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A Great Retrospective From a Retired Toronto Officer

zipperhead_cop

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I was sent this editorial piece via email.  I tried like heck to find a link, but I don't think that all editorials get posted on the web.  In any case, it has a fist full of good info and common sense:

The Riff Raff of The City

Dear Mr. Shanoff
Toronto Sun;

In last week's Sun I read an informative, full two-page story about the proliferation of drug dealers in the downtown area of Oshawa. Included were anecdotes and explanations of the problems from two Durham Regional Police officers assigned to that specific problem, one of whom I know. The reporter evidently spent considerable time walking the beat with those officers and interviewing business people and residents in the vicinity. Oshawa was the town of choice for the article but it could have been any city of the that size (pop. 160,000) or larger.

One of the people interviewed was the gentleman in charge of the bus terminal on Bond St., a well known hangout for drug dealers and customers who force unsuspecting commuters to walk their gauntlets of annoying, frequently aggressive panhandlers. The fellow observed that they routinely disappear when the police show up only to re-emerge when the officers move onto other areas and duties. He aptly described it essentially as a game of cat and mouse. Unless the police actually catch those people either selling or possessing illicit drugs, which doesn't usually happen in full view of uniformed officers, little more than temporarily flushing them out takes place. The social parasites know it, too. The man from from the bus terminal and other local residents wondered about the reason more couldn't be done to keep them away, as did the reporter.

I can offer one valid reason:

Early in my career as a cop in Toronto (Regent Park) there was a section of the Criminal Code entitled 'Vagrancy';

(1) Everyone commits vagrancy who,

(a) not having any visible means of support is found wandering abroad or trespassing and does not, when required, justify his presence in the place where he is found;
(b) begs from door to door or in a public place;
(c) being a common prostitute or night walker is found in a public place and does not, when required, give a good account of herself;
(d) supports himself in whole or in part by gaming or crime and has no lawful profession or calling by which to support himself.
(e) having at anytime been convicted of an offence under a provision mentioned in paragraph 689(1)(a) or (b) (i.e. any of several sexual offences), is found loitering or wandering in or near a school ground, playground, public park or bathing area   


(2) Everyone who commits vagrancy is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. (i.e. maximum six months in jail and/or substantial fine)

(3) No person who is aged or infirm shall be convicted of an offence under paragraph (1) (a).
 
[Note; It's interesting that the only clause in that law that refered to the female of the species was (c), perhaps presuming that all prostitutes and 'night walkers' were women and the rest of the bums were men. Thank goodess for the Interpretation Act.]

The vagrancy section was used regularly by police to deal with the problems covered in the article by the Sun. The people presently infesting the downtown area of Oshawa would have been arrested for vagrancy when I was a very young officer, not simply dispersed to do their dirty deeds elsewhere until the uniforms disappeared.

That entire section of the Criminal Code was repealed and replaced by nothing about 1972 by the Liberal government of Mr. Trudeau during the cultural revolution, at a time that freedom to do just about anything was celebrated as a great victory for social justice. 'Freedom', 'Rights' and 'Do you own thing' were extremely popular buzz words. Obedience, compliance and responsible behaviour were unwanted relics from the past. Defence lawyers hailed the trashing of the law relating to vagrancy as a triumph over the draconian measures of an earlier, Victorian age.

In reviewing that section now, perhaps it needed some work, an updating amendment with respect to specificity.  After all, it was originally enacted in the very early twentieth century. (It might need the support of the 'notwithstanding' clause of the Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms to be enforceable at all now.)

Police authorities, especially in Toronto, at the time publicly warned of the consequences of totally repealing, rather than re-writing that law. It came as no surprise that their cautions were ignored. After all, police were 'pigs' and storm troopers in jack boots then and they were supposed to have no say about actual policy. To fan the flames of discord, radical lawyers with an abundance of free air time and media ink at their disposal, alarmed the public by portraying our officers as the Gestapo of Nazi Germany, WW II vintage, whose opinions were pessimistic, negative, oppressive, outdated and predictable. The cops simply liked trampling on citizens and locking them up for the fun of it. Predominantly left wing, enlightened politicians in Ottawa and especially Toronto dismissed their concerns because, being intellectuals, they obviously knew better.

