Woman appalled at police treatment

Rudy Norman editor@thenorwester.ca
Published on July 10, 2014

A Seal Cove woman says she was horrified late last month after an experience she had with the RCMP in Baie Verte that left her confused, tired and frustrated.

Vera Rice is a cancer survivor. Her condition and treatments over the years have left her with poor balance and she has trouble walking.

Late in June she was returning home late at night from the hospital in Baie Verte, where she was receiving treatment for an infection stemming from years of cancer treatment.

Rice says she was pulled over by the RCMP just before the Seal Cove turnoff. She says she wasn’t speeding, and was wearing her seatbelt.

"The cop came up and asked me why I was going so slow,” Rice said. “I told her I was going slow because it was dark, and I don’t like driving at night, plus I was getting ready to pull off to go out to Seal Cove.”

Rice says the officer asked her for her licence and registration, and also asked if she’d been drinking or doing drugs. She told the officer she’d just left the hospital and had been taking antibiotics.

The officer told her to get out of the car and proceeded to conduct a field sobriety test.

“She asked me to walk a straight line and to stand on one foot and balance, and all this,” said Rice. “I couldn’t do it because of my condition and the infection I had in my bones.”

Rice says she tried to explain to the officer about her condition and why she wasn’t able to do the things she’d been asked, but felt she was ignored.

“She put me in the back of her car and made a phone call,” she said. “By and by she came back and told me she was taking me to Deer Lake for a drug test.”

 It was after midnight. Rice says she was shocked.

Once in Deer Lake, tests proved  Rice wasn’t under the influence, and she says it was then that they set off back to Baie Verte, arriving just after 5 a.m. — just a couple of hours before she was scheduled for her next medical treatment.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Why did I have to go through that? Wasn’t there an easier way to find out I wasn’t doing anything wrong?”

Cpl. Justin Hewlett with the Baie Verte RCMP says everything that happened was normal procedure.

“When it comes to people who are potentially under the influence of drugs, that takes specialized training to determine whether they are or not,” he said.

“There are only a few officers in the province who have that training, and unfortunately neither of them are stationed in Baie Verte.”

Hewlett says the officer who pulled Rice over was just doing her job.

“If we see someone we believe may be under the influence, based on our training and the signs we look for, then we have a duty to ensure that person is safe, and the rest of the public is safe. That’s our job,” he said.