The Police Beat – Insider Perspectives

Capri Apartments – Photo JGJ

“An altercation then ensued between the female and How which ended with the female stabbing him in the upper body.”

That’s how Police described the killing.

It happened on November 15, 2013 shortly after 9 p.m. at the Capri Apartments at 2130 Portage Ave.

(Not a typical spot for Winnipeg bloodletting.)

The victim was identified as Brandon Lee How (39) of Winnipeg.

The accused killer was identified as Dawn Marie McFayden (32) also from Winnipeg.

McFayden was charged with 2nd degree murder as a result of her alleged involvement.

It was an extremely bloody crime scene, so bloody it inspired me to write the TPI feature, “Grizzly Crime Scenes Tell a Story – It’s all in the Blood.”

Capri Crime Scene Evidence Markers  (Photo JGJ)

It was an opportunity to play the role of amateur blood pattern analyst to offer insight into the world of crime scene investigation – particularly, what kind of information can be gleaned from a bloody crime scene – projected blood (high-medium-low velocity blood patterns) and blood pooling.

The bloody crime scene at the Capri Apartments told a compelling story.

That story was laid bare last week.

McFayden appeared before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Sadie Bond to be sentenced on a manslaughter charge after pleading guilty to the reduced charge in a plea bargain deal.

The frightening details put most of the puzzle pieces into place.

Blood Spatter – Capri Crime Scene (Photo JGJ)

Crack cocaine, sex, an argument, a knife and sixty-one (61) stab wounds later and we had all the necessary ingredients to record the 23rd homicide of 2013.

The Crown sought a 9 year sentence.

The Defence asked for time served – the equivalent of 4 years and 5 months with pre-trial credit included.

The Sentence – 6 1/2 years – with pre-trial credit applied McFayden will be out of jail in just under two years.

(Likely sooner if you take parole into consideration.)

Considering McFayden went to a different apartment to retrieve a knife, told people she wanted to stab How and ignored people who told her to call police, it’s hard to believe she wasn’t charged and convicted of 1st degree murder.

Less comforting is the fact McFayden doesn’t seem to have much in the way of regret for her horrific handiwork.  In a pre-sentence report she’s quoted as saying;

“I like to fight and I always want to get even … I’ve killed someone. You’d think that would make me want to change. It hasn’t.”

Might be a chapter or two yet to be written on this story.

Police Patrol Time – A Thing of the Past

WPS Officers Guard Crime Scene (Photo JGJ)

Finally a story out there regarding police patrol time – or more appropriately, lack thereof…

While undoubtedly shocking to the average citizen the numbers didn’t surprise serving or retired members of the WPS.

Statistics show police in Winnipeg have little in the way of patrol time.

Patrol time is that vital time police officers cruise through your neighbourhood to catch the criminals who do B&E’s to our homes, kick in our garage doors, steal our cars, do property damage and set fires.

Patrol time is almost a thing of the past and its been that way for a very long time.

The statistics tell the story;

  • 4.72% = the percentage of time WPS Patrol Units are available
  • 35% = the percentage of increase of calls for police service since 2007

In comparison, the report indicates Winnipeg Fire Fighters are available 88% of the time.

As a former front line officer and supervisor I often wondered what the average citizen would think if they knew how little patrol time officers assigned to their neighbourhoods had.

Now you know.

In reality, most front line patrol officers assigned to suburbs spend the majority of their time taking calls in the hot zones – downtown and the north end.

“There was an anxious feeling I’d get when there was a very serious incident happening and not one unit that can clear – throughout the whole frigging City. Ninety-nine percent of our citizens have no clue because no one ever shows them the reality.” – a retired WPS 911 dispatcher lamented on social media.

It’s a problem no one really wants you to know about.

Fail to Comply with Recognizance – System out of Order

WPS Press Release
WPS Press Release

A couple of disturbing police releases caught my eye recently.

In the first case, a suspect wanted in connection with a number of serious violent attacks was arrested by members of the WPS.  Among his fifty-five (55) criminal charges was a charge of Failing to Comply with Conditions of a Recognizance x 16.

