Castanet reporter Kelly Hayes has some serious cojones. But it seems the RCMP thinks they may be a little too big. (Castanet is an established Kelowna news website)
Hayes made an undercover drug buy, filmed the deal, turned the evidence over to the cops, and is now apparently being investigated by the RCMP for his actions.
Earlier this month, a Kelowna resident contacted Hayes to complain about the constant traffic and relentless noise at the apartment unit above her. She took video and, convinced her neighbour was a drug deal, spoke to the RCMP. She was told she didn’t have proof, so she then went to Castanet, which showed a hell of a lot more initiative. Here’s Hayes’s story.
He went undercover as a pothead, bot $40 worth of weed, then turned the whole thing, plus the video evidence, over to the cops. Hours later, police raided the unit.
The RCMP said they were already monitoring the house. Castanet news director Trevor Rockliffe said Hayes was being monitored during the transaction to ensure his safety.
From the story:
“Kelly told the RCMP and we waited a couple of weeks for something to happen, when nothing was being done we shot the video.”
The news director says he prefers his team to report the news and not be the news, but sometimes you have to do what you can to help people.
“Our concern is for the neighbour who brought the complaint to us. She is at risk, and she knows it. She was put at risk by the city when they tried to send a letter to her stating they were looking into the drug situation at the property. The letter never reached her, it was addressed to the dealers upstairs. Something had to be done.”
Three people are facing charges, but the RCMP say they are also investigating Hayes’s actions. They told Castanet:
“We are considering the totality of the circumstances including the quantity of drugs and the intent of the transaction on his part. We are continuing to consult with Crown Counsel.”
The RCMP spokesperson said the force doesn’t condone the actions and that Hayes “committed a criminal offence” (which could be a legally risky thing to say).
Hayes told the Vancouver Sun that he’s upset that he could face charges.
“I was pissed,” Hayes said, saying it was the RCMP’s idea that Stein go public with the story. The Kelowna RCMP did not make anyone available on Sunday to discuss the case.
This isn’t the first video shot by Hayes to lead to criminal charges—but the last time it happened, it was a Mountie who ended up in court. (The Mountie was recently acquitted on one assault charge but still faces the count linked to Hayes’s video.)
If I was Hayes I wouldn’t be too worried. The fact that the RCMP officer is speaking about “the intent of the transaction” seems designed to give the cops and Crown counsel the ability to not lay charges. It’s understandable that they want to discourage people from orchestrating their own undercover drug buys. So they’ll likely huff and they’ll puff and in the end no charges will be laid. At least I’d assume that’s what will happen. Still, I can understand Kelly’s concern. He did, after all, buy $40 worth of pot, on camera.
In which news website The Whistler News publishes a post with the headline “Whistler RCMP Accused Of Unlawful News Disclosure” and the Whistler RCMP issue a public reply:
In an unbylined article, the News cites the Official Languages Act, of all things, to condemn the Mounties:
The Whistler RCMP Detachment on the week of July 22 – 28, 2012 refused to share the weekly news information via the public RCMP websites or directly via email with all members of the public who requested it. The only possible way to receive the news information from the Whistler RCMP Detachment was to appear in person on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM. The accusation of unlawful information disclosure has been voiced by some members of the community. The allegation claims that by forcing people to enter the RCMP Detachment that it is a denial of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms. The claim is based upon the fact that the area inside the Whistler RCMP Detachment is not neutral ground, therefore some members of the public are automatically denied freedom of speech and expression by the unequal sharing of weekly news information by the Whistler RCMP Detachment.
The following example is given as evidence to support the allegation brought forward against the Whistler RCMP Detachment.
- On Thursday July 19, 2012 The Whistler News contacted the Whistler RCMP Detachment to request that the weekly news updates be provided.
- RCMP Sergent Rob Knapton noted that the weekly update news information is not shared via email or the RCMP websites, but instead in an in-person meeting.
- An invitation was provided to the meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday July 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Whistler RCMP Detachment.
