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Where is the chief of police when we need him?

A car burns on Park Street early on Saturday, following what neighbours say is a fire-bomb attack. Photo Samara Sterling-Sakis

A car burns on Park Street early on Saturday, following what neighbours say is a fire-bomb attack. Photo Samara Sterling-Sakis


On Sunday the CKReview broke a story about a firebombing on Park Street. The story had many thousands of views in this publication and stirred a lot of discussion on social media about why no-one else covered the story and why no police statement was made to what is a big story locally.

The CKReview immediately placed a request with the chief of police for information that would include their confirmation of the event as well as possible reassurances there is nothing for residents to be concerned about. That request was in turn handed down to Renee Cowell, the media relations person at CKPS, who contacted the CKReview to say the incident is under investigation. She also said there was no reason for “bigger words” (re: firebombing), even when a resident described it exactly that way. Not any resident mind you, but the citizen photographer who was there at the time.

Other local media had no police report of the story until today. 72 hours after it was reported in the CKReview, the story is finally making its way to other news organizations. Even when provided with the name of the person making the report to the CKReview, there was no word  that this ever happened except in the CKReview until today. That the competition to this publication had nothing about the story is another matter, one that does not concern us here.

What does concern us is the lack of response by the police and local politicians on this attack. Attached to the original story is a remark by the victim of the firebomb that when he finds out who did it, the real war will begin.

Apparently the CKPS have no concern for the worry in residents that they may be living in a potential war zone. Where is the mayor? Where is the police chief? On vacation? Getting fat? Too lazy or unconcerned that people are afraid?

Leadership? Where?

The leadership is gone missing when residents needed them the most. Residents are left to their own imaginations and gossip to conclude if they are safe or not.

The chief of police and the political leadership of this city owe the public an apology for being missing in action. And yet it continues until today, no word that this is an isolated incident. Nothing from anyone that expresses any concern at all. Is it the neighbourhood? If this had happened on the street that the chief or the mayor lives on, would this be the response?

The audacity to say nothing speaks to the concern that the powers that be have for the people. Obviously you are left to decide for yourself and fend for yourselves. Those supposed to be doing that for you have turned their back on the public. 72 hours after it was reported in the CKReview the police make their first public statement Approximately $200,000 a year for a police chief that cannot reassure the citizens when a firebombing takes place is inexplicable and irresponsible. This municipality deserves better.

See also: Victim of firebomb reassures CK that no war is underway

  • Alecia Durocher

    I do agree with your article Greg. It should NOT matter what neighborhood it happened in! Blackburn is now reporting that they (the authorities) are asking for anyone with information to call Crimestoppers…I think this should have been done immediately after the incident…As for the “victim” of the firebomb, would his quote not be “Uttering Threats?” NOt that he is not entitled to be mad as hell, but again the cops brushed it under the rug so when this incident is revisited in the streets by the victim and perps who will pay? Hopefully not some innocent bystander.

  • Theoneandonlyunderdog

    When I posted that a war would be on it’s not like a real fucking war is going to happen yes I’m pissed someone set the car on fire but it can be a enemy I got into a bar fight or anything with people in this town are stupid and on to many drugs and for as to being a drug war are u guys for real I go to school for my az and heavy equipment operator befor u guys start publishing shit about people and get people into truble for nothing get ur fax straight maybe that’s why none has published on this story yet but u and ron u knw me personally what the heck like if anything u guys are indangering my family how can u guys say shit and publish shit about people u knw nothjng about

    • Greg Holden

      I am curious how you consider anything here will get anyone into touble with the police that would not be because of their own actions. Blackburn has published that the cops have very little to say on it and that there is an ongoing investigation. This story asks about the concern people have that have been expressed quite openly with regard to their safety and is quite factually correct in expressing that concern.

      How are we endangering your family?

      I am more than happy to interview you personally with respect to this story.

