Sunday, 3 May 2015

Holding Police Accountable and Knowing Your Legal Rights

Holding Police Accountable and Knowing Your Legal Rights

So, with all the BS happening down in the USA with Police being out of control and cracking skulls every chance they get, the questions arises "Do we need to be worried about this here in Canada?  What are our rights?  What can we do to protect ourselves against the Police?"

Do We Need to be Worried About This Here in Canada?

The sorry answer is YES!!  Now I like to think and believe that things are not as bad up here in Canada as they are in the USA.  Yet that doesn't mean we are not moving in that direction, cause we are.  This needs to be stopped dead in its tracks and the process change, or we will be looking at the exact same thing in the future.

There is one simple fact that the Media, Police, Politicians and Public refuse to address and understand. THE POLICE SHOULD BE HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD OF ACCOUNTABILITY THAN THE PUBLIC.  Seriously, this should be a no brainer.  We give the police power and authority.  We give them the privileged of using force and deadly force to do their jobs.  We give them extensive training and they are very well compensated for the risk of their jobs.  Yes they are very well paid, you think our Canadian Military get paid any where near as well, nope not even close, and the Military has to go in do some of the very worst and most hazardous jobs that you and I would never want to do.  All that being said and done, Police are not even held to same standard as our Military, they are not even held to same standards as the public, they are in fact held to a much lower standard.  This has to stop.  Police can no longer investigate themselves, this has proven to fail time and time again.  Any Use of Force (UoF) needs to investigated and the report made public with all evidence and findings and it needs to be done in short order, not months.  This review process needs to be done by an independent public over site board and not the police. 

What are our rights?

Ok, I am not a Lawyer, so everything written here should be checked and verified.  

Well it depends on what is happening, there are three different levels of Police interaction; 1) Carding 2) Detention and 3) Arrest.  Regardless of which is occurring, you should always remain calm (coldly and stoically calm).  Never challenge the Police Officer, never yell at them, always be polite, regardless of their behavior. 

1) Carding - Carding is basically them taking a survey, you are under no legal grounds to provide them with one scrap of information.  Seriously if you ask a police officer if they are "Carding" you and they answer yes, you are well in your rights to say, politely "I refuse to participate in your survey, but thanks you for asking.  Am I free to go?"  At this point the officer will let you go, or try to continue to engage you, just politely repeat the statement "I refuse to participate in your survey, but thanks you for asking.  Am I free to go?".  If the Police Officer then states that he/she is detaining you, you are hooped.  Police are not required to inform you why they are detaining you, heck they are even legal allowed to lie to about it "We have a report of a suspicious activity in the area" even if there is none. See Carding - is it legal?

2) Police Temporary Detention
- Ok, so the Police have detained you, they are not required to justify the Temporary Detention (sorry just get use to that).  At this point you must provide them your Name and Address and proof of ID.  Do so without argument and do so politely.  After that, you are under no obligation to answer any more questions.  Regardless if you have not done anything wrong or not.  I know this sounds dickish, but do not answer Police questions, do not answer where you coming from, where you are going, why you are on the street.  None of it.  Also while under Temporary Police Detention THEY ARE ALLOW TO SEARCH YOU!!! Police are allowed to give you a LIGHT PAT DOWN to make sure you are not carrying any sort of concealed weapon(s), but that is it.  Do not unlock your cell phone for them (more on this later), do not give them any more information but it is also vitally important that you do not offer any resistance, comply and remain very calm.

3) Police Arrest - It is game over, if the Police announce that you are under arrest, it is done and over.  Offer no resistance, offer no objection.  Also OFFER NO MORE INFORMATION other than your Name and Address and ask for a lawyer.  The Police might start trying to bully you at this point, they have the right to preform a full search on you, take all the property on your person, tag and bag it.  But Remember, you are under no obligation to provide them with one ounce of information beyond Name and Address and proof of ID.  At this point you have the right to legal council and I suggest using that right and inform the Office you are demanding that right.  Again, I can not stress this enough, remain calm, co-operate with the officers directions, if he tells you to sit, you sit!  If he tells you stand over there, stand over there!  Beyond that, keep your mouth shut.  If you feel your rights are being violated then, document it in your head for LATER USE, do not argue with the police.  Also you are not required, even while under arrest, to unlock your Cell Phone, iPad, Tablet, Laptop or any other digital device.  This still requires a legal search warrant for the police to do.  There is one exception to that rule and that is if your digital device is already unlocked or does not have a lock, in which case the Police are allowed to do a cursory search of the device, but under very strict limitation, more on this later. 

What can we do to protect ourselves against the Police?

