The RCMP is investigating a complaint made against the Whistler detachment after an officer allegedly confiscated a woman’s cell phone she was using to film an arrest, and arresting her, as well, when she refused to hand it over.
According to media reports, Vancouver resident Valerie Connelly was walking through the village on Saturday. Nov. 19 when she saw officers making an arrest.
She took out her phone to record, thinking “maybe this could wind up as evidence to help the police,” Connelly told the CBC. As Mounties were finishing the arrest, Connelly said they noticed her shooting video, and confiscated her phone. When she refused to give police her passcode, she claims she was arrested.
“The one officer grabbed my arm, twisted it behind my back, handcuffed me, and said I was obstructing and that they were arresting me,” said Connelly, who was eventually released without charge and told she could retrieve her phone during business hours.
In a statement provided to Pique, Insp. Kara Triance, the new Officer in Charge for the Sea to Sky region, said a “comprehensive review” of the incident and the public complaint has been launched.
“In my preliminary review of the file, I can say that several components in the public complaint report and the text of the police officers’ report were unclear and warrants (sic) further review,” she wrote.
“I can assure the public that, in due course once the investigation is concluded, we will respond with clarity and accuracy on the outcome to the complainant. We will also ensure that if there were errors around authorities, the appropriate course of action will be taken,” the statement read.
Police are legally permitted to seize cellular phones and other recording devices if they are thought to contain evidence that is not available otherwise, although it’s unclear what evidence, if any, Connelly’s phone would have contained as the incident was described.
Police can conduct a limited search of a phone without a warrant provided the search is incidental to a lawful arrest and officers have an “objectively reasonable” reason to do so. Authorities must also make detailed notes of what they looked at on the device as well as how it was searched.
Whether a phone is password-protected or not is irrelevant, according to a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, although a suspect has the right to remain silent during an arrest and could choose not to give out their passcode.
$1,200 in valuables reported stolen from village business
A suspect in a break-and-enter was arrested last week after allegedly stealing approximately $1,200 in goods from a village store.
On Nov. 28, a caller told police that entry to the Mountain Square business had been gained through a back door before the valuables were stolen.
Police were later able to identify a suspect, who now faces numerous charges.
Break-in tools found near ATM
Police are investigating a report of suspicious activity at a village business that came in last week.
Just after 8 a.m. on Nov. 28, Whistler RCMP received a call from a business in the 4200 block of Mountain Square after an employee arrived at work to find various tools left in the area and an ATM left unplugged. No money was taken, police said. Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact the detachment at 604-932-3044 or BC Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.