March 02, 2015 - 2:16 PM
KELOWNA – Local RCMP Supt. Nick Romanchuk says after being chastised by a provincial judge for illegally broadcasting images of strip searches to a guard room at his detachment, changes have been made that will ensure privacy for prisoners.
“I’m not going to get into the intricate details of what’s in there but suffice it to say we have taken steps to ensure privacy is afforded when somebody is strip searched,” he says.
Romanchuk says the changes, which include policy and education for members working in the detachment, were implemented a few weeks ago after Judge Ellen Burdett said local Mounties' practice of recording and broadcasting female strip searches to a guard room is in clear violation of 14-year-old laws establishing proper procedure.
“Videotaping inside strip search rooms and simultaneous broadcasting to a central monitoring location is a routine policy at the Kelowna detachment, and not related to the unique circumstances of any individual case," Burdett said in a Jan. 23 judgment. "That 'routine policy’, breaches the intent and spirit of (case law). The interests of the police of maintaining safety in the search rooms and preserving evidence are not so compelling that they outweigh (the) expectation of privacy that her strip search not be videotaped and monitored remotely.”
Romanchuk says at no time was there ever anybody standing there watching during any of their searches.
“This is just us putting in safeguards to make sure the risk or the possibility of that occurring is removed,” he says. “(Staff) have been made aware of the changes and of what is required from now on.”
The issue came to light after Burdett released a Jan. 23 judgement regarding a known drug trafficker who was searched in the Kelowna detachment after narcotics were found in her underwear.
This isn’t the first time RCMP from the B.C. Interior have been chastised for breach of privacy. In August last year Cpl. Ken Brown, two other Mounties and at least one guard were accused of failing to intervene when they watched a video monitor that showed two drunk female inmates having sex in a cell.
Charges against Brown were dismissed and those against Constables Evan Elgee and Stephen Zaharia dropped. In 2013 David Tompkins, a jail-guard employed with the City, pleaded guilty and received a one-year conditional sentence.
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