On Sunday June 5, 2022, two RCMP officers entered a private residence in Mount Moriah, Newfoundland through an unlocked door and without a warrant. The clown-shoes RCMP officers then questioned an 11-year-old girl while shining a flashlight in her face.
The officers in question were looking for a missing 17-year-old girl from the neighbouring community of Corner Brook when they entered the home and executed a warrantless search.
Aside from terrorizing a child at 5:00 am in her bedroom while shining a flashlight in her face, the most concerning part of the story is that the officers entered the home without lawful excuse through an unlocked door. Basically, two Mounties walked into a private residence at 5:00 AM and did so without any form of authorization, judicial or otherwise, thereby terrifying the residents and royally pissing me off in the process.
I’m sure they’re rattled about that last part.
How Can the Police Enter Your Home?
The police can only enter a private residence through the power of a search warrant, an arrest warrant, or where exigent circumstances exist.
What are Exigent Circumstances?
Exigent circumstances are circumstances that make a warrant impracticable but are severe enough to justify a warrantless entry. By nature, exigent circumstances are extraordinary and can only be successfully used by police in the following circumstances:
- to preserve the safety of police and/or the public; or,
- to preserve evidence.
The police cannot also create exigent circumstances as the necessity for a warrantless entry must arise organically. This is important because it prevents the police from manufacturing the circumstances to enter a home without a warrant just to “have a poke around.”
As an aside, if the police ever ask to “have a poke around”, the answer is “get a warrant.” Nothing good comes from the police having a look around your home.
So What Were The Mounties Thinking?
In short, they weren’t.
To call the RCMP’s behaviour in these circumstances egregious is an understatement made worse by the woeful explanation given by a spokesperson for the Corner Brook RCMP. According to the Corner Brook RCMP, officers “responded and attended a home, given concerns for the youth’s wellbeing [missing 17-year-old], based on information provided by the complainant. After a sustained period of knocking, doorbell ringing, and verbal communication, police entered the residence through an unlocked door, verbally announcing their presence.”
That’s an impotent explanation given by cops who know they did wrong. These officers completely ignored their constitutional obligations and trampled all over the rights of a private citizen in her own home while terrorizing a child in her bedroom.
The biggest problem here is the aggrieved citizens have little or no recourse to hold these officers accountable. As soon as a complaint is made to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC), a private citizen has zero input in the process and any information gleaned is largely behind closed doors. The lack of transparency is not by accident. Indeed, making a police complaint at any level in Canada; be it municipal, provincial, or federal, is a notoriously mercurial process which contributes to our culture of police impunity.
So What’s the Point?
Do not let the police enter your home without a warrant and, if the police try garbage like this, be sure to hold them accountable. Call me. Call Dean. Call Ryan. Call James. Call Loch. Shout from a mountain top about how the police violated your privacy. Your recourse is limited, but it’s there.
Never stop fighting.
Rob Kivlichan is a criminal and constitutional lawyer specializing in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violent crimes. Rob actively seeks out cases involving the wrongfully accused and where an individual's Charter rights have been violated. Never a stranger to controversy, Rob writes about criminal justice reform and protecting the rights of Canadians against an oppressive state. Rob can be reached toll free at 1 (866) 489-1710, (416) 560-7757, or [email protected]