Quand les problèmes sociaux se retrouvent dans la cour de la police

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Les policiers sont de plus en plus amenés à intervenir auprès de populations en situation de grande vulnérabilité et d’itinérance. […] La précarité du marché du travail, l’absence d’un revenu de base décent, la pénurie chronique de logements abordables et les difficultés d’accès au système de santé et de services sociaux contribuent à l’augmentation du nombre de personnes qui se retrouvent en situation de grande précarité, d’itinérance et de désaffiliation sociale. S’ajoutent à cela les enjeux […] vécus par les communautés autochtones et inuites, dont plusieurs membres migrent dans les villes, se butent à de grandes difficultés, perdent leurs repères et se retrouvent en situation d’itinérance. Les autorités s’en remettent de plus en plus au droit pénal et criminel et à la sécurité publique pour « gérer » les problèmes sociaux de pauvreté, de santé mentale, de toxicomanie et d’itinérance.

Le rôle joué par la police est double. D’une part, elle surveille, contrôle, sanctionne et judiciarise de façon disproportionnée les populations marginalisées. Les effectifs destinés à la lutte contre les « incivilités » (consommation d’alcool sur la voie publique ou le tapage), souvent reliées au mode de survie des personnes en situation d’itinérance ou de troubles mentaux ou de dépendance, tendent à augmenter. Intervenir en réponse à un sentiment subjectif d’insécurité suscitée par la présence de personnes marginalisées fait souvent fi du fait que ces dernières ont droit elles aussi à la sécurité publique. Elles sont généralement plus à risque de subir de la violence que d’en causer.

D’autre part, ces mêmes policiers ont également le mandat de venir en aide à ces personnes lorsque des circonstances mettent en jeu leur sécurité ou celle d’autrui, notamment lorsqu’une personne se retrouve en crise ou atteinte de troubles mentaux. Les autorités policières admettent que ces interventions représentent une part significative de leur travail et que la formation policière traditionnelle ne les prépare pas suffisamment à intervenir adéquatement auprès de cette population.

Comment faire mieux ?

[…]

Il est inacceptable que perdurent autant de décès, de dérives, de pratiques de profilage et d’abus à l’égard des populations marginalisées. Les solutions à mettre en place pour améliorer les pratiques policières d’intervention […] sont connues et documentées. Le rapport du coroner Malouin à la suite du décès d’Alain Magloire, celui issu de la consultation publique sur la lutte contre le profilage social et racial de la Ville de Montréal, les publications de groupes de défense de droits […] en proposent plusieurs.

Il faut revoir qui est le plus apte à intervenir auprès des personnes itinérantes ou en crise et investir afin d’augmenter le nombre d’intervenants sociaux et de travailleurs de rue et de proximité. Il faut établir un partenariat solide entre les organisations policières, le système de santé et les organismes communautaires et ainsi bien définir et préciser les rôles de chacun. Il est primordial que tous les agents reçoivent une formation obligatoire sur les réalités et les interventions adaptées auprès des différentes populations vulnérables et marginalisées. […]

Les équipes mixtes spécialisées en itinérance et en santé mentale du Service de la police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), réunissant des policiers spécialement formés et des intervenants du réseau de la santé, ont fait leurs preuves […]. Ces équipes ont développé une expertise et des approches plus adaptées. Cependant, elles ne rejoignent pas toutes les personnes dans le besoin et leur approche ne contamine pas suffisamment les pratiques de l’ensemble du corps policier.

Les solutions impliquent une profonde révision des orientations des services de police, notamment celles qui sont liées à la lutte contre les incivilités, des protocoles traditionnels d’intervention et des règles d’engagement de l’arme à feu. Les services de police doivent se donner des directives […] visant à éliminer le profilage social et à diminuer la judiciarisation des personnes marginalisées.

En finir avec l’impunité policière

Pour rétablir les droits fondamentaux des populations vulnérables, réparer le bris de confiance envers l’organisation policière et assurer un contrôle des pratiques policières par les citoyens, il faut en finir avec l’impunité policière, rendre plus accessible et démocratique le système de recours, et sanctionner les comportements problématiques au sein du corps de police.

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Vancouver Police search for missing senior with dementia  – BC

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Vancouver Police are asking for the public’s help to find 67-year-old Glen McKim.

He was last seen Sunday, February 17 at 2 p.m. in the area of Granville Island. Mr. McKim has a number of medical issues, including dementia.

Mr. McKim is described as white, 5’8” tall, medium build, and with balding salt-and-pepper hair. He was last seen wearing a grey jacket over a grey shirt, and black pants. He is not expected to be using a walker.

