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Cops scheme to frame journalist who criticized photo radar program

Cops scheme to frame journalist who criticized photo radar program
Cops scheme to frame journalist who criticized photo radar program

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Photo radar corruption scandal
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2005 09:53:38 -0500
From: Richard Diamond  

Edmonton police deliberately used a restricted database to gather 
information on a journalist who wrote anti-camera columns. With the 
information, cops tried to set up a sting to arrest him for drunk 
driving. Except some pesky journalists happened to have police scanners 
and blew the lid off of the operation. (And this is just one of three 
photo radar scandals in the city!) 
Testimony Heard Regarding Edmonton Police Attempt to Arrest Journalist

New details emerged Tuesday in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police inquiry 
into an Edmonton Police Service attempt to arrest a newspaper columnist 
over articles that criticized the police. On November 18, 2004, several 
officers were involved in a stake-out of the Overtime Bar in a failed 
attempt to arrest Edmonton Sun writer Kerry Diotte and police oversight 
commission chairman Martin Ignasiak.

Yesterday's disciplinary hearing focused on the head of the traffic 
section, Sergeant Bill Newton, who is charged with abusing his 
authority. According to testimony heard yesterday, Newton had been 
angered by an April 4, 2004 column in which Diotte criticized the city's 
photo radar program. The column became a hot topic of discussion 
throughout the police force.

Diotte cited statistics that showed speed cameras raised a lot of money 
for police but led to an increase, not a decrease, in accidents. "In 
2001 alone, city police issued 194,500 speeding tickets," Diotte wrote. 
"Photo radar and red-light cameras raise about $14 million annually for 
police. Yet last year fatal collisions jumped to 32 from 20 in 2002."

"You know, I know and the police know that driver error is the main 
reason crashes occur," Diotte continued. "All the photo radar in the 
world is not going to correct that core problem."

Two days later, Newton ordered Sergeant Randy Schreiner to access 
confidential police databases to gather information on Diotte. The 
database produced a descriptions and details of Diotte's automobile and 
home. Diotte has no history of drunk-driving.

Using the database information, Newton ordered officers to be on the 
lookout for Diotte's BMW convertible during a "Target All Drunk Drivers" 
operation meeting on November 18. Sergeant Glen Hayden then informed 
Newton that he had seen Diotte at the Overtime Bar on two occasions. 
Around 6pm that evening, Hayden went to the Overtime, saw Diotte's BMW 
and called in undercover surveillance from two officers who were part of 
a squad designed to target a list of 100 "aggressive drivers."

The undercover officers identified Diotte and Ignasiak inside the bar as 
"Target One" and "Target Two" according to witnesses. Around 8:45pm an 
"informant" at the bar called officer Darren Smith, who placed a lookout 
bulletin on Diotte.

Diotte, whom witnesses say was not drunk, took a cab home. Hayden drove 
to Diotte's home to verify whether he was there or not.

An Edmonton Police disciplinary hearing has dropped charges against 
Hayden. "It was true that we found that vehicle in a bar lot and the 
potential for serious harm or death was there," Hayden testified, 
maintaining that he did nothing wrong.

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