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Q & A:  Straight Answers to Hard Asked Questions

Question from Rose L., Property Manager in Toronto, Ontario

Q: Our condominium Board has asked me to make sure that all the pets in our community are registered. This is a requirement in our Rules, but I am having a lot of trouble because some pet owners don’t want to disclose it. I heard you may be able to help.

A: Yes – we can certainly help with this. The following is something that Riskboss recommends in our Comprehensive and Independent Risk Assessments.

The Fire Safety Plan (the Plan) should always have (as page one) a list of persons requiring special assistance in emergencies and that list should be updated every month. All pets should be listed as page two of the Plan.. Emergency responders always worry about entering into a unit where there may be pets. They may not notice them if they are not registered or frightened pets may attack them. Like most people, emergency responders have big hearts and like to save animals as well as people. That’s why you often see them on the front cover of newspapers providing oxygen to pets.

Riskboss also recommends that this lists be placed into plastic sleeves so that when an emergency responder arrives, the list can be easily handled and not damaged. In short, communicate to all residents that emergency responders need this information to save their pets in emergencies, and you will get 100% compliance.

Question from Debbie K., Property Manager in Toronto, Ontario

Q: I got a call from one of my security guards. Police were on site and wanted to interview the guard regarding an incident that she witnessed involving two residents. The police officer was wearing a body camera and asked, “Do I have your permission to record a statement on my body camera now?” I didn’t know the correct answer because I had never come across this before.

A: In GTA police services, this is becoming a reality as body cameras are being tested and, in some areas, already deployed. This provides greater police accountability and also, objective and real-time accounts of what actually transpires during interactions.

Police generally do not need permission to record anyone, but there are some limitations on when the police can and cannot use their body cameras. In Canada, there is a One Person Consent Rule for combination video/audio taping. It means that if you are the one doing the taping and you are present, you do not need permission from anyone. Police are limited to using body cameras in areas with no Reasonable Expectation of Privacy. Public sidewalks, highrise lobbies, parking lots, hallways, etc., are areas where there is no Reasonable Expectation of Privacy. Your home; however, is definitely an area where there is a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy. Unless police are in your home for a lawful purpose and being ‘lawfully placed’ such as being invited or attending an emergency call, police should not engage their body cameras without permission.

Why do police officers ask, “Do I have your permission to take a body camera statement from you now?” Police generally ask as a matter of public respect. From the beginning police are taught in Evidence 101, that the Best Evidence Rule is to get statements and evidence as soon as possible. This is so that memories don’t fade or no one tampers with evidence. Service providers such as security, although never obliged by law to provide a statement to police, should cooperate, especially if an offender is not a resident of the community.

Here is where problems can occur for property managers and something to definitely watch out for. When the situation is between two or more residents, there may be privacy issues that should be managed prior to the release of any information to anyone. Unless police declare an emergency where critical information is immediacy required, it may be prudent to request that police wait until after the corporate lawyer can be contacted to review the incident and provide sage guidance on whether confidentiality and privacy come into play. Every situation is different. If it is an emergency, the general rule is to release the information right away to police.

In short, in non-emergent situations, everyone should always call a higher authority when asked by a police officer for a live body camera statement just to be sure. Property managers should always be the first point of contact for the release of any information to anyone.

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