Friday, October 14, 2011



It was late Thanksgiving Day when Mary and I headed back from the cottage.  And there on a side road near the hamlet of Trent River was an OPP RIDE spot check.
No problem. Most days I have nothing stronger than a Diet Coke. So I told the female constable that I hadn't had a drink. Then she asked where we were going. Toronto, I said. Something in my tone made her defensive. I'm just doing my job, she said.
No, she wasn't. But I didn't feel like a hassle before a two-hour drive, so I drove on muttering.
Mary said what in heck was the problem. I said this country is filled with people who moved here because they didn't care to be stopped randomly by the police and asked what they were doing. In fact, I said, not only is that illegal, it's the very thing that the police promised not to do when RIDE started.
I know, because the Ontario Safety League credited me with being the godfather of RIDE. It all began when the Metro Police presented the Metro safety council with a proposal for two special cruisers to be used to stop motorists at Christmas in Etobicoke and check for drunkeness. The original name was Reduce Impaired Driving in Etobicoke. I moved the motion that the safety council buy two roof-top signs and support the idea, providing the cops didn't push it as an excuse to stop and search without reason.
The next year the police were back and the innovation in traffic safety became Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere. To reduce the toll on our roads from stupid drunks is a wonderful goal. So judges and pundits soften their opposition and the rest is history. The idea is to ask about drinking and not destinations etc.
Except the results at Christmas, probably because of the RIDE publicity, is quite poor when you consider the small number of  charges laid and the thousands of drivers who are stopped.
Unfortunately, there has been another result, one that had been feared by the courts and libertarians. I have had a top cop boast to me about the great results when several of his constables have pulled over cars for no particular reason and then search, finding drugs.
Except searching without a valid reason is not only illegal and immoral, it puts a bad taste in the mouths of all of us who would just like to live our lives free of  police questioning just because they feel like it.
When they do that, we really have been taken for a RIDE.


Jack Witson said...
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