This weekend I watched the re-airing of a CTV W5 special on police officers in major Canadian cities such as Toronto, London and Peterborough supposedly having quotas to hand out traffic tickets. No chief of police admitted that their force had quotas for their officers to hand out tickets. But, the chief of police from a large city on the West Coast put it like this. If an officer works a 10 hour shift, and doesn’t hand out any tickets, you know that something is wrong, or that officer isn’t properly doing their job.
One of the most interesting points of the broadcast was that traffic tickets were a major form of revenue for a City. And the more money which a City or Municipality raises via ticketing, the more money it will presumably have to spend for police resources. Or, conversely, the less likely that city or municipality will look at cutting police services because it’s a major income generator via ticketing. Here is a link to that CTV W5 story if you’re interested.
What upset motorists and the general public was that such a large degree of resources was being allocated towards ticketing, and not towards preventing violent crime, organized crime or drugs.
Truth be told, that upset me too. Why on earth should the Metro Toronto Police allocate millions in resources towards stopping people from speeding or making illegal right hand turns; when there are shootings happening at malls, a Mayor allegedly smoking crack, and other violent crimes happening across the City every day.
The justification towards allocating money towards ticketing was that it would prevent Highway Traffic Act infractions, and make our streets a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike. It would also assist the police in developing stronger relationships with the community. Stronger relationships in the community?
What does this lawyer think? That’s all a bunch of rubbish. Ticketing is a major form of revenue for a police force/city. If a police force raises a lot of money via ticketing, it can then justify at the next budget meeting for that City why more money should be spent on policing; or that the police budget shouldn’t be cut.
Nothing is going to stop bad drivers from being bad drivers. People are in a rush, so they drive fast. An aquaintance of mine (neither friend nor lawyer), had to be at a job site and was running late. Because he was running late, he was driving faster then her normally would. He was also operating his cell phone while driving fast, explaining to his boss that he was running late to the job site. You all know where this is going. Five minutes in to his drive, he clips another car; causing the passenger of the other vehicle serious injuries. He is later charged with careless driving and his drivers license is taken away.
This person was going to drive in an unsafe manner regardless of what would have happened. The argument can be made that if there were more police on the roads, they might have spotted him before he caused the car accident. This is true, but it would take lots of cops on the roadways to actively prevent car accidents before they happened.
What we see more of, is the police officers set themselves up in spots where they know that they will catch people doing something bad. There is one turn off Bloor Street in Toronto called St. Paul’s Square. No right hand turns on to St. Paul’s square were allowed Monday-Friday between a certain time. Those restrictions were subsequently changed 3 times; making things very confusing, even for the locals. Even worse is that the restrictive part of the sign is super small making it difficult to read while driving on Bloor (a very busy downtown street).
St. Paul’s Square is a very short street. It’s under 100 metres long. It doesn’t have any schools of businesses on the street. It’s more a commercial street then a residential street. It’s not like there are any little children playing on the street. So, the risk of a pedestrian getting hit by a car on account of a careless motorist, or a speeding motorist aren’t very high. Did I mention that there’s a stop sign at the end of the road? In any event, the Toronto Police would literally camp out at this intersection in the hopes of catching unsupecting motorists. And ticket they did. Something like over 300,000 illegal turn tickets were handed out on this street in 2012 alone. That translates into lots of money for the City. If you’re a police officer working a shift and haven’t handed out a ticket, staking out at St. Paul’s Square was a sure fire way to get that ticket count up and make it look like you’re doing your job.
Revenue Generation and Policing should not go hand and hand. The police’s job is to keep the peace. It’s to serve and protect. Camping out at an intersection under the guise of making the streets safer and developing stronger community relations isn’t fooling anyone. If cities really want to make streets safer to prevent car accidents, have better transit systems, better bike lanes, and improve traffice congestion so that motorists can drive instead of getting anxious waiting in traffic and then doing something stupid. That last point mostly applies to Toronto. Other cities in Ontario I’ve lived in don’t have nearly the same amount of traffic congestion which Toronto has. Maybe because Toronto has about 13X more people then any other city in Ontario. But that’s a topic for another day.
Did anyone catch Team Canada National Men’s Soccer Team losing to Martinique in Gold Cup Soccer? FIFA doesn’t even recognize the tiny island because it’s not a country! It’s still a French Colony or something like that. The population of Martinique is the population of London Ontario! To make matters even worse, the goal scorer was 38 years old! To call this game an embarassement is an understatement. Losing 8-1 to Honduras was bad enough last year. I’m still getting over that loss. Now a 1-0 defeat to this French Colony with a population the size of London! CSA really needs to take a good, long look in the mirror and decide whether or not it wants to play the game, or whether we should just stick to hockey.