An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
EACH WEEK, LOCAL RCMP send out a news release with some short notes about things police encountered the previous weekend. Yesterday brought another one of those roundups, which included three items.
One involved a stolen truck and several charges being laid against the man who is allegedly responsible for stealing it. Pretty routine stuff.
Next was a mental health call in which an officer was injured when a person being searched for weapons became combative and bit the arresting officer. This resulted in an arrest and short detention.
Nothing overly remarkable about that one either, but it does show once again the sensitivity of mental health checks and how easily things can go sideways. Fortunately, this one didn’t result in a life-threatening situation for either the officer or the citizen involved but it might have.
The third item caught my attention, as it comes a couple of weeks after I wrote about an incident in which a resident was insulted by a driver for bringing to his attention that excess idling is not allowed in Kamloops.
Yesterday’s police report involved an idling incident with a twist. Sunday evening, the owner of a truck left it idling to warm up but, when he emerged from his house, the truck was gone. The driver got into another vehicle and followed his stolen truck, notifying police, who quickly made an arrest.
When I wrote earlier about the City’s three-minute idling bylaw, I suggested that if we called the cops or bylaws officers more often with respect to vehicle infractions of various kinds, the message might get through to the miscreants.
That was, perhaps, a little over zealous on my part. Fact is, if we did call police or bylaws about idling, as a prime example, it’s unlikely anything much would happen. Our enforcement officers are busy with more pressing issues and, if they were able to respond, the guilty party would have long departed the scene.
The idling bylaw has always been one of those rules that’s almost impossible to enforce. That fact caused some City councillors to vote against it when it was approved. If you can’t enforce it, there’s no point, they said.
Those in favour of it, however, said it would at least put into writing something that’s worth achieving, and would, in effect, be a message to the public about the importance of reducing greenhouse gases.
The idling bylaw is worthwhile even if a swarm of peace officers doesn’t typically appear if a vehicle is left running. Self-enforcement is the answer to making it effective. It’s up to us, the public, to make it work, both by remembering not to do it ourselves, and gently reminding others when they do it, though we might risk a rebuke from an embarrassed driver.
And maybe the guy who watched his truck drive away with a stranger behind the wheel has received the message, too.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.