You are here

Behind the Wheel - Professional Courtesy

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
Research articles : 

"Professional Courtesy" is common to the medical profession where queue jumping is effected for medical appointments, etc., for medical professionals. Please comment on an equivalent courtesy which may be offered by law enforcement agencies for non criminal offences such as speeding or minor traffic infractions of firemen, armed forces personnel and others. Would you recommend that the many who feel entitled to speed should get one of those "Fireman" license frames?

It happens. To say anything else would be to deny reality. Does it happen as often and for as many things as the public may think? Probably not. Can it be stopped? No. Should it be stopped? No again. Why not?

One might think that traffic law enforcement is black and white. You break the rule, you receive a ticket. If that were the case, we would all deserve a ticket within a very short while. Thankfully, our legal system allows an officer to exercise discretion to charge or not to charge and to participate in diversion or an alternative resolution system to deal with offenders.

If the public expected every traffic violation by an officer to be dealt with by ticket, then they could only expect to have the same treatment applied to them. I think that most people would find this solution unpalatable and are, for the most part, happy with the system the way it is now.

However, as with anything else, it is a matter of degree. While I had no problem shaking my finger at a fellow officer for a few km/h above the posted limit and sending them on their way I would never have considered ignoring an impaired driver or being less than impartial in the investigation of a collision. Yes, I have issued a ticket to someone I knew was a police officer, fireman, paramedic, doctor, judge or politician. I have also failed to ticket those who couldn't afford it, didn't understand or chose to take driver training in exchange.

The yardstick I used was whether I could live with the decision I made if it were held up to public scrutiny and I honestly believe that the dedicated people I worked with during my career behaved in the same manner.