Police Chief Paul Smith talks with Councillor David MacDonald during Mondays Charlottetown City Council meeting. The chief says a shakeup is in the works at the Charlottetown Police Department. Guardian photo
Charlottetown police aren’t issuing as many speeding tickets this year as they did last year but that doesn’t necessarily mean people are slowing down.
City councillors are questioning whether motorists are abiding by the laws or if police simply aren’t enforcing those laws as much.
According to numbers released by the city’s police committee at Monday night’s council meeting, the number of Highway Traffic Act tickets issued so far this year (up to the end of October) is 2,840. That compares with 3,640 issued during the same time frame last year.
By comparison, the number of collisions is up — from 780 in 2010 to 900 this year.
Coun. David MacDonald, chair of protective and emergency services, said Deputy Police Chief Gary McGuigan had a few explanations for the numbers.
“One of them might be that our traffic-calming measures are working a little bit but that’s not the sole reason the tickets are down. We’re looking at it,’’ MacDonald said.
“There’s no explanation why it’s down 20 per cent at this time of year. The deputy chief is looking at it and he’s going to bring back some information to our next committee meeting.’’
The traffic-calming measures MacDonald refers to are temporary barriers (such as large flower pots) placed on roads forcing traffic to slow down and yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic.
The city is also using portable speed signs.
MacDonald thinks it’s working but he adds he also believes enforcement is down.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel says there’s no doubt in his mind, police aren’t enforcing the laws as much as they should be.
“I don’t want to be critical of the department but, to be honest, I’m not surprised,’’ Tweel said. “The question is, is traffic enforcement a priority for the (police) department? I know it’s a major priority for the residents who live in these neighbourhoods.’’
Tweel says it’s no accident the number of tickets issued has dropped since the city shelved the police department’s traffic unit, one of the many recommendations that came out of the police review report in 2009.
MacDonald said measures like traffic calming and speed signs are designed as information tools so the city knows where problems with speeding exist and how best to deal with them.