(nil): Nikos J. FARSARIS (njf(@)freemail.gr)
Ημερομηνία: Κυρ 30 Ιαν 2005 - 18:47:15 EET
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Cop wins RCMP settlement after highway search
Last Updated Jan 28 2005 07:00 PM PST
VANCOUVER β EURO « A Vancouver man has won an out-of-court settlement from
the RCMP after an incident in which he says he was illegally searched.
David Laing says police overstepped the law when they stopped his car,
decided he was driving under the influence of marijuana, and searched his
vehicle and two-year-old son.
Under Canadian law, that kind of search is illegal.
What upset the Laing even more is that some the officers he tangled
with were actually American police officers.
Last spring, Laing was driving on a highway near Hope. He turned a
corner and a man in an orange traffic vest in the middle of the road
motioned him to pull over. In a heavy Texas accent, the man asked for
Laing asked if the man was an American. The man answered that he was,
and that he was performing a B.C. road check.
"I said, are you a police officer? Who are you to be detaining me?"
The man was a Texas state trooper. The RCMP brought the Texans up to
help them learn how to identify drug traffickers.
Laing refused to let the officers search his car. He knew that under
Canadian law, police officers don't have the right to preform that kind of
Laing is a Vancouver cop.
Less than a minute after Laing drove away, another Texas trooper β EURO «
paired with an RCMP officer β EURO « pulled him over.
This time Laing was told he was under the influence of marijuana.
Laing's lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, says it was all preposterous.
Laing agreed to the search, but was told he couldn't take his son from
the vehicle. He was horrified as he watched the Mountie search his
The police found no drugs, and despite saying he was impaired just
moments earlier, let him go.
RCMP spokesperson Const. John Ward says the Texas troopers profiling
program provides great help to the Mounties.
"The Americans do a lot of this and have been doing it for quite some
time. So there's a lot of opportunity on both sides of the border to become
Laing and his lawyer disagree. They say that when it comes to
narcotics, American attitudes and Canadian laws are quite different.
"We have different freedoms than they have," Laing says. "You don't
want to mesh too much. You don't want your police meshing to the point where
we start taking on other police jurisidiction's policies."
The RCMP settled with Laing out of court when he threatened to sue for
unlawful detention. But the Mounties defend the search, saying Laing was
suspicious because his eyelashes were fluttering and his eyes were flashing.
Murray Mollard of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says police
shouldn't be depending on clues like that. He says that it's not a
scientifically reliable method.
The RCMP also says Laing was evasive when asked about his job. Laing
says he didn't want to tell them he's a Vancouver cop.
"To me it's irrelevant," he says. "I'm a father with his son going to
look at property. I'm not in the course of duty β EURO « I don't deserve privileges
of any type."
Mollard says Laing's case presents a series of concerns β EURO « from using
unreliable profiling techniques to a wrongful vehicle search, not to mention
using an American police officer to pull over Canadians.
He says his association will be writing the RCMP to complain about the
profiling techniques and remind them of the rights Canadians have under the
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