EDITORIALS

Attack on Law Enforcement Reprehensible – Truth Irrelevant in APTN Discussion

APTN InFocus (APTN)

It’s difficult for Law Enforcement Agencies to build bridges in Indigenous Communities when radical Indigenous activists seem motivated to keep driving that wedge.

Last week I received an invitation to appear on APTN InFocus, an interactive Indigenous centric show hosted and produced by Dennis Ward – @DennisWardNews on Twitter.

This was to be an hour-long panel discussion regarding the legacy of Tina Fontaine with co-panel guests MLA Bernadette Smith, MKO Grand Chief Sheila North and activist lawyer Pam Palmater.

Unfortunately, I had to decline the invitation.

It wouldn’t have been my first appearance on the show.

On September 14, 2014, I participated in an APTN InFocus panel discussion regarding the Missing & Murdered Women & Girls Inquiry debate.

Bernadette Smith was also on the panel and joined me in opposition of the Inquiry in favour of a National Strategy, Action Plan and Task Force.

She has since become an MLA (NDP) for the Point Douglas area.

At some point Bernadette changed her mind in favour of supporting the Inquiry.

That, of course, was her choice.

I remain opposed.

The progress of the much embattled Inquiry has done nothing to change my mind.

That brings us back to the InFocus program.

I watched the episode online the night it aired.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’ve come to appreciate Grand Chief Sheila North for her work ethic, inclusive approach and passion for supporting the Indigenous people.

WPS Media Release – Claudette Osborne

Bernadette Smith has skin in the game.

Her sister Claudette Osborne (21) has been missing from Winnipeg since July 25, 2008. Osborne was a mother of four young children.

She was last seen in the Selkirk Avenue and Charles Street area.

The Winnipeg Crime Stoppers Program produced a re-enactment of her disappearance that was aired in May of 2009.

There has been no new information on her case since December of 2010.

Smith is a woman of action who refuses to stand on the sidelines when much is wrong in her community. She seems to have her heart in the right place.

That brings us to Pam Palmater.

It was just days ago I published a story offering balance to a CBC Indigenous opinion piece Palmater wrote suggesting foster care was “literally” killing Indigenous children.

(CBC declined an offer to publish my rebuttal.)

If you thought blaming CFS for killing Indigenous children was a stretch, then you will be shocked by another Palmater theory…

APTN InFocus (APTN)

She believes all police forces across the country are facilitating or perpetrating in the murder of Indigenous women and girls.

Her precise words are important.

During the discussion Palmater railed against the law enforcement community;

“I did a lecture today at the University of Manitoba on the high level of police racism, abuse, sexualized violence and corruption.”

“It’s rampant across all police forces in this country and its impacting not just Indigenous women and girls, but women and girls all across the country and unless we get at police as facilitating or perpetrating these crimes as well, uh, we’ll never get to the root of murdered and missing Indigenous women and why police just do half assed investigations.” 

So there you have it;

  • Child & Family Services (Foster Care) is responsible for killing Indigenous women and girls.
  • All Police Forces across Canada are facilitating or perpetrating in the killing of Indigenous women and girls.
  • Police Forces across the Country do “half-assed” investigations.
Pam Palmater (APTN InFocus)

So you might be wondering why we should bother addressing the rantings of someone who sees the world through such an intensely racist lens?

Well, we believe the truth matters.

It’s important to recognize Palmater is a person of influence who has the ability to impact perceptions and alter reality for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

In fact, a Twitter follower just informed me his wife attended the U of M presentation and called Palmater’s presentation “amazing.”

I’ve seen similar sentiments expressed about her on social media from people who attended other Palmater public speaking events.

What Indigenous activists say matters.

Reality matters.

The notion police forces across the entire Country are facilitating or perpetrating in the killing of Indigenous women and girls is pure lunacy given what we know about these deaths.

Statistics tell us these women are being killed by someone known to them, someone who they had some form of relationship with, either an acquaintance, friend, family member or spouse.

Upwards of 90% of Indigenous women are killed by someone known to them.

These are truths the Pam Palmaters of the world refuse to talk about.

Her attack on police is reprehensible given the scope of the tragedy she insists on ignoring.

Her attack on police investigations is equally shameful.

Palmater isn’t the only one who pushes the false narrative racist police put little investigative effort into the killings of Indigenous victims.

Palmater isn’t the only one who pushes the false narrative racist police put little investigative effort into the killings of Indigenous victims.

Main stream media seems predisposed to sell that narrative.

