Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Les stumbles on guns and gangs

Whenever someone calls John Les B.C.'s top cop, I flash to Chief Wiggum on the Simpsons.
Specifically, I see Wiggum in his familiar pose, standing in front of a burning plane wreck or exploding school bus, calling out "OK folks, show's over, nothing to see here."
Whenever a concern arises about an issue in his area of responsibility as solicitor general, Les responds pretty much the same way as Chief Wiggum.
When the opposition started asking questions about problems in the Coroners Service and hundreds of incomplete child death reviews abandoned in a warehouse, Les denied there were problems.
The Ted Hughes report showed he was wrong.
When the Vancouver Sun reported that lottery retailers were winning far more prizes than they should and raised fears about lottery security, Les said there was nothing to it. Everything was fine.
An ombudsman's report and external audit have found there were major security problems, minimal controls and ineffective policing by the Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch.
When a terrible crash focused attention on safety enforcement for farmworkers, it was the same story.
Now the issue is gang violence. Things have got crazy in the Lower Mainland, with 10 killings in less than three weeks, including public executions. No one has been arrested.
West Vancouver police Chief Kash Heed believes the fragmented policing in the region helps the gangs. They roam from municipality to municipality; police forces operate, for the most part, separately. That reduces their effectiveness.
Heed raised the issue in opinion pieces. And once again, instead of acknowledging the problem, Les went into denial. Worse, he moved to the attack, calling Heed's boss, the city's mayor, to complain. The chief should just stay quiet, Les suggested. Everything that could be done to fight gangs was already being done, he promised.
Once again, the approach backfired. Les was seen as the defender of the status quo, trying to gag police.
And within 24 hours, Vancouver police announced a new regional gang squad would be created in the coming weeks. Les's claim that everything was being done looked sadly out of touch.
The gang problem is a tough one. Regional policing would obviously help, allowing officers to track gangs and their members wherever they roamed, instead of passing files and requests back and forth.
Finding ways to reduce the money to be made in drugs, most obviously by increasing the availability of legal, prescribed drugs or alternatives, would also help.
And so would reducing the supply of guns. It's chilling to read the recent sentencing decision that saw Lower Mainland criminal Steven Porsch sent to jail for 16 years for arson, assault and selling guns. Undercover officers bought a steady supply of handguns and machine guns from Porsch. For less than $3,000 you could get a Sten gun that will shot 550 rounds a minute, and some ammunition.
It was not long ago that visiting U.S. officers were always struck by one major difference in policing on this side of the border. In Canada, you did not have to approach routine traffic stop as if the driver might be armed.
But in urban centres, that has changed. Guns are common in the gang and wannabe world.
The solutions aren't simple. The weapons are largely smuggled in from the U.S. Improved border security could make that task harder.
And the government act on legislation passed four years ago that would require every gun legally imported into the country be stamped with CA - for Canada - and a serial number. The measure is designed to help police keep track of illegal firearms.
Gun lobby groups oppose the measure, which is supposed to come into effect next month. The Harper government hasn't said if it will take the next step.
The government will likely pass legislation imposing mandatory miminum sentences for gun crimes. Mandatory minimums are a bad idea, removing needed discretion from the courts and encouraging plea bargaining for charges.
Anyway, the problem in dealing with gang crime isn't the sentences. Statistics suggest most gang killings are never solved. Until people are arrested and convicted, the sentence issue is theoretical.
Footnote: As another bad week ended for Les, his ministry announced it had taken action against the Hells Angels. The province has started the legal effort to prove their Nanaimo clubhouse is either the proceeds of crime or used for crime, which would it to be seized.


Anonymous said...

Of all the low life, arrogant scumbags that waltzed into government alongside the "Liberal" bandwagon John Les is the worst. Rich is up in there in cronyism and Kevin gives them both stiff competition for arrogance and cronyism - but for sheer incompetence and ignorance, John Les is King.
Most galling to me is his continued defense of cell phone use while driving.
"Needs more study" he says - as if he hasn't picked up a book in ten years. A first class moron.
One question - which rock did they have to prod this slithering idiot out from?

Anonymous said...

I've only had contact with John Les a couple of times. The subject was about treaty stuff, back when a T.A.C. was in place. His knwoledge of the issues was , no knowledge at all as far as I could see. He was a elected official voting on issues that affect us all and didn't seem to have a clue what he was voting for or against. But a big follwere of Gordon and sees nothing wrong with changing directions when Gordo decides Les is way off base. He knows who keeps him in position so keeps fumbling along. Sad that folks elect such folks, but that's democracy

Anonymous said...

So today John Les who was dead against a public inquiry had to announce one as Gordo had told folks in Vancouver it was the thing to do. Today the VPD has a order out for about 70 more of those tools to replace the cop from using his head with dealing with upset people.Tazer deaths are simply way to high

sa said...