Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Use of flashing lights by Police vehicle

I sent the following, last Saturday afternoon, to the Police Complaints email address I found on the website of my local Police force. It's self expananatory:

"Earlier this afternoon, at about 1.30pm, Saturday 17/5/08, I was waiting to walk across X Parade., a few hundred metres west of the intersection with XXX Terrace. There was quite a lot of traffic queued facing east at a red light and, at a break in the centre island on X Parade. A police vehicle facing the opposite direction was waiting to do a U-turn, but this was obviously not being facilitated with as much ease as the driver wished as there was no break in traffic to allow this manoeuvre.

So on came the flashing lights atop the vehicle, causing other vehicles to stop as they approached to let the police car turn and then, with lights still flashing, vehicles were persuaded to either pull aside or close up to others in front of them to create a big enough gap for the police vehicle to cross 2 lanes and enter a car park to their left. I watched, assuming they were going to cut through the car park to avoid the lights and carry on down XXX Terrace about some business, but no. The vehicle was then parked and a uniformed officer got out and went into the Subway takeaway to order himself some lunch!

I was left wondering about the legality of this sequence of events. Surely the flashing lights are meant to be used in emergency situations and the power to make other vehicles get out of the way is something that should be reserved for some sort of police business, not to speed up entry to a takeaway to buy a sandwich. Consequently I took note of the registration of the police vehicle, which is XXX-XXX, and decided to bring this matter to the attention of some appropriate authority.

To be honest, I'm getting a bit sick of this sort of thing. It feels like bullying, throwing weight and authority around unnecessarily. As a resident of XXX Terrace I quite often witness police vehicles travelling up the road in the wrong direction (ie. on the wrong side of the traffic island opposite the X Hotel) for something like 20 to 30 metres in order to perform nothing more important than, again, access the Subway store across the road there, but this usually just causes me to laugh, being fully aware that should they see anyone else do exactly the same thing then the driver would be pulled over and fined. The use of the flashing lights to facilitate the same objective, however, seemed one step too far for me to be amused by it.

Justified Ancient of Mu Mu"

I got an official letter in the post today, informing me that my complaint had been referred to the "Internal Investigations Branch" and that I would soon be receiving a phone call from an officer to initiate a "conciliation process".

I'm scared!