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When officers break the law...
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:32 am 
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I wrote this article in response to another post regarding an on-duty police fficer involved in an MVC a a result of what appears to be some boneheadedness on his behalf...but it's a good talking point...so I've reposted it here to get other perspectives...



At most collisions these days civilians get to go to the Collision Reporting Center, no charges are laid and life moves forward.

Officers like this fellow, have a police investigation, get charged, also get charged under the Police Service Act for Discreditable Conduct and generally demoted (loss of pay of about $10,000) for a year, this prevents them from promotion for 5 years (~$10,000 per year) and having raised the ire of their commands staff don't get considered for placement in specialty units.

I suppose we should expect officers to be perfect, and to some degree we do. Or at least to some degree, lead by example.

But they are people too. We all forget that too often. I could see if this was an incredibly rare scenario we could say bad cop! But it happens from time to time so perhaps we have to accept that they are people and people often use bad judgement. We all do, otherwise this forum wouldn't exist (I think it was good judgment to implement www.ohta.ca, but it's here cause we often use bad judgement! LOL!)

And way too many people here spout about police being 'Judge, Jury and Executioner', I have to laugh at this. There isn't any sanction that an officer can hand out that isn't subject to proper judicial review. There has never once in the history of Canada has an officer been a judge, even sat on a jury (they are exempt from jury duty) and well, we haven't had an executioner in decades. So let's chill with the hyperbole...

I think a lot of people get upset cause they believe officers get away with stuff...having spent 22 years in policing I can assure you officers face more discipline than the public sees. For things the public wouldn't get punished for.

When these officers are punished it's seldom lightly, but internal discipline doesn't often make the papers.

The entire concept of law is to punish bad behaviour and in doing so act as a deterent to others.

In many places in the world stealing results in getting your hand lopped off...pretty severe huh? And yet people continue to steal in these countries...so no matter the punishment people will be people.

It's the same with the HTA, no matter how severe the punishments, people will speed, drive carelessly, talk & text etc...

So the best system we have is progressive discipline, i.e. points, insurance rates and suspensions.

I'm certain this officer was sanctioned, in fact I'm sure it was severe.

Police administrators are very embarassed by this type of boneheaded driving and the resulting publicity and monetary costs. They punish severely.

I suppose we could argue that he should be fired. But that doesn't fit into progressive discipline as adopted under the Police Services Act, a government regulation.

Don't get me wrong, aside from punishments, he has set himself up for dismissal should he do something this dumb again.

Would you get canned from you job at Pizza Pizza etc for doing this? Yes!

But they could can you for being late to work once.

That's not how government (and because of that employees of all levels of government have certain rights and we all know how many people cling to their 'rights' in court) works.

In the end, this appears to be a dumb-dumb head move which I am 100% that was punished.

Moreso than if you had been driving.

I understand many of us get upset cause we've had a ticket or two. But have we ever stopped to think, 'Hey, I regulalry speed, know my muffler sounds cool even though it's not street legal, drive a little aggressively.'

I have known officers for years, people that go to church, coach kids soccer, volunteer in their coimmunities and if you were one of these people, a good normal person, who had to go to just one fatal accident and hold someone while they died or listened to the agony of a father crying, both legs trapped and crushed under the dash while his 15 year old daughter lay dead in the passenger seat, because of some kid racing his Honda Civic or daddy's BMW...

What effect would this have on you?

Are cops overzealous? Maybe. Why? Maybe cause they actually care.

Do they get it wrong? I've never thought so...in 22 years in the biz I've never once thought I've seen a unclasped seatbelt that wasn't actually unclasped.

Do we ALL need to be held to a high standard? Yes, police, the public need to work together to make our roads safe. Don't come down on the 29,000 other police officers cause you've heard a handful of bad driving stories by officers...

Are their quotas? Not on either of the police services that I've worked on. I've heard stories of officer who are dishonest, they're relatively rare, but you go to traffic court and you'd swear every officer 'made it up, got the wrong guy, the radar wasn't working right...'

Who are the liars? Really?