- The news information is provided on a weekly basis in English only.
And the Mounties issued a public reply to The Whistler News‘ claim:
Last night (July 25th) I received an email from the Whistler News via the BC RCMP email address. The email expressed concerns with not having received our media release pertaining to speeding vehicles in Whistler. This morning, while looking into this matter and hoping to address this privately with you, I discovered that you chose to publish your article called Whistler RCMP Accused of Unlawful News Disclosure without giving us a chance to respond or comment.
The news release on the speeding vehicles was fanned out via our media email distribution list and widely covered by media. I am concerned that you neglected to state in your article that you had recently asked to be removed from that very list. In fact, you statedI never saw anything regarding Whistler in my inbox so I asked to be removed from it a couple of weeks ago.
Your article then states that the Whistler RCMP’s weekly media briefing isforcing people to enter the RCMP Detachmentand you call thata denial of freedom of speech. For clarity, people are not forced to attend the RCMP Detachment unless they’re under arrest. Media are invited to attend to be briefed on local issues. That is a longstanding practice in many RCMP Detachments and is done as a courtesy to local media. Your assertion that we have somehow impacted your freedom of speech is absurd.
If you would like to be re-added to our media email distribution list please advise and I will see to it that you are immediately re-added.
Supt Ray Bernoties
Officer in Charge
BC RCMP Communications
So, I think we can give that round to the Mounties.
A couple other points: The Whistler News seems to like the local Whistler RCMP press releases, seeing how they regularly publish them verbatim with no editing. Also, who writes or edits this site? Most articles are written by “Staff Journalist.” I see some very good Canada Day photos attributed to [REDACTED at the request of the photographer to preserve his Google results]. But no one’s taking credit for the words.
Burnaby Now reporter Janaya Fuller-Evans has written a blog post in which she says she fears for her family’s safety because of the RCMP’s inability or unwillingness to enforce a civil restraining order against her drug-addicted ex-husband.
On Wednesday, Fuller-Evans published a post on her personal blog about the difficulties she has had enforcing a civil restraining order against her ex-husband, who is now homeless and addicted to crack cocaine and heroin.
The restraining order was granted in March. Fuller-Evans writes that since then, her husband has repeatedly breached it. She’s called police in the past, and was told her ex would be arrested “if he phoned or showed up, and it wasn’t regarding visitation.”
This week, after another incident, Fuller-Evans called Mounties again. She writes:
The dispatcher spoke with her supervisor, and they both agreed they needed to send officers over to take a statement and then arrest Dan.
At 11:30 p.m. they called and said they couldn’t make it out because of a major incident – understandable. Then they told me they could only enforce the order if Dan didn’t return our son after a visit. This made no sense, as he’s not allowed unsupervised visits.
When I asked what I should do, I was told that if Dan assaults me, I could get a criminal restraining order, and they could arrest him. This was presented as my best option.
I know that the police are overworked, have incredibly long shifts, and encounter profoundly upsetting things on a daily basis. But I have a protection order that is enforceable, and thus far, they have not enforced it. Twice, when I called in, I was told it either didn’t exist or was cancelled.
But I am saying this now, publicly – I am afraid for the safety of my family. I am afraid that we will leave our apartment one morning and he will be out there in a bad state.
Scary stuff and hopefully the RCMP will smarten up. Too often, the force’s right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. (Indeed, while the tasering and the sexual harassment and the shootings get much of the press, I think (from personal experience) the force also has major internal communication that need to be remedied pronto.
Fuller-Evans is no stranger to dealing with other people’s drug addictions; last Sunday, she blogged about the toll drug addiction has taken on both her sister and her former best friend.
It’s a helpful reminder that sometimes the people reporters write about aren’t so different from the people they know, love, or have loved—for better or for worse.
With the Keith Lacey/Osoyoos Times/RCMP thing having died down, I want to look at the hubbub from a journalism aspect.
Since I’m doing so anonymously, I’m consciously going to tread lightly and not burn Lacey too much. There’s not much point in piling on and it’s hard for him to defend himself.
