Pubdate: Sat, 29 Jan 2005
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2005, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh


Man stopped by Texas trooper in Canada

VANCOUVER -- The long arm of a Texas state trooper is long, indeed.
Just how long an off-duty Vancouver police officer discovered last
summer when he was driving along the highway just beyond Hope, 150
kilometres east of here.

Who should wave him over and ask to see his driver's licence and
vehicle registration but a tall man with a thick Texan accent?

Yep. Sure as shootin', it was a state trooper from Texas, all right.

Constable David Laing, a 10-year veteran with the Vancouver police
force, was taken aback.

"He thought he'd taken a wrong turn somewhere," his lawyer, Marilyn
Sandford, said yesterday, confirming an out-of-court settlement with
the RCMP of Constable Laing's claim that his constitutional rights
were breached. The amount of the settlement has not been made public.
"He was completely astonished."

When Constable Laing asked who he was, the Texan trooper, in plain
clothes and wearing a traffic vest, said he was "with them," pointing
to a group of RCMP officers down the road.

Asked whether he was an American, the trooper replied: "Yes, sir,"
according to Ms. Sandford.

Although the RCMP then took over the situation, the Vancouver
policeman was aggrieved. He did not identify himself as a police
officer and refused to allow his car to be searched.

Thirty seconds down the road, Constable Laing was stopped a second
time, and yet another trooper from the Longhorn State appeared, again
in the company of the RCMP.

This time, matters took a more serious turn. The RCMP officer accused
him of driving under the influence of marijuana and proceeded to do a
thorough search of his car.

The state trooper kept Constable Laing at the front of the car while
the interior was searched with his two-year-old son inside.

No marijuana was found and Constable Laing finally drove off, fuming
at the way he was treated and the involvement of Texas troopers on a
Canadian highway.

"As a Canadian I have a different policing style than a Texas
trooper," he told CBC News.

"We have different freedoms than they do down there. You don't want
your police meshing to the point where we start taking on the policies
of another police jurisdiction."

The two troopers were in B.C. last year as part of an exchange with
the RCMP's "pipeline convoy" program that targets criminals using the
highway to transport illegal products.

"We lead the nation in highway drug seizures," said Texas Highway
Patrol spokesman Tom Vinger. "[The RCMP] came down here last year to
examine our highway patrol drug apprehension program."

RCMP spokesman Sergeant John Ward rejected Constable Laing's
contention that the state troopers played any role in his roadside

"They have no authority. They're not in uniform. They don't carry guns
and they work under our supervision," he said.

He said there would have been no trouble if Constable Laing had not
been evasive.
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