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Mall Cops Gone Wild - a New Reality Show?


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Two recent incidents have prompted B.C.'s justice minister, Shirley Bond, to order the investigation of the actions of mall security guards who are licensed and under the control of the province.

Last week it was a teen taking pictures of a take down by mall security staff at Metrotown who was grabbed by mall cops.

A B.C. teen who aspires to be a journalist says his rights were violated when he was set upon by security guards and then arrested by police after photographing an incident at Metrotown shopping mall in Burnaby, B.C.

Jakub Markiewicz ,16, said he was in the mall in September and took a picture of what he thought was a newsworthy event — a man being arrested by security guards.

But Markiewicz said the guards quickly turned on him, demanding he delete the photo, which he couldn’t do because he was shooting on a film camera.

Markiewicz said he turned to leave the mall and then snapped a second shot as RCMP arrived.

He said the security guards held him, attempting to grab his camera, and he was pushed to the ground. He said he then tried to use his body to protect two cameras he carried in his bag.

"They're just yelling and screaming, and just telling me to stop resisting," Markiewicz said.

He admits he started swearing and was then handcuffed by police and taken outside the mall to an RCMP cruiser by the officers and mall security.

Markiewicz said the guards again demanded he delete the photos and he told them once more he couldn’t.

...

Lawyer Douglas King, of Pivot Legal in Vancouver, agrees, saying that private mall security guards and police have no right to try to seize someone’s camera or demand that photos be deleted — even on private property.

http://www.cbc.ca/ne...her-arrest.html

Markiewicz was eventually released without being charged — something that the RCMP have confirmed. He has been banned from the mall property for six months.

And a couple of days ago at Pacific Centre three mall cops dragged a one-legged man from his wheel chair who they suspected of shoplifting while swearing and abusing him. One of the guards starts swearing, before knocking the man out of his wheelchair with a blow to the head. "I'll ****** throw you on the ground and **** you up!” the guard is heard saying on the video. “Don't **** with me ... On the ground! On the ground! On the ground! You're so stupid — on your chest!"

Video at the link. Warning language NSFW.

http://www.cbc.ca/ne...wheelchair.html

On Wednesday, Genesis vice-president Ashley Meehan said the man in the wheelchair was known from a number of previous incidents and had aggressively resisted the guards and possibly assaulted them before the video was recorded. According to the Vancouver Police Department, no charges were laid against the guards or the alleged shoplifter.

One Pacific Centre guard has now been fired and Bond has ordered an investigation into the conduct of the mall cops in both incidents.

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Here is a column from Matt Gurney of the National Post on the schizophrenic treatment of photos and videos taken by the public by the police - they like it when they can use it as evidence against an accused but not when it places police actions in a bad light.

Matt Gurney: Police love photos of crimes. Unless they make them look bad

In the fall of 2011, the Vancouver Police fanned out across the city to serve warrants to all the local major media outlets. These warrants ordered the media outlets to turn over all photos and video footage they might have taken of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot. The motive behind the request was logical — police wanted to use the footage as evidence, especially images that may not have been broadcast or published and could contain evidence of crimes.

The media outlets fought back, arguing that should police access to photo journalism become routine, journalists and photographers would be in danger when covering public disturbances. Someone who’s just looted a store or burned a car might see value in attacking a journalist and destroying their equipment if they fear it could later be used to prosecute them. In a court challenge mounted by the media companies, a lawyer argued that the police were effectively seeking to deputize journalists.

The challenge ultimately failed. The photos were surrendered at the courts’ order. Clearly, police see value in citizen journalism. Or, at least, when the cameras aren’t pointed at them.

Recently, the CBC reported a disturbing story out of Burnaby, B.C. Jakub Markiewicz, a 16-year old amateur photographer and aspiring journalist, was in a local shopping mall when he saw mall security officers in a confrontation with a man. Mr. Markiewicz produced a camera from his backpack and began taking photos of the event. Mall security guards yelled at him to stop; Mr. Markiewicz continued. After security guards had finished arresting the man they were grappling with, Mr. Markiewicz reports turning to leave the mall. On his way out, he photographed the arrival of local RCMP officers who were on their way to assist the mall security guards.

That’s when Mr. Markiewicz claims he was grabbed by mall security, thrown to the ground and detained. The security guards seized his camera and insisted that he delete any photos he had taken of the arrest. Mr. Markiewicz explained that he was unable to comply — his camera uses old-style physical film, not a digital storage card. At that point, the security guards turned Mr. Markiewicz over to police, who handcuffed him and put inside an RCMP cruiser. Mr. Markiewicz reports that the police then cut his backpack off with a utility knife and searched his bag, finding his cameras, but nothing else remarkable.

