The Regina Police Service confirms that a 56 year-old male made his first court appearance in Provincial Court yesterday morning (Thursday, August 11, 2016) at 9:30 a.m. charged with Luring a Child via Computer 172.1(1)(b) CC. The individual charged is Kenneth Mark DAVIS, DOB: 1960-04-18, of Regina. DAVIS was arrested on August 10, 2016 at approximately 11:15 p.m. in the 2900 block of 13th Avenue. Police were dispatched to that area as the result of a citizen complaint.
The Regina Police Service is aware of Regina citizens who call themselves “predator hunters” and wish to remind the public of the following:
Every police service relies on the cooperation and assistance of the public when it comes to community safety. We are always encouraging the public to contact us when they see something suspicious or to call Crime Stoppers if they have information that could help in an investigation. The majority of our investigations start with a member of the public reporting something to us. That trust and cooperation in police is vital to successful investigations and our community’s safety.
That said, this development of citizens trying to catch online predators gives us some concern. Remember, we are happy for the public’s desire to help…but there can be unintended and potentially dangerous consequences:
• The average person isn’t trained in the rules of evidence, so it’s possible the information/evidence gathered before police are involved might be excluded from any court proceeding;
• There is a risk to the safety of members of the public, including the so-called suspect, if there is an actual meeting. You don’t know who you are dealing with or whether the suspect is armed or desperate. Things can escalate very quickly, resulting in a tragic outcome.
• All of us are subject to the Criminal Code of Canada and other laws and, even if a person thinks he or she is doing what is “morally right”, there’s always potential that person could be charged if there is evidence he or she broke the law.
• There is much encouragement and enthusiasm for such groups being expressed online, but members of the public must take care not to incite violence or other offences.
• Residents are also reminded that there are situations when there may not be patrol cars immediately available for dispatch to a so-called citizen arrest. Such situations increase the potential for something bad to happen if a suspect becomes desperate or the citizens’ behavior becomes vigilantism.
• Our investigators for internet child-luring are very specialized and they are always busy…unfortunately there is no shortage of people who prey on children. Arrests like this may take those investigators away from more urgent investigations where an actual child is being abused. Our goal always is to conduct thorough, quality investigations and events like this, although they may be satisfying in the short-term, challenge our resources in the bigger picture.
The Regina Police Service is not criticizing citizens for their desire for community safety, but everyone needs to understand that these so-called “predator hunters” are not working for, or working with, the Regina Police Service…any more than the average law-abiding citizen works cooperatively with us. As mentioned, there may be a short term gain with an arrest, but the potential for violence, injury, unlawful behaviour and compromised investigations outweighs the perceived benefits.
The Regina Police Service offers this advice: if you see suspicious behaviour…and that includes seeing a provocative message online…report THAT to police. Don’t take it upon yourself to be the investigator or the arresting officer.
Also, the Regina Police Service is always recruiting…if you feel you want to be a police officer, then come and apply for the job. We have information available on our website at www.reginapolice.ca or you can attend one of our information nights to learn more.