In the second case, a property offender was collared and charged with B&E x 7, B&E with Intent, Mischief Under $5,000 x 34, Theft Under $5,000 x 18 and Fail to Comply with Condition of Recognizance x 14.

Then I read about a case where Court of Queens Bench Justice Brenda Keyser sentenced a man to 2 years less a day for his role in a brutal beating that claimed the life of a homeless man.

The Crown asked for a sentence of 4 – 7 years.

“I recognize that the sentence I’m imposing is at the lower end of what might be considered appropriate in a similar circumstance,” Keyser said as she delivered her ruling.

She took into consideration the killer was a homeless man himself who suffered from alcohol addiction and other “disadvantages” in his life.

As part of his sentence he was placed on probation for three years and ordered to abstain from the consumption of alcohol.

Not sure how that will work out.

It seems a trifle bit naive to think a hardcore alcoholic is going to stop drinking because a Judge ordered him to do so.

Once released, how long might it take the man to breach the conditions of his probation order?

My guess –  mere hours.

The point…

Police officers today seem to be dealing with more court order breaches than at any other time in our history.  These court order breaches create significant paperwork and add to the increasing administrative burden suffered by front line officers.

These orders play a vitally important role in keeping the revolving doors of justice spinning;

Arrest – release – breach – arrest – release – breach – repeat…

It’s a real thing.

Something is wrong with the “system” when police are charging people with 14 or 16 counts of failing to comply with court imposed conditions.

There should be some realistic expectation of compliance when a Judge issues a court order.

Time for reform.

Empathy in Policing – WPS Mental Health Training Seems a bit Nutty

WPS Media Release
WPS Media Release

On December 14, 2016, the WPS issued a press release announcing their partnership with “ProTraining,” an agency that provides mental health and de-escalation training focusing on preventing violent encounters in police interactions.

The training is based on 5 years of scientific research out of the University of Alberta and makes a number of claims that seem difficult to quantify, such as;

  • 19% increase in efficiency
  • 41% increase in mental health awareness
  • 23% increase in officer confidence

It seems a gigantic leap of faith is required to buy what ProTraining is selling.

Regardless, more concerning is the mandate to teach officers empathy skills.

Empathy is defined as, “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

After reading the release I was immediately reminded of a time when Manitoba Corrections evolved to a place where they demanded jail guards become more like social workers.

It seems the new training requires police officers to play the role of Psychologist.

Do police officers really need to learn to be more empathetic during the course of their duties?

Do they need to share the feelings of the victims and perpetrators they encounter during the course of their employment?

Is that a healthy expectation?

If we program police officers to be more empathetic are we likely to see more officers suffer emotional injuries like PTSD?

Police Insider reader Lisa Thibeault captures the essence of my concerns;

“Being overly empathetic can lead to an officer taking on the emotions and feelings of the individual who we demonstrate empathy to.  Compassion, I feel is a better tool.  I can be compassionate but still be objective enough to get the job done.”

The distinction between empathy and compassion is an important one.

I’ve heard other valid concerns;

  • Will officers who have taken the training be prone to use less than lethal force in situations where lethal force is required?
  • If an officer does use lethal force will the training be used against the officer by lawyers who may suggest the use of force was excessive or inappropriate and not consistent with the training?

I see nothing wrong with mental health awareness and training.

The problem comes with unrealistic expectations and the real world application of the training principles.

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  1. James G Jewell


    Something seems fishy with that publication. As you probably know, 2nd degree murder comes with a mandatory sentence of 10 years before the offender is eligible for parole. I’ll look into this further….

    Thanks for the heads up…

  2. In the Winnipeg Sun’s December’s most wanted:

    Clayton McKay, 25, was given early parole on Nov. 30 after receiving a two-year prison sentence for two counts of second-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. He celebrated the occasion by never arriving at his halfway house as required, said police. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for his arrest.

    Two year sentence?? Just another example of how police need to repeatedly chase criminals.

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