All part of polic­ing

Fight­ing speed­ing tick­ets tie up polic­ing re­sources in court

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - News - BY ADAM MACINNIS

There’s a hid­den cost to speed­ing tick­ets.

While heavy-footed driv­ers may grum­ble about the fi­nan­cial hard­ships of a fine or the points taken off their li­cense, po­lice forces of­ten must take into ac­count the cost of see­ing the fine through from the is­su­ing of the ticket to the ac­cused’s day in court, if they should so choose.

An­napo­lis Royal Po­lice Chief Tim Moser calls it the cost of do­ing busi­ness. It’s some­thing he con­stantly keeps in mind as the head of a small po­lice force.

With a po­lice force of four, there are usu­ally one to two of­fi­cers on duty at a time. If an of­fi­cer is on duty and is sched­uled to be in court, that’s where they’ll be, wait­ing to give their state­ment.

But be­cause of the staffing lev­els, rather than have an­other po­lice of­fi­cer fill in on the shift, Moser is left to rely on the fact that if an in­ci­dent hap­pens that re­quires po­lice at­ten­tion, the of­fi­cer in court is ready to leave at a mo­ment’s no­tice. In most cases, the court is flex­i­ble enough to ad­just its sched­ule un­til the of­fi­cer re­turns.

“The courts are fairly de­cent to deal with,” he said, adding that there is also the op­tion of call­ing for mu­tual aid from neigh­bour­ing de­part­ments.

Moser used to work for the much­larger Hal­i­fax po­lice depart­ment and said even larger forces had to look at mit­i­gat­ing the im­pacts on over­time caused by court ap­pear­ances.

Don Hussher is po­lice chief for the Westville and Stel­lar­ton po­lice de­part­ments in Pic­tou County. When some­one de­cides to fight a ticket, of­fi­cers are then re­quired to be in court in Pic­tou for the trial.

But deal­ing with the court process is some­thing that po­lice of­fi­cers are ac­cus­tomed to, he says.

“You have to re­al­ize that the per­son that is in­no­cent un­til proven guilty," Hussher said. “The court process is a big part of polic­ing.”

He hasn’t found the cost as­so­ci­ated with court ap­pear­ances to be too much of a drain on the de­part­ments, but he does try to be mind­ful of it.

“It’s the na­ture of the busi­ness. If you have to charge peo­ple, you ex­pect to be in court,” he said. “They have a right to a fair trial. We have to ac­com­mo­date them.”

Ac­cord­ing to stats from the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, from 2014 through 2017, roughly eight per cent of peo­ple fought speed­ing tick­ets in court.

Hussher said there was once a time that of­fi­cers were re­quired to be there for plea dates and ar­raign­ments, which was even more tax­ing on po­lice de­part­ments, but now of­fi­cers aren’t re­quired to be in court as much as they used to be.

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