The Winnipeg Police Service has called upon it’s members to issue more tickets in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act in an effort to boost revenue. As you can imagine – this is a hot button issue in Winnipeg. You can read more on the story here: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2009/08/07/10387911-sun.html (I have 0 html skills, or this would look a lot prettier)
Another lovely Winnipeg blogger and twitterer (@lovelylindsey) came up with the idea, and I leaped on board at the opportunity to debate her. You can find her blog entry here: http://shiftlessandlazy.blogspot.com/2009/08/pointcounterpoint-taking-on-winnipeg.html (Please make sure to swing in, and give her a nod)
First, is my entry. I argued against, mainly because I’m anti-establishment at the best of times, and buck authority with an unnecessary amount of enthusiasm.
Thanks for the idea and the opportunity, Lindsey!
News to you?
Fact: Winnipeg Police officers have been told to step up their ticketing game, or face consequences.
I understand the need to increase revenue. I know the pockets have been hit with the nulling of construction zone tickets.
However, putting undue stress and limitations on the men and women who serve to protect the safety of all Winnipeggers has got to be the most asinine way to go about it. If they don’t ticket you for your burnt out turn signal, they run the risk of being passed over for advancement. Really.
First of all, the unemployment rate in Winnipeg rose from 4.9% in June, to 5.3% in July. People need to feed their families. They need to clothe their babies. They don’t need to be slapped with a ticket for innocuous, innocent, correctible, mistakes.
I’m not saying don’t ticket those who speed. Or drive imprudently. Or are repeat offenders. Fine away. I understand that safety comes first, whether it is in regards to driving a motor vehicle, or violent crime. But there are bigger fish to fry.
Winnipeg is a first class city. We hold 1st place in three categories in Statistics Canada 2008 crime report.
1) Auto theft
And a tidy second place with violent crime.
Crack cocaine is prevalent on our city streets. Gang activity is becoming more and more pronounced.
Innocent people are dying. Being murdered in cold blood.
We have given the underbelly of society free reign. We have stripped the average citizen of their rights.
We are imprisoning the working class. The law abiding, hard working core of our population is trapped in a cell of fear. It’s not safe to go out.
We leave our home and it may be burgled. We stay home? Our property is vandalized. Our cars; stolen.
We are targets of random acts of violence. Beaten on the streets for pleasure.
People are beginning to panic. It’s times like these that the confidence and bond between the public and the police should be at it’s strongest. Instead, a wedge is being driven between the two. We cannot afford to lose faith in our Police Department. When we look at the Police department, we need to see our own interests reflected back. Not dollar signs. We need to believe that they are doing all they can for us. And they need to know they have public support. We do not. They do not.
I also know there’s the sound argument of, “If you obey traffic laws, you’ll have no problems”. But it’s flawed. A front license plate missing is not a misuse or abuse in any way, shape or form. It could legitimately have fallen off. A burnt taillight? How would you even know? The problem is where it switches the focus. They now have a quota to meet. Where do you think their energies will be? They don’t want repercussions, embarrassment, or to be passed up for advancement. If there’s a minimum, incentive, you can bet your ass that there is going to be reason to smash that quota.
And that slight shift in focus is all that is needed to damage public relations. Public perception is important. It doesn’t matter what all the pros for this move are. What should matter is us. Public perception, public relations, and of course, public safety. If I felt for a moment that this would improve any one of the three, I’d be for it in a heartbeat.
As a parent, I am more concerned with drugs, and violence making it’s way into the schools. I don’t care if the Vice-Principal doesn’t have a front plate. If my neighbour has a burnt out headlight? It doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t affect you. It in no way impedes public safety.
But the focus of the WPS is to issue more tickets. Hit your quota. Is this the mantra we are comfortable with? Are the days of To Serve and Protect gone? Has the bottom line become more important than everything we hold dear and valuable?
The police should be a constant, and reassuring presence. Instead, they have morphed into the bane of the existence of the law abiding, and a farce to the criminals who now rule our streets.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my meter has run out. Here’s to hoping the car is still there to ticket.
