Pubdate: Tue, 27 Dec 2011
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Susan Lazaruk


A complaint of police misconduct by a woman strip-searched for drugs 
in the washroom of an Abbotsford gas station has been dismissed by a 
police complaints adjudicator.

The woman alleged the three officers were guilty of "abuse of 
authority" under the Police Act for "oppressive conduct" toward her 
for "intentionally or recklessly searching" her, according to the 
adjudicator William Diebolt's report.

The complainant was stopped by the officers on Aug. 15, 2009, after a 
prisoner they were transporting recognized her in another vehicle and 
suggested police would find drugs in her car because he had bought 
drugs from her before.

A licence plate check determined the owner of the vehicle was violent 
and was facing two charges each of trafficking drugs and breaching 
court orders.

The three officers smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle and 
noticed the woman wiggling in her seat.

"Constable (deleted) said that this movement could indicate someone 
hiding something in their car or on their person," according to the report.

The officers found no drugs in her vehicle and told her they would 
need to strip-search her. The officers offered to do the search in a 
nearby gas station because her vehicle had a temporary one-day 
vehicle licence that was to expire in two hours and the officers 
wanted to save the trouble and expense of having her car towed, Diebolt found.

No drugs were found through the strip-search.

Diebolt noted that police did not pro-vide a Charter of Rights and 
Freedoms warning to the complainant and "thus a Charter breach did 
occur and had any evidence been obtained, the admissibility of same 
would obviously be questioned and argued."

But Diebolt found that "Constable (deleted) had reasonable and 
probable grounds to perform a strip-search on the complainant's person."

He wrote in dismissing the complaint that the allegations which 
"constitute misconduct has not been substantiated by proof on a 
balance of probabilities" required in this case.

The officer's failure to provide a proper Charter warning to her "may 
be a performance issue but does not give rise to a finding of police 

The Abbotsford Police Department and its chief had concluded after 
its own investigation that there had been no misconduct but the 
Police Complaint Commission decided to review the matter on its own.
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