Mounties finally admit serial killer is prowling Edmonton

Yesterday, the RCMP revealed what the public has known all along; that a serial killer has been preying on high-risk women in the area of Edmonton, Alberta.

So what took police so long to reveal that Project Kare was more than just a trolling exercise? If you take the words of Myles Lake, the father of one of the victims, police never saw dead prostitutes as much of a priority:

“This may sound ignorant and vulgar, but it’s the truth: If it would have been an RCMP officer’s daughter or [Alberta Premier] Ralph Klein’s daughter, it would have been taken care of a long time ago… How many girls is it going to take to catch this person? It’s getting as bad as that pig farmer down in B.C.”

Lake’s comments are depressingly accurate (but in light of Pickton, shouldn’t we have demanded that the RCMP handle this one with a little more savvy?).

Now listen to the RCMP’s excuse – via Constable Tamara Bellamy – for waiting eighteen years to disclose to the public that a serial offender has been at work in the Edmonton community:

“Police are not comfortable officially labeling him a serial killer because it seems to be terminology that is sensationalized by the media, by movies…”

This old gem is sung all too often, and frankly it is the kind of shuffling that insults the intelligence of the public. Yes, it is a hindrance to law enforcement to prematurely panic the public about the hunt for society’s monsters. Also, the air waves are jammed with the sound of amateur profilers – pumped on the sleuthing steroids of the CSI effect – offering speculation, misinformation, and innuendo.

That said, there are a good number of rational minded people who – believe it or not – have not been following every daily nuance of the Natalee Holloway case, or care less about the Karla-countdown. Yes, the media’s frenzy for doling out this daily pap – like some steady and macabre I.V. drip – is irresponsible, but this does not excuse the RCMP from the responsibility to disclose this critical information to the public.

Especially unsettling is that the police can make the decision to disclose or not to disclose without any review process. Should there not be an oversight process – outside of the cumbersome Federal Public Inquiry, which is too costly and lethargic to be effective – where police are held accountable for such decisions? Eighteen years is an awful long time to be kept in the dark. We should expect law enforcement to at least give a review board an indepth answer as to why public disclosure was not undertaken, and some analysis of whether any mistakes may have been made along the way.

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