Get a ticket recently? If so, did you know it helps fill a quota imposed on our local police force?
Just about every local has received a fine of some sort from the MRC des Collines police. Most of you paid it, many of you even willingly.
Without fail, every day on MRC des Collines territory, a minimum of 14 tickets are issued by our local police. This is because the MRC regional government has issued the cops a quota to fill to help bring in revenue.
According to police spokesman Martin Fournel, the rule is one ticket per shift, per officer.
Weekday shifts are eight hours, while weekends are 12. There are usually seven officers on duty per shift. Following the math – police must make a minimum weekly quota, or as Fournel prefers, a “police objective,” of 133 tickets per week.
Some of you reading this will find the imposed quota despicable. It means cops are under pressure to go out looking “to get” someone for some infraction that brings in a cash penalty.
Fournel acknowledges lots of people are offended by a quota, but that’s part of their job. He told the Low Down, “nobody wants to talk about this, but we should be comfortable talking about it.”
Personally, I’m quite comfortable talking about it.
If a quota system means that speeders, drunk drivers and others who threaten our safety subsidize our local cops, I’m all for it. It helps keeps taxes down for the rest of us law-abiding residents.
We are lucky to have our own local community force – it’s a big improvement from the days of the Surete Quebec (SQ), whose far-away headquarters and unfamiliarity with the community meant we were often neglected.
But a local force doesn’t come cheap: it costs over $10 million a year. Fines bring in much needed revenue – according to the MRC government’s 2013 budget, over $1.8 million.
Let the drunk drivers and people who text while driving subsidize our local police force.
But while I support the rule, I do take issue with the application of the rule, or, in my case, the application of one specific rule.
In July, I got a $56 ticket at the Wakefield hospital for an unlocked door on my rusty old 2000 Civic.
I got it the morning after I found out my father would never be leaving the hospital alive.
Yes, I am definitely pulling out the emotion card here – but not just because I want to vent my personal outrage. My feeling of being unfairly targeted is likely reflected by other locals who get the same ticket at that specific location.
People who are parked at a hospital are there because they are in trouble. Someone is sick, or hurt, or even dying. Visitors are not shopping for Nikes or going for a fall stroll. They have other things on their mind than making sure the door is locked that day.
Our community police force generally does a really good job (last week’s deer incident included), but targeting vulnerable people for a minor offence that harms no one literally adds insult to injury.
Worse, it makes people who like the police think things like: “Don’t they have a real criminal to track down?” or “Is this why I pay my taxes?” and “This is just lazy policing.”
As Fournel pointed out, there are over 700 articles in the highway safety code that can be applied. Surely the other 699 provide enough material to make quota.
Target the drunks, not the sick and worried.