Critics raise questions over motivation for spike in traffic enforcement in Winnipeg
Published Tuesday, February 28, 2012 7:45PM CST
On Monday, Winnipeg police said increased traffic enforcement is aimed at making city streets safer.
But some critics are questioning the reason for the push to hand out more tickets.
"The tickets that are being issued these days are sometimes very frivolous types of tickets that officers never would have handed out before," said Len Eastoe, a retired Winnipeg police officer who now works with Traffic Ticket Experts.
Eastoe cited examples of tickets he has seen lately such as not having enough windshield washer fluid or having a loose battery, or even, he said, for a GPS positioned improperly on a dash.
"That's because the pressure is on them to give out everything and anything," Eastoe added.
In 2011, the police's Division 11, which covers the downtown, handed out about 250 tickets each month. Under the new directive, officers are being asked to nearly triple the amount of tickets for traffic offences issued each month to 650 to 700 a month.
"It's disappointing… last year Winnipeg set a record for the number of murders, and now the city wants police to crack down on otherwise law abiding citizens," said Colin Craig of the Canadian Tax Payers Federation. "I think the priorities are a bit askew there."
Craig added officers shouldn't be saddled with the burden of generating more money for the city.
Winnipeg police officials insist the increased traffic enforcement is not to generate money, but is designed to make the city safer.
"Traffic enforcement is the only way to change driver behaviour in a positive manner," Insp. Jim Poole of the Winnipeg Police Service said Monday.
"If people don't want to be fined, then they should be obeying the rules of the road," he said.
But the Winnipeg Police Association, the police officers' union, said in an email it believe the quotas are all about money. If it were about safety, the police would be issuing memos to officers to make more arrests for more serious offences, the organization said.
Mayor Sam Katz said Tuesday the city isn't behind the push to increase traffic enforcement and fines.
"To be frank with you, I'm not aware of that at all," Katz said Tuesday.
- with a report from CTV's Caroline Barghout