Anyone who sees Glen McKim is asked to call 9-1-1 and stay with him until first responders arrive.

Global News

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Peel Police charge father of dead girl, 11, with first-degree murder

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An eleven-year-old girl is dead, and her father facing a charge of first degree murder, in a case that has shaken the region.

Riya Rajkumar was supposed to be celebrating her birthday, but, instead, became the subject of a late-night Amber Alert on Thursday night.

Peel Region police said they have found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, seen here with her father Roopesh Rajkumar, hours after an Amber Alert was issued late Thursday night.
Peel Region police said they have found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar, seen here with her father Roopesh Rajkumar, hours after an Amber Alert was issued late Thursday night.  (Peel Regional Police)

She was found in her father’s home in Brampton on Hansen Rd. N., near Marshall Dr., hours after she vanished while in the care of 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar.

In front of the brown brick duplex, Friday, pink and white balloons blew in the wind, tied to a tree in front of the home, next to a growing pile of flowers and a bright pink teddy bear.

“Riya was like the princess of the family,” Roopesh’s cousin Ryan Ashadalli told reporters outside the home.

“She was just full of positive energy. She always had a smile wherever she went, he said, adding she had just returned from a vacation at Disneyland.

“I loved her.”

Police found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar in this Brampton home on Hansen Rd. N. early Friday morning.
Police found the body of 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar in this Brampton home on Hansen Rd. N. early Friday morning.  (Toronto Star)

Officers had to force their way into her father’s home around 11 p.m. Thursday evening. Rajkumar was arrested by Orillia OPP shortly after midnight, almost 130 km. away. He was suffering from a “medical issue,” Const. Danny Marttini told reporters outside Peel Police 22 division.

The birthdays of the girl and her mother fell on the Thursday.

“It’s very heart-wrenching,” said Marttini, who added that, in the final analysis, there’s a mother “moving forward without her daughter.”

Amber alerts were sent out late Thursday night and early Friday morning for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar.
Amber alerts were sent out late Thursday night and early Friday morning for 11-year-old Riya Rajkumar.

Meadowvale Village Public School posted a statement on its website saying “this tragedy has brought tremendous sadness to the students and staff” and that grief counsellors will be at the school for as long as needed.

“Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school,” the statement read. “Even students who did not personally know Riya will also be affected by this tragedy.”

Rajkumar was taken into police custody shortly after midnight. He was taken to a hospital and then a trauma centre.

Police have charged him with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter.

The girl did not live with her father on a full-time basis, police said, but was dropped off at a Mississauga gas station at about 3 p.m.

“In a tragic situation like this, when your daughter goes to spend her birthday, especially on Valentine’s Day, with her father and you expect your child to come home, my heart aches for this family,” Const. Akhil Mooken told reporters shortly after the body was found.

“As a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine what the mom is going through, and it’s something that we never want to be involved in, but it’s a terrible situation.”

Police said Riya’s mother called the authorities when the pair did not return at 6:30 p.m., and reported that Rajkumar made comments indicating he could cause harm to himself and his daughter.

“That obviously set off alarms,” Marttini told reporters earlier. “It was of extreme concern, which is why she attended the division, saying ‘I’ve got that information and I’m concerned for the well-being of my daughter.’ ”

After police took measures such as searching where the two were last seen, pinpointing the location of the father’s cell phone and checking areas they were known to frequent, they asked for an Amber Alert to be issued.

Police visited the father’s home at around 7 p.m., but did not receive a response when they knocked on the door. At about 11 p.m., Marttini said, police forced entry into the house and found the girl’s body.

“At that point in the investigation, we had received enough information that they felt that the 11-year-old girl would, in fact, be in the residence and was in need of assistance,” Marttini said. “So, with that threat to somebody’s life, they were able to force entry.”

Asked how long the girl had been dead before police found her, Marttini said she didn’t have the exact timeline, and more will come out after the postmortem.

Emergency Management Ontario sent out an Amber Alert on mobile devices just after 11:30 p.m.

Read more: Late-night Amber Alert prompted multiple complaints to 911

“Peel Regional Police activate AMBER Alert. Victim is Riya Rajkumar age 11. Suspect is Roopesh Rajkumar age 41. Vehicle is silver Honda civic plate #ARBV 598. Last known location Eastbound 401. If observed, please call 911,” the alert read.

Peel police had requested an Amber Alert to be issued by OPP earlier in the evening, but the notification was not sent until after 11 p.m., Marttini said in a phone interview. She could not confirm what time they submitted the form.

