The BCCLA is congratulating the RCMP for suspending a partnership with an American police department currently being sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. The partnership with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) involved “drug recognition expert” training for Canadian police officers.
“We are very pleased that when we brought the scathing report of the Federal Department of Justice about allegations of racism, abuse of authority and unconstitutional conduct by this police detachment to the attention of the RCMP, the RCMP did not hesitate to terminate the partnership,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “This is the type of quick action and response to new information that the public expects from our national force, and we’re pleased to see it.”
The Department of Justice investigation into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the DOJ stripping federal powers from the jurisdiction, and a report issued by the DOJ made findings that the MCSO:
- Has a “chronic culture of disregard for basic legal and constitutional obligations;”
- Engages in racial profiling by unlawfully stopping, detaining and arresting Latinos;
- Unlawfully retaliates against individuals who complain about or criticize the department’s policies or practices;
- Punishes inmates who don’t speak English for failing to understand commands given in English, and refuses prisoners who don’t speak English basic services.
The RCMP suspended the partnership with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office on January 27, 2012 after receiving the DOJ report from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
“The DOJ report indicates that this U.S. police department has work to do to get its own house in order before it tries to set an example or teaches others. Conducting a lawful and proper arrest for suspected driving while under the influence of drugs requires professionalism and skill so that rights are respected, evidence is properly gathered and safety ensured,” noted Holmes. “We hope the RCMP will come up with a made-in-Canada solution that respects Canadian law and provides such training here. Canadian tax dollars should not have been going to support training from others like this.”
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, 604 838 6856
David Eby, Executive Director, 778 865 7997