Even the blame for really serious criminal behaviour wasn't laid at the feet of the offenders, but society. The astute psycho-babblists and radical anarchistic lawyers of the time said that society produced them, that we were to blame and owed them rehabilitation at any expense. We'd badly mistreated our beloved, cherished criminals and were in their debt, instead of vice versa. Much of the media, most notably the Toronto Star in this area, ate it up and politicians, to say nothing of our beloved Supreme Court with its predominantly left wing appointees, hopped aboard the bandwagon. The Chiefs of Police had little credibility while the Clayton Rubys and others of his ilk were gods.

In fact the police knew that they were the people charged with the onerous task of keeping order in their areas of jurisdiction, that they'd be the first ones condemned for their alleged failure to do so, and that they'd be unable to effectively do their jobs as their tools were being removed by legally eroding and ultimately usurping their authority to act. 

What we've learned, or ought to have learned, in my opinion is that so-called freedom isn't free at all. There are consequences and costs for just about everything. To the people who now complain that the streets are mostly lost, a cynical, 'I told-you-so' retired cop with a decent memory, who followed it very closely all the way, might well say that congratulations are entirely in order because you got what you wanted through your elected representatives. Everyone received tons of boundless freedom to do their own things without fear of reprisals. Good for you! Just because many of you are now basically incarcerated in your own homes because you're terrified to walk the streets after dark, or even during the day in many instances, doesn't matter. Anything goes. It's a  small pittance to pay for all that nice limitless freedom. So stay home, lock your doors, shut up and live with it. 

Thank goodness I'm not a cynic like that..

Kindest personal regards

Larry Wood
Bowmanville, Ont

Doubtless, if vagrancy were to be brought back the section would need some tweeking.  However, the total inability to deal with people clagging around in the streets is not helping anyone.  And most certainly, this topic will bring up the oh-so-terrifying concept of officer discretion.  But just realize that such a law wouldn't trigger mass homeless round ups ala Soyalent Green crowd control. 
But it would sure be nice to be able to target some of the degenerates that steal oxygen repeatedly without any repercussions. 
I am particularly fond of the part where he indicates that the people get what they asked for, especially in the GTA.  They worked their butts off for years to achieve the leftie utopia they now live in.  Hope they enjoy their six murders per weekend  :salute:
 

North Star

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I love this article.

Many people lose sight of why a law is on the books. In Georgian/Victorian London, prostitution was rampant, human trafficking was out of control, contaminated gin sold to kids as young as four, and crime was rampant. This resulted in the first of a series of laws covering everything from communicable diseases (which dealt with the prostitution problem) to restricting the sale of alcohol. basically, the "minor" stuff libertarians whine about. The end result was that everyone benefitted, and the laws in general were quite popular and spread across the Commonwealth. Some of the laws, granted, had flaws, but the Common Law system allowed those issues to be resolved through judicial precedent and compromise.

The problem with Trudeau and recent leftists is that they are not students of history in these practical matters. They allow ideology to blind them to the reasons for the laws in the first place. As such, with an whipped vote and the sling of a pen they get rid of them, and pat themselves on the back. Years later, after their re-election by the shortsighted electorate, we end up with aggressive panhandling drug-addicts.

A few years ago, I read an article by a young lawyer about how the Criminal Code needed to be updated. He argued specifically that Piracy should be removed from the books as it no longer occured on a regular basis. To his credit, I have since learned that he was educated as to the situation off the Somali Coast and has altered his position. Common sense does prevail, but it's up to those who have it to make sure people with "great" ideas and planty of time on their hands receive a rough schooling.