A tip from the public, following the alert, led to Rajkumar’s arrest shortly after midnight by OPP near Orillia.

The brown brick house on Hansen Rd. N. was blocked off with police tape Friday morning, as was the side street, Crawford Dr.

Residents of the quiet residential neighbourhood were shocked.

Emmanuel Okafor saw the Amber Alert on TV late Thursday night and said he was praying it would have a positive ending.

“It’s unimaginable,” said Okafor, who didn’t know the family, but has a 6-year-old daughter of his own.

“No parent should ever have to bury their kid.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie tweeted that “there are absolutely no words to explain the senseless and tragic loss of young innocent Riya.

“As a mother of three, this makes me sick to my stomach. My heart grieves for the mother and family,” Crombie tweeted.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown thanked Peel police and the OPP for the quick arrest.

“Words cannot describe such a senseless and horrific act,” Brown tweeted.

With files from Marjan Asadullah, Ilya Banares and the Brampton Guardian

Stefanie Marotta is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieMarotta

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

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Woman who allegedly tossed chair over balcony surrenders to police

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A woman accused of tossing a chair off a condo balcony in downtown Toronto has turned herself in, police say.

The woman surrendered on Wednesday morning. Police have not released her name or age. No charges have been announced.

The woman appeared at Toronto Police Service’s 52 Division at about 7 a.m., according to Staff Sgt. Ron Boyce.

Her surrender comes after a video surfaced on social media on the weekend that shows a blond woman, dressed in black, tossing a chair from a highrise building.

On Monday, police made a public appeal for the woman to surrender, saying they knew her identity.

The chair is seen fluttering in the wind as it makes it way down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

The video was shared widely on social media.

Police believe the chair-throwing incident occurred Saturday around 10 a.m. ET at a condo in the Harbour and York streets area, which overlooks the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. 

They said two chairs, among other items, were thrown over the balcony. Police are still looking for the person who videotaped the chair throwing.

There was outrage over the possibility the tossed objects could have injured someone or caused an accident, as the expressway is right below.

On Monday, Const. David Hopkinson, spokesperson for the Toronto police, said he obtained a copy of the video on Sunday and police began to investigate the next day. 

In a news release, police had said it was a mischief-endangering life investigation.

The items, which police said were thrown from a « very high floor » in the building, landed in front of the entrance to the condo, police said.

Police said they received a flurry of emails from members of the public with information about the woman.

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‘I’m in shock’: Toronto police rule out charges after 30 women accuse former RCMP doctor of sexual assault

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Toronto police sex crimes investigators say there are « no grounds » to lay criminal charges against a former RCMP doctor. That’s despite 30 women alleging they were sexually assaulted during mandatory medical exams when hired by the police force in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

« The Toronto Police Service does not dispute that these women felt (and continue to feel) violated, » said police spokesperson Meaghan Gray in an email Tuesday. However, she said investigators reviewed medical standards at the time and determined there is a lack of evidence « to prove there was a sexual purpose » to the doctor’s exams.

« I think it’s a lot of bullshit. I’m in shock, » said Vicki Gravelle, a 911 dispatcher for a regional police force in Ontario, no longer with the RCMP.

Gravelle and two others came forward to CBC News last month, detailing sexual assault allegations against former RCMP doctor John A. Macdougall, saying he inappropriately pinched nipples, conducted invasive vaginal exams without gloves, caressed their legs and pushed his pelvis against their naked backsides as they were told to bend forward during « spinal exams. »

Gravelle and two others came forward to CBC News last month, detailing sexual assault allegations against former RCMP doctor John A. Macdougall. (Rachel Houlihan/CBC)

The women complained to the RCMP, Toronto police and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario at the time, but their concerns went nowhere.

In early 2018, Toronto police reopened their investigation after dozens of women came forward, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, alleging they too were assaulted by Macdougall.

‘No grounds’ for charges

Macdougall retired in 2001. He is now in his mid-80s and lives in a retirement home west of Toronto. According to his lawyer, Macdougall has dementia, suffered near-fatal pneumonia recently and is living with around-the clock care. His family has declined to comment.

But in 1991, when the three women first complained to Ontario’s medical regulator, Macdougall explained he elected to do lengthy breast exams on new recruits in an effort to teach self-examination technique. He was silent on the other allegations of unwanted touching and invasive vaginal exams.

Following the women’s complaints the RCMP banned all staff physicians from conducting gynecological exams and laid out proper breast-exam techniques.

