NBZ 836

While Toronto’s police board tries to untangle a messy outcome of “Integrated Security Unit” policing, a story from Alberta raises questions about just how “integrated” our existing police forces are within themselves—indeed, within individual divisions of themselves. You have to put the tale of the missing Lyle and Marie Ann McCann in chronological order, and assemble several news stories, to get the weird effect here. The elderly McCanns left St. Albert on a camping trip July 3, intending to meet their daughter in Abbotsford, B.C., on the 10th. As is increasingly common with retired travellers, they were towing an SUV behind a spacious motor home. On July 5, the motor home was found unoccupied and burning in a forest clearing near Edson, about three-quarters of the way along the Yellowhead from Edmonton to the Rockies. The registration card was retrieved and handed over to the RCMP.

This event apparently didn’t raise any urgent concerns about the whereabouts of the couple. The Mounties originally told the media that the Edson cops had passed along the information to the St. Albert detachment, and that officers there had knocked on the door at the McCanns’ address. This information, as the saying goes, now appears to be inoperative. Tuesday’s rather critical story from the Globe says “…officers from the Edson detachment tried calling the McCanns. When they received no answer, they asked St. Albert RCMP to knock on the door of the McCann home. RCMP supervisors don’t yet know if anyone did that…”.

The police, at that point, arguably had no way of knowing they were dealing with a potential double-homicide case rather than a run-of-the-mill stolen-vehicle matter. But on the 10th, the McCanns missed their rendezvous with daughter Trudy, who then reported them missing, and the Mounted leapt into action—putting out an all-points bulletin for both the SUV, which is still AWOL, and the RV, which had already been in RCMP possession for five days at that point. The initial news story about the missing couple actually notes that “Edson RCMP have been searching the area”…for the same motor home the Edson RCMP had found nearly a week before! How could such a thing happen? One hopes there will eventually be a better answer than “Nobody is perfect”.