 

gaspasser

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Call me sort of blind and naive, but when did the real bad guys get better Rights than the people they victimize?  Look at some of the prisons, long gone are the days of just 3 hots and a cot!  ???
Some would see it as an incentive to go to prison/jail.  Great food, TV and satelitte, videos, games, a chance to gain a higher education. Gee , it sounds better than the Army these days.  I say bring back the Judges choice of sending a dilinguent teenager to the Army or jail.  We could easily increase out ranks and turn some poor kids head around.  I'm sure I've had a few NCO's who were given that choice.  {joke-joke}
My $0.02 worth
 

The Bread Guy

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Never knew the history of CCC vagrancy terms - thanks VERY much for sharing....

My only question would be if such rules (or something similar and updated) were to be enforced, could the jail system handle the influx?  I know it wouldn't be waves of humanity flooding into the cells, but there would be an uptick.

Also, any chances of getting more help with those who are in jail who might benefit from being, say, in a mental health treatment setting (gotta love "deinstitutionalization")?  That, too, might free up spaces (not to mention get the right help to those who may benefit).
 

GAP

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BYT Driver - I served with some guys that were given the choice of jail or Marines/Army...like you said, some turn out to be extraordinary people and Marines.....a lot don't.  The US and Canadian Forces are leaps and bounds above what we had and were tasked with in my day, so the people that want to join had better prove they are capable BEFORE they come in, because we sure don't need to babysit them today.

That was in the day and age where there was still a lot of discipline at home and in the community. This is not the case now....the ME society we have generated is going to pay a big price when they finally wake up and realize the sun does not shine out of their a**.
 

gaspasser

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GAP said:
BYT Driver - I served with some guys that were given the choice of jail or Marines/Army...like you said, some turn out to be extraordinary people and Marines.....a lot don't.  The US and Canadian Forces are leaps and bounds above what we had and were tasked with in my day, so the people that want to join had better prove they are capable BEFORE they come in, because we sure don't need to babysit them today.

That was in the day and age where there was still a lot of discipline at home and in the community. This is not the case now....the ME society we have generated is going to pay a big price when they finally wake up and realize the sun does not shine out of their a**.


AGREED,
I don't know how many times I've had to bit my tongue {yes, you can put rings and things thru it now} when I say something to my young feller {18} about this or that and "in the before time"  about dicipline and motivation to try to get him off the couch and get a job or {heavens forbid} a haircut or at least a trim.  I call him "Shaggy" from Scooby Do. 
I think the reason we have so many juvies in jail and prison is because of the home dicipline, or lack of it!, and the obsolute absence of self-motivation...self-dicipline...and self-determination.  Many kids and people nowadays espect everything to be given them on a silver platter.
Believe this or not, I once had a Private on the line tell me to F*** Off because I didn't know what I was talking about and he was the one getting spec pay.  Lose it!  SNAAAap...Needless to say, his Warrant Officer called with the apology.  Hee-hee, ain't it fun being a Cpl with bits of power...Oh and all the go-gas...  :D
But I rant.    ^-^ 
{sorry, photobucket is unavailable from dnd puter  :-[  }
 

zipperhead_cop

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milnewstbay said:
My only question would be if such rules (or something similar and updated) were to be enforced, could the jail system handle the influx?  I know it wouldn't be waves of humanity flooding into the cells, but there would be an uptick.

Currently?  No.  Bruce would be able to say for sure.  So build more jails.  If there was even more cancer than there was now, would anyone bitch if people built more hospitals?  Of course not.  So crime is a cancer on society.  Why not cut away the tumors and lock them away?
As for the mental health people, they are a minimal portion of the criminal makeup, unless you want to start making excuses for drug addicts and people who feel "depressed". 

BYT Driver said:
Call me sort of blind and naive, but when did the real bad guys get better Rights than the people they victimize? 

