a policy that police could follow to determine at what point a pursuit might need to be called off.  Join Police Pursuit

10. San Remo Restaurant Burglary (July, 2011): Luck, followed by some routine police work resulted in the arrest of a trio of burglars. The case also demonstrates just how stupid some crooks can be after they have pulled a late night heist.   Sam Remo Restaurant Burglary 

9. Gotcha A..Hole (November, 2011): Have you ever been in a situation where you were being screwed around, but there was not a damn thing you could do about it? “Oh”, you thought, “if I could just turn the tables on that a..hole, how good that would have be?”  Well, it happens and when you are a policeman, those opportunities seem to arise quite often… Link to Gotcha

8. To Catch a Thief (January, 2011):  Jack Start was a family friend who lived on a relatively isolated acreage along the Malahat Drive, near Victoria, B.C.   For months thieves were stealing gas from a large service tank used to fill his work trucks. When the Colwood RCMP were not able to catch the culprits, Jack, then in his mid-sixties, took matters in to his own hands…  Link Here

7. The Cat Lady of Beach Drive (November, 2011):  Have you ever dreamed of drifting into a scene that might have been drawn straight from the pages of a Stephen King novel? In the dream you come face to face with a dilapidated, paint peeled mansion blanketed in darkness; a cold wind is blowing and rain pelting down as you pick you way through an overgrown garden. It happens!  The Cat Lady

6. Loneliness, Life’s Last Companion (November, 2011):  The woman watched as her husband was wheeled away on a stretcher. Her heart was heavy as she knew he was dead and that her life would be forever changed. At first I had not realized just how alone she would be. Loneliness

5. Tabula Rasa (November, 2010) (Updated March, 2017): The story of a mother and daughter being held under the total control of an experienced psychologist who was also the husband and father. Other than the murder this file closely followed a story that appeared in and episode of Law and Order:  Link Here to Tabula Rasa

4. Treat your Trades People Fairly:  (November 2010)   The Oak Bay 911 operator received a mid-afternoon call from an hysterical woman reporting she had just been assaulted. Barely coherent, woman gave her address and two cars responded Code 3. The outcome is not what you might expect…   Link Here

3. Oak Bay Bank Heist (March, 2010): The traffic story that followed the robbing of the Bank of Nova Scotia on Oak Bay Avenue. The story includes a section on how Bank Robbers may be much more honest than Wall Street Bankers: Link Here to Oak Bay Bank Heist

2. Humour in Uniform Police Part 1 (February, 2010):  The beginning of a series of short stories that track some of the humorous situations that arose while policing in the Greater Victoria area.   Link Here: Humour in Uniform

1. Burglar with a Conscience: (February, 2010) Some folks are not cut out to become successful Criminals or Wall Street Traders. Their sense of right and wrong is just too deeply ingrained to overcome the sense of guilt they feel when doing the things they must if they are to become successful robbers or brokers. Such was the dilemma faced by the man involved in this crime.  Link Here

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Police Related Editorials

6. Part II: Conspiracy to Bomb the BC Legislature On July 1, 2013, at about 9:30 am, a contingent of some 50 or more RCMP members in plain clothes milled about the B.C. Legislature grounds in Victoria in anticipation of a major event. Then, on the command of a senior officer, two plain-clothes officers swooped in and grabbed a pair of dangerous terrorists who had just planted several pressure cooker bombs. The news would soon flash around the world as a shaken Premier of B.C. and Prime Minister of Canada made statements about a catastrophe having been narrowly averted. But, after the arrest, things took a strange twist.

5. Part 1: Oversight of Police and Security Services  For those having an interest in security matters as they relate to Bill C51, I think the background provided in the article will prove interesting. It is not all that many years back that our government turned loose the Security Services in a very similar manner and it turned out very badly for a lot of people including those in the Security Services

4. The Secret World of the Canadian Border Services:  (September, 2014) A Police Related Story. Would you believe the CBSA arrested over 10,000 people last year and 20,000 in the last three.  Many remain is secret jails across Canada.  Hard to believe?  Take a few minutes to read this background material.

3. Mental Illness: A Rising Crisis on the Street  (September, 2014) The message from Vancouver  Police Chief and the Mayors in the Lower Mainland about this growing crisis.  Vancouver is expected to arrest 3000 people this year under the Mental Health Act.

2. Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness  (August, 2014) Mental illness is largely treated with distain by many unless they have a family member who is in trouble. One the street, where there is no help, is it little wonder some mental patients end up in trouble and far to often may resort to violence? (August, 2014)

1.  Abducted, the First Twelve Hours  (June, 2014): The first of a series on challenges faced by people living on the street.  This post includes the story of a young woman who ran away from abuse in her home near Bonnyville, Alberta, and eventual ended up in Victoria.

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Feature Length Stories: A Matter of Principle

3. A Matter of Principle: Part II:  Bard and MacLeish work towards the end game, but it was never without and endless series of complications that included a crooked Pawn Shop dealer.

2. A Matter of Principle: Part I:  The Night Stalker: (June, 2013)   Larry Doncaster, was a career criminal from the United States who roamed around the US and Canada carrying out substantial burglaries of upscale properties.  His character could easily be used in a TV movie as he was a very likeable character as in “Catch me if You Can” a story of the life of Frank Abagnale, the loveable con artist from the book and TV movie fame.   Doncaster managed to drive Garth and me crazy over weeks we pursued him.  My wife, Lynn McNeill, helped at a key point in the case.

