Police Driving Behaviour

Good Cop, Bad CopI want you to focus your writing on the driving behaviour of many police officers. I realize that not all of them only follow the rules when it is convenient, but there is a significant number of them. Why don't they follow the traffic rules like the rest of us?

Can't Follow, Can't Write

I always held to the thought that if I couldn't follow the rule myself, I couldn't write a traffic ticket to someone else for that particular behaviour either. Since I knew what the rules were, I expected my driving to be an example for others to follow, not to criticise. This is what the public expects from the police and they are correct to complain when it is not delivered.

Emergency Vehicle Exemptions

Operators of emergency vehicle operators may be exempt from following the rules set out in the Motor Vehicle Act. The exemption requires that the driver follow the Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation when they do and in general must exercise due regard for safety.

Police Exemptions

Police must weigh the risk of harm to members of the public and be sure that the risk from the exercise of those privileges is less than the risk of harm to members of the public should those privileges not be exercised.

This must be done using flashing emergency lights and a siren.

Depending on justification, the use of only flashing emergency lights or no lights and siren may also be possible. At an intersection with a red traffic light, they must stop and proceed only if safe. Neither of these exemptions apply at an intersection with a stop sign or in a school or playground zone.

Sometimes It Is Justified

Even though response without emergency equipment can be justified legally, the public cannot tell why it is being done and usually see it as an example of poor driving rather than a justified response. That is not always the case.

Personal Vehicle Operation

This cannot be justified when the officer driving their own vehicle personal vehicle while off duty. My policing career was in medium sized detachments and that was not enough for anonymity. The public soon knew which officers followed the rules and which didn't, which is probably why this article was requested.

What To Do About It

What to do? Make the same driving complaint that you would for any other driver on our highways. If the driving was justified, the supervisor should be able to find out why and provide an explanation. If not, police officers can be issued traffic tickets too. Believe it or not, it has been done!

Perhaps the person who sparked the subject was referring more to the actual driving habits of some officers which you addressed at the start.

So many times I have seen officers here in Kelowna not using turn signals, not checking before turning at an intersection. That one I can attest to, before stepping out I always make eye contact with the driver. An officer was stopped at the light and was checking his MDT and started to make his turn when the light turned green, I stayed on the sidewalk and that's when he saw me. I got a sheepish "oops" look and then I proceeded to cross.

I have taken a few defensive driving courses over the years and the take away from all those is "drive like there is a cop behind you or drive like your taking a drivers exam".

It might be revealing to see some crash numbers for police vehicles, and the causes behind them. And, what this costs the taxpayer.

Some of them seem much better at the task than others. 

I'm going to start off with my usual rant. That is daytime running lights. The exemption is for surveillance work yet I constantly see police vehicles operating on the open highway with them deactivated.

Next is positioning on the highway. B.C. Law states that one must keep right except to pass (Sec. 151). On multi-lane roads I have never caught one following this regulation. Always in the left lane.

Speed limit. In my case mainly open highway but have paced many a cop exceeding the limit.

Cell phones/computers. Why the exemption? I've been using two-way communication for over 60 years. On industrial roads it is mandatory to call your location. Why can I pull off of a industrial road and suddenly become incompetent to use a phone?

Overheard radio communication. Don't stop a certain vehicle as they are celebrating ?? transfer. Reference is impaired driving is not important if your a cop.

CompetentDrivinBC brought up crash statistics. I know of four in our local detachment in one year that were totalled. One pulled a U-Turn in front of a semi. Lucky he didn't get killed. One rear-ended a car stopped waiting to turn left. Another rolled over chasing what she expected was an impaired teen. He went around the corner, she rolled her car. Kid returned and helped her out of the car. Another lost control on ice and flipped. You only hear these stories if you know a person that was there or involved. They never make the news.

No use laying a complaint as it goes nowhere and in small communities only ends up with you being harassed. Now with dash cams the complaint maybe investigated if you put it up on social media. Don't expect any action otherwise.

I started my working career enforcing an industrial act. I swore an oath to uphold the law. No where did it say I only had to enforce regulations I agreed with. Don't police officers swear anything similar?