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News (Media Awareness Project) - Canada: RCMP Scraps Plans To Train Officers In Arizona
Title:Canada: RCMP Scraps Plans To Train Officers In Arizona
Published On:2012-01-31
Source:Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-02-02 06:01:31

Scathing Report on Sheriff's Office Behind Decision

The RCMP has scrapped plans to send hundreds of officers to Arizona
for training in recognizing and testing drug-impaired drivers after
learning that the sheriff's office they had partnered with has been
accused of engaging in "unconstitutional policing."

A scathing U.S. Department of Justice report recently concluded that
the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in Phoenix engages in racial
profiling of Latinos, unlawfully stops and arrests Latinos and
unlawfully retaliates against individuals who criticize the force.

An RCMP official stressed Monday that at no time were Maricopa County
sheriff's officers going to be involved in teaching the Canadians and
that the only role of the sheriff's office's was to provide access to
people in custody at a remand centre who could be evaluated for drug

Still, the seriousness of the allegations against the sheriff's
office prompted the RCMP to cancel its training sessions in Arizona,
said Insp. Allan Lucier.

"It was almost immediate after having read the report that this would
not be a facility that we would associate ourselves with," he said.
"That just didn't meet our test."

As Postmedia News reported in December, the Mounties had planned to
spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to run six workshops - each
three weeks long - in the Arizona city between April 2012 and March
2013 to train a few hundred RCMP, provincial and municipal police
officers to detect and test drug-impaired drivers.

Under a Canadian law, which came into effect in July 2008, an officer
who suspects a driver may be impaired by drugs can demand that the
driver perform a test of their co-ordination skills. If the driver
fails that test, the officer can compel the driver to go to the
police station for a lengthier evaluation by a drug-recognition
expert. Several hundred Canadian police officers have gone through
the RCMP's training workshops, which consist of two weeks of
classroom instruction followed by one week of field certification,
which requires officers to complete seven to 10 evaluations of
drug-impaired individuals.

The field-certification portion had been done in conjunction with the
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office since 2007. Phoenix was considered a
desirable location, in part because of the relatively large and
consistent number of drug-impaired individuals who are apprehended in
the area, Lucier said.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office - whose commander, Joe Arpaio,
likes to call himself "America's toughest sheriff" and has received a
lot of attention for his tough approach to illegal immigration - did
not respond to repeated calls and emails Monday.

David Eby, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties
Association, which notified the RCMP about the allegations against
the sheriff's office last Wednesday, said the RCMP made the right
call to abandon its training in Arizona.

He urged the Mounties to find a "made-in-Canada" solution and said
Canadian police agencies should think twice about sending officers
south of the border for any type of training. "The U.S. has a
different policing context. . There's a different legal environment,
different constitutional norms," he said.

In a Dec. 15 letter to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, the U.S.
Department of Justice's civil rights division said its investigation
of the force uncovered a "chronic culture of disregard for basic
legal and constitutional obligations." Among the allegations:

- - Latino drivers are four to nine times more likely to be pulled over
than non-Latino drivers in that county;

- - detention officers punish Latino inmates who don't follow commands
given in English and make them sign forms in English without
translation assistance.

Lucier said Monday the RCMP hasn't decided yet where it will now
conduct the work-shops.
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