Sunday, June 22, 2014

Call (204) WPS-Cops to get an automatic "pseudo" police record? How say you Chief?

Winnipeg Police Chief Devon Clunis

Good Day Readers:

As you'll read in the article below, there's increasing concern when applicants request a criminal record check in many cases they may be receiving a lot more information about you than as most people assume simply whether you have any convictions for indictable criminal convictions. Today CyberSmokeBlog called the non-emergency police number to ask for Chief Clunis' e-mail address but were told it was unavailable (Policespeak for we don't want riff raff like you calling our Chief?).

Next, the officer advised they would try to answer out question but, as fully expected, they were unable so passed along a telephone number for Chief Clunis' Office which CSB already had. Tomorrow it will call with these questions:

(1) If an applicant requests a record check, what is the Winnipeg Police Service's policy? Does it have one? Will the applicant receive only the when and whats of any criminal convictions or, like in many jurisdictions, a listing of every time the subject has had contact with the police or something in between?

(2) Can a citizen ask for a copy of the criminal record check that would be sent on their behalf had they no wants, warrants or priors. In other words they were as squeaky clean as a whistle with not even an outstanding parking ticket?

(3) If (2) above cannot be accommodated why not? What is the defining legislation?

(4) Assuming such a request results in a resounding "NO!" can an application via FIPPA (Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act) be filed?

(5) Do the Winnipeg Police engage in carding? Recall how a couple years ago if Toronto police stopped a vehicle for whatever reason(s) in which you happened to be passenger, the names, telephone numbers and addresses of all occupants were entered into a database. Their reasoning? If one of those names shows up in a completely unrelated situation they would know some of the individuals' friends/associates and could begin questioning

Civil rights lawyers successfully challenged the practice as a form of profiling and the city has abandoned carding - at least is says it has

(6) Speaking hypothetically, of course, suppose you were stopped by a traffic officer here because of a burned out taillight which occurred quite recently, therefore, you were unaware; upon requesting your licence, proof of registration and insurance, were subsequently advised to fix the problem, then - as they're fond of saying told you were, "good to go" - was your personal information entered into a database?

Don't you think subjects of criminal record checks should have the right to know exactly the information being disseminated on their behalf by the Winnipeg Police Service keeping in mind My God with whom will the recipient of that information share it?

CyberSmokeBlog keeps waiting for say a civil rights lawyer with no criminal record who can demonstrate they were denied an employment opportunity to launch a lawsuit because of irrelevant, extraneous information that was revealed by a police agency.

Stay tuned.

Clare L. Pieuk
'No judgment, no discretion': Police records that ruin innocent lives

Routine release of police data on people convicted of nothing is undermining careers, volunteer work and travel to the U.S. for hundreds of thousands of innocent Canadians.

By Robert Cribb
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Ellen Richardson was prevented from going on a March if Dimes organized cruise because a U.S. border agent said she was hospitalized for mental health issues in 2012. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star file photo)