That said, I think there are important lessons to draw from the incident.
There are the obvious ones of course:
The column clearly needed more editing than it got (the last of which probably should have been to just say “Fuck It,” and hit the delete button). And it was definitely one of those that needs to simmer a while in the edit-later box before being posted or printed. A couple edits, I think, gets rid of some of the indulgences Lacey allowed himself with the piece.
But mainly, I want to address some the larger questions.
1. Let’s deal with naming the officer. Lacey regrets doing so, and it was clearly the name that got RCMP brass so upset. But if you’re going to publish the article, is there any journalism-ethics reason to omit the name?
I don’t think there is (although there is clearly a tactical reason, vis-a-vis one’s relationship with the RCMP). You have a name, you print it. That’s kinda how it works, so long as you have a story in the first place.
2. The first thing I thought when I read the RCMP reply was that the communications officer in question seemed to be putting himself in an awkward position. To allude to a video, but then not to release it, seemed strange and not exactly kosher.
3. The word slander is thrown around far, far too much.
4. It’s important, I think, to build relationships behind the scenes with RCMP officers and to show them that you are willing to be fair, even if they aren’t always going to like what you write.
I had an officer casually threaten to throw me in jail once. It was nothing big and it was an empty threat to get me to move out of a quasi-police scene.Seeing that I was on my way out, already, I left without making a scene. But after it happened, I casually mentioned it to a contact at the local cop shop, who said that shouldn’t have happened. The issue was solved, my point was made and my contacts were reminded that I was reasonable and fair.
There are too many problems created when people—journalists and non-journalists—feel attacked and decide to go on the offensive. We see it happen too often at all levels of every profession and it almost always ends badly, with little resolved.
Sure, sometimes you need to write a song like “United Breaks Guitars,” but only after you exhaust all other options (as the singer did in that case). The right to legitimately and ethically launch a written attack on someone or something for a personal slight is a privilege that must be earned through repeated and prolonged suffering and humiliation. (Which is why it’s important to put down the attack piece for a day or two and consider whether your feelings simmer.)
Here, with his two cents, is Jeff Lee’s opinion on things from the comments section of the original story:
The real problem with this story is that it has the potential to hurt a lot of serious and well-meaning journalists.
The RCMP have, in recent years, seemed to crash from one side of the room to the other with publicity and credibility gaffs. The Robert Dziekanski taser incident. The handling of the Pickton investigation. Allegations of harassment of female Mounties by their own colleagues. Etc. etc. etc. They don’t really need our help in pointing out their flaws.
But at their basic they’re also professional force and for every bad apple there’s a whole orchard of good people. Sometimes they mess up. But more often than not they do a fine job.
In this case, I am surprised and disturbed that a member of the media would use a forum such as an editorial for such a personal attack. The old saying “never get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel” isn’t a license to attack someone who is doing their job, even if you don’t like the job they’re doing.
I’ve lived in small towns and I’ve seen cops – human beings – do stupid things as much as the guy next door. But I also would expect them to do their job and if that means pulling over someone who is coming out of a bar, restaurant, whatever, that shouldn’t be too surprising. I once watched the Boston Bar RCMP detachment set up a roadblock at closing time outside the only bar in town, much to the imbibing population. A lot of people walked home that night.
The appropriate thing, if you think you are being unfairly targeted, is to take the officer’s information and make a complaint to his superior or to the RCMP Public Complaints Commission.
Getting into a very VERY public pissing match with the officer – especially in a small town where everybody knows each other and your kids are likely to be on the same minor hockey team – doesn’t usually end well. This editor is going to have a credibility problem, and in our business credibility and integrity are the only tangible commodities we have.
I’m not suggesting one should roll over when faced with a bully cop. But cool heads, common sense and the shelving of ego and sense of entitlement as a journalist would better resolve these kinds of disputes.
Frankly, as a journalist of more than 30 years, I would never gratuitously wave my credentials around. In fact, if anything, journalists need to be held to as high a public standard as police, judges, politicians and others they cover.
