Taking photos while driving - for the record
The discussion in my previous blog entry about the right of police officers to exceed the speed limit on the highway was overtaken by criticism of me in the comments for taking the photo in the first place. And there's plenty more discussion about this on the article that ran on the thestar.com, which was just a cut-and-paste of that blog entry. You can read it, and all the comments, here.
It didn't help that the online editor of that story leaped to the same conclusion as everyone else and originally wrote a caption under the photo that said "Mark Richardson snapped this photo of a speeding police cruiser..."
So let me state this, for the record: I was driving into Toronto eastbound on the Gardiner Expressway with my wife as a passenger in the car. The cop drove past us at a high enough difference of speed that we were both startled. I did not chase him down, but he slowed as he approached the heavier traffic at the Lakeshore cutoff. I found myself behind him in his lane and when both our vehicles were stopped, waiting for the flow to resume, I reached into my pocket, fished out my iPhone, handed it to my wife and asked her to take some pictures. Once traffic got moving, I moved over into the centre lane and she took some more.
My mistake in all this was to not make this clear when I wrote the blog. I find it interesting that so many people dumped on me for not checking my facts as to why the cop was speeding, and yet they clearly read what they wanted to into my writing and pronounced public judgement on me for their own misreading of information. So I give those commenters no credibility whatsoever.
Other commenters have criticized me for not checking with the police first as to the circumstances in this case for the speeding Suburban, and a possible reasonable explanation. But that's not my point. None of us usually know why cops are speeding, but most all of us resent it when there are no flashing lights and we assume it's for personal reasons and not professional need.
In this case, I did not identify the cop except to other cops. If they're concerned, they can ask him for a reason and if he can't give one, then I expect he should be dressed down. If he can, then fair enough - he needed to drive fast, as the HTA allows.
But the police know that they're always on public display, and because they discipline us for our transgressions, they're expected to set an example. Clearly, by the comments on this blog and the related article, some are not doing a very good job of it. Which is too bad for the cops who do lead by example, and who would expect their less conscientious colleagues to be called up on their attitude.
- mark r.