Andrew’s career-limiting moment of humiliation unfolded in front of a distinguished colleague in the security line at Pearson International Airport.
The 42-year-old Toronto area businessman was on his way to a prestigious trade conference in the United States last year that promised valuable networking opportunities for his construction firm.
He’d prepared for months.
But it was all about to be undermined thanks to a minor contact with a police officer 24 years earlier that torpedoed the biggest business trip of his career and continues to compromise his professional credibility and prospects.
Together with a senior industry executive who invited Andrew to attend the conference, the two men entered the U.S. customs area together for the flight to Las Vegas. Andrew, whose name is being withheld to protect from further repercussions, would never pass through.
He is among thousands of Canadians whose names are captured in massive police databases — accessible to U.S. border authorities — despite having never been convicted of a crime, an ongoing Star investigation has found.
The specific reason behind his detainment left him stunned.
Directed into secondary screening for the first time in his many trips south, he waiting 90 minutes in puzzlement until a U.S. border guard asked him if he’d ever been convicted of possessing narcotics.
“No, sir,” he replied.
The officer told Andrew that records showed he was investigated for possession of narcotics in 1990 and that, as a result, he was being denied entry to the U.S.
Never having been convicted of a crime, Andrew didn’t understand. And then he remembered a high school incident when he and some friends were nabbed in a park by police who charged them all with smoking a joint.
“We were in Oakville sitting on a bench to celebrate graduation. Some people took off and some stayed like me,” said the now single father of a 13-year-old daughter. “I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. I don’t even kill spiders.”
The narcotics charge was dismissed in court. But the record was never removed from police computers.
While his colleague was boarding the flight to Las Vegas, Andrew was being fingerprinted, photographed and escorted back to the terminal.
“It’s not only the business I lost there, but my reputation. You can imagine how embarrassing that is. Is there no ability to use judgment? No discretion? How does a boy having fun in high school become a threat to the United States?”
Andrew has begun the laborious bureaucratic process of clearing his name, including submitting to a second set of fingerprints and gathering personal information and character references from colleagues to send to RCMP officials in Ottawa.
He’s also filed a nearly $600 waiver to have his record cleared — a process he says he’ll have to undergo every year to maintain his access to the U.S.
As of now, he remains unable to enter the U.S. where the bulk of his corporate clients are — a serious career limitation that has dramatically compromised his business, he says.
“I’m already getting questions from clients about why I can’t come see them. A couple of customers have gone by the wayside. I’m trying to buy time. But how can I explain why I can’t come down there?”
The Star’s investigation in police record disclosures has documented how routine release of non-conviction records — including unproven allegations, withdrawn charges, police surveillance notes and mental health calls to 911 — undermine prospective careers, volunteer work and travel to the U.S. for hundreds of thousands of innocent Canadians.
As many as one in three Canadians have their names in a police database for some reason — a figure that is “stunning,” says Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services board.
“I think it’s a product of society’s anxiety about safety and security. When in doubt, you put the name in the database. But now it’s being used for purposes beyond policing which is where the problem gets worse. ”
An “exponential growth” in the number of employers demanding background checks has created a challenge for both police and those whose names are recorded for reasons other than criminal offences, he said.
Toronto Police have experienced a 92 per cent increase in police background check requests in the past five years. On any given day at the Toronto Police headquarters on College St., there’s a line of people waiting to request or collect background checks.
Those whose checks come back with alleged offences aren’t necessarily criminals, says Mukherjee.
“(The Police Service Board) met with an elderly person who wanted to be a volunteer but couldn’t because, at 15 years old, a cousin made a false allegation of sexual abuse. He was in the database . . . There’s no question it is an unsavory predicament.”
Liza, a Toronto mother who asked that her name not be published, found herself in such a predicament when she applied to volunteer with vulnerable youth a few years ago.
The required police background check she obtained in 2010 came back listing her as a “person of interest” in a case of “child in need of protection,” says a Toronto Police reference check.
The reason? Five years earlier, as a sleep-deprived new mother raising a three-month old on her own, she put a pizza in the oven and absentmindedly drifted off to sleep.
Her fire alarm triggered the arrival of firefighters and police.
“They started accusing me of being drunk,” recalls the now 44-year-old who works in the legal field. “I was breastfeeding. I wasn’t drinking at all at the time.”
Police called a children’s service officer who arrived shortly after and decided to file a report.
The next day, a social worker interviewed Liza, her mother and visited with the boy. She also interviewed the boy’s pediatrician and Liza’s doctor.
“(The social worker) closed the file. That was the end of it. She said she had no concerns.”
When Liza learned of the record in 2010, she sought explanation from Toronto Police about the meaning of “person of interest” and was told it “signifies a civilian who has been involved with police,” she says.
“They told me the police notes said I was uncooperative or something to that effect. As you know, the notes can be as accurate or inaccurate as the individual police officer chooses. Yet these too are retained.
“I had no idea that this would be something that would mark me. I hadn’t done anything. I left a pizza in the oven and set off the fire alarm.”
When she initially appealed to Toronto Police to have the records expunged, her request was denied.
“The record in question is retained permanently and therefore we are unable to accede to your request,” reads a May 2010 letter from Toronto Police’s manager of records management.
Liza later hired a lawyer to have the records expunged — a process that took two years and, as several lawyers interviewed by the Star have said, can be a daunting task without any assurance of success. “That type of information, nobody expects that the police will be maintaining and disclosing in a fashion that will prejudice them down the road,” said Liza's lawyer, Jonathan Shime.
“Her case reveals the absence of any appropriate guidelines or procedures in place for people to be notified and be able to seek expungement of the records.”
Liza says she remains bitter “about what I learned of the injustice of the records retention system, the absurdity that potentially life-thwarting decisions are made by a records manager and the confounding way in which the (Toronto Police) seem to have couched their powers.”
Proposed reforms to the way non-conviction records are disclosed — from unproven allegations to withdrawn charges and even mental health calls to 911 — are “very much a live discussion at the moment,” says Mukherjee.
Some have called for annual purges to the Toronto Police database to remove improper records. But the sheer volume of the database makes that an implausible exercise, he says.
The Toronto Police Services Board is now researching the policies of other police forces in search of best practices and seeking clarification from the federal government on how Canadians’ information is shared with the U.S., he says.
But the issue, he says, remains a “dilemma.”
“We’re being asked by many people to only maintain conviction records. But (Toronto Police) say, from a safety point of view, we have to retain all information and if we have it, we must disclose it.”
Toronto Police have repeatedly insisted the information is vital to both officer and public protection.
Anne Cavoukian, the province’s privacy commissioner, recently filed a notice of application for judicial review in court to stop Toronto police from disclosing themental health records it logs into Canada’s national police database.
Mukherjee calls that Toronto Police position “very rigid.”
“I’m not justifying it, but we have not been able to break that log jam. I’m hoping the current debate will result in some re-thinking so we can move the conversation forward.”
In the meantime, Andrew says livelihoods are being lost to police record sharing without cause.
“I’m learning how many good people this is affecting that don’t deserve this,” he says. “I feel like I can’t shower enough to get this off of me. It’s obscene.”


Post a Comment

<< Home