Pubdate: Wed, 06 Jun 2007
Source: Lakeside Leader, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 The Lakeside Leader
Author: Doug Beattie, for the Lakeside Leader


George and Helen Kupilik have lived just outside of Smith for 35
years. They came from the Calgary area to enjoy the freedom and
tranquility of country living to raise a family.

George's children are now grown and he and Helen enjoy quiet
retirement. Quiet except for the nights when unidentified men come
into their home. They didn't speak or say what they wanted but twice
they have searched George's home.

George himself likens it to something out of a George Orwell

"The first time is was about four or five years ago. The last time it
was about two years ago," says George. "I thought somebody was going
to kill me out here. It was an invasion of the house. No search
warrants, no papers, no nothing."

Fortunately, the couple suffered no physical injuries because of these
invasions. George feels that the men worked for the police or some
other federal law enforcement agency and that explains why they
weren't hurt.

"The second time it was a pretty big guy with three kids with him.
Grownups, I mean, but young people. They were the ones who did the
searching. "He didn't say nothing while the other three were searching
the bedroom down there. It only took a couple of minutes. This guy
pushed me aside and held me =AD not physically =AD but kept me from
moving. What could I do? If I fight, three guys are going to kill me.
I guess they didn't believe that I'm clean so they felt they should
have to come back."

When George says `clean,' he is referring to his involvement with
drugs. He knows that police use infrared cameras to search to telltale
heat signatures of marijuana grow operations. He maintains that there
are no drugs on his farm but admits his peculiar heating system could
be drawing some undue attention.

George heats his home with wood. Trained as a millwright, he has
constructed a forced air system that sends warm air into his concrete
floor. The system is so effective that Helen says she has to wear
shorts around the house in the dead of winter.

"Marijuana. That's what I think they were looking for," says George.
"They are flying around with airplanes all the time. Last year I was
in the garden and an airplane flew by. They turned around and came
back to look at me. My house would show very hot. But if they know
it's hot, they should go get a warrant from the judge but they don't
do that."

The Leader was unable to confirm or deny that Slave Lake RCMP are
using aircraft armed with thermal imaging devices but Constable Adam
Cook did confirm that police officers cannot act without a warrant.

"We don't have to show them the material we used to get the warrant
but we do have to show them the warrant," says Cook. "It all sounds
rather strange. I've been here for six years and I can't recall a raid
in that area."

Each time that his home was invaded, George opened the door
voluntarily. Each time it was dark and it seemed they waited for
George to come downstairs to tend the fire.

"I opened the door for them because I thought it was somebody on the
road needing helping or something. I went down to put wood in the wood
heater and that's when they knocked. I won't open the door next time
and call 911. I am putting a 2x4 across the door. Then if they say
they are police and have a warrant, I'll tell them to put it on the
rug and move back."

Contrary to Constable Cook's explanation, George feels that the
invaders must have been police.

"What else could it have been? They didn't hurt us or take anything.
It makes me feel that I am some sort of criminal."
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