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Behind the Wheel - What Does a Traffic Cop Do?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that most people see a traffic cop as someone who writes speeding tickets and fills out collision reports. This is a very narrow view of the job but I did not realize just how narrow it was until I participated in a project to define my job as a front line RCMP traffic constable. Who would have thought that this would take us three days?

Six experienced traffic constables from the four western provinces met at K Division Headquarters in Edmonton and were led in a functional job analysis by Dr. James McGinnis of the Research Branch of Human Resources Directorate of the RCMP. We brainstormed together, trying to list all of the different tasks that we were expected to perform and the knowledge that we required to do them.

The meeting room walls were soon covered with sheets of paper, each listing a single task description. Writing traffic tickets was part of the description, but only after skills and knowledge were applied to determine that the tickets were being written in the right place for the right reasons in order to reduce the behaviours that led to collisions. Incidentally, familiarity with all of the federal and provincial traffic related statutes was a must as well.

The task bank eventually identified 13 specific areas of ranging from communication skills for report writing, planning and court testimony to conducting a high speed pursuit safely. These were considered the minimum necessary to successfully perform the job. They did not include specialties such a collision reconstruction, commercial vehicle mechanical inspection or the instruction of others in these traffic skills.

There has always been a friendly rivalry between the general duty constables and those of us on traffic. I smiled when I read that the task bank indicated that we were expected to have their knowledge and the identified traffic enforcement knowledge as well. Back at you!


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