In a tweet late this afternoon, Cobourg Police Chief Paul Vandgraaf said “So he is on house arrest type conditions for a multiple violent robberies … comes 2 hours to Cobourg to deal drugs, is arrested, lies to the police and is released at bail? Dumbfounded is all I can say!” The story started yesterday when Police “commenced a drug investigation into activity at 351 John Street” and “arrested an adult male. At the time of arrest, the man was on release for numerous outstanding robbery charges stemming from a Greater Toronto Area investigation. He was also failing to abide by his condition of house arrest at the time of this interdiction.” Not especially unusual. They seized a quantity of illegal drugs and cash and charged Prince Owusu, 22-year-old of Brampton with drug possession, obstructing Police, giving a false name, possessing proceeds of crime and failing to Comply with Recognizance. But that was only the start.
They then held him for a bail hearing. That is, he was held in custody until he could appear before a Justice of the Peace (JP).
The best way to describe this is to quote the Police verbatim:
Upon arrest, police investigation revealed that the Owusu was currently on release conditions for armed robbery charges stemming from a Greater Toronto Area investigation in 2018. He was also on a house arrest condition, meaning he was not to be away from the residence without his surety.
This afternoon, on appearing before a Justice of the Peace at the Ontario Court of Justice, Prince Owusu was released on similar conditions to the same surety.
“Here we have an individual who, after allegedly committing violent offences, is released. He comes to our community to participate in the drug trade. Cobourg Police arrest him, and he willingly obstructs by offering a false name. How can it be that today, once again, he is released,” says Chief Paul VandeGraaf, Cobourg Police Service. “In following the Ministry’s own ladder approach, Owusu’s next step was detention. How did we go backwards? The system is not working. The release of this individual shows very clearly that we are not all on the same page when it comes to protecting our community. We are chasing our tails, and the good work of the women and men of my service goes to waste. We hear regularly that the drug issue in our community is a priority. We expend resources directly into making a difference. And when we do that, the system fails the community and the members of the Service.”
“It is disheartening for our members and our community. The ones who live through it every day, seeing that the police are actively working to make a difference and the courts do not support them in their efforts. The Cobourg Police Services Board fully supports Chief VandeGraaf and the incredible efforts of the Service members. Today’s release shows that we need to take a critical look at the current system and work together to protect our community.” – Chair Dean Pepper, Cobourg Police Services Board.
You wouldn’t blame Police for feeling despair. The rules say that he is now supposed to be in custody (jail). Why work to get known criminals off the street when they are just let go. (I guess I should add “alleged” – that’s the Politically Correct thing to say). Is there no appeal against incompetent JPs? Can they be fired? And we can be sure that this criminal will commit another crime before he is caught again.
And will he face the same incompetent JP? All we can hope is that he goes somewhere else (either Prince Owusu or the un-named JP or both).
The good news is that the Chief is supporting his team and the Police Board chair is supporting the Chief.