Monday, September 25, 2006

Visiting Police Officers Abuse Powers

I was parking my bike outside the Citizens for Safe Cycling office yesterday (Sunday), when I took this photo (click to see larger version):
In case you can't make it out, here's what it depicts: about a dozen or so O.P.P. motorcycle officers. Two of them sped into the intersection with their flashers on and blocked off Bank Street, while the rest of them zipped through the stop sign (there is no stop sign for the Bank Street traffic).

When Critical Mass does this, it is called "corking," and is considered illegal:

81. (3) No person shall drive, park or stop a vehicle on a highway in such a manner as to obstruct traffic.
-- City of Ottawa By-Law 2003-530

Immediately following this section is the exception for emergency vehicles...

Despite any provisions of this by-law to the contrary, a police officer or the General Manager may, during any emergency or special circumstance, by the erection of appropriate signs or signals, prohibit or regulate the movement of vehicles on any highway or part of a highway and no person shall drive or operate a vehicle in contravention of any such sign or signal.
-- City of Ottawa By-Law 2003-530

So the question comes out: why were they doing this?

The urgency with which they did this made me initially think they were transporting a special dignitary, but they were all on motorcycles; no sedans, limos, or Harpermobiles (tinted-window-SUVs).

Perhaps, I thought, they were doing anti-terrorism exercises, but their gold helmets and fancy attire nixed that thought.

An hour or so later, I found these motorcycles (along with a LOT of other police vehicles) parked near City Hall. Saturday had been the ceremonies to recognize fallen firefighters, and today the police were having another shindig.

However, "late for the party" does not seem to me to be an "emergency or special circumstance" under section 82. It does seem, however, to be an abuse of the Police's powers. Seeing these O.P.P. officers scoot through my city's downtown and flaunt stop signs does not do well for my perception of that organization.

The first thing you learn in any law course is the Rule of Law: everyone is equal before and under the law. This means that the Police have the same responsibility as we do to follow traffic laws. Although the law has exceptions, those exceptions are to be used sparingly, in emergencies only.

Here are the places I will be complaining to [Edit: I haven't.]:

- RG>

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