What Does a Traffic Cop Do?

Traffic CopCorrect me if I'm wrong, but I think that most people see a traffic cop as someone who writes speeding tickets and fills out collision reports. This is a very narrow view of the job but I did not realize just how narrow it was until I participated in a project to define my job as a front line RCMP traffic constable.

Six experienced traffic constables from the four western provinces met at K Division Headquarters in Edmonton and were led in a functional job analysis by Dr. James McGinnis of the Research Branch of Human Resources Directorate of the RCMP.

We brainstormed together over a three day period, trying to list all of the different tasks that we were expected to perform and the knowledge that we required to do them. The meeting room walls were soon covered with sheets of paper, each listing a single task description.

The task bank eventually identified 13 specific areas of ranging from communication skills for report writing, planning and court testimony to conducting a high speed pursuit safely. These were considered the minimum necessary to successfully perform the job.

Writing traffic tickets was part of the description, but only after skills and knowledge were applied to determine that the tickets were being written in the right place for the right reasons in order to reduce the behaviours that led to collisions. The Traffic Services Management Information Tool (TSMIT) database provided information for this.

In our society, travel by vehicle is the norm for everyone, including criminals. Familiarity with all of the federal and provincial traffic related statutes was a must but the Criminal Code, immigration, customs, drugs, taxation, wildlife, dangerous goods and many others was needed as well.

Our analysis did not include specialties such as collision reconstruction, commercial vehicle inspection or the instruction of others in these traffic skills.

Thinking back, it took me about a year to understand the basics of traffic enforcement and another year to really become comfortable with what I needed to do.

As in all jobs, there was always something to learn about whether it was provided formally, passed on by working with others or simply doing research to educate yourself. If there was any traffic on the road, the job was never boring.

There has always been a friendly rivalry between the general duty constables and those of us on traffic. I smiled when I read that the task bank indicated that we were expected to have their knowledge and the identified traffic enforcement knowledge as well.

Back at you guys!

Reference Link:


Never put much thought into

Never put much thought into it. As with any job one does when you move into a specialised field you are required to have all the knowledge of the regular basic level entry work and the necessary knowledge to perform the duties of your specialised position.

I noticed on page 32 that one is to sign off that it is 95% of the duties of a front line traffic constable. And there lies one of my main complaints over the years. One of my first jobs was enforcing one of the Acts in B.C. When I signed on that line I swore an oath that I would uphold all sections not just what I considered important. And that is not what I see being done by highway patrol officers or local officers patrolling the streets of any community.

I also observe traffic officers blatantly breaking the law. On a multi-lane highway how often do you see the officer following the current law in B.C. of "Keep Right Except to Pass"? I know why they are running in the lane furthest to the left but should they not be setting an example by following the law? Yesterday I was travelling on a section of road with a speed of 100K. I was cruising at my normal 120K and had a vehicle catch up to me and pass. I would put its speed between 125 to 130+ by the rate he caught up and pulled away. No lights or anything activated and was also operating with the DRL turned off. Everything I have read indicates that unless emergency equipment activated they are to obey the speed limit same as everyone else. Turning off DRL's is supposed to be for surveillance work, not running down the highway.

Got off on a tangent there. I'm sure some of us recognise that there is far more to being a highway patrol officer than writing tickets for speeding. Although I am not sure how many from the complaints I read on this site regarding lack of speed enforcement. Quickly reading through the job description I thought a lot was common sense and apply to regular duty as well. Unless a person is working a labour job where the task is repetitive most jobs require a knowledge of what you are doing and the communicative skills to articulate it. And when your job is to enforce the laws of the country it is to enforce all laws not just a few.  

Appreciated being able to read what the task force came up with.

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