  • Theoneandonlyunderdog

    U guys make this shit sound way worse then it is that’s why no one has came to my house to report about it u relize the people ur getting ur info from is a crack head there selfs right like ur info really good

  • Henrie Timmers

    A very serious crime was committed. This is a FACT. Whether it was the result of a domestic dispute, a personal vendetta, or a gang activity, we don’t know. YET.
    Should the Chief of Police hold a news conference or even personally issue a statement? I don’t think so. While this was / is a very serious crime, if the Chief was to personally address every incident, he would be ineffective in his primary role which is guiding and leading the CKPS. I am quite sure there are a number of investigations underway he oversees that we are not aware of. YET.
    The CKPS has a public information officer. I am sure she posted or informed the public of the crime as soon as she could. What she cannot do however is divulge information about an active investigation. Perhaps tomorrow or the day after or whenever the PD feels it is possible to do so. I can think of a dozen reasons why they might not want to comment further on the investigation.
    The other point is should the Mayor make a statement? I personally do not want any elected official speaking on behalf of any police investigation. They shouldn’t have any more information then the rest of us. Either the Mayor and council support the PD or they don’t. If they do, then keep them out of investigations. If they have a faith and or trust issue, then it can be addressed in council.
    Sometimes our desire to know is exceeded by the need for us not to know.

    • Greg Holden

      The police response has left people in fear. When you ask them if their is a gangwar, their reply was it is under investigation. That left it open to that possibility. No ressurances from the police or any local leader shows a vacuum of leadership.

      There as no call here to divulge more information about the incident, it is to calm the fears expressed by readers that the police are taking action to ensure the safety of residents and their families.

      • Henrie Timmers

        I do understand part of your argument/logic, Greg.
        I myself want to know if this was gang related, but as the devil’s advocate, I can see where releasing this information might hurt an investigation.
        And, I know you will want to know why.
        Even as 10 years back, we didn’t have social media like Facebook, and independent news agencies like CKReview simply didn’t exist. People would likely not hear about this until either the local daily paper ran the story or later in the week when the free weekly papers came out.
        We have become a generation fixed on instant gratification and instant answers. Sometimes I’m not sure if this is better or not. In the case of the young lady who was sexually assaulted on Monday, instant notification of the attack would in my opinion be a good thing.

        • Greg Holden

          After my discussion with the victim of this attack, I am personally convinced this is not a gang war…. for whatever that is worth.

          So far it has been left up to him to relax community fears. The police did nothing in that regard.

          I agree that the attack in Wallaceburg on that 16-year-old could have been reported faster as well. Next up is how the authorities have not properly advised the community to the threat of meth and Fentanyl. People are dying and no-one is saying anything. That makes this look small in my mind.

          As for language used in replies and comments… the CKReview used to have a policy where comments would be reviewed for their first appearance and after one comment is authorized the reader has access to comment without being reviewed. Since the chance to Disqus that is wide open, anyone can comment and I have refused to censor any words. In the name of freedom of speech and in keeping with my own view on censorship, I allow for people to say anything that comes to mind. Only in an instance where legal ramifications could come to the author do I consider moderating a comment and even then I would seek the permission of the author to do so. That happened today with reference to this article as well and certain comments were removed.

  • Lexi

    Dear Mr. Holden,

    I have some
    serious concerns regarding statements you made in the above article.

    As a journalist myself, I do not understand how you feel that this particular article is accurate, or frankly, in good taste.

    First, to call the incident a “fire bomb attack” is grossly misleading and an irresponsible choice of words. I see now you have corrected your original comment which
    demonstrates why it is irresponsible to publish news stories without thorough investigation.

    I understand you are looking to bring traffic to your website, but that is considered sensationalism. That type of tabloid
    journalism would perhaps be more valued by entertainment news websites like TMZ. To exaggerate hard news stories for your personal gain is not exactly a respected practice by reputable news entities.

    I understand that perhaps a witness described
    the incident as “a fire bomb”, but it is your responsibility to the community to ensure accurate and ethical reporting, not simply taking one witness testimony as the unarguable truth. I encourage you to watch footage of real “fire bombs”
    in current war zones. I have written numerous articles on news media organizations stationed in war zones, including
    Al Jazeera, and I think you’d agree that to call a car fire, in which no one was injured, a “bomb” is not only an exaggeration, but a lie. And not only is it a fabrication, but highly disrespectful to those who live and work in
    situations where they are threatened by these types of calamities on a daily basis.

    This kind of ignorance does not add to your credibility as a reporter.

    You also state that you contacted the Chief of Police for information surrounding the case. Although you may be under the impression that the Chief can physically be at
    every crime scene committed in the Chatham-Kent area, unfortunately that’s not possible. As a media representative for the Chatham-Kent Police service, Constable Renee Cowell responded to your request for information, confirming
    the incident was being investigated.

