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Police Search Policy Ruled Illegal

Friday, January 28, 2005

On January 21, 2005, the Ontario Court rendered a decision with respect to the Ottawa Police Service policy in spousal assault matters. The policy, according to the testimony of police officers at the Trial, held that any firearms located on the premises were to be confiscated regardless of the circumstances. In the case before the Court, the accused had been removed from the premises earlier and there was no danger posed to the officers or the other occupants of the house, nor was there any involvement of weapons in the alleged assault. Officers proceeded nonetheless to seize the firearms pursuant to the policy. The Court held that the admission of the firearms into evidence would bring the administration of justice into repute as the search of the individual's home without permission was a gross Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms violation. The actions of the officers, although done out of concerns for the safety of the citizens in the home, was illegal and improper and could have been done in keeping with the provisions already available in the Criminal Code.

As a result, Mr. Cogan was successful in challeging the illegal policy of the Ottawa Police Service which significantly infringed upon a citizen's right to privacy in their home and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Given the Court's ruling, the police policy is now called into question in all such spousal assault calls to which the police respond in Ottawa.

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