In an article written in 2016 the Winnipeg Free Press editors wrote;

“There is also a long-standing belief that the Winnipeg Police Service has been slow to act on reports of missing Aboriginal women, to put as much weight behind those homicide investigations as they do with non-Aboriginal cases.”

It was a sneaky way to put it out there without really having to own it.

If you state it as fact in the press people tend to believe it.

Perception altered.

Mission accomplished.

The motivation for these false narratives continues to escape me…

The problem for Palmater and the Free Press is their distorted view of law enforcement is exposed when confronted by factual information.

Information like WPS homicide solve rates.

The fact is the WPS Homicide Unit has achieved a 90% solvency rate now for almost twenty (20) years.

WPS Homicide Detectives Working Crime Scene

You can’t achieve that kind of success if your investigative effort is determined by the ethnicity of your victims.

The suggestion is asinine, yet we continue to hear activists like Palmater and the news media continue to drive that false narrative.

The WPS Homicide Unit has achieved a 100% solvency rate in the following years;

  • 1999 – 14 killings
  • 2000 – 17 killings
  • 2004 – 34 killings
  • 2014 – 26 killings

Indigenous victims, both male and female, represented between 40% to 58% of the victims killed in these years.


Time for a few facts;

Fact;

  • You can’t secure a 100% solvency rate if you conduct “half-assed” investigations.

Fact;

  • You can’t secure a 100% solvency rate if you don’t “put as much weight” into investigations when upwards of 58% of your victim pool is composed of Indigenous men and women.

    You can’t secure a 100% solvency rate if you don’t “put as much weight” into investigations when upwards of 58% of your victim pool is composed of Indigenous men and women.

Fact;

  • In 2017, upwards of 60% of victims of homicide in the City of Winnipeg were Indigenous men and women. As high as 65% of the perpetrators were believed to be of Indigenous origin.

Fact;

  • In 2017, the WPS Homicide Unit solved all but one of their twenty-three (23) homicide cases. That translates to a 96% not so “half-assed” solvency rate.

Fact:

  • In 2017, the majority of the Indigenous victims of homicide were killed by someone known to them.

Fact;

  • Nothing has changed in the last two decades. Indigenous men and women are still grossly over-represented as victims and perpetrators of homicide in the City of Winnipeg. Indigenous “leaders” and activists like Palmater continue to deflect, deny and participate in the blaming industry.

Fact;

  • The over-representation will not end if nothing changes. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Nothing changes if nothing changes, rinse and repeat.

Fact;

  • Incessant blaming solves nothing.

Police are Not the Enemy

Winnipeg Police Indigenous Patrol Sergeant Edith Turner

Over the last twenty years the WPS has become a diverse organization with representation from every demographic and ethnic origin in our City.

That includes significant representation from the Indigenous community.

In 1998, the WPS employed ninety-nine (99) Indigenous sworn police officers and one (1) Indigenous civilian member.*

Today, the WPS employs one hundred & twenty-four (124) Indigenous sworn police officers, four (4) Indigenous Cadets and twenty-nine (29) Indigenous civilian members.*

Indigenous people need to know police are not the enemy.

Every day, in every community across Canada, police officers are working to keep Indigenous men, women and children safe.

Every day, in every community across Canada, police officers support Indigenous victims of crime and seek justice for them.

Just, not according to Pam Palmater.

“You can believe whatsoever you like, but the truth remains the truth, no matter how sweet the lie may taste.” – Michael Bassey Johnson


*Source: 1998 & 2016 WPS Annual Reports.

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7 Comments

  1. It is unfortunate that the “sides” on this issue and many like it will refuse to read the views of those in opposition let alone participate in a moderated debate. As long as our attention span and interest is limited to 30 sec or less we will be held hostage to headline craft and click bait incendiary words. The mistakes of the past will not heal in 30 seconds and will require all the humanity and respect we can muster.

  2. After 20 years on the front lines, I believe I have earned the right to have an opinion and an informed one at that.

    I have said this before (and there are many who should pay attention), the street cop is the friend of the poor, champion of the marginalized and the defender of the weak. He is the anti-bully, the consequence in places most others seldom care to venture and more often than not, the only one who actually cares when it’s unfashionable to care. He does it quietly, without fanfare or recognition and his actions are only known by those to whom they are most meaningful.

    Many of these lost souls were exploited in life. Equally reprehensible however, is to see them further exploited in death by those who were nowhere to be found during their darkest times.

    Good work Jimmy

  3. James G Jewell

    Travis;

    Thank you for weighing in…

    Regarding the issues you raise relative to citations or references to research in the fact section.

