Read this and substitute the words “Paul Bernardo” for “Russell Williams”:
The [Paul] Bernardo case, like every similar investigation, had its share of human error. But this is not a story of human error or lack of dedication or investigative skill. It is a story of systemic failure.Virtually every interjurisdictional serial killer case including Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) and Black (the cross-border child killer) in England, Ted Bundy and the Green River Killer in the United States and Clifford Olsen in Canada, demonstrate the same problems and raise the same questions. And always the answer turns out to be the same – systemic failure. Always the problems turn out to be the same, the mistakes the same, and the systemic failures the same.
Perhaps the most important thing that Campbell pointed out in his report was this:
What is needed is a system of case management for major and interjurisdictional serial predator investigations, a system that corrects the defects demonstrated by this and so many similar cases. A case management system is needed that is based on cooperation, rather than rivalry, among law enforcement agencies. A case management system is needed that depends on specialized training, early recognition of linked offences, co-ordination of interdisciplinary and forensic resources, and some simple mechanisms to ensure unified management, accountability and co-ordination when serial predators cross police borders.
As Antonia Zerbisias pointed out in a column at The Star as long ago as February, various detachments of the Ontario Provincial Police along with Belleville police did no such communicating and coordinated case response. Why not?
At the time that Paul Bernardo was operating, there was no ViCLAS automated crime linkage system in place. As Campbell pointed out in his report, such a system would likely have alerted police to the fact that rapes being committed in Scarborough, Ontario were related to rapes in St. Catharines. There was no system that would recognize the wider public interest in catching a serial rapist, interest that went beyond that of one particular community.
It’s my understanding that there are such systems in place now. But the police have to use them. Did anyone in Tweed or Belleville or Brighton enter information into the system that should have linked the sexual assaults of Laurie Massicotte and “Jane Doe” with the rape and murder of Corporal Marie-France Comeau? What about the series of break and enters in these communities that involved the theft of “lingerie” and other personal items of the women who lived there? Given that police take such crimes to be so unimportant and trivial, that has to be unlikely.
I want to know. Given the slow speed at which the police and our justice system incorporate the knowledge that could lead to saving the lives and bodily and personal integrity of women, we can’t get the answers to these questions soon enough. Four days of courtroom time this week did not give these answers, or even ask the questions. Much as it troubles and tires me to say this, we need a public inquiry conducted by someone with the integrity of an Archie Campbell. Are we going to get one? Or have we been so mesmerized by visions of the Colonel wearing stolen underwear that we have lapsed into our own private comas? As Campbell said, so many years ago:
There must be a public recognition that these problems are not just problems for the police and law enforcement communities. They are problems for the community as a whole. A commitment to correct them is necessary in order to guard against another case like this.
I feel liked chopped liver & I can’t even comprehend how the little one is feeling. Now if I could get a message out to the masses it would be-if you survive a violent act of sex don’t report it, just run for cover & find your own protection minus the police & the system they represent.