This photo of John A. Macdougall was taken when he graduated from the University of Toronto in 1963. (University of Toronto)

Toronto police on Tuesday told CBC News that they « know that many involved in this case are angry and frustrated. » But they say they have closed the file after review of the 30 women’s statements and are « confident » in their decision not to lay charges.

« Our investigative efforts were unbiased and extended beyond these statements to include a review of documentation, consideration for case law and research into what may have been acceptable medical practice at the time, » said Gray in her statement.

« We had to determine whether or not grounds existed to prove there was a sexual purpose for the actions that took place. Without those grounds, we simply could not lay charges. … We know that many involved in this case are angry and frustrated but, pending any new information that is brought forward, we are confident in the decisions we have made. »

‘I am flabbergasted’

Sylvie Corriveau, one of the three women to complain about. Macdougall in the 1990s, says she is « disillusioned » by the Toronto police decision.

« You have 30-odd strangers stating the same thing, and the doctor’s word means more, » said Corriveau, a senior RCMP employee based in Ottawa. « Many of the victims are still serving peace officers, do their sworn statements not mean anything? »

Watch Sylvie Corriveau describe when she knew the doctor was abusing his authority:

RCMP ‘OVERLOOKED’ COMPLAINTS OF SEX ASSAULTS DURING EXAM, RECRUITS ALLEGE 1:09

She flatly rejects that Macdougall’s actions were in any way legitimate and maintains he was seeking sexual gratification during her exam.

« If the investigators did in fact state that his techniques were acceptable medical tests back then … I am flabbergasted, because they were not, » Corriveau told CBC News.

Gravelle says she can’t understand why Macdougall’s medical training has any bearing on the allegations by the 30 complainants. « I don’t understand what any of that has to do with anything. If he’s archaically been trained … it’s still inappropriate behaviour, conducted to a woman in an office, behind closed doors in secret, and still under the threat: « You do this or I’m going to have your job. »

Complaint filed against Toronto police

Helen Henderson, who received compensation last month from an RCMP class action fund for abuse victims based on her encounter with Macdougall, says she is enraged Toronto police will not lay criminal charges.

« It’s absolutely devastating after all of our efforts, » Henderson said.

She’s filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director demanding a review of the Toronto police investigation. 

Henderson says she is enraged Toronto police will not lay criminal charges against Macdougall. (Rachel Houlihan/CBC)

« They didn’t do their job, » Henderson says.

Another woman, Laurel Hodder, describes the Toronto police decision as « devastating. » She is pressing ahead with her own lawsuit against Macdougall and the RCMP. Hodder was sent to see Macdougall despite senior brass being aware of complaints against the doctor.

« It makes you feel like you don’t matter, » said Hodder.

Send tips to dave.seglins@cbc.ca or rachel.houlihan@cbc.ca  
 

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We know who you are — turn yourself in, Toronto police tell woman videotaped tossing chair from condo

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Toronto police say they know the identity of a woman caught on video throwing a chair from an upper floor of a downtown condo building, but don’t know her exact whereabouts and want her to surrender.

Police received a « significant amount of information » from the public that helped officers determine the woman’s identity, Const. David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police Service said on Tuesday

He declined to release the woman’s name or age, but told CBC Toronto: « We are in the midst of contacting her and giving her an opportunity to consult a lawyer and turn herself in. »

Hopkinson confirmed police have spoken with the woman or someone acting as her representative.

Police believe the chair-throwing incident occurred Saturday around 10 a.m. ET at a condo in the Harbour and York streets area, which overlooks the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. It was captured on video and shared widely on social media on Monday. 

The chair that was thrown over the balcony is seen fluttering in the wind as it makes it way down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

Hopkinson said two chairs, among other items, were thrown over the balcony. Police are also looking for the person who videotaped the chair throwing.

There has been outrage over the possibility the tossed objects could have injured someone or caused an accident, as the expressway is right below.

Hopkinson said he obtained a copy of the video on Sunday and police began to investigate on Monday. 

The items, which police say were thrown from a « very high floor » in the building, landed in front of the entrance to the condo, police said in a news release.

Police have said the woman is wanted for a mischief investigation, but Hopkinson declined to say which charges she could be facing.

A video posted on the weekend on Facebook with the caption « good morning » shows a woman, dressed in black, taking a peek over the balcony, and then throwing a folding chair onto the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard below. 

On Monday, police released a photo of the woman, who they say appears to be in her 20s.

Police said the incident has prompted dozens of calls. 

« People can stop calling now, » Hopkinson said.

