Pandemic won’t get you out of ticket, North Van RCMP warn

Pandemic or no pandemic, the law is still the law, North Vancouver RCMP say.

Police doing routine traffic stops have been getting an uptick in back-talk from drivers, particularly from folks who say police priorities should be elsewhere.

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"We’re getting a newer version of, 'You should be out catching serious criminals instead of writing me a ticket,’” said Sgt. Peter DeVries, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman. "Now we’re being told 'You should be out fighting COVID-19 instead of writing me a ticket.'"

North Vancouver resident Kathryn Taft put her concerns in writing Thursday after she was dinged making an illegal right turn at Old Dollarton Road during her morning commute.

Taft accepts that she disobeyed the law, but in a letter to police, she questions the wisdom of deploying officers to enforce traffic calming measures at a time when there is next to no traffic on the roads, thanks to COVID-19.

“On top of it, your officer did not wear gloves, handled a variety of drivers licences, and did not stand six feet away when speaking to me and giving me a ticket,” she wrote. “In my opinion, at this particular time, the RCMP efforts would be much better deployed addressing physical distancing concerns, domestic violence issues and other much more pressing issues flowing from this crisis. To say the least, I am unimpressed by the judgment of the RCMP in this matter.”

The number of tickets issued in the month of March was down significantly compared to the same period last year, simply because so many people are following the province’s orders and staying home whenever possible, DeVries said.

“But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s now a free-for-all. Absolutely not," he added.

Police have made a lot of changes to the way they deal with the public in light of COVID-19, DeVries said, but sometimes there’s no getting around getting up close.

“We still have to keep the roads safe for the people who are using them. We can't just stop doing traffic enforcement,” he said. “These are kind of unavoidable realities of doing enforcement. And we are doing everything we can to minimize those risks.”

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