Letters to the Editor

Good reason for 'no stopping'

Editor: During the past year and a half that I have been the officer in charge of Langley detachment, I have come to know what a tremendous community we have. I could fill pages of your newspaper with examples of the many wonderful and supportive citizens I have encountered.

One of the less enjoyable aspects of my job is dealing with situations in which persons are dissatisfied with the service they have received from their police department. I demand that our officers meet the expectations of the community, and when that has not happened I do what I can to rectify the situation and ensure better service in the future. I must confess, however, that on occasion I am frustrated by what people complain about.

One such example can be found in the letter to the editor (The Times, May 25), headlined “Void tickets.” While I am generally reluctant to address such issues in an open forum, in this case I felt it necessary to publicly support the actions of my officers.

The writer indicated she had attended the May Day parade in Fort Langley and was both “disgusted and furious” upon returning to her vehicle to find that it and “dozens and dozens” of others had been issued $50 parking tickets — on a holiday. She indicated this was just a “cheap cash grab” and cites this as an example of why the police have such little community support.

My initial response could be summed up with an incredulous “Really?” The reality of the situation is that a total of eight vehicles were issued municipal bylaw tickets for parking in a well-marked “No Stopping” zone. Had this been a “cash grab,” the officer could have issued the writer a ticket under the provincial Motor Vehicle Act, and depending on the charge used, imposed a fine as high as $109. This may also have carried ICBC demerit points and formed part of her permanent driving record.

The writer noted that this occurred on a holiday, suggesting that somehow should have made a difference in the officer’s decision to write the tickets. That did play a role in the decision making process. The May Day parade occurs on one of the busiest and most congested days of the year for Fort Langley. A great deal of planning goes into attempting to minimize that congestion and ensuring everyone’s safety.

Illegally parked vehicles can often compound congestion and the area the writer parked in had been designated an emergency route for the event (which unfortunately had to be utilized, when a spectator suffered a serious medical emergency). If there was ever a day she should expect to get a ticket for parking illegally in Fort Langley, that was it.

The writer was also critical of the officers who performed in the motorcycle demonstration as not one “cracked a smile or waved the whole time.”

I guess my preference would be for her first response to have been to express gratitude to the members of the motorcycle drill team. These officers were from a municipal force that plays no role in policing Langley. They attended on a holiday that was likely a day off for most of them, and put on a very skilled demonstration for her entertainment.

Motorcycle drill involves complex and potentially dangerous maneuvers that require an extreme level of focus and concentration. For obvious reasons, the officers are not permitted to remove their hands from the handlebars while performing. Waving to the crowd is probably the furthest thing from the operators’ minds at the time and would be an extremely poor example of motorcycle safety technique.

I was unable to attend the parade myself and cannot speak to the veracity of the comment that the motorcycle drill team members did not smile at the crowd. What I can tell you, however, is that drill, whether performed on foot, motorcycle, or horseback, is based on military tradition and is a very disciplined activity. Had I smiled when learning drill in Depot or performing in a public venue, I very likely would have earned myself many push-ups (even more than I did!).

As I write this, I am conjuring up an image of a soldier waving and smiling to tourists during the changing of the guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace. It’s not going to happen.

The writer said “This is how ‘our’ town treats us?”  Yes, I guess it is. Your wonderful community and many volunteers sponsored a delightful day of activities that I trust most thoroughly enjoyed. I thank everyone who gave their time to make the parade a success.

The police officers and volunteer auxiliary constables did their best to ensure everyone’s convenience and safety. The “No Stopping” signs were in place long before the May Day parade, and presumably have been there for years for a reason. On this particular day, they also served to facilitate an emergency access route.

While the writer may not have realized she was parking illegally, that is no one’s fault but her own. Perhaps rather than asking; “This is how “our” town treats us?” she should consider that being mindful of such issues is a small part of how we can all respectfully treat our town and fellow citizens.

Supt. Derek Cooke, officer in charge,

RCMP, Langley Detachment

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