Imagine you and your friend are coming back late at night from a party. You decide to take a route that you know through a side road. All of a sudden you see flashing lights and a police officer shines a flash light in your face. He explains to you that there have been a bunch of break and enter or robbery type crimes in the neighbourhood and so they are investigating everyone who is around at night. You calmly explain that you have done nothing wrong. The police officer pulls out his memo book and takes your name, date of birth, and your address down. He does the same thing with your friend. Then he goes back into his squad car and after a few minutes he comes back and tells you that you are free to go. You have just gone through the process of a police officer filling out a 208 card with your name on it. The information containing who you were with, what you claimed to be doing along with other information gathered from you will go into a computer FOREVER. Remember no one ever accused you of doing anything wrong. If you get charged with a criminal offence in the same area where your 208 information was taken they will use that information about you and your buddy being out late at night. At trial, the police officer will testify that you “voluntered” to freely give your information and you could have walked away at any time without answering his questions.
208 Cards – The crowns are now relying on this police tactic of gathering information and introducing it as “association evidence”. In other words, if Charlie and Billy were seen together and stopped by the police and “volunteered” to give their information in an given area…. Later on at trial the crown may try to assert that it is more likely than not that Charlie and Billy committed a crime in the same area late at night. The crown will argue that people commit crimes with people that they know and obviously Charlie and Billy know each other.
The main issue for me with the 208 cards is that the State should not be allowed to gather “association evidence” from its innocent citizens going about their daily business by using subtle or direct coercion and then using the same data to assist in their prosecutions at a later date. While it is true that this investigative tool may assist the police in solving some crimes…the trade off is giving up our right to associate with people we like and have the names of our friends and relatives stored permanently in police computers. We must not allow ourselves to be constantly surveilled and investigated by the police for no reason. I don’t believe that most Canadians want to live in a state where the politics of fear dominate our daily lives. We are a free democratic nation. The police are answerable to us. We should not be made to fear paramilitary style police where men in dark menacing uniforms get to ask us for our papers and ask us questions at their absolute discretion. History has repeatedly shown that when the police are given such unchecked power over its citizenry under the guise of “public safety”, the chilling effect is usually antithetical to the very sprit of democracy itself. The california deparment of education help my homework provides a data tool to search student-performance data by school or district