Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Police officers must knock on the door, identify themselves and wait to be answered before executing a search warrant, according to the law.

Police raids Surprises Become “A Systemic Problem”, Judge Says”Open in full screen mode

<p class=The police broke down the door with a battering ram.

Radio-Canada

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Judge finds Hamilton Police Service officers violated accused's Charter rights with 'cavalier disregard' when they entered her home and kicked down the door of her downtown apartment to look for drugs there.

The court case against the woman in question and evidence seized by police – including half a million dollars in cannabis products, $50,000 in cash and magic mushrooms – was dismissed by Justice Andrew Goodman of the Ontario Superior Court.

The judge found that the police could not explain why they chose this approach to enter the apartment. He also found that the officers, although experienced, failed to report what they had seized and did not adequately inform the woman of her right to legal representation.

The search was carried out in June 2021 as part of an investigation into an online cannabis sales and distribution service. The police determined that the drugs came from two apartments in the same building and obtained a search warrant to search them.

Breaking in the door should only happen rarely. Police officers are required by law to knock on the door, say who they are and wait for someone to answer before executing a search warrant.

Investigations by CBC, however, have shown that the technique is being used with increasing frequency, even though it has raised questions in cases like those that resulted in the deaths of Anthony Aust in Ottawa and Breonna Taylor in the United States. -United.

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Judge Goodman said surprise raids, without knocking, on the verge of becoming a systemic problem. Hamilton Police Service officers told him this approach was used in 90% of cases.

Another judge also concluded that the police force had violated the rights of another individual under the Canadian Charter during a raid in 2019.

Lawyer Kim Schofield, who represents the woman at the center of the latest case, says Hamilton police have made some changes to their policy regarding surprise raids, including training their officers on Charter rights. However, she considers that there should be more surveillance.

This is a perfect example of how the police categorically, systematically refuse to #x27;accept […] the fact that surprise entries are dangerous and should be the exception rather than the rule, says the lawyer.

Schofield says the experience was terrifying for his client, who refused to grant an interview.

The woman was charged with distribution of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute. A third charge related to magic mushrooms. The police informed her that she had the right to a lawyer for the first two counts, but not for the third.

CBC also made an interview request to the Hamilton Police Service, but only obtained a written statement.

Spokeswoman Jackie Penman explained that Judge Goodman's decision had been forwarded to the police force's professional standards department to determine whether the officers required additional training or would face disciplinary action.

Last year, following recommendations from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, Hamilton police told its police services board that it had made changes to planning for surprise raids, their progress and the collection of data on these interventions.

She also offered training on the Charter to her agents, according to Ms. Penman.< /p>

For her part, the president of the Hamilton Police Services Commission assured during an interview that the police service was implementing all the recommendations made in the report from the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

The commission, she said, may eventually ask more questions about the entries without notice.

With information from CBC's Bobby Hristova

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