(WOODSTOCK, Ont. Canada) There was a lull in murders after I arrived in Flint. Then, as quick as semi-automatic pistol fire, there were three killings in four days so we figured it was time to get out of Flint for a while.
My mother’s cousin, Marge Munnoch, lives in Canada. She’ll be 91 in October. Marge invited us and several relatives for a mini-reunion of cousins I hadn’t seen in over 15 years.
The hour drive from Flint to Port Huron where you cross into Sarnia, Canada via the Blue Water Bridge is a lush, green excursion both relaxing and smooth
The hour-and-a-half drive from Sarnia to Woodstock is even better than the trek across Michigan. If Iowa is a major corn supplier for the country, Ontario must be a leader for Canada. The green stalks rise well over seven feet.
Marge is starting to show the effects of 90-plus years of a very active life that included, golf, hiking, cross-country skiing, and traveling the world with her husband Bill who died a few years ago at 88, not to mention gardening and landscaping on her large plot of land.
The prospect of seeing the son of one her favorite cousins buoyed her spirits and allowed her to plan a nice party for the 10 of us there. Dinner was at the historic Elmhurst Inn, former home of cheese magnate James Harris. It was expensive, to say the least, but, hey, when the California Kid and his wife roll into town, Marge decided it was time to kill the fatted calf. She loves any excuse to throw a party.
Marge’s daughter is married to a retired Toronto cop, Doug Carroll, who put in 37 years on the street. My encounter with Doug many years ago was typical of two cops meeting for the first time. That is, it was like we had known one another for 20 years. We didn’t swap stories to impress. Rather, we recounted the funny stuff and the off-beat stuff and the things that kept us coming back to work every day.
Doug’s son Scott is a rookie with the Ontario Provincial Police, or O.P.P. Even though his dad had told him how to act as a rookie I had to get in my two cents worth.
I cautioned Scott when he met other officers, not to recount tales of his bravery and burgeoning police skills.
“We’ve all solved great cases, chased bad guys, kicked in doors, and performed heroic feats,” I said. “When you talk to other cops, tell them the funny things that happened; the bizarre, the odd, and the things seldom seen or experienced.
“Cops aren’t impressed with what a good job you’ve done because we’ve all done them. We want to laugh at the predicaments people have weaved themselves into and need your help to escape.”
I think the kid got it. Landing a police job in Canada is the same, or maybe more difficult, than getting one in the U.S.
There were close to 5,000 applicants when he applied. They whittle that number down through stress interviews, background and credit checks, along with examining DMV records, and a physical screening. This time they hired about 30 and he was one of them. Although a rookie, he still knew the most important quality of being a good cop: common sense.
Basinski is a retired police officer.