Sure you were doing 167km/h in an 80 km/h, but you're trial took 11 months...so morally you've been wronged...good for you. But society will always stand on the side of those trying to make our streets safe. Everyday there's a story of family permanently destroyed by people who don't obey the road laws...

How would you feel if the police let a speeder go with a warning, the MTO didn't have the points to suspend the licence of the road racer who killed your brother/sister/spouse/parent/child? How WOULD you feel?

This is my Saturday morning rant...


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:00 pm 
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I do agree with your main point that police officers are humans, humans make mistakes and in a perfect world, some leeway should be involved.
I think many people think all cops get away with just about anything because some services are more lenient than others (like the case of a constable who was involved in a wrongful death and then decided to drive drunk and kill a motorcycle rider.. As far as I know, he is still employed by the service), cases of their unpunished abuses make it into the media and then all services get painted by the same brush.
The police badge comes with a lot of power over a regular person and with that power comes a lot of responsibility, which should be matched by a very tight review process. Same goes for medical practitioners. The process should be transparent for public service employees. If the public doesn't see the results of those internal reviews whose mystery is only exceeded by their power, we lose faith in the system where we are being punished for our wrongdoings while nobody's keeping a check on those doing the punishing.
In the last 13 years, I have been given a 100% false red light ticket (going straight, doing the limit, enter the intersection on green without slowing down, it just turns yellow as I'm exiting the intersection), a municipal HOV lane ticket (I got into the lane to make an immediate right turn into a parking lot. I showed the constable parking slips from that lot from previous occasions where I parked there and he still gave me a ticket, telling me to take it to court) and one ticket where had the constable really "cared," he could have let it slide (I was going home from my insurance broker's office not knowing that they made a clerical error in dating my temp slip). Incidents like this indicate a certain level of pressure to issue as many charges as they can. Whether it's pressure from the province/municipality to generate revenue (the more offense notices you issue, the more likely you are to get promoted) or self-inflicted pressure to get more court hours (comfortable environment, no extra work-load coming in, generous overtime scheme) I couldn't say standing on this side of the blue line.
What I do know is that highway traffic act enforcement has become a lot tighter over the last decades. The laws are more restrictive and their enforcement is more absolute. These days I hate to get into/onto my vehicles and turn the keys because I keep thinking about the exposure to legal risk. Police constables routinely hand people offense notices while they're in the emergency rooms facing life-altering injuries and you are begging for more leniency toward police constables? If we are to be held accountable to the full extent of the law even for the smallest of transgressions, why should people holding us accountable be exempted from being treated the same? Remember that we also care :roll:

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:07 pm 
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By the way, I really hope you are more of an aberration than a typical constable considering your lack of respect for the proper legal process. While our Charter is largely useless as long as NWC's invoked, it should still give us some guarantees regarding fair treatment by law enforcement officers and the courts. Those guarantees were created to prevent abuses that regular folk had to put up with in the past. If you have problems with them, become a politician and base your platform on turning Canada into a constitutionless dictatorship.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:16 pm 
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I’ve kinda’ lost interest in the whole “HTA” thing over the last several months. Starting a small business in this province is an all-consuming task that has dominated my attention span. So accident statistics, court rulings, new HTA statutes, etc. have become a bit of a blur to me.

But I’m still out on the roads every day and I DO still think about this stuff a bit, just on a more philosophical level than before.

So here’s my “updated” thoughts on the whole cops-vs.-drivers thing.

I think it’s impossible for your typical motorist to think in an absolutely responsible manner 100% of the time, the way a trained and experienced officer does. It’s the officers calling in life to exhibit a standard of conduct and safety well beyond what we could ever expect from the general public to which they are sworn to serve.

And I don’t think it would be possible for the trained and experienced officer to understand and tolerate a typical hard-working, tax paying, contributing member of society who has the gaul to question their judgment on any issue.

When I was a teenager, I was a know-it-all like every other teenager. When I would be stopped for (in my mind) doin’ NOTHIN, I would feel great animosity towards the officer who just added yet another piece of yellow paper to my collection, especially if he dumped my beer out in the ditch. (Hey, it was 1980, different era!)

