Canada: Calgary man suing police, feds for demanding fingerprints because of his birth date is same as a sex offender


A Calgary man says he was forced to provide his fingerprints or give up a 12-year career of coaching youth hockey, all because he shares the same date of birth as a pardoned sex offender.

And after a fruitless five-year odyssey for an explanation for what he feels is a violation of his constitutionally protected Charter rights, retired oil engineer Jim Besse is now suing the RCMP, Calgary police, the Calgary police commission and Chief Roger Chaffin.

“I have always been upfront, saying, ‘Take five minutes and tell me why you think this is a reasonable search and I will go away.’ For five years, nobody’s been able to take that five minutes,” Besse told Postmedia.

“They weren’t going to issue a clean criminal record check for myself unless I submitted myself for fingerprints, and that is still the policy.”

For more than a decade, Besse had served as a dedicated volunteer as his two sons grew up, serving as a minor hockey head coach, a leader with their Beavers and Cubs troops, and at schools. Over that time, he estimates successfully being screened eight to 10 times through a vulnerable sector search, necessary for adults working with children to ensure there are no red flags on their records.

But in 2012, the 63-year-old retiree filed his latest criminal check for Calgary’s Recreational Hockey League, a process that had by then become relatively routine. This time, however, he received a letter from police that simply said he was required to provide “additional information” for his vulnerable sector search.

After several inquiries about the opaque order, he finally got to the bottom of it.

“Pulling informational teeth, it comes out that I have to be fingerprinted because I have a common date of birth with one of 16,000 pardoned sex offenders,” said Besse, who ultimately provided his fingerprints as he was offered no choice if he wanted to keep coaching.

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16,000 pardoned sex offenders? Really? Pardoned? I can’t imagine any governor of any state pardoning 16,000 sex offenders. Pardoned must have a different meaning than what I know it to be. CA has 0 pardoned sex offenders.

A pardon in Canada is a record suspension. “A record suspension allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated that they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.”

But that’s not the point of the story, which is an unreasonable search.