Mr. Markiewicz was eventually released without being charged — something that the B.C. RCMP have confirmed. He has been banned from the mall property for six months. A spokesman for the mall’s ownership told the CBC, “[Mr. Markiewicz] didn’t comply with the request of the security nor the RCMP, so they took appropriate action they deemed necessary to defuse the situation.”

Appropriate action? The actions here hardly seem appropriate. Taking photos in a shopping mall that’s open to the public is not against the law. Indeed, it’s generally understood to be permitted unless the mall has posted clear signs saying otherwise, which was not the case here. While it’s true that a private property owner can ask someone to stop taking pictures on his land, the appropriate response to a photographer who won’t comply is to ask him to leave, or at worst to eject him from the property. Security guards should not have gone further and insisted that Mr. Markiewicz turn over his camera or delete his photographs. Further, by allegedly forcefully detaining him, it could be argued that the guards committed an assault against Mr. Markiewicz, who is not even alleged to have committed any crime and was trying to leave the property.

The poor conduct of the private security guards is worrisome enough, and Mr. Markiewicz is entirely correct to have sought legal counsel to consider his options. But the involvement of the RCMP makes this incident especially troubling. Yes, it is true that the officers who arrived on the scene might not have had a full appreciation of the situation, and would have relied upon the reports of the local security guards. But the fact remains that Mr. Markiewicz was not only arrested, but searched, without reasonable cause. This is a clear violation of Mr. Markiewicz’s rights, and, again, likely grounds for legal action against the RCMP.

Whatever steps Mr. Markiewicz takes will be his business. The broader issue here one of fundamental freedoms. Mr. Markiewicz was on private property, yes, but was there lawfully and committed no crimes. That he could be treated so, with the complicity of the police, should alarm every citizen. Especially since, in our digital age, reaching for a camera is the first reaction many of us have when witnessing an unusual event.

At the very least, the various police forces of British Columbia should get their stories straight. Are citizens photographing public disturbances a police asset, or themselves a disturbance? As it stands, the message being sent seems to be that the police are fine with anything being photographed, except for themselves and their private-sector partners.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/10/26/matt-gurney-the-police-love-you-taking-photos-of-crimes-unless-it-involves-them/

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This has become a major problem in the US, not surprising that it comes here as well. In light of videos being posted of misconduct police logically don't want that type of supervision so they will undoubtedly be, more often than not, increasingly hostile toward that extra amount of scrutiny. In return, this spawned groups like CopBlock, one of the common themes are how they report about police who target people openly recording police in public, and help organise counter-movements against it.

Nonetheless, police work for the public, they should ALWAYS be accountable, which means there should be virtually no legal issue recording them with a device, especially in plain sight like a camera.

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This has become a major problem in the US, not surprising that it comes here as well. In light of videos being posted of misconduct police logically don't want that type of supervision so they will undoubtedly be, more often than not, increasingly hostile toward that extra amount of scrutiny. In return, this spawned groups like CopBlock, one of the common themes are how they report about police who target people openly recording police in public, and help organise counter-movements against it.

Nonetheless, police work for the public, they should ALWAYS be accountable, which means there should be virtually no legal issue recording them with a device, especially in plain sight like a camera.

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A friend of mine used to be in charge of the security at Surrey Center Mall and every one of the guards who worked for him that I met was some kind of social reject or another. The ones that werent straight out stupid had something off about them. And they all wanted to become cops. No way would I have ever let anyone of them have a gun if I had any say in it. Apparently one would succeed every so often.

If anyone reading this post is a security guard and is offended Im sorry but you know what I said is true.

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What I find most disturbing about that video is the people walking by doing nothing to help the man in the wheelchair. The "guards" don't even look like security guards, for all those passerby's know that man was being assaulted yet they continue walking. It says in the video that some people demanded they stop but I didn't see it.

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What I find most disturbing about that video is the people walking by doing nothing to help the man in the wheelchair. The "guards" don't even look like security guards, for all those passerby's know that man was being assaulted yet they continue walking. It says in the video that some people demanded they stop but I didn't see it.

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  • 2 months later...

In the Pacific Centre Mall incident (October 6, 2012) where three security guards threw a man in a wheelchair to the ground, one of the security guards has now had his license suspended for two months and fined $230. There have been no assault charges laid thus far.