Today, I have thirty years of daily driving experience under my belt (zero accidents). It may be difficult (or impossible), but just try to understand why I might get a tad angry when I’m being coarsely berated on the side of the road by a cop ½ my age with a fraction of my driving experience.

Oh right, officers undergo special training that makes them better drivers than everyone else. Perhaps that special “distracted-driving” course that officers take can be offered to the general public. Perhaps even mandated. Would definitely save lives.

One thing I’d like to know. Why is it so much more dangerous to speed in dry, sunny, warm conditions? I’m sure this must be a fact ‘cause I never see cars pulled over in rainy, crappy weather ;)

I have had the unfortunate experience of being ticketed unfairly, and have had to endure the stresses involved with going to court (an experience most folks would gladly fork over any amount of cash to avoid).

Fortunately, I have also received a couple $10 fix-it tickets instead of justifiable HTA tickets over items like expired sticker, trailer light out, etc.

So I do maintain the knowledge in the back of my mind that not all traffic cops are unfeeling, disrespectful authoritarian-types. I just have to continue avoiding the Blueline forum to maintain my positive attitude :D


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 12:53 pm 
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FiReSTaRT wrote:
By the way, I really hope you are more of an aberration than a typical constable considering your lack of respect for the proper legal process. While our Charter is largely useless as long as NWC's invoked, it should still give us some guarantees regarding fair treatment by law enforcement officers and the courts. Those guarantees were created to prevent abuses that regular folk had to put up with in the past. If you have problems with them, become a politician and base your platform on turning Canada into a constitutionless dictatorship.


Ok, I respect the legal process 100%, but tell it to the victim who lost a leg that the accused driver walked away scott free cause it took 11 months to get to trial. I have no problems with anyones rights...that don't trample all over anyone else's rights. This isn't about me...

While I commented that officer's / government employees benefit from the same rights accused persons tout in court, I certainly did not mean to infer rights aren't important...they are. Otherwise they'd be called lefts or wrongs *grin*

I know what you are saying...am I disheartened when I work hard to put a case together to convict a speeding driver (like someone going 160 km/h) and it's tossed cause it took 12 months to get to court? Of course, wouldn't you be? Isn't society at large not happy by these occurences? Sure the driver's rights were maintained, but what about society's rights? The right to be safe on the roadway?

So please don't think I'm anti-rights, I like having rights of my own and as a tax paying (you should see what I paid in taxes last year), community member, I also want my police doing their jobs and doing them well...

I don't know about your situation, but if you daughter was killed by a speeding driver who walked out of court cause it took too long to get to trial would you be like "Oh well, that's ok, we didn't want his rights violated..." Rights are a blessing and a curse and although we try to respect them, their value is sometimes lost on victims and society as a whole, hence the big push towards victim's rights...

So again - FyreStorm = Pro-Rights, even when it sucks...


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:00 pm 
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If my daughter was killed by a guy doing 160 in an 80 zone and he got off on 11b, I'd obviously be pissed, but a part of my ire would go toward the province and possibly the municipality for bad prioritizing.
The bulk of traffic stops and tickets come from nailing generally safe drivers for minor transgressions under safe conditions. Penalties for those minor transgressions are high enough that it is in their interest to dispute the charges even though they may technically be in violation of them (Aquinas mentality). Doing 120, 130, even 150 on certain stretches of the 400-series system isn't unsafe. Nailing people for having a blood alcohol content in the 0.05-0.08 range won't do anything to combat real problematic drunk driving habits. Ticketing someone in a school zone for going over 40 at 2am on a Sunday? Give me a break. Then the municipalities get downright sneaky and shorten the amber light intervals wherever there are red light cameras installed just to pad that revenue stream.
To fix the problem of really dangerous drivers (almost literally) getting away with murder, we have 3 possible solutions:
1) Throw the Charter into the crapper and expect anyone with half a brain to run as far away from Canada as possible
2) Put more money into the court system and constables' court-related activities. That cuts down on the revenue and results in a tax increase, but you'd be more likely to nail everyone with everything.
3) Prioritize and focus the enforcement activities on really dangerous habits or habits that cause really dangerous situations - running lights, not signaling turns/lane changes in traffic, cell phones (I still see people yapping all over the place but they're still safe as long as they don't go over the speed limit :roll:), left lane bandits, trucks bombarding people with ice chunks, drunks above the 0.1 range. Of course, under those circumstances, the numbers would be lower and so would the revenue lost due to ignoring minor but easy to prove charges laid in mass-production environments.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:46 pm 
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. If the public doesn't see the results of those internal reviews whose mystery is only exceeded by their power, we lose faith in the system where we are being punished for our wrongdoings while nobody's keeping a check on those doing the punishing.

