RCMP Assistant Commissioner Bill Robinson did most of the talking.
The province was setting up an Integrated Task Force for Missing and Murdered Women, he said. It's job: find out who's killing native prostitutes and dumping their bodies outside Winnipeg.
The news media swooned. It was official. They could now give themselves orgasms by saying "task force" as often as possible.
The unit is made up of three RCMP officers, two RCMP analysts and four Winnipeg police officers. And they're all experienced. Wow, imagine that.
How's it going to work, the reporters begged.
Well, said Robinson, they're going to review all the files of unsolved homicides involving female victims; they will review all the files on missing girls and women where foul play is suspected, and....they will analyze them to find similarities and links.
Oooooh, the reporters said. Why hasn't anyone thought of that before? That Dave Chomiak is a genius. How did he think of this?
But, there is even more Chomiak's office issued an official news release. "The unit will have access to the combined resources of both police organizations including the Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System (ViCLAS) database and the Project Disappear website."
We've seen staged news conferences before, but this was in a class all its own. How Robinson kept a straight face, we can't imagine.
They're going to review files and analyse them? Well whoop-de-doo.
What do you think homicide police do already? Sit around their office and play Clue?
And the super-squad is going to use ViCLAS? You mean the computerized program set up 12 years ago to let police departments share information on homicides, missing persons and unidentified human remains so that possible links between cases might be discovered and serial killers caught? That ViCLAS?
The one available to all police homicide units?
But Sheriff Barney Fife Chomiak was feeling the heat after the deaths of two native prostitutes in a month, and he did what the NDP does whenever it feels the heat. He issued a press release to demonstrate he's a man of action.
So the Integrated Task Force for Missing and Murdered Women is joining the Integrated Organized Crime Task Force, and the Integrated Gang Intelligence Unit in the public safety arsenal.
With better results, everyone hopes.
The NDP announced in the Manitoba Integrated Organized Crime Task Force in November, 2006.
"Our government is committed to an anti-gang strategy that allows prosecutors and law enforcement to focus resources on organized crime in the most effective way possible," Chomiak said. "Organized crime is directly linked to drugs, prostitution and violence in our communities, and fighting organized crime demands an aggressive, integrated response to keep our communities safe."
How's that worked out so far?
Are you feeling safer in your community now that "Six Months" Chomiak has run gangs out of town?
But, but, but, the Integrated Task Force for Missing and Murdered Women is modelled on the sucessful task forces in Edmonton and Vancouver, isn't it?
There's a discouraging thought.
Project Kare was started in 2003 to probe prostitute murders around Edmonton. They started out looking into 39 unsolved homicides and 40 missing women in Western Canada. They reviewed the files and looked for links. They even offered up a $100,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest of a serial killer.
After six years, they've made...
... two arrests.
* In May, 2006, a woman phoned police to say she found a woman's body in a hockey bag that had been left at her home in Fort Saskatchewan, near Edmonton. The bag was her brother's. Project Kare officers stopped reviewing files long enough to drive out and arrest the brother. They charged him with two murders, but he was convicted of only one; its hard to beat the rap when you're carrying a dead body in your hockey bag.
Okay, you want to know---did the sister collect the $100,000?
The police wouldn't say, citing privacy laws. But her bro only got convicted of one murder, so he wasn't exactly a serial killer.
* Then, in September, 2008, Project Kare announced they had made a second arrest. Did the unit, now 50 strong, use some of their "state-of-the art technology and cutting-edge investigative techniques"( to quote an Edmonton Sun reporter)?
Three men and two girls were convicted of a rape-murder. They had to give DNA samples, one of which matched DNA on a girl killed two days before their victim. You know, a DNA like the one regular, non-super-special homicide detectives make every day in this country.
Oh, and their suspect just won a new trial on appeal on his original murder conviction.
After six years and $9 million in salaries, Project Kare has solved zero murders on its own. It took one phone call and matched one DNA sample.
And Vancouver? Well, they convicted serial killer Willie Pickton. And, uh, they arrested and brought Willie Pickton to trial. And...........Willie Pickton.
Maybe if they had a police helicopter... What do you think?
Which brings us to Cherisse Houle and Hillary Wilson, the latest cause celebres of the aboriginal victim industry.
Remember when Winnipeg Free Press reporter Mike McIntyre was saying his super-secret anonymous justice sources were telling him the skinny was that Cherisse Houle was killed by a serial killer? That's old news, today.
The new news on CBC (which has been doing a pretty good job on the Hillary Wilson homicide, we should say) is that the deaths of the two young women may be related to their giving testimony at the trials of a gang of Asian men who traded cash and crack cocaine for sex with a bevy of teenage girls, as many as 20 ( the Free Press today claims another victim says 50), and as young as 11.
Its gotten the other girls involved in a frenzy. They're paranoid and convinced they're next to be scooped up and killed. CBC did a story about a "suspicious van" some of the girls saw on a North End street following a vigil for Wilson.
Calm down. Reporters still haven't learned that Google is your friend.
That gang turns out to be a group of six Vietnamese men in their fourties and fifties. At least two were deported and the others given stiff prison terms several years ago.
We could be wrong, but the idea of homicidal Vietnamese men prowling the streets bent on revenge strikes us as far-fetched.
more to come...