There has been alot in the news lately about the Ottawa Police service and the behaviour of certain members of that force. In a nutshell, a female detainee, who appears to have been taken into custody because she was belligerent towards the police (not an arrestable offence as far as I know) was “strip searched” at the detachment. You will note my use of quotation marks around “strip searched”.
Strip searches are used to protect the police from detainees who have hidden weapons or other objects on or in their person. It is an investigative tool designed to FIND objects. It appears, however, that in the Ottawa case, only the detainee’s shirt was removed. Or to be more precise, was cut off her body. The fact that the police apparently left her pants on and did not search under her pants suggests that this exercise was not, in fact, a search, but rather an exercise in humiliation in retaliation to an accused who was less than co-operative.
It is not unusual in this line of work to come across detainees who do not co-operate with the police. It is also, unfortunately, not unusual to come across police who resort to unjustifiable intrusions into the rights of the detainee in order to effect compliance with their demands. The classic example that defence counsel run across all to frequently is the accused who runs from police, or otherwise refuses to co-operate, who is then charged with assault police.
I leave it to the respective judges to decide if the decision to lay such a charge is to explain away the force that was used by the police to effect compliance with their demands, or if indeed the accused actually assaulted the police.
At Derstine Penman, we pride ourselves in challenging the credibility and reliability of police officer witnesses. Just because a witness is a police officer does not make him or her more credible than any other person.
To read more about this case, click on the attached link.