As far as I know, all internal investigations involving the public, the results are known to the person who made the complaint.

Discipline can be from verbal warning, written warning, deduction of pay (guessing from 4-120hrs), Police Service Act charges, Highway Traffic Act charges, Criminal charges OR combination OR all combined.

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Whether it's pressure from the province/municipality to generate revenue (the more offense notices you issue, the more likely you are to get promoted)
In over a decade I have never been told to write more tickets, nor have I ever seen only high ticket writers get promoted either.

Goes back to a few saying it is a revenue/tax grab etc....
.... start by looking in the mirror and don't break the law (guess what, no revenue/tax grab to gov't)
....., if you so choose to break a law, accept responsibility and own up to your error and move on.

Quote:
or self-inflicted pressure to get more court hours (comfortable environment, no extra work-load coming in, generous overtime scheme)
In over a decade I maybe have had OT on my days off for POA court a handful of times. Those times would be when I have switched to another platoon. All other court is when I'm working. It is being fiscally responsible and I will show up. Further, my days off are my days off, I want to be at home, at the rink, at the gym etc...

Quote:
Police constables routinely hand people offense notices while they're in the emergency rooms facing life-altering injuries and you are begging for more leniency toward police constables?

And a injured person that caused a collision is now exempt?
Not saying all times, but a vast majority I do issue the PON in the hospital. Not being a jerk, but 99% of collisions I have to investigate is a transient/travelling people not living within our Municipality. My shift ends and I go home, return back to work to find the person has been released by the hospital 99.9% of the time.
It is then a lot harder to charge someone outside the area. Paperwork has to be completed (completed brief by myself, typed summons by stenos, swearing of summons by court officer in court before a JP) then mailed to appropriate agency for the area to serve on the person "IF" their licence address is even correct. If address is incorrect it is a lot of work. investigation to locate a person. A summons is a mandatory court date and the penalty can be higher than a PON. Becomes very complicated if the person does not reside in Ontario and often can not be processed.
Where a standard PON has the normal fine, person is not forced to court, no outside agency is needed, no address searching is needed as the person is right here.

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Last edited by hwybear on Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 2:53 pm 
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FiReSTaRT wrote:
If 3) Prioritize and focus the enforcement activities on really dangerous habits or habits that cause really dangerous situations - running lights, not signaling turns/lane changes in traffic, cell phones (I still see people yapping all over the place but they're still safe as long as they don't go over the speed limit :roll:), left lane bandits, .


thank you, now request that I get a "real" traffic car to do my job!!

IE

Image


or any others over on this thread..
http://www.ontariohighwaytrafficact.com/topic834.html

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:45 pm 
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This thread has the potential to go on for a while...

FyreStorm wrote:
There isn't any sanction that an officer can hand out that isn't subject to proper judicial review.


In almost all cases that is true. "Show cause" must occur expeditiously for people arrested, as well as a bail hearing if they are charged. Seized property must be returned to a Justice who will decide what to do with it. Roadside licence suspensions are not - but in many cases it is simply to stop a person from driving, and the licence is a privilege given by the province, so it's a technical point. The one exception: 7-day impoundment of vehicle for stunt driving/street racing. There is no appeal or review, and I'd say it is a sanction. Granted, that was the idea of Queen's Park...

