Are Ontario police unfairly targeting truckers? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but based on conversations with drivers and recent news reports, it's difficult to think otherwise. Consider this: Last mont...
Are Ontario police unfairly targeting truckers? I’m no conspiracy theorist, but based on conversations with drivers and recent news reports, it’s difficult to think otherwise. Consider this: Last month an Ontario-based truck driver with an ‘expired’ A/Z licence was pulled over by police in the US. He was nervous, to say the least, knowing that US police agencies may not be aware of the long-running DriveTest strike that has prevented him from renewing his licence. But to his surprise, the officer said he was aware of the strike and asked if the driver had a copy of an MTO letter explaining the situation. He did, and was sent on his way without further incident.
Around the same time, another Ontario driver was involved in a minor accident here at home. According to the driver, the police officer who responded told the driver he was not allowed to drive with an expired licence, despite the DriveTest strike. “While I did not get charged for not having a licence, I had to give up my D/Z licence and drop to a G just so I could drive my own car to work,” the driver told me. “I thought I should let you know that not all cops honour the MTO.”
And therein lies the problem. There seems to be a serious disconnect between front-line police officers in this province and their higher- up authorities. Why would a police officer right here in Ontario be unaware of legislation enacted by the province that extends the date of Ontario driver’s licence expirations while an American trooper is up to speed on the issue?
It’s cause for concern. What’s even greater cause for concern, however, is a growing rift appears to be forming between Ontario police and the professional driver population at large. I can recall a number of instances in recent months, including the issuing of a fine for talking on a cell phone before the law was to be enforced and of course the now infamous ticket given to a driver for smoking in his rig, where police officers seemed to be going out of their way to target truck drivers.
At the same time all this is happening, police agencies such as the RCMP are asking the trucking industry to be more forthright in reporting cargo theft and other forms of truck-related crime.
All this begs the question, is the seemingly aggressive approach the OPP is taking towards professional drivers in Ontario undermining the attempts of the RCMP and other enforcement agencies towards establishing better cooperation between the trucking industry and police? I would suggest so.
RCMP officer Rob Ruiters, a rare breed of cop who takes a genuine interest in cargo theft and other truck-involved crime, said during TransCore’s user conference this past summer that the trucking industry and police agencies must work more closely together than they have in the past.
“The commercial vehicle industry and the cops did not work well together (in the past),” he admitted, noting that trucking companies would often complain that police wouldn’t do anything about a stolen trailer and in turn police would accuse a fleet of not knowing where its trailers were at any given time in the first place. Ruiters and his colleagues have worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the trucking industry, as evidenced through his many presentations at trucking industry events.
But if he’s to achieve his goals of better cooperation between the industry and police, something needs to be done about the huge disconnect that appears to exist between front line enforcement officers and their superiors, because it seems many cops have an axe to grind with truckers which is fueling distrust among professional drivers and doing irreparable harm to police/driver relations. •