Edmonton Police Attempt To Frame Columnist
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.”