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As RCMP investigated casino money laundering, police distrust of B.C. government grew

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Senior police officers were concerned B.C. government officials might have leaked information that “compromised” October, 2015 RCMP raids targeting sophisticated alleged underground casinos in Richmond, B.C., according to records from a B.C. Lottery Corp. whistle-blower.

Global News

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The records obtained by Global News and source interviews suggest that as RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime (FSOC) unit ramped up casino money laundering and underground banking investigations in 2015, senior police and B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB) investigators increasingly viewed B.C. Lottery Corp. (BCLC) — and possibly others in B.C.’s government — with distrust.


READ MORE:
B.C. casino ‘knowingly accepted’ millions from banned loan shark, audit alleges

Notes taken by Ross Alderson, BCLC’s former head of anti-money laundering, say that on Oct. 19, 2015 he and senior Vancouver Police anti-gang officer Mike Serr discussed co-ordinated RCMP raids that took place on Oct. 15, 2015 as part of the E-Pirate investigation.

WATCH: Global investigation raises more money laundering concerns






And there were serious concerns that the suspected illegal casino operators may have gotten advance warning that police were watching.

“Discussed sensitivity in sharing information as Operation was compromised,” Alderson’s notes say. “No. 4 Rd Location had original warrant date (Oct 14) circled on a calendar. Concerns Govt knew more than Senior Police did.”

The E-Pirate raids of 11 locations, including an alleged underground bank in a Richmond office building and luxurious homes that RCMP said hosted illegal casinos, targeted a suspected organized crime loan shark named Paul King Jin and a number of Lottery Corp. high-rollers from China, according to Alderson’s notes.

“11 locations hit – Some residential. No arrests at gaming houses (vacant),” Alderson’s notes say.


READ MORE:
‘BCLC could have stopped this’: Former casino investigators question whether officials unwilling to stop criminal activity

Serr, who is now the chief of Abbotsford Police, said he could not comment for this story.

Alderson’s notes contain a detailed breakdown of the cash, computers, and casino equipment the RCMP say they seized in the E-Pirate raids. About $6 million in cash was seized, and three Baccarat tables, plus 7,000 decks of new cards, according to police.

And there were two illegal casinos, including a mansion on Richmond’s No. 4 Road, with “29 surveillance cameras,” and stacks of chips that could have come from Lottery Corp. casinos, according to allegations in the notes.

But the alleged casinos believed to be run by Chinese Triads appeared to have been quickly abandoned.

Global News asked the RCMP and B.C.’s government whether information was believed to be leaked that compromised E-Pirate raids, and whether there have been investigations into the integrity of information sharing between RCMP and B.C.’s government. By deadline they had not responded to questions.


READ MORE:
Secret police study finds crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016

Global News has been unable to reach Jin directly or through his lawyer for comment on the allegations. No charges have been filed. Charges were stayed in the E-Pirate investigation, and the B.C. combined forces anti-gang and illegal gaming unit has made a number of arrests in a related investigation. Evidence is now being reviewed by B.C. crown prosecutors, and its not known whether charges will be laid.

Alderson told Serr that the Lottery Corp. was aware of the location of the alleged gaming houses and lists of Chinese VIPs believed to be connected to Jin, his notes say. BCLC also knew high levels of B.C.’s government had been briefed, according to Alderson’s notes.

Alderson’s notes said that he and Serr “agreed that a lot of people had inside knowledge of this operation but reiterated no one (to my knowledge knew of any dates of the operation).”

“I talked about concerns that (BCLC’s) gaming expertise may not be utilized through cutting BCLC out,” Alderson’s notes on the call with Serr, concluded. “Assured him that BCLC did not know dates of operation.”

But sources with knowledge of the perspectives of GPEB and RCMP investigators, said that GPEB investigators had joined a special task-force in the spring of 2015 and accompanied RCMP on the E-Pirate raids in October. And the B.C. gaming regulator investigators later openly complained that the raids had been compromised.

WATCH: B.C. union calls for casino money-laundering public inquiry in B.C.






Growing distrust

According to Alderson’s notes, even before the compromised E-Pirate raids, he had learned by September 2015 that senior police in B.C. and GPEB investigators were losing trust in the Lottery Corp.

But back in February 2015, according to Alderson’s records, the Lottery Corp. and RCMP apparently had agreed to share information for a targeted probe of Jin.