1. The MacLeish Chronicles: Introduction to series (July, 2013)  This is my first attempt at writing a novelette.  While it is an actual case from the Oak Bay Police files, the names of the lead Detectives have been changed as I wished to experiment with writing from a different perspective.  Of course, Detective Bard was my friend and partner back then, Detective Sergeant Garth Fowler and  I was Detective MacLeish.  Bard’s name was taken from a role he periodically played in various theatrical productions.

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  In Progress

Organized Crime and Corruption from the 1950s through the early 1960s

Through the 1950s and into the I960s, organized crime, crime families and police corruption, particularly in the Vancouver area, made regular headlines.  Vancouver Chief Constable Walter Mulligan fled to the United States in fear of being indicted, but after charges were dropped, returned to Canada and lived in Oak Bay until he passed away in 1987. Other senior members of the Vancouver PD committed or attempted to commit suicide and in Victoria PD, Chief Constable Blackstock went into early retirement, replaced by an outside member who was tasked with the job of cleaning up the force. While Oak Bay escaped the headlines that hit the larger departments, it was never-the-less, a much different department today than it was in those early years. The story will trace some of the changes that have taken place.

First Months on Patrol (1964)

In November 1964, I was given a hand-me-down uniform, a phony looking badge in a ten cent plastic case, the keys to a police car and for the next eight months, with only periodic help from Sergeants and Senior Constables, left largely to my own devices to learn the finer points of police work. With the exception of the RCMP, various Provincial Police forces and a few of the larger city departments, members in smaller departments (this included all in Greater Victoria), began their police careers on the street of hard knocks…

Vancouver Police Academy (1965)

It was not until the summer of 1965 that Constable Barrie Parker and I became the first in the history of the Oak Bay Police Department to be sent to formal Recruit Training. We were accompanied by several members from Esquimalt and Victoria, but Saanich still conducted their own semi-formal internal recruit training. It was the beginning of a time of transition in Oak Bay and, indeed in all local Police Departments…

As a young man who had grown up the wilderness areas of Northern Alberta, it was an exhilarating experience being in Vancouver. While Vancouver was no longer the Crime Capital of Canada, there was still much work to be accomplished in cleaning up crime as well as the internal workings of the Department.  Clubs like the Penthouse, Number Five Orange and others were no more than Chicago Style Speakeasy’s of the 1930s. The Phillipone Brothers built an empire and periodic police raids were little more than an inconvenience. Top billed acts like Frank Sinatra mixed with strippers, prostitutes, citizens and police and in those years, even when off duty, a police badge was still a ‘free pass’ to any club, resturant or or bar just as it was in Victoria…

The following story lines are complete but require several more proof reads. They will be added over the coming months (not necessarily in the order listed below).

Conspiracy to Rob BC Ferries

At a time when cash was still king, many businesses still carried large amounts of cash which they either kept in a safe, or transported to a night deposit box.  On a long week-end the BC Ferries terminal at Schwartz Bay could be holding upwards of two hundred thousand dollars, a very enticing amount for a group of inept criminals whose pre-planning included robbing a bank in Brentwood and bombing a car in Sidney.  In order to finance their plan they sold drugs and at one point robbed the Brentwood Liquor store. As one of the lead investigatores, working with a Joint Forces crew….

Those Magic Mushrooms

Who would have thought an enterprising University of Victoria student would be among the first to domesticate that silly little mushroom that was better known to the hippies and hikers in the backwoods of BC.  The young man built mushroom growing and distribution system that spread across Western Canada and suitcases filled with dozens of vacuum packs, were transported by air to Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and all points between. With seven lawyers representing an equal number of accused, it was to be among the most stressful several weeks I had ever spent in court…

Murder in Dennison Park

With less than ten years experience on the job, one quiet Sunday Dayshift suddently thrust me into my first major murder investigation. Over succeeding days, Constable Al Campbell and I tracked a culprit through Victoria, Vancouver and into the Interior of BC. The case was a classic investigation in which the newly installed Canadian Police Information System (CPIC) and a $2.00 BC Telephone pay phone call played a key role…

Fraud

Over the years I became involved in several fraud investigations, most small, but a few large and it never seemed to amaze me how the bigger the crime the less chance there was of the culprits being brought to justice.  For instance, during the years the Federal Government promoted Research Tax Credits (R&D) as the way to a glorious future, the biggest offenders were major corporations.  Even when a few blatant cases bubbled to the surface, they were quickly swept away.  However, one man, Frank Hertel, a flamboyant Oak Bay businessman, ended up holding the bag as major corporations slipped away into the darkness with millions of taxpayers dollars…

Future Story Lines in Progress

University Lecture
Watch Your Step!
A Second Story Job
What’s the Rush Doc?
The Cement Caper
Please Fasten Your Seatbelt
The Goodwill Box
Watch Your Step
Can you pick up my Girl Friend?
Monkey Works
Rabbits
Scratch and Win
Watch the Feet
A Tale of two Stores
Having an Alibi
Wiretaps and Surveillance
Vulnerable Seniors
The Sheepdog and the Wolf
Suicide Attempt by Chainsaw
The Protective ‘Thin Blue Line’
Assault Police Officer

Thank you for checking into the Police Notebook Series.  To receive notice when additioinal stories are added, please send an email to: harold@mcneillifestories.com.  Any comments you may have for improvements would be greatly appreciated.

Harold McNeill
October, 2011

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Comments

  • 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

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • 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