VIEWPOINT - Traffic Cops are Not Benefactors

SoapboxI would be interested in your comments about the excellent contributed article on Castanet yesterday with respect to the devious and underhanded methods that the RCMP employ in ferreting out individuals for traffic violations.

Also could you comment on the excessive and exorbitant, almost obscene amounts of money the government receives from the traffic fines leveled by the RCMP?

He also made an interesting comment that the vast majority of people no longer look on the RCMP traffic cops as benefactors but as someone to fear.

If you were to poll the people I would bet the vast majority would agree with him.


Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Police: The civil force of a federal or local government, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.

Public Order: The operations of society and the ability of people to function efficiently.

The article this gentleman cited was written by freelance writer Perry Duquette and is comprised of 3 paragraphs. In the first, Mr. Duquette writes about a woman who panicked and lost control of her vehicle when she spotted a police vehicle in front of her and tried to put her seatbelt on. Her vehicle left the road and struck another vehicle in a shopping mall parking lot, killing a woman and child inside of it. He puts forward the contention that the incident was caused by the fact that the offending driver was afraid of the police and getting a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

What do I think of this? I think its a tragedy. A circle of family and friends loses a woman and a child. Our driver has to live with the knowledge that her actions caused the death of two innocent people. She was likely hurt too, as were you and I when we dug into our pockets to pay for the insurance settlement.

I also think that it is a neatly crafted piece of prose designed to grab our emotions and drag them along to the point that the author is trying to make. It may prevent us from saying to ourselves "Hey, whose fault was this, really?"

Paragraph two starts with Mr. Duquette reminiscing about how he used to perceive the police as the maintainers of personal security. However, now he has to pay attention to driving responsibly because it is expensive to receive a traffic ticket for failing to follow the rules or to be inattentive when people drive. This can be a terrible burden on people with low income as well. They can't afford to pay for a ticket.

I wonder if his viewpoint has changed because he doesn't want to take responsibility for his driving, or if he hasn't felt the pain of losing a family member or a friend to a motor vehicle incident?

He goes on to say that traffic tickets have become big business for government. He supports safety and traffic law enforcement, but government is making it too expensive for people who don't follow the rules. Yes, B.C. took in about 60 milliion dollars in traffic fines that it redistributed to the cities and towns of the province to be spent on safety initiatives. Is that bad?

Duquette finishes up this paragraph with a frown directed toward unconventional methods of traffic enforcement, undercover, if you will. While I doubt very much that police staged a collision in order to shut down three lanes of traffic and there is no citation to back up his assertion, I know I have done traffic enforcement in plain clothes. What does he expect? Signs posted stating "Last chance to turn off before road check?"

The last paragraph examines speed enforcement. People walk at speeds of between 3 and 6 km/h, so why write a speeding ticket for exceeding the speed limit by between 6 and 9 km/h? Children play safely in the creek during the summer, but add a creek's worth of flow to a swollen river and it's still a flood.

The parting shot is that it is all about government greed and not about "To Serve and Protect." When all is said and done, we know the driving rules, and if we choose to follow them that greedy government is totally thwarted. I know that the leading cause of death for youth in Canada is motor vehicle collisions and that you are more likely to suffer death, serious injury or significant financial loss through the operation of your motor vehicle than you are to suffer from all the other criminal acts combined and I'm proud that I tried to make a difference through firm but fair traffic enforcement.

By definition, the people that do traffic enforcement are the police. The only alternative to remove the "stigma" of traffic enforcement from the police is to stop doing it. That is an option that I will not support.


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