On Feb. 12 at the Lottery Corp.’s head office in Vancouver: “BCLC met with RCMP (federal serious and organized crime) to lodge a complaint (of) cash drop offs at Casinos involving a male by the name of Paul ‘King’ JIN who was believed to be associated to organized crime,” a report filed by Alderson says. Alderson told Serr that the Lottery Corp. was aware of the location of the gaming houses and lists of Chinese VIPs believed to be connected to Jin, his notes say.

On July 20 and 22, Alderson had discussions on the Jin file with senior RCMP officer Calvin Chrustie. A report from Alderson says that Chrustie advised him of investigations into underground banking at an alleged Richmond “cash house” as well as probes of gamblers in Lottery Corp. and illegal casinos.

The RCMP had “uncovered that potentially some of the funds at the cash house were linked to transnational drug trafficking and terrorist financing,” Alderson’s report says.

Alderson’s records say that in the following days, officials including Lottery Corp. executives, and high-level officials in B.C.’s government were briefed on the bombshell information.


READ MORE:
A B.C. money laundering public inquiry is backed by every demographic that was asked in this Ipsos poll

But for some reason, information sharing with the Lottery Corp. had gone sour by September 2015, according to a report filed that month by Alderson.

In his September 2015 report, Alderson wrote he had “received information that senior police had directed their operational staff to deal with GPEB rather than BCLC. Comments were made that there had been unwillingness by BCLC leadership to address, what was in the police’s eyes, clear acceptance of huge volumes of cash which ‘one could reasonably suspect were likely proceeds of crime.’”

In response, BCLC said that it takes money laundering seriously, and that in advance of E-Pirate, from late 2014 through February 2015 BCLC asked the RCMP to investigate suspected loan sharks.

WATCH: Were B.C. casino staff connected to money-laundering suspects?






BCLC stated: “a senior official of the RCMP advised that while BCLC should continue to share information with the RCMP and complete suspicious transaction reports, that official also cautioned BCLC not to take any other action without first discussing it with the RCMP’s Federal Serious and Organized Crime, ‘so as not to impede any ongoing criminal investigation.’”

While Serr is not with the RCMP, court filings show that throughout 2015, RCMP’s FSOC and Vancouver police had overlapping drug-trafficking and casino money laundering probes focused on a transnational Chinese gang connected to a massive alleged underground bank in Richmond with suspected links to Latin American and Middle East drug traffickers.

International anti-money laundering officials estimate the Richmond underground bank laundered over $1.2 billion per year for international narcos.

sam.cooper@globalnews.ca

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Mounties dial back warnings about dangers of fentanyl exposure for police

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The RCMP are reviewing how their members should handle fentanyl following new reports that downplay the risks faced by frontline officers exposed to the drug.

While fentanyl remains a deadly and unpredictable drug for those who take it, new research from within the RCMP suggests that police officers aren’t likely to overdose on the opioid by absorbing it through their skin or inhaling it.

« Exposure to people handling the substance is not as high as we thought it was initially, » Sgt. Luc Chicoine, the RCMP’s national drug program co-ordinator, told CBC News.

That marks a shift in the RCMP’s thinking since just a few years ago, when the police service released a video warning about the dangers fentanyl and other opioids pose to first responders — a line picked up in media reports.

Chicoine, who has been part of the RCMP team dealing with Canada’s opioid crisis since its infancy, said that when the crisis began, police had to act on a « worst-case scenario. »

« At that time, the information available on fentanyl was very, very limited, » he said.

The RCMP’s initial caution, Chicoine said, « created a little bit of a monster and fear within our membership and within the community. » He cited reports warning people to be wary of touching shopping cart handles to avoid accidentally coming into contact with fentanyl.

‘Risk is relatively low’

The force is now reviewing available evidence to help clarify the RCMP’s fentanyl policy. The results of that review likely will be shared with other police organizations.

« We have created a little bit of a fear and that’s what we’re trying to solve by doing the full, ‘Let’s take a step back and take a position for the RCMP,' » said Chicoine.

There have been reports of first responders requiring medical attention following suspected fentanyl exposure. In May 2018, a member of the Seba Beach Patrol Service in Alberta was rushed to hospital after he picked up a vial of powder he found on a road. In 2017, the union for Alberta correctional officers raised alarms after several members came into contact with the drug.

Bruce Christianson, the RCMP’s director of occupational safety, said wearing standard protective gear such as gloves and masks should be enough to protect police officers.

RCMP Cpl. Derek Westwick, left, of the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Team, guides a member of the team – wearing a type of protective suit worn when dismantling drug production facilities containing fentanyl – into a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, September 3, 2015. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

« When you’re actually seizing the drugs, the risk is relatively low, » he said.

