In another case of private information being misused, one RCMP officer left his patrol area to snoop on his ex-wife.
According to the discipline documents, the officer’s ex-wife and her boyfriend saw an RCMP patrol car driving through the parking garage of her Winnipeg condominium building at around 11:30 p.m. on May 8, 2010.
Suspecting the car was being driven by the ex-husband, the incident was reported to the RCMP’s D Division headquarters in Winnipeg, which revealed the ex-husband had queried the boyfriend’s licence plates in the police force’s database.
The officer admitted that he performed the database search in the hopes of identifying his ex-wife’s new boyfriend.
The discipline board considered the officer’s acceptance of “responsibility for his actions and [participation] in the early resolution process” when deciding what actions to take. They also noted that the officer had co-operated with the investigation.
In their decision, members of the board said they hope the officer had “learned from his mistake and trusts he is indeed prepared to abide by a Code of Conduct,” noting that “members of the Force are expected to act in an exemplary manner, and their conduct must be beyond reproach.”
The officer was issued a reprimand and docked three days’ pay.
So, two things here:
- These are some of the dangerous uses that a group of BC residents identified with regards to automatic license plate recognition, namely the use of non-hit data (i.e. information not linked to motor vehicle crimes) in excess of the ALPR program’s stated mandate;
- Holy hell. This is a case of a police officer stalking/inciting fear in a civilian and her current romantic partner, and there was a reprimand and a few days of docked pay? It’s these kinds of actions that teach people ‘the police won’t protect me if their own interests are involved.’
I mean really, with regards to (2), how terrifying would it be that an ex who is legitimately empowered to exercise the law is stalking you and those associated with you, using a ubiquitous surveillance technology. And moreover, imagine that things had been reversed: that the CIVILIAN was tracking the police officer. No way there’d be a reprimand and a few days of lost pay. No, that civilian would be looking at some intense court actions.
Total. Double. Standard.
Last September I filed FOIs that got me blacklisted for a time, depriving voters of facts they deserve.
You should read Bob’s article in case you’re curious about why the press, academics, and active citizens laugh at the ‘transparency’ into government operations made possible by access to information, or freedom of information and access, laws.
I would note: one of my colleagues has had a federal access request open for seven years at this point. Our work on license place recognition equipment, at the federal level, has been open almost two years, with no end in sight. There have been repeated ‘inappropriate’ (read: illegal, except it’s not illegal if the police do it, right?) closures of our file, and personal involvement by the federal information commissioner.
ATIP and FOI laws are a joke, and a bad ones at that.
You should get out of town”, the man said.
And so began the journey that resulted in my path intersecting with Matthew Duncan’s path. And thence to these reasons, with a slight detour through territory that might have confused Lewis Carroll.
I suppose that I should clarify that there was no menace in the man’s directive to me to get out of town. He was a friend and a colleague in two careers. His suggestion had been that he and I should change positions for a fortnight, giving him exposure to the realities of the northern reaches of Toronto, while I would enjoy a similar change of environment in the more sylvan environs of Niagara Region. I might even see a few plays in the evenings, he pointed out.
And thus I came to meet Mr. Duncan.
At heart, Mr. Duncan’s case was unremarkable. A minor alleged Highway Traffic Act offence led to a police-citizen interaction in the parking lot of Mr. Duncan’s apartment building in the wee hours of the morning. A request that Mr. Duncan produce his licence led to an alleged refusal, which led to an attempt to arrest him, which led to a struggle, which was captured on a very poor quality video taken on a mobile phone, at the end of which Mr. Duncan found himself being placed under arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Nothing unusual in all that. The bread and butter of provincial court.
Of course, I hadn’t counted on the freemen on the land.
Ontario Court of Justice, “Between: Her Majesty The Queen AND Mathew Duncan”
Seriously: this is an absolutely hilarious provincial court decision. Worth skimming (at least!) for the laughs.
Right now, in Montreal, the very right to protest, that most fundamental right to freedom of expression, is under assault. If we give in, and stay home for fear of these preposterous tickets, we will have lost not just the battle but the war itself. Indeed, the worst part about these tactics is that they work. I know many friends who will no longer go to protests for fear of arrest and a ticket they cannot afford. What a sad state of affairs when the police bully and intimidate citizens out of exercising their right to criticize the government. So go to the demos, go to all the demos, and prove you will not let fear and intimidation win out. If you get a ticket, contest it. The legal resources to ensure you succeed are freely available. And no matter what you do, make sure to go to the demo on the 22nd of April, which I think should be branded as a manif in defence of our civil liberties. If there are enough people in the streets, the cops can’t do a thing. Small crowds are what allow these abuses.
When our police force denies that we have any right to peacefully express our dissent, there is no recourse but to fight tooth and nail to protect our rights. This is far too important an issue to let slide.