Well the best things you can do is know your rights, remain calm when dealing with police, providing only the information you are required to provide them and keeping your mouth shut.  It also does not hurt to have a live video streaming App on your cell phone.

1) A Word on Cell Phones - ALWAYS have your cell phone, tablet, iPad or any other digital device you own and on your person locked with a PIN Code.  Even while under arrest, you are not required to provide this pin code, not matter what the police tell you.  Remember the Police can legal lie to you can get away with it.  So for the very obvious reasons for keeping your digital devices lock, you know, in case they are last or stolen, you need to keep them locked.

2) Live Video Streaming Apps and Other Apps - The ACLU has just announced they have an App for Live Streaming, but there are a few others out there.  I personally use BambUser the App is free to download and install.  I HIGHLY recommend test the App, getting to know exactly how to use BEFORE you need to use it.  Also, this App is useful for other things, you are an accident, you are having a confrontation with someone else, someone else is having a confrontation in some way.  Recording a crime in progress,... what ever, this App has more than just one use and one of those uses is record police activity.  So get the App or one that is similar, play with the App, understand exactly how it works so you can quickly deploy it and know you are doing it correctly.  I will do a tutorial on BambUser later.

3) How to Record, Report and What to do With Your Video - I hope never have to use BambUser to report police or for anything, but what do you once you have a video?  Well BambUser, if you are using it properly allows you to live stream the data up to their storage site where the police can not delete it.  So even if the police confiscate you cell phone, you still have access to the video.  Once you are free and clear of the police, with your cell phone or not, your best bet is to get access your BambUser account from a computer, download the video and transfer it to YouTube, post it on FaceBook, post it on twitter.  Get it out there.  There are of course even more Apps to help you get your video out there for this there is Cop Block, they even have a Canadian Content side on their site, which is awesome.  Now Cop Block is more a social media sharing site to report things and get the word out, so it is very useful to use to report police abuses and even when the police get it right.  Yes even Cop Block like to point out when the police get it right!  But don't stop there, if you have a legit case of police abuse, try getting the media interested, offer your video to anyone in the media who is willing to listen to you.  Forget about making a few bucks, there is a more important issue at hand. FIXING THE PROBLEM!!

4) More on Cell Phones - Ok, this went all the way up to Canada's Supreme Court no to long ago and here are the related articles and best analysis I could find on the this case. 

Supreme Court Judgments - The actual Ruling in Full!

Here is the kicker, that you need to understand, and this ONLY applies if your cell is unlocked or does not have a locking code on it already

 “Consequently, four conditions must be met in order for the search of a cell phone or similar device incidental to arrest to comply with s. 8.” These four conditions are as follows:

  1. The arrest must be lawful.
  2. The search must be “truly incidental” and not the object of the arrest, and this condition must be strictly applied;
  3. The nature and extent of the search must be tailored to its purpose (limited to areas where evidence is likely to be found, such as text messages, e-mails, and call logs).
  4. Police must record detailed notes about the search, including applications opened and the search duration.
 Further analysis is here, but the important part I want point is this

What rules must police follow to search a cellphone during arrest?

Whether a phone is password-protected or not is not a determining factor, according to the ruling. Though a suspect has the right to remain silent during an arrest and not give their password, police could still take the phone and unlock it, depending on their technological capabilities.
“Obviously if it’s password-protected then the police will be limited in their ability to search it on the spot but that’s more of a practical consideration,” said Mathen.
So even if police say you need to give them your cell phone pass code, you are entirely within your right to tell them to go get stuffed and get a warrant.  I have read other legal opinions that still maintain that a legal warrant is required to unlock a cell phone, but there seems to be conflicting opinions on this one issue.  So always err on the side of caution and your rights and let the lawyers figure it out.

5) Do You Have The Right To Photograph and Videotape Police?

Yes, police have no legal grounds to ask you stop recording or taking pictures, providing you are not interfering with them doing their duties.  COUGH "providing you are not interfering with then doing their duties", this is the kicker, we have all seen how police go out of their way to claim you are interfering with their duties, they make it their cause for you to be seen as interfering.  This is of course BS, easiest solution, ask the police officer where you should stand so you are not interfering and go record from there.  If the Police officer then continues to harass you about interfering, you have it all on tape.  Judges do not look kindly on this and know when Police are acting like dicks.

Next, Police have no right to privacy while preforming their job, NONE!  They have no right to demand you delete photos or video from your phone or camera.  Basically you can tell the Police to cram it, but I would do so politely. More detailed analysis is provided here Photographing and filming police officers in Canada

Other Related Information

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

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