Trial Essay Research Paper Ludwig trial put

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Trial Essay, Research Paper Ludwig trial put cash-strapped RCMP under scrutiny BOB WEBER EDMONTON (CP) – Wiebo Ludwig was the defendant, but many times it seemed the RCMP were the ones on trial. Eight weeks of testimony at Ludwig’s oilpatch vandalism trial raised repeated questions about a police force relying on tired, outdated equipment and in danger of taking bids on its integrity. But it’s not the first time. The Ludwig trial revealed only the latest example of a national icon so stretched that it sometimes no longer even tries to get its man. The trial sputtered to a close Thursday with allegations of abuse of process and 10 charges against Ludwig and friend Richard Boonstra abandoned along the way for lack of evidence. During the investigation, energy companies

victimized by repeated vandalism in northwestern Alberta grew so frustrated by the slowness of RCMP response that they helped set up a community group they could use to funnel money to police. Defence lawyer Paul Moreau said that biased the police so badly that Ludwig should be cleared even if the evidence pointed to his guilt. And when the RCMP did get serious, their covert agent relied on a 30-year-old hidden tape recorder that produced tapes so distorted that they seriously hindered the prosecution. It’s all too familiar to Cpl. Mike Funicelli, president of the British Columbia Mounted Police Association. “The issue of a shortage of resources, both human and financial, is clearly documented,” he sighs. In B.C., the fabled RCMP closed dozens of commercial crime files last

fall because there weren’t resources to investigate them. Some officers are responding to calls with personal vehicles. In an effort to raise money, some RCMP vehicles in B.C. bear both the logo of the force and those of corporate sponsors. The vehicles are used for community police officers, not enforcement. But Funicelli calls it “a very, very fine line. “Whether it’s used for enforcement or not, in my view it’s a clear ethical breach of the office we hold. We cannot become a private police force for anybody. “If I am a sponsor and I place my logo on a car, I may expect preferential treatment.” Journalist Paul Palango has written two books on the ailing RCMP and the developments of the Ludwig trial didn’t surprise him, either. “The RCMP right across the

country are doing this. They’re soliciting funds from local businesses in various communities to help them, say, with undercover work or whatever. “They just don’t have the resources. “Politicians are complicit in this . . . They’re getting policing on the cheap, and when you get it on the cheap you get what you pay for. “You can’t have policing operating as a business. You can’t have police operating too close to the public or too close to the powerful elements in that public.” The federal government tacitly acknowledged the force’s problems this year when it boosted RCMP funding in the budget by $584 million over three years. But the problems aren’t just financial, says Palango. “It’s a combination of factors – the cutbacks, the bureaucratic inertia

and the promotion system.” The RCMP polices everything from small Prairie towns to major offences to international crimes. The different roles have little to do with each other, yet officers in search of promotion are moved freely between branches. “They’re being torn in every possible way, so you’re not getting the right people in the right positions,” Palango says. Sgt. Bob Bilodeau, former head of the northwestern Alberta detachment where Ludwig lives, has said both resources and inertia were factors in the Ludwig investigation. The first reports of vandalism came in as early as 1996, but he says senior RCMP officials refused to recognize its potential to escalate. “Violence always escalates,” says Bilodeau, now on leave after a seven-month tour in the former