Act gives Customs officers broader powers

OTTAWA (Dec. 13, 1999) — Starting next spring, a new regulation will broaden the scope of customs officers’ current power of arrest to include all federal offences, including Criminal Code offences.

The passage of Bill C-18, the Act to Amend the Customs Act and the Criminal Code, represents a significant change for the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA). The regulation will be implemented at 32 large and medium land border crossings, including the four largest international airports. The first border crossing affected will be the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Canada Tunnel in Windsor, which will begin in May 2000.

Officers at land border crossings will be equipped with batons and OC spray (pepper spray); officers will be required to pass comprehensive training in the use of these tools, and are subject to periodic re-certification. Customs officers will not carry firearms.

Designated officers will also be trained to detain and arrest individuals who are the subject of outstanding Canadian arrest warrants.

The CCRA conducted extensive research and consultation with law enforcement agencies to develop policies, procedures and training programs that customs officers will require in order to undertake their new responsibilities.

Training includes legislative authorities, theory and criminal code jurisprudence, as well as practical training on the identification of criminal code offences and effective use of roadside alcohol screening devices. The program will concentrate on those offences that are encountered regularly at the border: impaired driving; child abduction; and possession of stolen property.

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