MEDIA ADDRESS – APRIL 12TH, 2018
Good Morning. I’m Les Kaminski, President of the Calgary Police Association.
It has been a challenging two weeks for our members. On two separate calls, violent criminals tried to murder three of our officers. It’s only because of the actions and incredible courage of our people that we aren’t making arrangements for three funerals, and three families aren’t grieving the loss of their loved ones.
ASIRT has made the decision to NOT release the names of the criminals responsible for the attempted murders of these three officers. There is no law or legislation compelling them to withhold this information. The Calgary Police Service has followed suit. We, the Association, would like some answers on behalf of 2200 police officers AND the citizens of this city.
ASIRT’s has taken the position to protect the identity of these individuals and their families because they are victims of homicide. That is ludicrous. Make no mistake, these are not victims. They are dangerous, violent offenders who attempted to murder three police officers. They are dead because of the actions they took, not because they were innocent victims. The gunman in Abbeydale died after a violent crime spree. He did an armed robbery, attempted a carjacking, and then tried to murder two of our members, one who is miraculously recovering from a gunshot wound. The second criminal is dead because the officer he tried to murder defended himself and stopped his determined attempt to kill him.
There is significant public interest in these incidents. Wouldn’t you want to know who was responsible for a shootout in your neighborhood? In Abbeydale, this criminal fired high powered rifle rounds in a residential community, with no regard for public safety, putting innocent lives at risk. He held the entire community hostage while he did everything in his power to escape the police. Our courageous police officers sheltered families from danger and insisted that moms and dads and children take cover in their basements. Other residents were kept away from their homes near the scene in order to protect them from danger, all while police officers came under fire.
In the second incident, this violent criminal chose to victimize a random citizen, who only by chance, was a covert police officer. It could very easily have been one of the innocent residents of that neighborhood who he attacked, and we might be talking about a murdered Calgarian, a victim of a random violent assault.
If either of these criminals had survived they would be facing numerous serious criminal charges and their identity would have been divulged, no questions asked. They died because of the decisions they made. In light of this, ASIRT still stands by and protects their identities. They preach they work to provide transparency to the citizens regarding the police. Where is the transparency now? Where is the accountability?
There are important reasons why it is imperative to release these criminal’s names to the public. These events point to the likelihood that these criminals were prolific offenders. If their identities are released perhaps more citizens will come forward with important information resulting in a much clearer picture and understanding of either perpetrator. This is important for three reasons; first, it gives some context into why these events happened. Secondly, it shows the citizens that their officers are making good decisions, and that they are dealing with dangerous people with evil intentions. This improves the public trust in us. Perhaps the most important reason of all, it may give clues as to how we can prevent similar incidents like this from happening again, making Calgary a safer place to live.
It’s proven that this information is instrumental in uncovering problems in other areas of the criminal justice system. In 2015, when Constable David Wynn was shot and killed by Shawn Rehn, it was only in releasing that killer’s name that it was exposed that Rehn was currently out on parole, and had a long, violent criminal history. Further, even though on parole, he had been released on bail for 15 other offenses, some violent. Only by releasing Rehn’s identity was this discovered. This triggered a closer look at mistakes which happened in the system, which will hopefully prevent a similar incident from occurring again.
The Calgary Police Service has been silent on this issue as well. Who are they protecting? In the Abbeydale incident, the Calgary Police Service is investigating the crime spree that led up to the shooting. ASIRT only investigates what occurred after the police engaged with the suspect and shots were fired. If the identity has been determined, the Service certainly has that information and has the capacity to release details surrounding the robbery and attempted car jacking. The Service has released suspect’s names countless times in the past. In the second incident, the identity of that criminal has been determined. In other violent attacks, the criminal’s identity has always been released. Why is it a secret this time? Why has the Service gone silent, when it’s this case which should be made public for so many reasons?
We have members who were involved in these calls who are now dealing with the aftermath of a critical incident. In fairness to them and to help them recover and find some closure, these names and details must be released. The Service does not take orders from ASIRT. Their investigation is not jeopardized if information of the incident prior to the shootout is released. Why is the Service complicit with ASIRT’s flawed decision?
Our member’s wellbeing is a priority. Their mental health is at stake. The officers directly involved deserve to know who tried to kill them, as do all our members. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. They can only heal and move forward in their lives once they get closure. Not having these answers makes it impossible for them to deal with the psychological trauma that comes after being involved in this kind of incident.
Our citizens deserve answers. They need to heal as well. They need to know what, if anything, could have been done to prevent this, and what can be done in the future. They have a right to know who terrorized their neighborhoods and tried to kill three police officers. If there is no public interest in knowing who would take on the police in a public venue, when IS there public interest? When criminals are killed in a public arena, such as this, it makes everyone feel a little more fearful. ASIRT and the Service preach transparency. They must be transparent now. The citizens of Calgary and the members of the Calgary Police Association deserve some answers.
ASIRT provides civilian oversight over all police agencies in Alberta. Their responsibility is to investigate and inform the citizens of this city of incidents which impact our communities and our citizens. It is imperative that a complete understanding surrounding all aspects of these incidents are revealed. This is the framework which allows a fair assessment to occur when the actions of police officers come under scrutiny. This allows for fair and complete answers when our citizens ask, “Why?!” A crucial component of that picture is the identity, character and history of the criminals we deal with. The citizens deserve to know the entire picture. Not the bits and pieces that ASIRT chooses to reveal.
The Calgary Police Service also has a responsibility to the citizens of this city, and to the 2200 police officers who serve these citizens. Our citizens must have confidence in their police. Knowing the identity and history of criminals that drove them to use lethal force goes a long way to building that trust and confidence in the people we serve. It shows that we work to keep them safe from violent and dangerous criminals. It shows them we are making good decisions.
Our citizens, and the police officers who serve them, deserve better.