Pubdate: Thu, 04 Nov 2004
Source: Era-Banner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Era-Banner
Author: Martin Derbyshire
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (CN Police)


York Police To Step Up Infrared Use Following Court Ruling

With the freedom to use infrared technology without first obtaining a
warrant, York Regional Police helicopter officers expect to be busy in
the near future.

"We plan on being a lot more pro-active," flight officer Mike Boris

"It's an excellent tool."

With 173 marijuana grow operations busted by York cops in 2003 and
more than 100 raided so far this year, Chief Armand La Barge said the
ability to use infrared technology without going to a judge first will
help hundreds of investigations.

The infrared camera, a large round device that sits on the front of
the helicopter and feeds images of heat sources to a screen inside the
cockpit, has sat dormant since January 2003 when the Ontario Court of
Appeal overturned the drug conviction of a Windsor man, forcing police
across the country to obtain warrants before using the technology.

The court found infrared images constituted a search under the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms and police should have obtained a warrant prior
to using it.

Since then, York Regional Police have only obtained a warrant for the
use of infrared images a few times.

"If you could get a warrant to use (infrared), you could get a warrant
to search the house. So, at that point, why bother?" said flight
officer Yvon Roach.

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the decision opening
the door to a more liberal use of the technology. It's a door York
Regional Police are happy to be walking through.

"We're definitely going to use it a lot more now," added flight
officer Boris.

"We're very pleased."

However, in using the technology, police may be trampling all over the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, one York Region legal expert said.

"I see it as an invasion of privacy," Aurora criminal lawyer Barry
Switzer said.

"The police and the courts may say I'm comparing apples to oranges
here, but it seems like there is a video camera on you at all times
these days, every phone call you make, there some disclaimer that
comes on telling you this call may be monitored. It's Big Brother
turned on its head."

While they can detect high sources of heat, infrared cameras cannot
determine the exact nature of the source.
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