Right here:
Constitution Act, 1982
Enacted as Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.) 1982, c. 11, which came into force on April 17, 1982

BYT Driver said:
Look at some of the prisons, long gone are the days of just 3 hots and a cot!  ???
Some would see it as an incentive to go to prison/jail.  Great food, TV and satelitte, videos, games, a chance to gain a higher education. Gee , it sounds better than the Army these days. 

It's better than a lot of things, including working.  That is a huge problem.  If jails were less desireable than living out in society, some of these shitbags would make half an effort.  Currently, there is no reason to. 
And you forgot "and hang out with all of your buddies, and have as much access to drugs as on the street". 
 

Greymatters

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zipperhead_cop said:
Currently?  No.  Bruce would be able to say for sure.  So build more jails.  If there was even more cancer than there was now, would anyone ***** if people built more hospitals?  Of course not.  So crime is a cancer on society.  Why not cut away the tumors and lock them away?
As for the mental health people, they are a minimal portion of the criminal makeup, unless you want to start making excuses for drug addicts and people who feel "depressed". 

Right here:

It's better than a lot of things, including working.  That is a huge problem.  If jails were less desireable than living out in society, some of these shitbags would make half an effort.  Currently, there is no reason to. 
And you forgot "and hang out with all of your buddies, and have as much access to drugs as on the street".  

When lviing in jail is better than living on welfare, we've got a problem...
 

gaspasser

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zc, are you agreeing with me? or against what I'm saying?
From the looks of how things are in jail or prison, I should commit a blue collar crime, go in the clink, get a really good education {AT the public expence} watch tv...etc, etc, etc.  The only fall back is, having Bubba as my boyfiend.... :threat:



ok, call me puter iliterate...how do I get smileys in from photobucket... HELLLLPPPP
 

zipperhead_cop

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BYT, I am completely agreeing with you.
And even better, commit a large scale fraud (ie--tens of millions) hide the money, plead guilty and then learn how to play golf at Club Fed, the white collar minimum security prison for business men.  Hell, come up with a good idea and I'll probably help you.  Oh yeah, and you won't have to pay it back either.

Greymatters said:
When lviing in jail is better than living on welfare, we've got a problem...

They're both a good go, but with jail the hetro sex is a bit harder to come by.  And we most certainly have a problem.
 

The Bread Guy

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zipperhead_cop said:
As for the mental health people, they are a minimal portion of the criminal makeup, unless you want to start making excuses for drug addicts and people who feel "depressed".

I'll be interested in hearing from CO's on this one, too.  About 5-6 years ago, at a public hearing on crime, the deputy boss of the District Jail here said, IIRC, around 15% of his clientele should be in a mental health institution, not a jail (his words).  I believe he was talking about folks drifting toward the psychotic end of the continuum, not the neurotic end.  Wondering if that's just a figure good for that building, or something approximating what others in other buildings see, too.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Mental health is such a broad spectrum word that percentages are almost meaningless.............is the guy who doesn't bother anybody but choses to live under a bridge mentally ill, or has he just made a choice to live under a bridge?

Almost limitless number of opinions on this.......
 

zipperhead_cop

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Bruce Monkhouse said:
is the guy who doesn't bother anybody but choses to live under a bridge mentally ill, or has he just made a choice to live under a bridge?

I'd take fifty of those guys over one crackhead.  :p
 

The Bread Guy

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Bruce Monkhouse said:
Mental health is such a broad spectrum word that percentages are almost meaningless.............is the guy who doesn't bother anybody but choses to live under a bridge mentally ill, or has he just made a choice to live under a bridge?

Almost limitless number of opinions on this.......

The sense I got from the deputy superintendent was that about one out of seven needed mental health intervention in a secure or semi-secure hospital setting - don't know if someone homeless who's not bothering anybody would count on his scale here.

I guess the "mix" of guests individual institutions deal with and where they feed from also makes a difference in regional facilities.

Thanks, Bruce.
 
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