Cop shop photo-op is its own reward

The Vancouver Courier: By: allen garr, August 1, 1999.

I’m quite prepared to be proven wrong on this, but all I saw this week was an American TV star stroking the egos of a few smalltime politicians…

THE SAD CIRCUS SURROUNDING THE MISSING women on the Downtown East Side continues. On Tuesday, John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted, flew into town and limousined down to the cop shop for a photo-op with two men who never miss an opportunity—Mayor Philip Owen and B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh.

Walsh’s star status packed the room with several dozen media types and seven video cameras—one was his own, another was shooting for PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer, which is doing a documentary about Walsh. It was all very cozy.

Vancouver has become a regular stop on Walsh’s circuit. Even with our unremarkable homicide rate and declining crime rate, the man with the voracious video machine who hunts down new bad guys every Saturday night finds enough here to warrant a trip. He operates on a kind of ‘90s version of "the pen is mightier than the sword." In his case, the pen is a TV program, and the sword is the police force working on its own.

Walsh claims 15 million viewers and appears to get results. Just over a week ago, he featured Ninderjit Singh, the fellow suspected of killing Vancouver high-school student Poonam Randhawa. Walsh figures Singh will be in custody within the next few days and certainly in time for an update on the next show.

Walsh also takes credit for uncovering that Vancouver West Side soccer coach who turned out to be a Yank wanted for sexually molesting his stepdaughter. He’s now hunting for the sniper who plugged Vancouver abortion doctor Garson Romalis in 1994.

But none of this means he will be able to help solve the puzzle of the missing women.

What was most pathetic about the copy show photo-op was that there is really nothing new. Oh yes, there is a composite poster now with photos of 31 missing women, but photos of these women have been in wide circulation for sometime, not just in Canada but south of the border too.

There was nothing new in the $100,000 reward, including the fact that, despite Walsh’s insistence to the contrary, rewards seldom work. They have a low success rate in cases where there are victims and a crime scene. In the case of these women there appears to be neither victims nor a crime scene, to say nothing of suspects or any indication of a "serial killer."

Any cop willing to be honest will tell you the idea of a reward is ludicrous. It has produced nothing, although two women on the list have turned up. One as in an Arizona mental institution; the other is hoping to remain incognito in Nanaimo avoiding an abusive relationship.

Walsh kept emphasizing the point that this is the first time in his 11 years as a crusading crook-catcher that he has ever heard of a reward being offered "in light of the fact that there is no evidence of any foul play here, or criminality." He thought what the city, the police board and the province were doing was really swell.

In reality what is going on is a politically motivated distraction. The cops have been bullied into going along and that includes assigning eight officers full-time to these cases, some of which go back 20 years. This is not to say the cops don’t care; they simply realize the impossibility of the task. But their pragmatic policing practices have been overwhelmed by the lobbying efforts of understandably distraught friends and relatives bending the ears of politicians who only live to be popular.

I’m quite prepared to be proven wrong on this, but all I saw this week was an American TV star stroking the egos of a few small-time politicians, getting them to make a vacuous announcement to meet his deadline and providing him with a few minutes of video for his next show.

Smile! You’re on America’s Most Wanted.

Cult activity could be involved in disappearance of 31 women

The Vancouver Courier: Wednesday, August 11, 1999.

To the editor:

It’s not news that egos get stroked in politics as was reported in "Cop shop photo-op is its own reward," Aug. 1 by Allen Garr.

It’s true that by itself the $100,000 reward for information regarding the 31 missing women in the Downtown Eastside won’t produce results.

But, adding immunity from prosecution, and the witness protection program, the cash reward may produce results.

Common sense suggests that serial killers, not simply many individuals, are involved in these crimes. Beyond the 31 missing women, more than two dozen women are known to have been murdered in the community.

he reason that a pattern involving serial killers has not been indicated, is that there is also cult activity involved.

Does John Walsh, the host of America’s Most Wanted, deserve to be described as being part of "sad circus," according to columnist Allen Garr?

Don Larson,

Sparwood Case on American TV-Aug.3/99

AMW Host applauds handling of case



Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016