The news yesterday that Bishop Raymond Lahey was discovered in possession of child pornography at the Ottawa airport during a “random” search of his laptop raises a question that probably has an already-established answer.
Up front I’ll state that I don’t believe for a minute this was a “random” search at all, it seems way too convenient.
For the sake of argument, let’s pretend I’m right – he was identified in a child pornography sting or through download activity or whatnot; let’s say the police had reason to believe that he was in possession of kiddie porn. Normally, the police would have to go through the effort of providing justification to a judge in order to get a search warrant. (At least that’s what they do on TV.)
However, a border patrol officer requires no such warrant to search your person, thus providing an ideal opportunity for a warrantless search of personal property.
My question is this – with the recent efforts to round up the purveyors of kiddie porn and the perverts who jack to it, is there communication between border patrol and police agencies? And if so, is evidence provided through border searches usable in a court?
If this was truly a random search of a laptop there would be no question that it would be usable as evidence like any other contraband discovered in such searches. However, if the police are in contact with border agencies to “watch out for” certain individuals, does this create a situation where the authorities are in reality performing illegal warrantless searches?
I don’t mean to defend this guy – he’s everything a father of two young girls loathes and would love to see locked up – a pedophile and religious. I’d just rather our employees (the government) keep our personal rights in mind when performing their work.