Police criticized for 'frivolous' ticket blitz
A Winnipeg police push to ticket drivers who talk on cellphones, or make other driving infractions, isn't just drawing fire from the public — it has the local police association upset, too.
Mark Pellerin, the association's vice-president, said the ticket push flies in the face of building relationships with the community.
"It's counter to establishing a good rapport with the public," Pellerin told CBC News on Tuesday.
"When we're supposed to be about building relationships, I don't know why you would deprive street-level officers from the opportunity to issue a kindly warning now and again."
Pellerin said he believes giving drivers a verbal caution is more effective than a ticket that can cost the same as a week's worth of groceries for a family.
"Some would suggest that handing you a ticket isn't necessarily going to change your habits," he said.
"Having a polite conversation and a little bit of a caution entered is just as likely to have the same effect. So, you know, why the ticket?"
It's also a drain on resources, and even money, Pellerin said. Officers spending their time writing tickets aren't responding to serious crimes.
And if the ticket is challenged in court, as is happening with many of them, the officer needs to attend. Often, the officer is being paid overtime to be there.
Man fined for decal on windshield
Len Eastoe, a former police officer who now fights traffic tickets, said he's seen a number of frivolous tickets come across his desk, including one for not having enough washer fluid or for improperly-attached battery cables.
Phillip Reddy, was fined $170 for having a business decal on his windshield.
Even though it was tucked at the top of his windshield, slightly obscured in the tinting and no larger than those that are standard on many new vehicles, the decal was considered a traffic offence and was going to knock two points off Reddy's perfect driving record.
He fought it and won on Tuesday. Afterwards, Reddy called the ticket crackdown a blatant cash grab that makes people fear police.
Police dispute man's cellphone claim
On March 2, Laszlo Piszker and his wife, Margaret, were pulled over by two city police officers in the 2500 block of Portage Avenue.
Piszker, 74, was handed a $199.80 ticket for talking on a cellphone while driving, even though he doesn't own a cellphone.
Immediately after getting the ticket, the couple went to a nearby police station to complain. Piszker said the officer there laughed and suggested the ticket was likely issued to fill a quota.
The Winnipeg Police Service disputed Piszker's version of events in a news release issued late Tuesday.
According to police, the officers were driving down Portage Avenue when they saw, from about two metres away, a male driver holding a cellphone to his ear.
Piszker told CBC News that the police version of events is wrong. He insisted that he does not own a cellphone.
The Piszkers are consulting with Eastoe about fighting the ticket.