The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Thursday, August 01, 2002

<#1>Just another reason why we citizens need to watch the watchers...

Police officers have been using drug-sniffing dogs on car ferries in British Columbia without warrants, or reasonable grounds that a specific offence was being committed..The police admitted that they were not operating on any specific tip, just the general knowledge that some drugs go across the Straight of Georgia on ferries. Here's the CBC's report.

Not surprisingly, BC Civil Liberties Association president John Dixon was very disturbed about this activity by the West Vancouver Police. The cops apparently are trying to justify their fishing expeditions by saying that ferries are a known conveyance for drugs. Oh, what great and brilliant cause for running a sweep on all cars on a BC ferry. Give me a break.

Cars are sometimes used for transporting drugs. Why not search them all at road checks, then?

Mules sometimes carry drugs in their backpacks. Better search every backpack being worn by everyone on the street, then.

The motorcycle is a popular drug-delivery vehicle. Perhaps if a police officer notices that someone is operating a motorcycle, they should pull over the motorcyclist and search them for drugs. Drugs are bad, right?

It's not legal for the police to use an X-ray (or other) scanner to "look inside" someone's house without a warrant. In this case, they were using a primitive yet sophisticated scanner in the form of a drug sniffing dog to "sneak inside" every trunk of every car on a ferry sailing. The police claim that their methods are "non-invasive." Sure, they aren't actually breaking into cars and searching them. They are, however, using tools that allow them to detect what's inside without having to break into cars. Using infrared cameras to observe what's going on inside private homes isn't legal without a search warrant. Why should this be legal?

While we're at it, why don't the cops just search every basement in East Vancouver? After all, some basements on the East Side have had grow-ops. If the cops tried to get a warrant from a judge based on that argument, they'd be laughed out of chambers.

In this case, the cops had no prior cause to believe that there was going to be a shipment of drugs on a BC ferry. They weren't looking for a specific vehicle, either. As a matter of fact, the cops stayed on the boat for four round trip sailings on this fishing expedition. Each sailing can hold 330-360 cars. Do the math, and that's the number of drivers who were being, in effect, searched without probable cause or a warrant. Absolutely ridiculous.

Surely, with the police claiming that their resources are limited, they could find a more efficient use of their officers than this, and preferably a method that is not such a gross violation of civil liberties.

Rafe Mair spoke with John Dixon about this on Rafe's CKNW radio show. Download the hour that the interview takes place.

The file is RealAudio, and the interview starts at about 35 minutes in, so just fast-forward to that point.

Note to those in law enforcement: The end does not justify the means.
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