« If you take the proper precautions and you do your job as you should, then the chances of being exposed are not as great as, you know, some may have feared early on in this crisis. »

Chicoine said the new findings could affect how officers go about seizing and handling the drug — but the biggest change will be to undercover investigations.

Mounties first began carrying naloxone in October 2016 to treat opioid overdoses. In that first year, Mounties administered the antidote in 286 suspected overdose cases. In that first year, just four officers were given naloxone.

« No follow-up toxicology has been done to confirm if it was, in fact, due to an accidental exposure to fentanyl or if it was other psychosomatic symptoms, » said Chicoine.

According to the latest figures from Health Canada, there were 2,066 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada between January and June 2018, bringing the national death toll up to 9,000 since the start of 2016.

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Toronto police on how they caught Bruce McArthur: ‘We got aggressive and thank goodness we did’

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The weather suddenly changed in early December 2017, when Toronto police investigators obtained a judge’s permission to covertly enter serial killer Bruce McArthur’s apartment — and the patterns of the self-employed landscaper naturally shifted.

Police had been surveilling McArthur for months, as a suspect in the death of Toronto man Andrew Kinsman. Detectives had established when he came and went from this Thorncliffe Park apartment, travelling to jobs around the city, often leaving at 9 a.m. and not returning until after dark.

Insp. Hank Idsinga, right, says serial killer Bruce McArthur "hid in plain sight," going undetected for years with his soft-spoken demeanour. At left is fellow lead investigator Det. David Dickinson.
Insp. Hank Idsinga, right, says serial killer Bruce McArthur « hid in plain sight, » going undetected for years with his soft-spoken demeanour. At left is fellow lead investigator Det. David Dickinson.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

Snow and cold temperatures changed everything at a crucial time in their probe.

“It made it very difficult to predict anything that he was going to do,” Det. David Dickinson, a lead investigator on the McArthur investigation, said in an interview Monday.

Nonetheless, police went ahead with a surreptitious entry on December 7, 2017, copying a USB drive, and 45 per cent of an old desktop computer hard drive before they realized McArthur was on his way back and had to pull out, after only about an hour. They didn’t know it yet, but they had what they needed.

As heard in court last week, during sentencing submissions after McArthur, 67, pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder, it was through that search that Toronto police found key evidence: photos of deceased men within the killer’s digital files.

Dickinson noted the photos had been deleted and were cached, meaning they could have been wiped by the computer at any time. It’s possible that, had police gone in a week later, “we may never have found them,” he said.

Discovered on Jan. 17, 2018 — after more than a month of police sifting through roughly 100,000 images — the photos were sufficient grounds to arrest McArthur, which they’d planned to do within a few days, after obtaining the required search warrants. In the meantime, police put McArthur under round-the-clock surveillance with the caveat that he wasn’t to be alone with anyone.

It was only 24 hours later when they had to intervene, after watching McArthur enter his apartment with a man now known only as “John” — a gay recent immigrant, like many of McArthur’s victims. Police would later find that McArthur had kept a folder of photos of each of his eight victims, before and after death, and had created a ninth for “John.”

Ontario Superior Court judge John McMahon said in his sentencing decision last week that he had “no hesitation in concluding that if it were not for the police intervention … John would have been the ninth victim of Mr. McArthur.”

Dickinson said the decision to arrest McArthur once he was seen with “John” was immediate. What followed were a “very stressful” few minutes before the arrest, including an agonizing wait for the only functioning elevator to McArthur’s 19th-floor unit.

“We knocked on his door with the intent that, should he not answer it, we were going through regardless,” Dickinson said.

Ontario Superior Court judge John McMahon said in his sentencing decision last week that he had “no hesitation in concluding that if it were not for the police intervention ... John would have been the ninth victim of Mr. McArthur.”
Ontario Superior Court judge John McMahon said in his sentencing decision last week that he had “no hesitation in concluding that if it were not for the police intervention … John would have been the ninth victim of Mr. McArthur.”  (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

McArthur, he said, did answer the door and “was surprised.”

McArthur was sentenced Friday to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years, when he is 91. Court heard how a break in the case came when police were investigating Kinsman, McArthur’s final victim, who went missing in June 2017. Police found a note on Kinsman’s calendar on the day he went missing, saying “Bruce,” then used surveillance camera footage to zero in on a 2004 red Dodge Caravan.

Cross-referencing the vehicle make and model with owners named Bruce, Dickinson narrowed in on McArthur, while sifting through the records at his dining room table.

