Where are our police?

Drivers have seen it for years; the steady decline in courtesy and good driving on our roads. Pedestrians and cyclists have noticed it too – yes, sometimes from our fellow pedestrians and cyclists. We’re at the stage now where drivers routinely blow through stale yellow and even red lights. People who think their time is more important than everyone else’s safety weave in and out, cutting people off and travelling at dangerous speeds. Many vehicle plates are covered with dark plastic to avoid detection and window glass is tinted far beyond legal limits. Police officers on our streets are a rare sight – unless on paid duty at a construction or road work site. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage going on there.

Despite the wild west type driving experiences of recent years and the increasing number of deaths and injuries on our roads, there has been a steep decline in the number of traffic violations in our city. Police issued 140,000 fewer tickets in 2019 than they did in 2009. Careless driving charges dropped by 44%.

Are the police focussing their efforts elsewhere? It doesn’t look like it. The City’s homicide rate rose from 2.1 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 3.1 in 2018. Our murder rate was higher in 2018 than that of New York City.

So what’s going on? We have 5400 uniform and non-uniform police officers in Toronto – where are they all? How do they spend their time? If they’re not on the roads, where else could they be? Since tickets are down, they can’t all be in court or doing paperwork. They also respond to fewer types of complaints. Noise issues for example now go to a city by-law department.

Is it a morale problem? Are police having a giant snit because their numbers are down? Why is Mayor Tory not doing something? The failure of Vision Zero was not properly addressed and a name change to Vision Zero 2.0 was seen as the answer. What about Chief Saunders? The whole point of a police force is to protect lives and property by enforcing the law. Effective policing acts as a deterrent to further criminal behaviour. Visibility is part of that deterrence aspect.

In the U.K. beefed up road policing is seen to be effective in combatting other crimes. After all, criminals use the roads and they’re often driving badly. More enforcement on our roads would uncover more criminal behaviour.

In the meantime, we need answers from Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders. The solution belongs with them but neither one seem to be owning the problem.

6 thoughts on “Where are our police?”

  1. Are we not currently witnessing this concern & issue of “law enforcement” across the nation – in each & every province?

    Where it seems that the police services everywhere (municipal, provincial & RCMP) await the political will & directives to make those difficult and strong decisions?

    But, what we have currently it seems is police services everywhere holding off the enforcement of many of the laws of the land (including traffic violations like illegally tinted windows & plate covers) for fear of the bad optics & publicity that comes with diving in & clamping down on those who break laws.

    There’s no appetite for too much enforcement. And therefore, it seems to me that this is a most political issue – at every level.

    No one wants to be seen as heavy handed.
    And so, it continues.

    (Example: Did anyone notice how unprotected the Deputy Prime Minister was as she tried to enter her place of work, yesterday? She seemed entirely on her own with what seemed like one security guard – another woman – to safely escort her through an angry “right side of history” mob.)

    Anyway, and back to the roads issue – I’d like to imagine that the roads would be a whole lot safer if we ALL could make proper eye contact with one another on the roadways. Plus, with proper identifiers like visible plates there might be a better push toward accountability, too.

    And if not, pay up or lose your privileges as a motorist!
    (Money collected would be helpful, too.)

    It’s that old, “daylight is a good disinfectant” thing, Roy.

  2. Quote of the day
    (at this writing)

    From an OPP spokesperson:
    “ ..police discretion should not be seen as lack of enforcement.”

    Believe it.

    Ever see how intensely quick they react when one of their own is in harms way? It’ll spin your head.

    And frankly, it’s good to see – even if it seems a selective response because it serves to remind that they’re still discretely around & ready to go, when the need really arises.. at least that’s what we always hope, right?

  3. If you have concerns about the police go to the Community Police Liaison Committee meetings at 12 Division, 200 Trethewey, the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. There is a meeting on Thursday, 20 February. The community police officer reports on police issues and recent crime figures in the area. People from across the division inform everyone of various community activities and discuss issues of concern. Take a proactive stance and join the discussion.

    1. Thanks Judith. Sadly, I have alternate plans for Thursday and in addition, this is a city-wide matter that needs to be addressed by Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders. Now if they were going to attend…

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