Here is the video and the CBC News report of the incident:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/The+National/Canada/ID/2299692767/

The investigation into the violent takedown of a man in a wheelchair by a security guard at a downtown Vancouver shopping mall has concluded the guard used unnecessary force.

The Ministry of Justice and the Vancouver police launched an investigation in November after a witness recorded the October incident on a cellphone. The video showed undercover security officers swearing at the man before one guard knocked him to the floor in the Pacific Centre Mall.

“The security programs division of the Ministry of Justice has determined that one guard acted with unnecessary force and used profanity contrary to the Security Services Regulation,” Sam MacLeod, a ministry spokesman said in an email to The Vancouver Sun on Friday.

The guard, whose name was not revealed, had his security licence suspended during the investigation. He has received an additional two-month suspension with a condition that he re-certify in use of force before he can reapply for a licence, said MacLeod.

He was also given two tickets, each carrying a $115 fine.

Over the past five years, hundreds of complaints have been lodged against security guards with the Ministry of Justice, but few penalties have been levied against guards for excessive force.

A lawyer for Pivot Legal Society agreed with the decision to revoke the security guard’s licence, calling it a landmark decision. “This is exactly what we had been asking for and it’s a huge step in the right direction,” said Doug King.

In the Oct. 6 incident, a one-legged man was leaving a store in a motorized wheelchair when he was stopped by three guards who accused him of shoplifting.

In the video, sent to the CBC and later posted on YouTube, the man is hit by one of the guards and pulled out of his wheelchair. He then rolls on the floor.

Vancouver police Const. Brian Montague said Friday that the police investigation was complete and that as of Friday there had been no charges approved by the Crown against either individual.

Private security companies are provincially regulated and companies have varying ways of training and monitoring guards. The B.C. Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for regulating the security industry, can impose a range of sanctions under the Security Services Act, including warnings, violation tickets, licence suspension, and even licence cancellation.

MacLeod said the ministry is not contemplating changes to the training required of all security guards before they are licensed. The Justice Institute of British Columbia sets the curriculum and standards for that training.

While private security guards undergo background checks and get some training, it’s not as in-depth as police officer training.

Karen Johnson, manager of the institute’s security training program, said there is an ethics portion that covers the use of force in both the 40-hour basic training course and the 24-hour advanced course, the latter being mandatory for any guard who is equipped with restraints such as handcuffs.

She confirmed that as of Friday the institute had not been asked to make any changes to the curriculum.

The number of complaints about security guards received by the ministry steadily increased over four years to 216 complaints in 2011 from 130 in 2008, and then dropped last year to 192 complaints.

However, the numbers may not indicate a higher rate of excessive force, but could reflect the increase in the number of security guards in the province.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said when the Security Services Act — which regulated a number of previously unregulated fields of security works — came into force in 2008, the number of licences jumped to 19,000 from 10,000.

There are now more than 20,000 licensed security guards in B.C., compared with nearly 9,000 police officers, according to Statistics Canada.

Asked whether she was concerned about the growth of private security guards outpacing the number of police officers, Bond said the growth “is similar to other jurisdictions both in Canada and internationally.”

In the past two years, 22 of the investigations launched with the ministry concerned the use of excessive force. Of those, just five resulted in sanctions.

Meanwhile, an investigation by the ministry into an incident at the Metrotown mall in Burnaby, a week before the one at Pacific Centre, has concluded the guards did not use excessive force.

In that case, 16-year-old Jakub Markiewicz said his rights were violated when he was set upon by security guards and then arrested by police after photographing an incident at Metrotown.

Doug MacDougall, director of Metrotown Properties, said Markiewicz started filming and didn’t stop when he was asked to by the security guards. The RCMP handcuffed Markiewicz and took him out of the mall.

On Friday, Ministry of Justice spokeswoman Amy Lapsley said in an email that the security programs division contacted the Markiewicz’s family directly but, to date, a formal complaint had not been lodged.

An investigation was launched anyway and concluded that there were no contraventions of the Security Services Act by the guards.

Pivot Legal’s King said security guards should be required to file reports with the government every time force is used, similar to those required of police.

“We shouldn’t be waiting for videos to surface on the news to trigger an investigation,” he said, adding that if security guards filed mandatory reports with the Ministry of Justice after incidents where force was used there would be more accountability and disciplinary measures could be taken immediately.

King contends that even if people are resisting arrest, security guards have only the same rights as civilians and using force on a suspect could be considered assault.

http://www.vancouversun.com/Vancouver+security+guard+used+unnecessary+force+wheelchair/7841704/story.html#ixzz2IX6VmCQd

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