    Now, if you were familiar with policing policies, which you clearly are not, they are not able to share details of a case with a civilian. Not only can information from the case dissuade witnesses, suspects, or culprits from coming forward, it also has the potential to place the victim in the spotlight. I speak with Renee on a regular basis and she has always been available for comment. If you’d like to
    be privy to police investigations, and feel you could do a better job “protecting” the community, perhaps you should hand in an application. After all, it’s easy to sit back and voice your opinions online, but quite another to swear an oath that you would give your life to serve and protect.

    I also find it strange that a photographer was there at the exact moment the fire began. Unless the culprit announced that he or she was about to light a car on fire, I
    don’t quite comprehend how a photographer, which you also say is under your employment, saw everything that occurred.

    Believe it or not, there are crimes committed all over the city which are not brought to your personal attention. Recent stats suggest that the majority of crimes committed are drug related. Did it ever occur to you that there is more to this “car bombing” than meets the eye?
    According to you, Mr. Holden, we live in the middle of a war zone where fire bombs are thrown through the streets and all our lives are at risk simply walking out our front doors.

    Yet, the numbers speak for themselves. According to Statistics Canada, Chatham-Kent is well below the national average for violent crimes.

    And lastly, to personally attack Chief of Police Dennis Poole was in extremely poor taste. It’s true you have freedom of speech as a Canadian citizen. However, to personally attack someone online, calling them “lazy”, or making assumptions
    about someone’s weight, is called bullying. You may ask where Chief Poole was at 3:00 am Saturday morning when you desperately wanted a comment, I ask you:
    where is your integrity? Where is your professionalism? You resort to playground insults because a man was unavailable for your story?

    I can assure you the Chief was in fact not “on vacation”. A simple inquiry with his secretary would have told you he was sick with the flu. He is a human being and can contract the flu as easily as you or I.

    Consider that the person you are insulting has feelings the next time you make cowardly insults online.

    It seems to me your article was made to promote yourself, as you state numerous times that YOU got the scoop on a story before other local news agencies in Chatham-Kent.


    As a reporter you have a duty to report accurately, not just first. Inciting fear and calling Chatham-Kent a “war zone” might be the most preposterous piece of published “news” I have ever has the displeasure of reading.

    And the municipality definitely deserves better than THAT.

    • almostarptr

      get off your high horse loser. your not better than any other reporter out there. to have the audacity to write such a lengthy lecture of report writing indicates to me that maybe you should consider writing for “O” magazine. Maybe someone there will actually give a shit about what you have to say. You should also consider maybe teaching a media/journalism course at some community college! Then you can ensure that every article ever written will be almost as good as yours! The world would be so much better off!

      • Henrie Timmers

        This is a prime example of why I find it sad people can instantly spew a response for the world to see.
        We didn’t need the vulgarity in the response from “almostarptr.” Proper grammar would have been a nice touch as well, but this discussion is supposed to be about a possibility of gang violence in Chatham-Kent, not character assassination.

    • Greg Holden

      There is a picture of the explosive device (firebomb) used in the original article.

      I sent a message to his secretary and if he is sick with the flu then the responsibilitty lies with the 2nd in command Gary Conn. That there has been the fears that are expressed in this article is accurate reporting and the choice of words, such as war, were used by those people and their fears were voiced by me here which is quite professional to do.

      For an alleged journalist, I expect better than what you wrote. At no point did I suggest the chief should be at the crime scene or that we live in a war zone or that the photographer works for me or that the chief had to be anywhere at 3 a.m. or that any correction was made regarding the correct labelling of this as a firebomb. All of which detracts from the claim you are a journalist, you can’t even read what is clearly published or being argued.

      Why make up nonsense as you did? Don’t apply here. You couldn’t get in.

    • Greg Holden

      I especially enjoyed the analogy to TMZ. I appreciate that the law-and-order types applaud when I name names off the dockets in the courts and give the accused the TMZ treatment, however when that gets flipped around to the police themselves it is junk journalism.

      The police had 72 hours to respond and when they did it was to ask for the public’s help, knowing that it is unlikely to happen. The witness who took those photos has already told the CKReview more than the police have and the victim of the firebomb has done more to put the fears of residents to rest than the vacant leadership has.

      How do you justify your cowardly insults? If you are a journalist then put your name to it. I have.