And now, for the stunning @lovelylindsey counterpoint:
No doubt I’m taking on the most unpopular side of the argument – I don’t see this as being a terrible idea. Why? Because I am selfish so I am looking at the argument selfishly.
Simply put – I am a good driver. I don’t speed, I don’t run red lights and subsequently I have never got any tickets. The city hasn’t made a dime off me in the seven years I’ve had my license.
So even if the WPS is requiring patrolling officers to issue more tickets, I think my track record speaks for itself – they aren’t going to bust me on anything. And if YOU follow the rules of the road you should be ok too.
Here’s the thing I’ve never understood – speeding is against the law, yet people think it’s their God given right to drive over the limit. I’ve never understood that. Sure I think it’s got to be frustrating to get a ticket if you were only going 55 in a 50, but the limit is there for a reason. If they give you a pass on five measly kilometres, how are they going to justify giving it to someone six, seven or ten kilometres over?
I drive all day for work and it never ceases to amaze me, the amount of idiocy on the roads. People who drive across four lanes of traffic without signaling never mind shoulder checking. I see people driving around without seat belts, and driving their older kids around without seat belts. It seems like once a week I’m always stuck behind some jerk who is driving around with no working break lights for crying out loud.
These things are laws on the books for a reason – it’s a matter of your safety AND the safety of other drivers. Your car is not your oasis, you’re sharing that road with me. I drive safe to ensure I don’t hurt you or others, do me the same courtesy!
But while we’re on the subject of safety – why should we only be ticketing motorists? There is another menace to the roadways constantly breaking traffic laws and we could probably make this city boatloads of cash if we handed them some tickets.
I’m talking about cyclists.
I would LOVE to see police hang out at both sides of the Osborne Village bridge and ticket all the jerks on bikes who ride on the sidewalk from one side to the other, ignoring the fact there are signs telling cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across. We’d have enough money to make our roads pothole free in a matter of hours. I’ve been one of those pedestrians walking across that bridge damn near getting run over by these idiots on bikes – so if the city wants to make a cash grab – hang out there with a pen and ticket pad. Everyone wins!
While the WPS is at it – let’s see if they can get some cyclists who run red lights, or who also make ridiculous lane changes without signaling, or who drive the wrong way down one way streets.
This city seems to be trying to bend over backwards to make our roads safer and more accessible to cyclists while the people who operate the bikes don’t seem to give a shit about anyone else. For example – there are now some bike lanes downtown. Keep in mind that downtown is on a one way grid system. Would you believe that I have seen cyclists using these bike lanes to drive the wrong way down one way streets on several occasions? Really? The least that would happen if you did that in a car would be a ticket. If you drove the wrong way down a one way simply because it was easier – I’m sure there are more interesting charges you could face.
Some people will argue there are more important things WPS could be working on and they’re right. We have a ridiculous amount of crime going on and we should have more officers devoted to handling it. I completely agree. However, in this argument, crime literally doesn’t pay. If you could fine people every time they beat or stabbed or robbed someone this city could be awash with cash. Instead, these criminal jerks only drain the system – it takes money to arrest them, process them, hold them, try them etc… and that’s a drain on both city and provincial resources.
Let’s also remember that the officers that will be issuing the tickets will be on their beats already. The city doesn’t plan on taking officers away from other units to drive around and issue tickets. It would just be nice if said officers would just write you a ticket and get it over with, instead of sitting in the cars making you nervous for stupid amounts of time while they look up your information. I swear they do that just to make you paranoid. That’s a waste of time.
The whole point of giving out tickets and collecting fines is to make money – that is not a new fact. The city needs more money, so they want to catch more people committing offenses so they make more money. Why not get it from the people who are breaking laws?
Let’s face it – they could just raise our taxes, or charge us for city run services just to name a few. The city has all kinds of ways to nickel and dime us to death as a whole. Why not try to make a couple of bucks off the people who don’t follow the rules?