This was taken from one of the local community newspapers, January4,2004 edition.
"The provincial governmenthas given the green light to a program that allows Langley, Surrey, White Rock and Delta police officers to testify by phone in most traffic court cases."
"It's definitely a go," RCMP Staff Sgt. Ross Fisher, head of the Surrey Traffic Section, confirmed Tuesday.
Tickets for telephone cases are now being issued, and the first such cases involving Surrey officers could be heard as soon as February.
The phone option only applies to police. Drivers who want to dispute a ticket will still have to make the drive to Richmond, where all traffic tickets from Surrey, Delta, White Rock are now being adjucated, due to government-ordered court closures.
Delta Mayor, Lois Jackson who is also head of the Delta Police Board, expressed doubts about the fairness of a trial in which an accused cannot see his or her accuser. "It may save money," said Jackson, "but what about justice?"
Solictor-General Rich Coleman has said that the accused has the option of insisting an officer be present, provided he or she can convince the judge that the request is justified.
Rich Coleman is an ex-RCMP btw. And just how is someone who has no legal experience supposed to convince a judge that the officer must be present? There's no consideration given for the money that's been spent by the accused to miss work and drive to Richmond to defend themselves either. The article quoted the police as saying that it would save an hour each way in driving time for the police to testify by phone. So is the officer going to be on "hold" for an hour waiting to testify by phone from a Tim Horton's? If the officer uses a cell phone, what happens if the officer's testimony keeps fading out?
There's loads of scenarios possible where this system is flawed. Not the least of which, I think it's against our constitution.
Expect lots of frivolous traffic tickets to be issued in these municipalities. It removes any responsibility on the officer to issue valid tickets.
When is the next BCCOM meeting?