Driver un­happy with po­lice ticket

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL - An­drew Gil­lan Syd­ney Mines

In May of 2016, I was stopped and charged by the RCMP near Bad­deck. As far as I’m con­cerned no ex­pla­na­tion was given by the of­fi­cer at that time as per what, if any, harm I was caus­ing nor was I given a rea­son for the traf­fic stop be­fore he is­sued me the ticket.

He said he was just go­ing to check my driver’s li­cense then he would be right back. I thought I did noth­ing wrong so I went to court over the mat­ter.

The events that have tran­spired since that in­ci­dent have left me with more ques­tions than an­swers. When I did my re­search into polic­ing in Victoria County, with its 7,000 res­i­dents and 4,000 dwellings, I de­ter­mined that it sim­ply don’t have the tax base to sup­port the six-fig­ure an­nual cost per po­lice of­fi­cer. Then I read re­cently in the news where the top brass of the RCMP, in 2016, re­ceived over $1.7 mil­lion in bonuses over and above their pay. Was this why I was given a ticket on that day?

Now one may per­ceive that the of­fi­cer was sim­ply try­ing to do his job or sur­mise that he was just fol­low­ing or­ders. I don’t know.

How­ever, what I do be­lieve is that tick­ets are sup­posed to be used as a last ef­fort to bring about com­pli­ance. Doesn’t an of­fi­cer have dis­cre­tion with is­su­ing a warn­ing over writ­ing a ticket any­more? Why didn’t he ed­u­cate me on that day as per what al­leged harm I was caus­ing? For I’ve been driv­ing ac­ci­dent free for over 25 years.

To serve as both a de­ter­rence and as a re­minder, where is the pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign in place other than sig­nage to re­solve their so-called high­way safety prob­lem? They did it to pro­mote seat­belt us­age and to de­ter im­paired driv­ing back in the day. For send­ing the ‘cart be­fore the horse’ isn’t proper le­gal eti­quette. Or is this sim­ply about the rev­enue gen­er­ated to keep their posh polic­ing agency afloat?

Don’t get me wrong here. Traf­fic tick­ets do play an im­por­tant role in com­pli­ance when po­lice ask the ap­pro­pri­ate ques­tions dur­ing traf­fic stops to de­ter­mine whether or not some­one has know­ingly done some­thing wrong, and the same for the crown prior to court.

Clearly some­thing must be wrong with this part of the ‘le­gal sys­tem’ when an in­di­vid­ual who is stopped for a first-time al­leged in­frac­tion, is co-op­er­a­tive, goes to court, presents a good de­fense and still ends up with a fine for what was an hon­est mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Where is the le­niency? I have yet to see any. What I have been left with is dis­il­lu­sion­ment. The pub­lic has a right to know when some­one hasn’t been treated fairly by what ap­pears to be more of a busi­ness than an im­par­tial ad­ju­di­ca­tion. For this may hap­pen to you too some­day. Then how will you feel?

I saved the best for last. This all came about from hav­ing a cell phone on a speak­er­phone, sim­i­lar to the way the po­lice use their mo­bile ra­dios for com­mu­ni­ca­tion pur­poses. Or sim­i­lar yet dif­fer­ent when we see them talk­ing on their cell phones while driv­ing. The lat­ter part is dis­tract­ing be­cause most peo­ple would agree that hav­ing a vis­i­ble dou­ble stan­dard in to­day’s so­ci­ety is not ac­cept­able.

For good­ness sake – can’t an hon­est guy get a break?

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