      The photographer also took heat from the police for taking the shot of the actual explosive device. That would be the same one you conveniently skipped over. Next time, before you want to criticize, I suggest you learn your topic, do your research and THEN write. Demonstrating you are unable or unwilling in this instance only points to a lack of professional diligence.

    • Henrie Timmers

      I’m not 100% certain of your point(s).
      If you are calling Mr. Holden’s integrity into question, then it could have been done in a single sentence.

      Maybe we didn’t see or read the same article? A picture is worth a lot of words, even if the picture is doctored or enhanced, but I saw a picture of a car burning from the center. The flames were quite high, and the car was an obvious write off.
      As a citizen, I would really like to know those basic answers to the lessons of Journalism 101.
      What happened, to who, where did it happen, when did it happen, and why.
      Mr. Holden’s original story stated three out of the five and is obviously searching for the who and why.
      This is something I would like to know as well.

      However, I do agree with you on some points such as the role of the Chief of Police and his involvement in the investigation. I have already addressed this so I won’t bother repeating myself.

      I believe there are some people who are more afraid of this type of criminal behavior than others, and want answers now, right this minute. They’ll have to learn to live with the wait.

      Your comments on firebombs and Afghanistan, or the Middle East war zones are irrelevant to me regarding this story. This could have been an insurance scam, or simple retaliation by a local juvenile, but I don’t need to see more deadly or hear louder explosions to know I don’t want cars mysteriously bursting into flames in Chatham-Kent.

      Let’s try to focus on the story and not make this personal. This too is Journalism 101.

    • Cher

      First of all, I think Lexi has very valid points!

      Greg - I have some issues with several of your comments.

      1. You say that you did not get a response from the chief of police - it sounds to me like you did, you stated that the media relations person made a comment to you. The police are very busy working which is why they have media relations people to talk to the media.

      *”That request was in turn handed down to Renee Cowell, the media relations person at CKPS, who contacted the CKReview to say the incident is under investigation. She also said there was no reason for “bigger words” (re: firebombing), even when a resident described it exactly that way.”

      I’m not sure how a “resident” has the qualifications to determine that it was a “firebombing” and since it wasn’t determined to be that as of your talk with MR, why do you feel that was not a valid response from them? Investigations take time, I’m sure that it takes time to determine the cause of incidents.

      2. “Citizen” aka “resident” - do they have qualifications to determine a “firebombing” or do you think perhaps we should leave this to the police to determine the cause?

      3. Your quote “The leadership is gone missing when residents needed them the most. Residents are left to their own imaginations and gossip to conclude if they are safe or not.”

      *I would like to know how you feel “leadership is GONE when people need it”. What exactly are you referring to with this comment?
      Can you tell me why it is that the media feels the police aren’t there for people? Why? Because some of them actually sleep at night or because they work hard and take a holiday? Because they spend time with family when they’re not on duty? Why is it we can’t see what they ARE doing, not what you feel they aren’t doing? Do you know for a FACT that “leadership is gone when people need it”? Really? Show some respect for our officers who put their lives on the line every day for people like you. Show some respect!
      No one from the police dpt has commented this is what it was, no one but you and a common citizen/resident with a camera. Perhaps you should listen to the media relations dpt leave the ‘big words’ for people who deal with this and report on the facts rather than spreading speculation (aka gossip). Perhaps informing your readers of just the facts would be more helpful than dribble and your opinions. Informing your readers that ‘leadership is gone’ isn’t really very helpful.

      4. “Apparently the CKPS have no concern for the worry in residents that they may be living in a potential war zone. Where is the mayor? Where is the police chief? On vacation? Getting fat? Too lazy or unconcerned that people are afraid?”

      *Are you serious? A potential war zone???? What country are you writing from? That is insulting to the men and women who fight for our country in war zones! And to think the CKPS has no concern for the worry of people - really? First of all, how is it you came about this assumption? That is opinion, not FACT. And, did you interview people from this area to ask them if they have a concern about possibly living in a “war zone” or is this something you are speculating as well?

