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The Starlight Tour / Midnight Ride

Bad Cops in Saskatoon Police

Seems the Sudbury police may be a bit jealous of all this limelight on Saskatoon. They want "in" and are now offering their own "Starlight Tour" [below]

In the 1997 column, "Blue Lagoon", Saskatoon officer described tough treatment of drunks

Blue Lagoon article

A 19-member RCMP task force is investigating a complaint by Darrell Night that two Saskatoon city police officers dumped him near the Queen Elizabeth II Power Station one night in late January. They are also investigating the deaths of two aboriginal men whose frozen bodies were found near the power station, which sits at the city's outskirts, on Jan. 29 and Feb. 3. The column to the left (Blue Lagoon) was published in June, 1997, in the Saskatoon Sun. In it, Brian Trainor, a Saskatoon police constable, writes about how two police officers, identified as Hawk and Gumby, handled a drunk:

Hawk and Gumby were assigned to the Riversdale area of the city for the year. Two young constables, eager for the excitement that they felt came with policing and working in Car 6 provided them with more than enough action. The days were considerably quiet, as they were throughout the city. However, the nights brought problems.

The July night was clear and warm as the sun had just set, leaving the sky aglow with a faint orange hue. Driving west on 19th Street, a call was heard from Car 5 requesting help at the Salvation Army. The men in five were trying to get a drunk into the back of their car, but the man was not co-operating. Being two blocks away, Car 6 volunteered to assist.

Getting directions that were very vague and to the west, Hawk drove off along 20th Street, hoping the passenger recognized something that looked like home. All the way, the two officers were regaled with tales of violence, how horrible things were and how their passenger could break their necks using only his big toes if he had the mind to.

As the streets zoomed by, the stories got more threatening. The volume of his voice rose and the acts of violence grew more pronounced.

Threats that heads were going to roll began and soon Gumby had to close the sliding window to prevent any attempt at assault.

By the time the men got to Montgomery Place, their passenger had turned into their worst nightmare, according to him, though neither cop had spoken a word the entire trip.

As they continued south along Dundonald, the tirade continued until they passed the last street light and entered the darkened countryside.

Queen Elizabeth II Power Station

An uneasy silence had overcome the man in the back. Sensing that this wasn't the way home, the drunk began to demand he be taken to the "highest power of the land."

A few quick turns and the car came to an abrupt stop in front of the Queen Elizabeth Power Station. Climbing out and opening the rear door, Hawk yelled for the man to get out, advising him that this was the place he had asked to go to.

Quickly gathering his wits, the drunk scrambled out of the car and into the thickets along the riverbank, disappearing from view. "One less guest for breakfast".


Homeless man alleges Sudbury police took him on a 'Starlight Tour'

Starlight Tour
Starlight Tour

A Sudbury researcher says a recent study has turned up some disturbing stories about alleged police mistreatment of homeless people.

Carol Kauppi with Laurentian University said in one extreme case, a man claims to have been taken on a "starlight tour" by Sudbury police.

That's a euphemism for when police pick someone up and dump them at the city limit - with a warning not to come back.

A formerly homeless man named George Stephen described his experience in a video on the Poverty and Homelessness Migration group's website.

Kauppi said Stephen's story is heart-rending.

"People have said they found it very disturbing because he was left there on the side of the road ... Highway 144, in a severe thunderstorm."

Stephen said he was in jail at the time.

"So they told me, if we get [you] out of jail, and drive you within city limits, are you going to go home? I didn't have a home. I said, 'okay.' I just wanted to get the hell out of jail, right?"

Sudbury police say Stephen's story doesn't add up.

Staff Sergeant Karrie Burke says Sudbury officers wouldn't have visited Stephen in jail. And without details like a date and other information, she said police can't comment on the claims. Are we expecting a confirmation?

Kauppi, who is also the director of the group Poverty and Homelessness Migration at Laurentian University, said about 30 homeless people in Sudbury talked about incidents they say took place in the city and around the province.

Kauppi said it's been more than 15 years since Saskatoon teenager Neil Stonechild died of exposure after he was taken on a "starlight tour".

"It is surprising to know this is still happening. It happened to several of our participants, as recently as 2009."