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May 21, 2007
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Canadian officer poses as reporter

CBC News Canada

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The editor of a newspaper may file a formal complaint against Vancouver police after an officer passed himself off as a reporter to lure a poverty activist to a downtown mall.

Dean Broughton, editor-in-chief of 24 Hours in Vancouver, said the officer crossed a line. The media should never be used in ploys by police because it could put reporters in danger and undermines trust in the media, he said.

"I find it alarming that the police would use the media in this fashion. I know they've used pizza joints and other such outlets. But the media does have a bit of a role in society that goes beyond bringing pizza to people. Our job is to tell the truth and tell stories so it definitely does attack our credibility."

On Saturday, a Vancouver police officer phoned anti-poverty activist David Cunningham.

Earlier in the week, Cunningham raised the idea of symbolically evicting members of the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee from their homes to highlight the loss of low rent hotel rooms in advance of the 2010 Winter Games.

In Saturday's call, the police officer claimed to be a reporter with the newspaper 24 Hours and they agreed to meet outside a downtown shopping centre for an interview.

When the poverty activist arrived, he was arrested, taken to jail and then released on a peace bond.

Vancouver police spokesman Tim Fanning said posing as a reporter isn't a route he would take, but his fellow officer wanted a peaceful arrest.
"We want to arrest people in the safest possible way. This is something I've never heard us doing in the past. I've heard of all sorts of other ploys, never using this one. It may never be used again."

Broughton said the newspaper will decide this week whether to go ahead with a formal complaint against police.

Meanwhile, Cunningham said he doesn't really care about being duped and will continue to maintain a distrust for police and the media.

Copyright 2007 CBC News

Full story: Canadian officer poses as reporter

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