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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Traffic Enforcement

The sad story about Mr. Dziekanski being murdered by cowardly RCMP officers in BC is proving to be a sign of serious systemic problems with our police forces. The stories about individual officers and whole units abusing citizens and mishandling and covering up investigations continue to pour in daily. The tragic tale of Picton’s murders in Vancouver area and the unbelievable lack of commitment to their investigation by the police forces involved are difficult to comprehend.

It has long puzzled me why the police and legal system harass the average citizen with such zeal and dedication and let dangerous criminals build long résumés. This behavior must be the result of training, command structure and culture in the law enforcement community. It is clear that under the guise of duty the police built an invisible wall between themselves and the citizens, and divided people into "us" and "them". Why else would an average commuter driving home from work who is forced by circumstances to commit minor traffic offenses all the time (try to go 100 km/h on the 401) be systematically persecuted by the police and the system? How is it possible that the police preach about the danger of driving too fast yet they don’t set up traps in dangerous areas but where it is easier to catch drivers? Why are they not being trained to take into account circumstances? Thousands of daily visitors in court offices paying fines for traffic offenses and setting up trial dates make it seem like a surrealistic game. But it isn’t a game of course. In our traffic courts you are guilty unless you can prove otherwise. The system tolerates the citizen’s right to a trial because of legislation, but it makes a mockery out of the whole process.

I don’t know if it only strikes me as strange, but somehow I can’t get used to some scenes. Example: Corner of Eglinton Ave. E. and Don Mills Rd.We’re driving west on Eglinton Avenue. Drivers already impatient after being stopped at several red lights before, take off vigorously at Don Mills Rd. In front of us a six-lane road and acres of open space of the former IBM complex. No buildings or pedestrians and excellent visibility for miles. It’s slightly downhill and drivers inadvertently go about 80-90 km/h choosing a safe speed for conditions. Unfortunately, the speed limit is 60 km/h and under the railway bridge at Leslie Street a group of people is bustling about with efficiency. A laser gun on a tripod and six police officers in black uniforms are already ticketing a number of vehicles and targeting the next victims. Hundreds of cars and tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and increased insurance premiums per shift. Most of the pulled over drivers are not those you see on the streets driving dangerously, just ordinary people on their daily commute. These people often feel wronged. They drive safely; signal line changes, keep the distance between cars and watch other crazy drivers around them do stupid things all the time. So they take their case to court hoping for justice. But if you do not know the system, or do not pay hundreds of dollars for an agent, the system will chew you up and spit you out without an ounce of compassion.

And traffic conditions and the culture of driving with care for fellow motorists continue to decline. The police, however, cling to the old patterns using the same excuses ad nauseam. They are smart and good, the public stupid and dangerous.

To increase safety of our traffic we need a different value system ​​and a more scientific approach to the problem. Too much work for the Fantino and McGuinty types.

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