Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Editor’s Short:
When it started several years ago only a few employment areas required a person do a Police Information or Criminal Check. Now this procedure is being required for almost every job these days…
Personally, I am for supporting police and good policing.  Yet whatever voice or spirit is moving the RCMP into asking volunteer groups to submit to fingerprinting is clearly – the wrong direction.
We are talking about fingerprinting any volunteer aged 14 to age 80. Where no crime has been committed. Just local people wanting to help in their communities – free of charge. As to those who say this will be okay because the RCMP will purge the files… we all know how ‘diligent’ police services have been in scrubbing files. Even if they agree to purge hackers hit the databases every day.  This will be like trying to fix a mistake in your credit history.  Try right now to fix a file that has been stolen and mass copied into other data bases. This idea would create ‘big issues’ for those fingerprinted persons in the future; especially when they travel.
Q: ‘Airport Security’:  ‘Have you ever been fingerprinted’?
A: [Confused, hesitating response]
Arguing “child safety” is very convenient. Yet  to stigmatize people who have never committed a crime and remove their liberties in slow motion is not the answer for us.
This fingerprinting argument is like the airport body scanner argument:
“It’s all for your safety” we are told…
Even if not misused by another, allowing fingerprinting, will serve to darken ones self-image.
Snapshot from the Past:
RCMP tried to have all the Inuit fingerprinted. Even though these Inuit had never committed any crime.

RCMP fingerprint proposal irks Edmonton-area charity

Original Story by ,Edmonton Sun

First posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 09:39 PM MDT | Updated: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 08:40 AM MDT

finger

RCMP proposal

A proposal has been made by the RCMP that would require police information check applicants to be fingerprinted prior to receiving a criminal record check. The new procedures are supposed to increase public safety and reduce the likelihood that somebody could obtain a criminal record check or police information check using false identity.

Boudreau is pleased the proposal would add consistency for volunteers across all jurisdictions, but he believes the move would have a large impact on the volunteer sector as a whole.

“It’s just another thing to do. Our volunteerism in general is reaching a point of exhaustion,” said Boudreau, noting the festival lost close to five per cent of its volunteers this year because they didn’t feel comfortable getting the criminal record or vulnerable sector check.

“To donate your time to an organization for a good cause, there’s more hoops to jump through and more administrative work. That’s all volunteers want to do is just help out. Not a lot of people would really feel comfortable going to that level to really help out a cause they believe in, which is really unfortunate.”

Dave Elanik, manager of the Edmonton police information check section, isn’t a fan of the plan.

A former police inspector, Elanik has never known any false identity occurrences happening with criminal record checks and is concerned about the impact it would have on volunteerism since anyone wanting to volunteer for any organization would have to be fingerprinted.

“That would mean we would be fingerprinting volunteers from as young as 12 years old or someone over 80 who wants to volunteer at their church. To me, that just doesn’t make sense. There’s no public safety benefit,” said Elanik.

“I recognize how important volunteerism is to a strong community. I don’t think we should be doing anything to deter volunteering. We should be doing more things to promote volunteerism in our community.”

Edmonton police received 69,103 information check applications last year, mainly for volunteering and employment purposes. Of those, only 3,733 were fingerprinted for the purposes of a vulnerable sector check. With the proposal, however, everyone would have to be fingerprinted.

Improve service

Last year police went through great lengths in order to improve customer service and process applications in a more timely manner. Prior to these improvements, people were waiting as long as six weeks to get a police check done. Now those requiring a criminal record check for employment purposes can get it done on the spot by attending the office. The proposal, said Elanik, would create additional fees and delays due to fingerprinting and waiting on results.

Elanik recently sent a notice to all volunteer agencies advising of the proposed change. Within a day, he received 75 replies.

“They are saying this will have a significant impact on their ability to retain and recruit volunteers,” said Elanik, who’s concerned the proposal might cause some volunteer organizations to simply forgo criminal record checks, opening the door to dangerous offenders.

“There’s a lot of people that have that stigma around being fingerprinted. If you have no reason, if you have the proper identity, to me it just doesn’t make any sense why we would need to fingerprint someone.”

The new procedures were initially scheduled to be implemented in July 2015, but the timeline is now on hold as late as 2017 to allow more consultation with stakeholders. Elanik said there was no public consultation with volunteer agencies before it was approved by the national police services committee.

pamela.roth@sunmedia.ca

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