How CBRM Police screwed an innocent bystander

Five months ago, Cape Breton Regional Police seized a computer belonging to Donnie Calabrese, a young self-employed musician, writer, events coordinator, and community volunteer. Here’s his account of what followed, posted today on his Facebook page:

C1On December 22, 2010 the police nabbed my computer. They were executing a search warrant on a case unrelated to me, in fact unrelated to anyone in my dwelling, and had to take all of our computers. Drag.

The fellows who came to the house were regretful. My plight did not fall on deaf ears.

“Yeah, this happens, we need to take all the computers. But, hey, call this guy (investigating officer) and they’ll probably have it ready for you in a week or so. We understand that this is not the computer we’re looking for.”

“Thanks guys.”

Hey, you know, sometimes folks get caught in that tricky realm of justice being served. With the prospect of taking it on the chin for the greater good, I bid these gentlemen adieu and began what would become my phoning ritual to the Cape Breton Regional Police.

At first I called all the time. Everyday. Surely they would not keep it well into the new year. “Hi there, I’m wondering if I could get it back soon–I’m doing this tour in the UK and it’d be great to have a way of conducting business while I’m there.”

“Not processed yet. Call back on Monday”

“Hey, I’m a free lance copywriter and I can’t work–it’d be really great if I had my computer back.”

C4“We’ll check with the tech guys. They’re really backed up.”

“I’ve lost all of my writing clients, I don’t have much to lose now, but it’d be great if I could still reply to communications from my various boards and committees that I volunteer on.”

“The investigating officer isn’t in now. Call back tomorrow.”

“Is there someone else I could speak to?””No.”

Months in and in the face of futility, my inquiries became less frequent. I had a big hearted, bold legal advocate working on my behalf who has similarly become frustrated with this system. All the while, the police response has not changed. They are nothing if not very consistent in their community service.

C9“I’m going to check with the tech guys today.”

“Can probably get it for you at the start of the week.”

“I can sympathize with you.”

“We’re hoping to have it next week.”


144 days later, the police have never contacted me, and I’ve not received my computer. I think the worst part is that someone our very own CBC Radio once called a community leader (that was me, really!) a young self employed musician, writer, events coordinator, volunteer [I’m sorry for this, it’s a point I’m trying to make, but talking about myself like this really does make me uncomfortable] and proponent in civil society has now lost his faith in the police.

Mega drag.

C7I was always happy to cooperate with police, I’ve never had a negative run in with them. However these five months have been very hard–and to be jarringly frank, I don’t believe that anyone in our police service cares. They’ve sadly lost an educated, law abiding, citizen.

I know it’s a first world problem, but simply by virtue of you reading this on Facebook, you’ll understand that our computers are dreadfully important things (incidentally, I’ve borrowed this computer this morning to share my plight).

I’ve generally tried to be upbeat and private about this situation but I’m reaching utter despair. I thus ask you facebook friends for your help–your advice, your input, your letters to the Cape Breton Post, phone calls to the CBR Police–anything at all. The efforts of my wonderfully gracious volunteer legal advocate have likewise gone shrugged off. Often I’ve heard that in numbers we can make a difference. Maybe it is true.

Thanks all.

H/T: SG.