FyreStorm wrote:
Police administrators are very embarassed by this type of boneheaded driving and the resulting publicity and monetary costs. They punish severely.


I don't doubt that.

FyreStorm wrote:
Don't get me wrong, aside from punishments, he has set himself up for dismissal should he do something this dumb again.


In all fairness, he should be given an opportunity to show that he has learned from his grievous error in judgement. This goes for most professions. The issue is, if the same officer had spotted someone doing exactly the same speed he was going when he wrecked the cruiser, what would he have done with him or her? Clearly he thought he was good enough to go that speed and didn't see a problem with it, would he have given the same leeway to a member of the public?

Bookm wrote:
Today, I have thirty years of daily driving experience under my belt (zero accidents). It may be difficult (or impossible), but just try to understand why I might get a tad angry when I’m being coarsely berated on the side of the road by a cop ½ my age with a fraction of my driving experience.


That would make just about anyone angry. I agree, it gets very tiring when an officer decides to turn a traffic stop for a speeding offence into an ad-nauseum tirade about "you're going to kill people," for driving 20 km/h over the limit on a clear open road with no traffic or pedestrians. :roll: Sure, check my collision record to see if it supports your hypothesis... That said, most of the times I've been stopped it's been straightforward (as it should be): Reason for being stopped, present licence/etc, paperwork exchange, end of story.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 7:02 pm 
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.... start by looking in the mirror and don't break the law (guess what, no revenue/tax grab to gov't)
....., if you so choose to break a law, accept responsibility and own up to your error and move on.


If everybody started obeying the laws as they are and there was a low rate of non-compliance, then the laws would get changed to make more things illegal. Once most of the casual drunk driving got to be a bit of a taboo in polite society and drivers started paying attention to how much they drink, the effective blood alcohol limit got lowered. As I said, most of it goes beyond the head of the average constable, but services, municipal governments and provincial governments need to look good by appearing to be doing something to make the roads safer even if they're aiming at the wrong crowd. Another great example of that was that the government figured that we could stop drug dealers from killing each other with hot guns imported from the U.S. by making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns.

Quote:
Police Service Act charges, Highway Traffic Act charges, Criminal charges OR combination OR all combined.

And those charges generally do not result in convictions thanks to competent Crown staff such as Milan Rupic.

Quote:
In over a decade I maybe have had OT on my days off for POA court a handful of times. Those times would be when I have switched to another platoon. All other court is when I'm working.

I am sure that you and most other frontline constables are like this. But there have been a few cases of constables getting some MAJOR overtime mostly due to their court appearances.

Quote:
And a injured person that caused a collision is now exempt?

Sometimes, the injuries and the financial loss can be more than enough of a lesson/punishment. An additional ticket is literally adding insult to injury (especially in cases of single vehicle collisions, where no others were harmed). This brings me back to the point where in addition to having more laws, the very level of enforcement is a lot higher than before.

Quote:
It is then a lot harder to charge someone outside the area. Paperwork has to be completed (completed brief by myself, typed summons by stenos, swearing of summons by court officer in court before a JP) then mailed to appropriate agency for the area to serve on the person "IF" their licence address is even correct. If address is incorrect it is a lot of work. investigation to locate a person.

I've seen constables interrogate people in extreme pain on some heavy narcotics, even interfering with the person receiving medical treatment to the point of the x-ray tech having to ask the constable to leave the room. Sometimes the additional administrative hassle is the right thing to do.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:08 am 
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. Once most of the casual drunk driving got to be a bit of a taboo in polite society and drivers started paying attention to how much they drink, the effective blood alcohol limit got lowered.


the blood alcohol limit has not been lowered. Further it is 2 seperate charges you are merging into one, each charge has its own facts to meet the offence.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:04 pm 
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In over a decade I maybe have had OT on my days off for POA court a handful of times. Those times would be when I have switched to another platoon. All other court is when I'm working. It is being fiscally responsible and I will show up. Further, my days off are my days off, I want to be at home, at the rink, at the gym etc...

