March 23, 1997

COPS MUST ENFORCE CHILD ACCESS
By TRACY NESDOLY, Toronto Sun

If parents need help to exercise their legal right to have access to their children, police must assist if asked to, a court has
ruled.


Wayne Eugene Allen, 35, of Hamilton, had a court order granting him custody of his daughter, Jenna, for about 31/2 days a week. The order also stated that police in whatever jurisdiction the child was in must help him if he's having trouble gaining access to her.


When Allen did have trouble -- and when police didn't help -- he turned to the courts, which decided in January to jail the child's mom for five days for contempt of court.


In his ruling released Friday, Mr. Justice Randolph Mazza wrote that Allen went to the Hamilton-Wentworth Police in September, and "was met with a response ... that they wished to contact the Family Court and to conduct an investigation into the validity of the order."


Allen was "agitated" and walked out of the police station, the judgment says.
Mazza found that "what is clear is that (Allen) left with the impression that the police were uncomfortable with enforcing the order ... and were not about to give him immediate assistance in an urgent situation." He said the police service's six-month delay in getting its responsibilities clarified "is unreasonable."
"It is unpleasant. It is troublesome. But police intervention is sometimes necessary," Mazza wrote.


"This has been a fight since day one, it's been going on for 28 months," Allen said Friday. "It's something to finally see the fruits of some of that labor. It's a good judgment in that it says access is enforceable ... it will stop wrongful denial of access."