Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Police Overdo Strip Searches
OpenFile Toronto: "... if TPAC, the activist group led by former mayor John Sewell, is right, strip searches are being used roughly 60 percent of the time in Toronto"

"The Supreme Court says that strip searches "cannot be carried out simply as a matter of routine policy", because "strip searches are inherently humiliating and degrading for detainees."

"According to the TPAC newsletter, when asked whether more than half of arrests would constitute a routine use of Level 3 searches, Police Chief Bill Blair said that for something to be routine it would have to occur something like 100 percent of the time (something like handcuffs and fingerprinting would qualify). It's not exactly a reassuring answer, and even less reassuring than the Chief's assertion that the perceived climb in strip searches is due entirely to better record-keeping. According to the Toronto Star, the police started keeping better records after a 2005 complaint by, you guessed it, John Sewell. So, before 2005, there were tons of undocumented strip searches despite the 2001 Supreme Court case? Yikes."

.... Having been a subject who was strip searched in the past, simply because a) the police files on me mentioned I was suffering from mental illness and/or b) I was someone who has protested democratically in the past and am not a fan of police brutality - I think I have the experience to comment.

When I protested back in 2001 against the Mike Harris cuts, was knocked unconscious by police batons at King and Bay , followed by nationwide media attention showing me laying in a pool of blood, surrounded by riot police who refused medical access to me, then (surprise) was charged with a false claim of assault against police... long story, sorry.... then charges were dropped and I sued Toronto Police Services Board and the city, eventually getting a significant settlement....the point here is:

When I was arrested, I was taken in and strip-searched, simply to 'teach me a lesson'.
I KNOW this is why police employ this intimidation tactic.

I was also continually harassed by police at other social justice protests, often having officers I never met say to me : "Hey, Ken! Did you take your meds today? (laughter)". Complaints about this turn out to be a waste of time.

Go HERE for a link to the story on this.

There is still even today an ingrained culture in police that demeans, intimidates and targets people with any form of mental illness. They use the term 'EDP' (emotionally disturbed person) whenever they run into anyone with a mental health/illness history, which leads to some form of immediate assumption of guilt.

Of course this is wrong. Of course police will deny this. Of course police will just continue to do it....

Unless the 'normals' in society speak out about this injustice done to their family members, friends and neighbours..

Despite the good news about police stopping the practice of keeping and passing on mental health notes when they are called for police checks (see last post).... we have a long way to go.

But thank you  John Sewell  and the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition (TPAC)

Link is HERE "Toronto Police Accountability Coalition is a group which encourages debate about police policy issues, and is devoted to making the police more accountable to the public."

Go HERE to see The Star artcle about this.
"Last month, a judge found that Peel police officers conducted an illegal strip search of a man in order to “humiliate and intimidate” him, and then tried to cover up what they had done."