Area po­lice watch York’s move to ‘name, shame’

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - NEWS - JONATHAN JUHA

Po­lice forces across South­west­ern On­tario say they’ll be watch­ing the im­pact of a Toronto-area force’s de­ci­sion to start pub­lish­ing the names of driv­ers charged with im­paired driving be­fore de­cid­ing whether to fol­low that move. “This isn’t some­thing that we’ve dis­cussed. And while we can’t speak to another ser­vice’s de­ci­sion, we’ll be watch­ing with in­ter­est,” said Const. San­dasha Bough, a spokesper­son with Lon­don po­lice.

The re­cently an­nounced de­ci­sion by York re­gional po­lice was prompted by the con­sis­tently high num­bers of im­paired driving charges. So far this year, York re­gional po­lice have laid 1,400 im­paired-re­lated charges.

This past week­end alone, the po­lice force north of Toronto laid 27 charges against 16 peo­ple, in­clud­ing a man who al­legedly drove while his blood al­co­hol con­tent was four times more than the le­gal limit.

“It’s clear that some­thing has to change,” York re­gional po­lice Chief Eric Jol­liffe said in a state­ment. “Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, York re­gional po­lice will name all of the driv­ers charged with im­paire­drelated crim­i­nal driving of­fences, to fur­ther make im­paired driving so­cially un­ac­cept­able and so that mem­bers of our com­mu­nity can as­sist with no­ti­fy­ing po­lice if these of­fend­ers choose to drive while un­der sus­pen­sion.”

The names of those fac­ing charges will be shared on the York po­lice’s web­site ev­ery Mon­day. In Lon­don, by con­trast, po­lice usu­ally only re­lease the name of in­di­vid­u­als charged with im­paired driving in sig­nif­i­cant in­ci­dents such as when there’s dam­age to prop­erty or in­juries, Bough said. Po­lice in St. Thomas said they will stick to their cur­rent pol­icy of only nam­ing driv­ers with pre­vi­ous im­paired driving con­vic­tions. “We are not chang­ing our pro­ce­dures and prac­tices at all as far as our im­paired driv­ers are con­cerned,” Const. Tanya Calvert said. But “if there’s data that can prove that that method is a de­ter­rent, then, by all means, we would take another look at it.”

Sar­nia po­lice Const. Gio­vanni Sot­tosanti echoed sim­i­lar opin­ions, not­ing such a pol­icy could likely have a big­ger im­pact in smaller com­mu­ni­ties like his. “Each re­gion is a bit dif­fer­ent and with York be­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple and Sar­nia be­ing 70,000 peo­ple, it may have a stronger ef­fect here be­cause ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­body,” he said. Though there’s no data sup­port­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of the move by York re­gional po­lice, the head of Moth­ers Against Drunk Driv­ers (MADD) say they are be­hind any mea­sures that could help re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple driving un­der the in­flu­ence.

“There has been no re­search on this nam­ing, sham­ing type of (strat­egy) . . . so I can’t sit here and say — as much as I sup­port what po­lice are do­ing and un­der­stand why they are do­ing — I can’t guar­an­tee it will work,” said An­drew Murie, MADD’s chief ex­ec­u­tive. Murie said he be­lieves powers re­cently given to po­lice to con­duct ran­dom al­co­hol so­bri­ety tests will prove more ef­fec­tive, while also not­ing the force’s move seems to be get­ting a lot of pub­lic sup­port.

“We have got­ten a lot of phone calls and emails sup­port­ing this . . . from peo­ple who just want to say, ‘You know, we are sick and tired of this,’” he said.

It’s clear that some­thing has to change.”

York re­gional po­lice Chief Eric Jol­liffe

POST­MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Po­lice in St. Thomas and Lon­don say they’re watch­ing what ef­fect a new pol­icy by York re­gional po­lice to re­lease the names of driv­ers charged with im­paired driving will have. The St. Thomas and Lon­don forces don’t routl­nely name driv­ers who have been charged with im­paired driving.

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