Quick to give credit to officers on the Project Prism team, Dickinson said there were times when investigators got “lucky,” including during their search for McArthur’s red van. After they identified McArthur as the owner of the van, and found it in Bowmanville at a residence connected to McArthur, it soon went missing for about two weeks.

It turned out McArthur had “junked” the van, or brought it to a wrecking yard, something Dickinson said he initially thought was suspicious, but may have just been because the van was breaking down. A natural next step in the investigation was to canvass wrecking yards, and Det.-Const. Josh McKenzie and Det.-Const. Patrick Platte soon located the van at a Courtice wrecking yard.

Unlike most wrecking yards, which quickly destroy cars, the van was mostly intact because the yard often salvages parts.

“We got lucky that it was 90 per cent intact. Finding the vehicle was a big day,” Dickinson said.

The men Bruce McArthur killed: They are, top, from left to right: Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi; and bottom, from left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman.
The men Bruce McArthur killed: They are, top, from left to right: Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi; and bottom, from left to right: Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman.  (Star Wire Services)

McArthur was the only one of five van owners named Bruce to have had a recent encounter with police: in 2016, a man reported that McArthur attempted to strangle him, which resulted in McArthur being arrested but released with no charges.

Professional misconduct charges have since been laid against Toronto police Sgt. Paul Gauthier, who is alleged to have conducted a negligent investigation, including taking only a written statement from the victim when policy required it be taken on video. In a letter written by Gauthier and obtained by the Star last week, he denies his investigation was negligent.

Shortly after McMahon’s decision came down Friday, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders faced pointed questions about the investigation at a news conference at police headquarters — including whether mistakes had been made in not identifying McArthur as a killer sooner.

Court heard confirmation last week that McArthur was interviewed as a witness in 2013 during Project Houston, an investigation into the killer’s first three victims: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Majeed Kayhan. According to an agreed statement of facts, McArthur confirmed he knew Navaratnam through a friend, and that he’d employed Kayhan and had a sexual relationship with him. An analysis of Faizi’s belongings, meanwhile, showed he knew McArthur.

Saunders told reporters last week that he was committed to transparency around prior investigations, but said “I can tell you from what I know, things were done properly.”

In an interview Monday, Toronto police Insp. Hank Idsinga, also a lead investigator in the case, said “it wasn’t uncommon to interview somebody who knew all three of those men. Very small, close, tight-knit community — everybody knew everybody,” he said.

Former Ontario Court of Appeal judge Gloria Epstein is currently reviewing how Toronto police investigate missing persons cases, and has asked that her mandate be expanded to allow for her to examine how the force handled the probe of McArthur. Some within Toronto’s LGBTQ community and beyond argue more should be done, and that there should be a public inquiry into why McArthur wasn’t caught sooner.

Saunders said he is committed to transparency and that the service will co-operate with any review, no matter which form it takes.

Asked if he could understand how McArthur went undetected for years, Idsinga said the killer is much like he presented last week, shuffling through the courtroom and sitting in the prisoner’s box.

Toronto police officers defended the investigation that led to Bruce McArthur’s arrest. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years on Friday after pleading guilty to killing eight men with ties to the city’s gay village.

“He’s not intimidating by any stretch of the imagination, he’s soft-spoken and he just blended right in. Hid in plain sight,” Idsinga said.

With the court phase of the McArthur case completed, Dickinson said an opportunity has arisen to make a change, and pursue an interest he had early on in his career — and one that was key the McArthur probe. He will soon be moving to the K9 unit.

“It was those dogs who found the remains of those eight men, and it was those dogs who ultimately assisted us with bringing closure to the families and at least be able to return the remains, which was something I wasn’t sure we’d ever be able to do.”

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Police seek public’s help in ID’ing woman in video that shows her tossing chair off condo balcony

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Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a young woman who threw chairs off the upper floor of a downtown Toronto condo building.  

A video posted on the weekend on Facebook with the caption « good morning » shows the woman taking a peek over the balcony, and then throwing a folding chair onto the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard below.

As of mid-morning Monday, police said they believe the incident took place in the last few days and that two chairs were thrown, not one as originally thought. 

Sgt. Ron Boyce told Radio-Canada that police believe the condo is at 55 Bremner Blvd., and said condo management is working with them. 

The video cuts out before the chair she’s seen tossing lands on the highway, so it’s not possible to determine if it hits a car or causes an accident.  

The chair is seen spinning in the wind as it falls down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

​Last week, the CBC reported on residents of a downtown condo tower who were infuriating their neighbours in a nearby building by throwing trash and liquor bottles, and vomiting from their balconies.

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