By the way, Bear, you may wanna scoot over to the TPS.....
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/crime/p ... -grow?bn=1
Quote:
Michael Thompson, who was paid $161,892, and Abdulhameed Virani, who collected $151,042, were among the 380 constables who topped the $100K club in 2009.

Thompson and Virani didn't rack up their overtime as homicide detectives on 24-hour call.

Instead, they nearly doubled their salaries – the base salary of a first-class constable is $87,500 – in large measure by writing traffic tickets that require them to make frequent court appearances.

Uniformed officers grumble privately that politicians don't mind because they generate income for the city.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:52 am 
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FiReSTaRT wrote:
By the way, Bear, you may wanna scoot over to the TPS.....
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/crime/p ... -grow?bn=1
Quote:
Michael Thompson, who was paid $161,892, and Abdulhameed Virani, who collected $151,042, were among the 380 constables who topped the $100K club in 2009.

Thompson and Virani didn't rack up their overtime as homicide detectives on 24-hour call.

Instead, they nearly doubled their salaries – the base salary of a first-class constable is $87,500 – in large measure by writing traffic tickets that require them to make frequent court appearances.

Uniformed officers grumble privately that politicians don't mind because they generate income for the city.


Well, I still want my time to be at home not at work, so court on days off suck. However, I will not hesitate to go to work for operational reasons.

While the paper as usual has given improper numbers as I know the 1st class salary is not what is listed in the article. What else does the article not address???? how much "paid duty" time was made my each officer, OT occurred by traffic investigations? OT for scene control? OT for criminal court? is the officer also a collision investigator? Sure the officer has some OT for traffic court, but be truthful and not assume the officer listed as a "traffic officer" had all $80k to traffic court.

Some officers won't give one more minute to work, where others will take every minute, no explanation of that in the article.

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Last edited by hwybear on Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:52 pm 
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Agree with bear on this...

We had a traffic officer who would stay on the road til the last minute of his shift looking for impaireds every night, sure he made lots of extra money cause every arrest happened at the end of his shift and there was lots of OT.

But he was also an accident reconstructionist, signed up for every PAID DUTY...and wrote lots tickets.

Many departments will choose that their officers go to courton dayshift saving money, but having one less officer responding to emergencies, others services will send the officer to court on his day off, but will ensure he's there for 5-10 cases, making it a justifiable expense in their views.

If these guys are getting paid that much, they must live at work and be giving 100% daily...good for them...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:46 pm 
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Bookm wrote:
So I do maintain the knowledge in the back of my mind that not all traffic cops are unfeeling, disrespectful authoritarian-types. I just have to continue avoiding the Blueline forum to maintain my positive attitude Very Happy


I can't even remember my password.......though, I still get birthday greetings...

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There are no new unread posts for this topic. Officers notes kept in officers possession?

jsherk

1

512

Sun Jul 05, 2015 6:08 pm

Stanton View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Already got a roadside break... should I request trial?

solidbs

5

739

Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:01 pm

bend View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Officers of the Court

jsherk

0

635

Mon May 02, 2016 3:28 pm

jsherk View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Question for police officers

calendula666

1

947

Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:49 pm

Simon Borys View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. do police officers ever get tickets themselves?

fighter84

2

711

Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:10 pm

highwaystar View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Objecting to officers use of notes

jsherk

2

587

Wed Jul 22, 2015 5:55 pm

Stanton View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Do officers know about dismissed tickets?

pagap

4

1021

Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:52 pm

Stanton View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Officers statement at the location

Observer135

4

480

Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:44 pm

Observer135 View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. O.P.P officers avoid instant penalties!

[ Go to pageGo to page: 1, 2, 3 ]

BelSlySTi

37

4111

Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:40 pm

Radar Identified View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. My Curious Mind (Why So Many Former Police Officers)

clyrrad

3

659

Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:12 pm

clyrrad View the latest post

There are no new unread posts for this topic. Do both officers need to show up in court for conviction ?

ticket123

1

641

Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:43 pm

Stanton View the latest post

 


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