OPP officer violated passenger’s rights at RIDE checkpoint

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. The Charter guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens and civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of all areas and levels of government. It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights.

OPP officer violated passenger’s rights at RIDE checkpoint

Postby Thomas » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:35 am

OPP officer violated passenger’s rights at RIDE checkpoint, appeal court rules

BY ANDREW SEYMOUR, OTTAWA CITIZEN AUGUST 25, 2013

OTTAWA — An OPP officer’s decision to ask for identification from a back-seat passenger during a RIDE checkpoint was a violation of the passenger’s Charter rights, an appeal court has confirmed.

A Superior Court judge upheld Ontario Court Justice Robert Selkirk’s ruling that the officer had committed “very serious” breaches when he arbitrarily detained Patrick Dale and violated his privacy rights during the roadside check near Pembroke on April 1, 2012.

Court heard OPP Const. Darryl Graveline took a copy of Dale’s birth certificate, had another officer run it through a police database and determined Dale was under conditions not to possess or drink alcohol. Graveline then returned to the car, asked Dale to step out, smelled alcohol on his breath and charged him with the breach of probation.

Before running Dale’s name, the officer said he inquired about Dale’s backpack, which was full of unopened cans and bottles of beer, after spotting a beer cap between the driver’s legs and smelling alcohol from inside the car.

Graveline also testified that the OPP routinely ask for identification from everyone in the cars they stop, while another officer agreed it was “common” to run passengers’ names through a police database to see if they are breaching conditions.

Seizing passenger identifications at RIDE checkstops has been specifically denounced by the highest court in Canada and Ontario, Selkirk said.

“The OPP must obey the law. They cannot ignore it. They are sworn to uphold it. But they do not,” said Selkirk, who acquitted Dale even though he freely admitted he was in violation of his probation.

Selkirk found the OPP acted in “bad faith” because the privacy rights violations committed by the force were “either deliberate or through their ignorance,” and made more significant by the fact they do it routinely.

“RIDE programs were never intended or permitted to become a vehicle for warrantless searches of every person, including passengers, who go through one,” said Selkirk. “RIDE programs are to catch and deter drinking drivers. There is no justification for warrantless and groundless searches of passengers.”

Dale, who has a criminal record and previous run-ins with police, testified he didn’t think he had any choice but to comply with the request for identification because he feared a confrontation and more charges.

But as a passenger, Dale was under no obligation to give his name and was free to walk away — something the officer knew but never told Dale when he asked for his identification, Selkirk said.

The Crown appealed Dale’s acquittal, arguing that Selkirk’s findings in fact were flawed.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Timothy Ray dismissed the Crown appeal in June.

Ray found that “great deference” needed to be given to Selkirk’s “expressed concern about the seriousness of the police conduct” before concluding that Selkirk made no errors in law.

Const. Graveline declined comment on the matter.

aseymour@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/andrew_seymour

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Re: OPP officer violated passenger’s rights at RIDE checkpoi

Postby Gkuke » Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:20 pm

This is typical of the OPP. It is nice to hear that the Judge reprimanded the cops for this typical abuse of power. Not only do the cops need to learn a thing or two about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, they need to be put into their place.

Bias Judges in Peterborough could take some tips from these two Judges, and in particular Justice L.C. the female Ontario Court of Justice Judge from Lindsay Ontario who wouldn't know the Charter of Rights if it slapped her in the face, with all due respect your Honor.

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Re: OPP officer violated passenger’s rights at RIDE checkpoi

Postby Thomas » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:55 am

Police power has limits

BY OTTAWA CITIZEN EDITORIAL, OTTAWA CITIZEN

AUGUST 27, 2013

Police officers deserve respect for what they do to keep us safe every day. But if the rule of law is to mean anything, police officers must be held accountable when they step out of line.

The Ontario Superior Court was right to uphold a lower court’s acquittal of a man who was charged with a breach of probation during a RIDE operation — because the Ontario Provincial Police breached his charter rights when they detained him during the operation.

The man, who has a criminal record, was in the back seat of a car when it was stopped during a road check for drunken drivers. A police officer noticed his backpack, which was full of unopened beer cans and bottles, as well as a beer cap between the driver’s legs. He also smelled alcohol from inside the car.

The officer took the man’s identification, and with the help of a colleague, ran his name through a police database, discovering that he was under an order not to possess or drink alcohol. He was clearly in breach of his probation, and was subsequently charged. But he was acquitted by a lower court because he had been illegally detained. The Crown appealed and lost.

The two police officers testified that it is a routine practice to run the names of people in vehicles that are stopped during RIDE operations to discover any potential wrongdoing. The courts strongly disapproved, asserting the right to individual privacy.

“The seizure of identification from passengers at a RIDE program has been specifically denounced as a violation by the highest court in this country and in this province. The OPP must obey the law. They cannot ignore it. They are sworn to uphold it. But they do not. This is bad faith because the violation is either deliberate or through their ignorance ...” a judge ruled.

“When the police are acting in bad faith and continue to engage in conduct specifically denounced by the Court, then the violation is very serious.”

The arresting police officer argued that if the man in the back seat had refused to answer his questions, and not provided the identification as he has a right not to, that would have ended the matter. But that’s rather disingenuous. It is a rather brave or foolish person who refuses to answer a police officer’s questions, because most people’s experience is that quite often, that can lead to even more trouble. It is the duty of the police to respect the rights of their fellow citizens, whether those citizens stand up to them or not. Catching drunk drivers saves lives, but the practice should not be used for fishing expeditions.

“RIDE programs are to catch and deter drinking drivers. RIDE programs were never intended or permitted to become a vehicle for warrantless searches of every person including passengers who go through one,” a judge concluded.

Personal rights are fundamental to democracy. It’s good to see the courts affirm that so strongly.

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