    I’ve referenced the statistics provided by RCMP National Operational Review reports ad nauseam in my writings on this issue. Those statistics tell us 90% of Indigenous women are killed in domestic or family violence or by someone known to them.

    Those statistics are entirely consistent with my own analysis conducted on homicides cases of Indigenous women in the City of Winnipeg.

    All these statistics are verifiable.

    I’ve kept a database on homicide files in Winnipeg since 1999.

    All verifiable if someone wants to do the work.

    The 100% WPS solvency rates in 1999, 2000, 2004 & 2014 are matters of record and are verifiable.

    I can also verify these stats from an experiential perspective because I worked in the unit for three of those four years.

    The statistics regarding Indigenous victimization and perpetrators are contained in my own data base and are verifiable.

    You are the first person to ever question the accuracy of this information.

    In 2018, 3 of 4 homicide victims in Winnipeg were of Indigenous origin. A total of 6 of the 8 perpetrators are all of Indigenous origin. (Two young offenders were not identified because their identity is protected under the YCJA but we can make an assumption they are Indigenous as well as the 3 co-accused adult offenders are all Indigenous.)

    The over-representation of Indigenous people as victims and perpetrators in homicide continues and I see no change on the horizon as the issues that create the violence still exists.

    I’m a strong advocate for change but its hard to find success when so many people, like Palmater for example, refuse to even acknowledge the issues that contribute to the violence.

    If you don’t trust my data feel free to conduct your own research.

    I haven’t forgotten the role of police officers.

    I know you are an intelligent person because you raise intelligent questions. So I will put this to you…

    The obligation or expectation for police to prevent crime has to be realistic.

    Police engage in a great deal of crime prevention and community service aimed at education and prevention.

    Most people are starting to understand we have been asking too much of our police forces.

    We expect them to be social workers, psychologists, mental health experts, domestic violence interventionists, youth care workers, alcohol and addictions counsellors, use of force experts, paramedics dispensing naloxone for overdoses….the list goes on.

    Bob Chrismas, serving police officer with WPS and author of the book, “Canadian Policing in the 21st Century” often points out the social services industry in Manitoba numbers over 30,000 employees(AFM, Housing, Mental Health, Income Assistance, WRHA and more) while the WPS, for example, has around 1,400 employees.

    Which agency do you think is best equipped to deal with social issues that drive crime?

    As far as getting our panties tied in a knot goes…

    Pam Palmater has over 32,000 followers on Twitter, frequently appears on television (APTN) and crisscrosses the Country on the lecture circuit. She is a person of influence in our Country. She is aggressively attacking & blaming law enforcement for the MMIWG crisis distorting the truth, ignoring reality and using inflammatory, racially divisive language.

    Police in this Country have worked hard to improve relationships with the Indigenous community. Those efforts continue across the Country…

    That relationship is worth fighting for…

    It’s not something that should be trivialized.

    Thank you once again for reading and taking the time to comment.

  4. I’m concerned that there are no citations or references to research in the fact section. It makes me wonder how much is actually true and how much is reactionary. If the goal of this piece is to challenge Palmater for spreading misinformation, why not prove her wrong with verifiable data? There’s too much reaction and counterspin overall in the piece. Palmater calls out CFS for failing to protect children and police services nationally for discriminating against Indigenous people and James Jewell can only point at a rise in Indigenous police in the city of Winnipeg in rebuttal. Of course there’s been a rise in Indigenous police officers, Winnipeg has the largest urban Indigenous population in the country!

    Jewell seems to forget that the role of police officers are to protect and serve. That doesn’t change based on who commits the crimes. Pointing to statistics that show that often, Indigenous men murder Indigenous women doesn’t hide the absolute failure of the police force to prevent the crimes from happening. The WPS is very good at solving crimes and that’s important to remember, but we can’t get our panties in a bunch everytime an activist critiques the force on a national scale.

  5. Great article.

  6. Only the facts should be allowed to be expressed in these ‘debates’. Making false claims and expression of belief these days is being misconstrued as fact. The media needs to get back to stating facts. And if their information contradicts what others are claim as fact then support the counterpoint with factual information. Plain and simple.

  7. Keep it up James. You are 100 percent correct as always. 20 or 30 years ago the WPS was mostly white male officers. The WPS realized that was not acceptable and changed. The indigenous community has not changed, They still do not want to admit to any part of the problem. There are a lot of very good people in the community but as always the noisy one are the one who get heard.

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