Police must also obey laws

Re: Police training procedure causes concern, June 4.

To the Editor,

Re: Police training procedure causes concern, June 4.

Unfortunately, members of the Nanaimo RCMP organizing and participating in a recent training exercise in Lantzville appear unaware of the law regarding the right of police access to private property.

An eminent lawyer and legal scholar tells me Sections 487 and 487.11 of the Criminal Code of Canada define five situations providing police access to private property.

One of those situations involves consent of the property owner or occupier; absent this consent, the circumstances which allow police access to private property do not include training exercises.

RCMP Cpl. Dean Muir says the person laying the trail for the dog “assumed no one was home” and so it was, apparently, acceptable for that person to enter private property without permission.

This behaviour could have created an unfortunate situation since the neighbourhood is still concerned about a recent daylight break and enter. The last thing residents need to see is a stranger running around their yards.

Muir says, “we’ll try our best to contact somebody, but if we can’t we’ll cross [a property] anyway” – despite not having the legal right to do so.

While he justifies using this neighbourhood for training because it offers a variety of properties, he neglects to mention the nearby elementary school whose students were outside in their lunch hour during the training session.

Another concern is liability – what if an officer had been injured? Since the officer would have been on the property illegally, I imagine the injured officer would be in a difficult situation. Who, if anyone, would have been liable?

I will always gladly co-operate with the police in any way I can, and I appreciate they must receive training to, in Muir’s words, “find missing kids, missing people, and catch bad guys.” All I ask is that in doing so the police obey the law.

Roger Smith