We live in a goldfish bowl, and to mix metaphors, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Personally, I want to see the video. I also am curious to hear what the owner of the newspaper has to say about this
As a general rule, I don’t read websites’ comments sections. Generally, they seem to be filled out by writers who just like to see their words on a screen. Debate turns into sniping too quickly, and actual conversation is drowned out by idiots.
In general, though, the more niche an audience or community, the better the comments section. This blog usually appeals to no more than a couple hundred writers. That fact means that the comments section has thus far functioned as certain web utopians think online discussions should: enabling interested parties to engage in a thoughtful discussion and fostering community.
Clearly, though, things go awry when Joe and Jane Public get involved.
Last week, thousands of visitors interested in the Osoyoos Times thing visited this blog. Dozens took the time to comment. Some posts were thoughtful. Others showed emotion. Some drew on personal experience. And others were idiotic, mean-spirited, repetitive or pointless.
For those who didn’t want to wade through all those, I’ve collected a handful of the best comments. Sometime in the near future, I plan to write about what (I think) the whole episode says about, and means to, local B.C. journalists. (I’ll also exerpt Jeff Lee’s comments at that time, instead of below).
Anyways, some half-decent comments:
I really hope that the RCMP releases this video. If you didn’t do anything wrong then you should have no problem doing as a police officer asks. The whole article that this editor wrote sounds ridiculous. How can he think a breathalyzer test is a ‘traumatizing experience’? His girlfriend in tears and sick?
People like this editor are ridiculous, thinking that the police are out to get them. Sounds like all the Cpl was doing was his job…trying to keep people from driving drunk, who cares if you get pulled over, blow into the machine and go on you merry way. It means the police are precautious and are making sure no one is driving impaired.
This Editor totally abused his power as a writer and a reporter. The video needs to be released.
The whole tone of the editor’s article is amateur.
The RCMP Officer was doing his job. Too many people die from drunk drivers every year. In Canada, the latest information suggests that of the 3,045 individuals killed in traffic accidents, 1,239 were the result of drunk driving. On average, that is almost 4 people per day.
The officer does not have to apologize to you. He did not have to kiss your butt just because you were not over the legal limit. Good for you. Everyone that is driving a vehicle should be just the same. Did you want an award for being an ass to an officer that risks his life everyday. Next time you are in need of help in any way I am sure you would call the police. These officers are doing their job and it is great to see. You should do your job and write about something that is more important like drunk drivers and their families that have to cope with the loss. Great story Osoyoos Editor. This story will bring you lots of readers but they are not in your favor.
I was an RCMP member for 28 years and became used to small town newspapers using their publications for their own one sided rants although I must say this one likely takes the cake. I look forward to the retraction from the ‘editor’ and please advise us all out here when the date is set for us all to have a look at the video and see the ‘real story’. I assume Mr. Lacey would have no problem with this…..would he??
“…Connecting the dots to reach an incorrect conclusion is the privilege of the general public and not that of a professional journalist.” It’s reassuring to see so many, non journalists, exercising their inherent right to jump to conclusions and expressing same via their right to freedom of speech. To comment on the issue at hand through the use of hyperbole in support of one’s own paradigm does little to foster credibility for any stated argument. As the axiom goes, “better to remain silent and thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
The Motor Vehicle Act allows any police officer in BC to stop a vehile to check for three things; check for a valid drivers license, check for valid insurance and to check the sobriety of the driver. For some reason Mr. Lacey thinks a person operating a motor vehicle has to do something wrong before they can be stopped, and goes on to say that this is a free country and not a police state. If Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that this only applies in the USA where there must be a violation before a traffic stop can be conducted.
Then Mr. Lacey says that Cpl McLeod did not have reasonable or probable grounds to be conducting an appoved screening device test. Again, if Mr. Lacey knew anything he would understand that an officer only has to have a suspicion of the presence of alcohol in the drivers body, upon determing care and control of the motor vehicle.
