Traffic Fatalities are up over 20% in 2013 as Police Management phases out Traffic Cops
You may have seen Toronto Chief of Police Bill Blair is concerned of the number of traffic fatalities in Toronto in recent months, but little explanation is placed upon the reasons for the increase, and police management puts all the blame on the public.
The theory and reasoning behind police traffic enforcement is a simple one.
You put police officers on the streets to catch bad drivers, and you make the good drivers aware that the police are there and watching.
The drinking and driving RIDE program is the classic example. You put RIDE spot checks where good drivers see them, reminding them not to drink and drive and the police catch the drunk drivers.
RIDE Spot checks are usually done in clearly visible areas. It's not only about catching the bad drivers, it's also about having a visible presence and reminding the good people not to drink and drive.
The same holds true for every day traffic enforcement, to keep the roads safe.
When you remove police traffic enforcement, bad drivers run wild and the good drivers relax and make mistakes. Accidents happen, people get hurt, families destroyed...
Over the last 30 years the number of traffic police officers in Toronto has dropped dramatically, reducing the influence of police presence and traffic enforcement for driver safety in Toronto and the GTA.
As the roads and vehicles became safer, traffic fatalities are still a still a major cause of deaths in Toronto. Safer road designs are made, dramatic improvements in vehicle design and safety, new laws created, but the police have their agenda wrong and traffic fatalities are in the news again.
Over the last twenty years the Toronto police management have gradually removed traffic police officers from the streets of Toronto. There are various reasons for doing so and the Toronto Police do not fully realize the implications or maybe it's about the money. Traffic safety costs money, but whats the cost of a child's life.
In the 80's the Toronto Police had five traffic police stations spread throughout the city.
Each area of Toronto had it's own dedicated traffic unit, with 80 to 100 officers doing traffic enforcement, accident investigations and looking for drinking and driving motorists.
Four to five hundred traffic cops going out doing traffic enforcement sends a clear message to drivers, drive safe and obey the traffic laws, and the bad drivers got caught.
As such traffic accidents and fatalities during that time were much lower than they are in 2013 on a per capita/per vehicle basis.
It was during this period in history that the successful RIDE program came into being saving hundreds of lives over the years.
As the City of Toronto grows the police management are removing traffic officers
By 1996 the Toronto Police Service had closed all of the five traffic units.
The police took the officers from these units and replaced them with just twelve (12) traffic officers in each division, while reducing their dedicated traffic unit in downtown Toronto to less than seventy (70) officers.
From 1996 to 2013 traffic officers in each division has dwindled from twelve (12) officers to just two (2) traffic cops per division, the number of traffic officers in the main Traffic Services Unit sits around one hundred officers.
2014 means Less Traffic Cops Higher Fatalities
In 2014 the Toronto Police Service is looking to further reduce traffic enforcement.
Starting in 2014 the Toronto Police management is taking all of the traffic officers out of the divisions and sending them to the downtown Toronto Traffic Services Unit. Something they did twenty years ago and learned didn't work.
History repeats itself, but the fallout is, that when the police stop looking and watching drivers, fatalities increase as we are seeing now.
As governments do, and certainly as it is in the Toronto Police Service, change is constant. The Toronto Police are constantly changing things, not always for the better and sometimes going in a circle or the wrong direction.
New managers e.g. new police supervisors look to make their "mark" by developing "new programs", to save money but at what cost to the people of Toronto?
The current "new thing" to remove and reduce traffic officers and traffic enforcement out of each of the local divisions and concentrate them in downtown Toronto means less officers working outside of the city core of downtown Toronto.
The result of all this is traffic fatalities are going to continue to rise. Toronto Police need to get back the basics using the tried and true formula that when a driver sees a police car they usually slow down and pay strict attention to driving carefully and properly.
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About the Author
Chris Conway is a former Police officer in Ontario having worked with the Toronto Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police for 28 years as a traffic officer, street cop, breathalyzer technician and Detective. Chris is the owner of OTT Legal and writes about traffic ticket and motor vehicle law in Ontario