Cops rapped for taping strip search

A judge chastised Kelowna RCMP for videotaping a woman as she was strip-searched.

In a court decision this week, Judge Ellen Burdett criticized the force for ignoring a 13-year-old law that outlines the proper way to conduct strip searches.

The judge said police violated the woman's charter right to be secure from an unreasonable search by videotaping and broadcasting the footage to a monitoring room while she was partially naked.

"It appears videotaping inside strip-search rooms and simultaneous broadcasting to a central monitoring location is a routine policy at the Kelowna detachment," Burdett said.

"The policy of videotaping and monitoring all strip searches in the Kelowna detachment demonstrates an ignorance of charter rights."

Undercover police arrested Madison Fine for possessing drugs for the purpose of trafficking in downtown Kelowna on Feb. 27 last year.

Officers suspected she was supplying cocaine to street-level dealers who sell to customers.

When an officer approached her in a pickup, she was holding two cellphones. Inside her purse was a wallet with $915 and an open bag of baking soda, commonly used as a cutting agent, Burdett said.

A female Mountie was asked to transport Fine to the detachment.

Together with a female civilian employee, the officer took Fine into a search room. When she told Fine to remove her pants, a piece of tin foil fell out. When Fine took off her underwear, a bag was visible.

Inside the bag were 48 packets of cocaine, crack and heroin, Burdett said.

Fine removed her own clothes during the strip search and she was never fully undressed. But she was not told she would be videotaped or monitored.

"We're reviewing the judgment to determine its impact on our procedure, policy or training," said RCMP spokesman Const. Kris Clark.


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