HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Judge Warns Cops To Get Warrants
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Oct 2008
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Andy Ivens, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Police Officers Barred From Joining Hydro Inspections Without

B.C.'s controversial Safety Standards Act -- aimed at smoking out
dangerous grow-ops -- has survived a constitutional challenge.

But police officers who tag along with municipal safety inspectors
must bring along a search warrant before gaining access to a home, a
B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled.

The judge said marijuana grow-ops, which often contain adaptations to
allow electricity to illegally bypass a meter, are a safety hazard to
the community.

The Electrical Fire Safety Initiative, which began in Surrey two years
ago and has since spread to other jurisdictions, was successfully
challenged by a Surrey man who refused to allow police to enter his
home in May 2007 when they accompanied safety inspectors.

Jason Arkinstall -- an associate of the Hells Angels, according to a
Province source -- told safety inspectors they were free to come
inside and look for a marijuana grow-op.

But he refused to let the two RCMP officers with them enter without a
search warrant signed by a judge.

The city used provisions of the act to cut off his power even though
marijuana was never found.

In his judgment, Justice William Smart ruled the police needed a
warrant, despite the fact they were not conducting a criminal
investigation and only intended to search the home for the inspector's

"Regardless of any operational guidelines or policies of the
[fire-safety] team to the contrary, it is apparent that the police may
use information or evidence they uncover while searching premises for
police purposes," wrote Smart.

"As Surrey advised the court, there may have been instances in which
the RCMP has submitted reports to Crown counsel arising out of
[fire-safety] team inspections.

"Police officers do not cease to be such simply because they are
described as being part of an electrical safety inspection team," the
judge noted.

He upheld the legal validity of the Safety Standards Act but said the
city was wrong to cut off Arkinstall's electricity.

Recent news report quoted Surreys' city solicitor as saying the
fire-safety team has changed its practice so that police now obtain a
warrant before entering a home.
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