Back in the day when comic books were the only things we had to stimulate the imagination, a hero always emerged to deliver justice. He would track ’em down, call the verdict and put the bad guy away for eternity on some desolate planet in the dark reaches of deep space.

Of course, that was a comic book featuring Judge Dread, but often we crave for the same swift justice to ease the pangs of discontent and disillusion that is offered in today’s world of crime busting and court sessions.

Today, reality dictates that the courts usually deliver justice. The bad guys and victims alike are brought in by the good old boys and girls in blue, who you only see on the night you’re canned in the local jail and the night before you appear in court. But perhaps I can rewind back to a time when justice and policing were conducted in a different fashion…

In the old rules, the chief made all the decisions on behalf of his people and often had to come in to intervene with an angry drunk who became too cantankerous, and the matter was settled promptly. For more serious matters, a lone RCMP officer was dispatched for all the investigations, paperwork, deputizing and mandating judges and jury alike, with full authority of the Queen, and the accused would be found guilty or sometimes innocent, depending on the circumstance.

Several generations later, a new type of policing arrived in the form of a private security guard system, the James Bay Police Force. Mostly the occasional drunk was again dealt with a night in the can (still the same today) and on occasion a robbery or break-in was investigated.

One investigation bordered on jailhouse torture to gain information from the accused and force a confession. That led to a swift arrest and quick trial. But justice was nowhere in sight as none of the so-called police were really qualified or licensed to practice.

After a decade of this oppressive protection, a Cree police force came to be with limited authorities. No handguns, no fingerprinting, no real definitions of laws that could work to aid in properly arresting bad guys and a semi-subservient attitude from the southern provincial police force made for a poor delivery system for policing.

Justice was and is still delivered by the “Flying Circus,” a court who must cover an area the size of France and England plus a couple of PEI’s. Hundreds of cases are often in the dockets, often delivering light taps on the wrists of hardened young offenders. These young pros often have so many B&E notches on their belt that it’s replaced by the time they become legal adults and face the same judge for the umpteenth appearance.

At the same time, Cree lawyers seem to be on the rise, maybe noticing that growing market of crime and misdemeanors can pay a pretty penny, adding more to the well-known quip that crime doesn’t pay (the criminals, just the lawyers).

Seeing this real policing in action for myself, as stealthy Glock-armed Cree SWAT teams converged in my backyard to capture a fugitive a few quiet evenings ago, I wondered if justice would prevail for this unfortunate soul. Is justice enough or can policing be effective enough to enforce our carefully (or hastily) drafted rules and regulations?

All I know is that it looks like many more sleepless nights are ahead for victims of crime as the courts swell with people who either made the wrong choice or had none to choose from.