Reasonable grounds is not required because the driver is not yet under arrest. The approved screening device allows the officer to move from a suspicion to forming the opinion that the driver has committed an offence under Section 253 (a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. In this instance it would appear that the officer could articulate his suspicion, which is all that is requried. A valid breath sample on average take about 3-5 seconds and requires the subject to blow into the end of a plastic tube while standing roadside, hardly a traumatizing experience.
It is in-appropriate for Mr. Lacey to write his OPINION in a column that may be misunderstood by readers as factual. To tell the true version of events he should perhaps consider telling both sides of the story and have an understanding of the BC Motor Vehicle Act and the Criminal Code of Canada.
[I like that comment, but the last sentence is notable (and irritating) in how it shows how the public sees opinion writing versus news writing. Opinion writing does need to be factual, but it can also be slanted towards one's opinon, obviously.]
Suck it newsie! I hate the media.
Jesus came our debt to pay, Saved our soul in grace one day; So in love we all should live, Ready always to forgive!
WHEN IT SEEMS YOU CAN’T FORGIVE,
REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU’VE BEEN FORGIVEN!
This is certainly a good lesson to all of us looking in & judging & wanting this mans life to come to ruin from his mistake obviously made! I just hope that he can see what he has done & move onto being a better human being!
Lets face it! we have all made mistakes, some bigger than others, but that is no reason to crusify!
[I'm not a huge Jesus aficionado, but I like the sentiment.]
Tom Larking, again:
I don’t think anyone is saying that this gentleman is unworthy of being forgiven. It really is more of a case of a “stone thrower” getting hit with his own ricocheting rock! The question then becomes, “Did he learn from the experience?” No one is questioning his value as a person. It is more of a case of just identifying to the media that one of their own has acted poorly. Now let’s see as an entitiy whether or not the media can hold themselves to the same standards of behaviour and reporting that they impose on the rest of society. If this reporter has not learned from his experience then he is simply destined to repeat it. Next time, if there is a next time, the cost of the lesson may be more expensive than just embarrassment. No real harm done here, just the red face of embarrasment. I think we have all been there, some of us maybe even more than one. It’s call life. Learn from it and move on.
I am somewhat confused how someone “wrote the truth”, yet needs to apologise. You don’t apologise for the truth. It is fair to say that if the officer in question had been in the wrong he would not have lost his job; rather, some disciplinary action would have been taken.
Mr Lacey, if he is truly remorseful, should not receive a life sentence for a lapse of judgement. Nobody died here, someone just made a stupid mistake…
And then John and Tom break for some geneology chat:
John: Did you know there is a school in Winnipeg named after your name sake? I went to John Taylor Collegiate in Winnipeg in the early 70′s. Just thought you’d like to know. Cheers..Tom Larkin
Tom: The Taylor family at one time had a plan for total world domination; unfortunately, due to our move to BC, we got distracted by the warmer weather and forgot all about it…
Seriously,it’s interesting you mention that as my grandfather was a schoolmaster in Scotland back before the turn of the century… Taylor was the Singh of the 19th century I think… we were all over the place!
Another great one from a cop:
I’ll have to remain somewhat anonymous, as RCMP members are under scrutiny to not be seen as influencing social media sites… and I’m no spokesperson so I can’t comment on this incident specifically. What I’d like to say though, is the type of service people experience from police is often a reflection on the ‘tone’ of their community. If there is a certain group of people, especially in a smaller town, that sees it as a game to try ‘get away’ with whatever they can – then the police often get pushed into a response-driven method of policing where tickets and enforcement are needed. Basically, because there is no respect for the rules a community expects its citizens to abide by, and the police become a focus for this lack of social skill.
Because that is what we are really talking about… it’s not about driving drunk, or going 10 km/h over the speed limit. It’s about a group of people, your friends and neighbours, participating in a system of laws that are based on their own values. Police don’t make the rules, but as community members we participate in this process as well. The majority of people have decided that impaired driving is a cause worthy of significant penalty. And, courts have decided that some Charter Rights can be bent to accomodate the goal of public safety (Check Stops for example). So, when someone chooses to drive drunk – they are creating a risk, committing an offence, and my job is to stop that from happening. Because that is what the people in my community have asked me to do.
