The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is filing a complaint about Nanaimo RCMP’s dog training procedures.
David Eby, association executive director, said Friday the complaint was being edited for final draft and would be presented to the Commissioner for Public Complaints Against the RCMP Monday.
The complaint stems from a police training incident in Lantzville May 25, when police dog handlers on a tracking exercise ran through private yards on Rossiter Road. The action sparked complaints to the media and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association by Roger Smith, who arrived home to see several police officers and a dog running through his yard.
“The police keep misstating Canadian law in their public and private releases to the Smith family and to the media,” Eby said. “The concern that we have about it is not only are they misstating Canadian law, but in doing so they’re putting the public, their children and their pets at risk.”
Eby cited a 2009 incident on the Lower Mainland when police shot a family dog that got in an altercation with a police dog on a training exercise on private property. He said there are also recorded cases in North America of police dogs biting the wrong targets and from the United Kingdom where police dogs bit their handlers and the public.
“There’s a risk/benefit analysis that’s done in using police dogs, and we’re not suggesting that using police dogs as a tool be discontinued by any stretch,” Eby said. “But, if you have the opportunity to give people warning that you’re coming through and you know there’s a possibility that something could go wrong, why wouldn’t you do it? Why wouldn’t you make it policy.”
He said police need a standard policy and must ask permission from property owners before entering private land, the RCMP needs to train its members about private property rights under Canadian law and deal with the officers who took part in the exercise that sparked the complaint.
Eby has had no other direct complaints from anyone else in Lantzville and the civil liberties association considers it a low level complaint since no one was killed or injured.
“It will go to the detachment and they’ll assign an investigator from within the detachment who will investigate Mr. Smith’s concerns – or investigate our concerns about what happened to Mr Smith – and investigate their policy,” Eby said.
Then the investigator will report to the civil liberties association detailing the results of the investigation and recommendations. If the association is not satisfied with the investigation, it will ask the public complaints commissioner to review the case.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said the detachment was aware a complaint would be filed from Eby and the civil liberties association.
“He’s certainly entitled to file any objection he wants with the training procedures and we’ll wait and see what his concern is and address it,” O’Brien said.