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RCMP unlawfully seized guns during Alberta floods

RCMP unlawfully seized guns during Alberta floods: Report
Failed to comply with legal requirements concerning the seizure of firearms
Conclusions by a police watchdog that Mounties broke the law in seizing several firearms in flood-ravaged High River, Atla., are pointless unless those responsible are charged, one impacted gun owner said Thursday.

The RCMP Citizen Review Complaints Commission found the force was justified in seizing most of the 609 guns they grabbed from homes during the June, 2013, flood, but concluded officers went beyond the law in several cases.

“While RCMP members, acting on their own initiative and with little guidance, may have acted with public safety in mind, they nonetheless failed to comply with legal requirements concerning the seizure of firearms,” states a 122-page report, noting some of the weapons in question had been legally stored.

“One member seized two firearms knowing that they were properly secured. The other member made a larger seizure in which two of the firearms were reported to have trigger locks.”

Mounties also appear to have exceeded the law when they seized handguns and rifles that were hidden from plain view in two homes, and that police made unnecessary multiple entries to find firearms, said the report.

The report doesn’t appear to include resident Greg Kvisle’s claims family heirlooms a rifle and shotgun hidden in his basement were confiscated by Mounties the third time they entered his home, which wasn’t even flood-damaged.

“They would have had to rummage around to find them,” he said.

“I was always under the understanding they’re there to enforce the law, not to break it.”

But Kvisle said he’d be surprised if anyone on the force is charged, and also wonders about the accountability of emergency officials who directed Mounties in some of their actions.

“Heads should roll and somebody should stand up and be accountable,” he said.

“But like the banks in the states, they’re too big to fail, or too big to touch … show me what you’re going to do to fix the problem,” he said.

The federal government, which had long voiced concern about the way the RCMP appeared to have handled the situation, echoed some of the same concerns.

“The activity in question is completely unacceptable. Law-abiding Canadians should never be faced with unlawful searches and seizure of their personal property,” said Jean-Christophe de la Rue, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

The government also called for the report’s recommendations to be fully implemented.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson issued a statement praising his officers for their work during the floods while promising to review the report and look for ways to improve.

“In accordance with the RCMP Act, we will provide our official response, once completed,” Paulson said.

Kvisle wondered if the Mounties will be able to win back the community’s trust.

“There’s definitely some issues there — the leadership was sorely lacking and the discipline wasn’t there in the officers under them,” he said.

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on Twitter: @SUNBillKaufmann

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