      *Perhaps the mayor and police are sleeping at this hour like you probably were? Too lazy or unconcerned - what are you thinking? What kind of person are you to make a comment asking where the mayor and police chief are - “getting fat”? How on earth does that have any relevance to the car on fire? ‘Too lazy’? - again, why would you say that? ‘Unconcerned’? Is that what you really feel? They are human beings doing the best job they can. They are fathers, husbands, friends, siblings with family in our community too. If you don’t feel they are around enough, perhaps you should take that up with the government spending budget - there is only so much money in the budget and it has nothing to do with the workers. It is insulting that common workers (aka, doctors, nurses, teachers, ambulance, police officers) are getting the brunt of all the media backlash from gov’t cuts. Perhaps you could look into why our gov’t isn’t putting money back into these essential services, ones that help us.

      I’m really not sure the reasoning behind some of your comments, they are your opinions not facts.

      • Greg Holden

        I stand by the quote that leadership went missing when it was needed the most.

        The reference to a war zone was based on comments made by the victim on the CKReview when he declared war on whoever did it.

        It is an opinion piece and so are all editorials in all publications.

  • Greg Holden

    For future reference to critics of the CKReview.

    Every article posted is a promotion of the CKReview. Suggesting any particular article is a self-promotion is to ignore that every single article is. Accusations of self-promotion are valid for every word published here and thanks for reading.

  • Greg Holden

    For anyone wondering… I have since spoken to the Chief since this was published and I can confirm he had the flu, delegated the return call to someone and that never happened. That was resolved internally at the CKPS.

    I can also confirm Chief Poole provided me with his opinion of this article, suffice to say it wasn’t in agreement. I can take my lumps, I hand them out and expect them in return.

    And FYI I look up to Chief Poole as a leader in our community and still do. This editorial contains personal references which I think emphasizes my anger at the time, so it will not be edited after the fact. I am big enough to live with my poor choice of words. I do not retract that there was a void of leadership at the time. My concerns merely echoed the concerns of many. A mere “We have increased patrols in the area” or “we have no concerns of a gang war in CK” and the fears of many people would have been put at ease.

    My hope for that kind of leadership was not met.

    The only real critique I accept with regard to this editorial is: a previous criticism of the police advised them to police and not to play news editor. In this instance, the editor should not try and play policeman. On that, I plea guilty.

  • Greg Holden

    I have closed comments to this editorial because I simply won’t be baited to reply by a single critic who can’t tell the difference between a news article and an editorial. This editorial is two weeks old, get over it. The firebombing is old news now. It was a firebombing, we have a photo of the bomb and it is posted to the original article. There were posted threats to escalate that situation (where war was used) and there was a vacancy of leadership in Chatham-Kent geared at diminishing the fears of residents.

    I note that this same critic deleted their last remarks, which suits me as I am not keen on debating an unstable flake who thinks this editorial is in any way disrespectful to the boots who work hard. The use of the words WAR and BOMB were not mine. Get over it. I reported the facts in the case and those words were factually used by many people. Easing the fears of the community is the role of the leadership and there was none. To say I had a reply from the police is hilarious. I had no such reply and had an apology of sorts for it from the police themselves. Get a life. I won’t babysit the ill-informed who want to cry about the realities that are out there.

    That the police issued, 72 hours after the fact, a plea for help from the public in this case, in no manner eased the fears of those who had them. It is a complete fail on the part of the CKPS and if you think otherwise then feel free to. They simply failed at doing what they are paid to do. Too fat? Too lazy? Who knows? Too stupid? People were calling me in fear. Just let them wonder? What kind of police is that?

    I had concerns from people well before the police released a plea for help from the public. They did nothing to calm residents fears whatsoever. They added to it with their communique that asked the public for help. It is a total failure on the part of the police in this instance. Out of touch with the people and it is obvious. I say so even after speaking with the Chief. Clearly they have no clue that a mere 2 minutes attempting to calm residents could have made a difference and until now seem oblivious to that.

    Just let the residents live in fear without even acknowledging this event took place for more than 72 hours? Even then, no reassurances that patrols were increased or anything at all while an entire neighbourhood sat on pins and needles wondering what is going on? We pay how much for this? Good grief.

    It was an abandonment of concerned people. Serve and protect is far more than a slogan, it is a duty that was not lived up to. If you don’t like me saying so, too bad. Let me underline it then. The police failed to calm peoples fears. They didn’t need to reveal their investigation, they needed to address that the event took place and that they would work hard to protect residents in the face of written threats to escalate “the real war”.

    Sucks in this town are afraid to say anything and I am not among them. This is why many of my followers read me. If you don’t like it, read someone else.