More worrying news from the Calgary Police Service:
CALGARY - Calgary police are trying to curb road rage with a controversial new method: instead of writing tickets, they're writing letters.
Road rage is endemic in virtually every large Canadian city, but may be more of a problem in Calgary, where the number of commuters has rocketed as the city's population boomed in recent years.
More drivers had been calling police on cell phones to report dangerous driving and incidents of road rage – but officers were often unable to pursue the complaints because they couldn't prove who was driving the vehicle. [...]
"The letter idea was really to ensure that there is accountability for motorists who in a sense fall through the cracks because there isn't enough evidence to lay a charge," Staff. Sgt. Brian Whitelaw, of the Calgary Police Traffic Section, told CBC News.
"The matter needs to be followed up in some way."
No, it doesn't. When there isn't enough evidence to charge a suspect, nothing should be done, period. No Big Brotherish 'friendly reminder' letters, no public shaming on the mere word of anonymous tips; not for mere traffic violations. Have the Calgary Police so lost sight of our legal traditions? "The law is not an instrument of any kind. The law is a causeway upon which so long as he keeps to it a citizen may walk safely."
Unless the law is changed to lower the standard of evidence required to make road-rage charges - a job for Alberta's legislature, not police bureaucrats - this is unnerving overreach.
Some groups have applauded the idea.
Art Price, of the Alberta Motor Association, said he finds value in anything that draws drivers' attention to the fact that "they aren't getting away with this all the time."
Others have expressed reservations.
"There are privacy problems with it," said Stephen Jenuth of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association. "There are also problems with retention of that information, how that information is used, and how complaints like this can be abused."
Calgary police say they won't act on anonymous complaints and won't use the letters in future investigations.
That's not very comforting or believable an assurance, given the recent revelations of personal vendettas now being exercised by Calgary Police leadership,
under the aegis of the public good. If Chief Beaton decides in the future that anonymous complaints would be just dandy for justifying persecution of his enemies, what's to stop him, once they start being thoroughly catalogued under this program?
Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with something like this. But we're now only one story away (of an odd, mildly-authoritarian scheme by this police force) in the space of a week from suggesting a trend, and that's unsettling.