The issue that always bothers me about drunk drivers is their lack of respect. It reveals itself in their hatred for police, and that is just part of the job, but it really bugs me that they feel so disconnected from their community that they risk so much just to ‘stick it to the man’.
Being a safe, sober driver isn’t about complying with ‘big brother’ or police abusing their power. It is about a citizen abusing THEIR power. It is them choosing to disregard their community’s expectations on civil behaviour because of some selfish of immature reason.
it’s the same attitude of people that we go deal with endless noise complaints, whose dogs run free and terrorize the kids, drive their ATV’s in the campground, or who otherwise just don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves.
So… that is where I come in. Because I do give a shit. And I completely expect that in the course of my lawful duties, that this polar opposite in attitudes is going to create conflict. I don’t enjoy the conflict… or dealing with the Public Complaints Commission… but, I sleep quite soundly every night knowing that being fair and professional as a police officer sometimes means some people are going to be unhappy.
But, I think of the other people that I’ve made happier – and it all works out just fine. I don’t often hear from the happier people, but every now and then one of them will let me know I’m doing my job.
So to Mr. Editor, I thank you for letting me and the community know that there is someone doing their job just fine in Osooyos. To each their own in deciding which person they want that comment to refer to.
And somebody points out that the RCMP letter may not cast the writer in the best light either:
The editor was miles out of line for many reasons, most of them noted above – and he should lose his job.
What about the threat in Supt. Bernoties final sentence: “I look forward to a retraction or correction and to, potentially, facilitating the public’s viewing of this video.” If I said I had a video of you doing something embarrassing that would cause you to lose your job and demanded you do something or I’d make it public, what’s that called
Blackmail. An unprofessional threat at the very least. Is Cst. Julian Assange working in the RCMP media room now?
And why is everyone jumping to the conclusion that the video would be damning of Mr. Lacey? Why not just release the full, unedited video instead of issuing public threats? The Vancouver Police Department set that precedent with the guy smashing the bus window with his skateboard. The RCMP’s version insinuates Lacey was acting like a major twerp in the video – maybe he is, maybe he’s not and the RCMP is calling the kettle black with their own defamatory attack.
In my opinion, this pissing contest is soaking everyone involved – including you and me when we foot the court costs for two defamation lawsuits.
And one of the worst that I really felt the need to address:
RCMP member “Mike” advocates clamping down on free speech:
Don’t write cheques with your mouth that your ass can’t cash. As police officers, we deal with these types of false complaints all of the time from self rightious complainers who believe that they will have the officer fired for their “tramatic event”.
Reality is, the RCMP are being transparent, respectful in their response, and have physical proof of their comments. The so called Jounalist has nothing except for a vomiting g/f witness who I would have no doubt say that she was “tramatized” as well.
I am not saying all police officers are angels but any officer who is attempting to enter into an Impaired Driving Investigation should be applauded, not shamed. Too many times we have to attend MVA,s or Veh/Pedestrian accidents due to a self rightious driver who is better than the cops and “won’t get caught cause they never do”. The general public continue to drink and drive because they do get away with it. Job well done to the RCMP.
To the “jounalist”, speaking of abuse of power, nice job in using a public forum and paper to commit Public Mischief. Yes that is a criminal code charge, so now you may be treated like one. Being in a paper, there are plenty of witnesses. I hope to see your name in the paper next…..in the court readings.
Really? Public mischief? The day something I write gets me charged with public mischief is the day I frame my court summons.
Osoyoos Times editor Keith Lacey posted an apology today to the RCMP officer he singled out in his notorious column last week.
A very nice apology, indeed. Although the last sentence would be more accurate if he substituted his own name for that of McLeod (whose reputation, I think, remains very much intact).