Panhandling Police officers?
They aren't looking for change, they're waiting for you to break the law. Guess what? It's legit...
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Photo: PC Aresenault

Admit it.

You do it.

You hear that familiar 'ping' from your cell phone while you're behind the wheel. So you reach over and grab it, holding it out of sight while you gaze down.

Do you reply?

It doesn't matter.

The guy standing at your window you thought was asking you for change, is in fact, a Toronto Police officer, and you have been busted.

Police are trying new tactics to try and crack down on the problem of distracted driving. Some of those new tactics include dressing as a panhandler, and checking on vehicles as they are stopped at a light.

It happened in the intersection of Markham Road and the 401 this week.

Constable Clint Stibbe is with Toronto Police Traffic Services, and says the way the law is written, they have to catch people in the act, actually holding their phones and either reading or typing.

So he says they have started to think outside the box when it comes at ways of enforcing the law.

"We're basically trying to get the message through to everyone, that it needs to stop."

When it comes to the officer dressed as a pan handler, he was holding a ratty cardboard sign that identified him as a Toronto Police officer and had the warning that if you were on your phone, you'd be getting a ticket.

"He had a sign, and his identification was clearly visible, so I don't think he was hiding anything" said Stibbe.

Currently the fine for distracted driving is $280, but proposed legislation would hike that to a maximum of $1000, and add three demerit points.


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  • 181
  1. JohnVoter posted on 03/25/2014 05:17 PM
    Disgusting, You wanna pull that nonsense??

    Keep messing up your relationship with the public, short term thinking gets you long term problems. 1000 for a ticket is CRIMINAL. if you want to think that way you should also outlaw the following while driving:

    seat Motors
    arm rests
    cup holders
    putting sunglasses on
    anything with a button...

    lower that fine!
    1. Rocco Bertolini posted on 03/25/2014 06:13 PM
      @JohnVoter Keep talking like that JohnVoter, until one of your kids gets run over by a 20 something updating his or her Facebook..

      Clearly you have the foresight of a single cell amoeba.
    2. Jack posted on 03/25/2014 06:17 PM
      @Rocco Bertolini As far as I can tell, there's a contagious mental illness running through Toronto where victims suffer a severe reduction in intelligence and start mouthing off like JohnVoter with no respect for the law. It's really sad.
    3. Noel_One posted on 03/25/2014 06:26 PM
      @JohnVoter It sucks, right up until someone _else_ dies because of a driver screwing with their cell or tablet. You think it's CRIMINAL?
      Okay, I'm for changing the law. Anytime there is an accident and someone dies, if a cellphone was in use in the car just before the accident, the driver should be charged with Vehicular HOMICIDE, with similar penalties as to Second degree murder. Better?
    4. JohnVoter posted on 03/25/2014 06:47 PM
      @Rocco Bertolini That pathetic weak ass argument you have just made is exactly the type of thinking that got bills like the Patriot Act in place along with warentless computer searches. "oh wont somebody think of the children!?"

      The more give up to be "safe" the less freedom you have.

      Little by little you, sad blind man.
    5. JohnVoter posted on 03/25/2014 06:50 PM
      @Noel_One its Criminal they are considering charging one thousand dollars. I'm all for fining people who use phones. I am NOT in favor of taking away a monthly mortgage payment from them.

      as far as the police in there costume. they should lay off, no wonder they have such low trust rates in Toronto.
    6. Sara posted on 03/25/2014 08:36 PM
      @Rocco Bertolini Why do you have label it as a 20 something... when in fact it is everybody with no specific age doing this. Think before you say certain things.
    7. Mark posted on 03/26/2014 07:09 AM
      @Rocco Bertolini Why must it be the 20 something year olds? What about the 30, 40, 50 + year olds who are also on their phones. . . . or the ones doing make up, eating breakfast, reading the paper on their morning rush to work . . . .

      You are wrong for think it is only the 20 year olds who are to blame for this !
    8. Reni posted on 03/26/2014 08:30 AM
      @JohnVoter I think the fine should be twice that much and your license taken away for a very long time. Better that than kill someone because you can't be away rom your stupid phone for 2minutes. I've seen some pretty scary things while people were on their phones and driving (almost got hit when an idiot went through a red light and was totally oblivious because they were chatting away) Sigh...people will just never learn until THEY are the ones getting injured...or worse.
    9. Reni posted on 03/26/2014 08:33 AM
      @JohnVoter Don't talk on your phone while driving, don't break any of the don't have to worry. Very simple when you think about it. The police are there to protect people and their job is getting harder all the time.
    10. Pete posted on 03/26/2014 09:53 AM
      @JohnVoter Words can not describe how ignorant you are JohnVoter. If you read the article and comprehend it properly, the MAX fine is $1000. So the chances of your fine being that much will be determined by the situation. It's not just a set $1000 fine. And as others have stated, if you don't break the law you have nothing to worry about. And as for your view on people trusting the police. You can't paint everyone with the same brush. They have jobs to do and I'm willing to bet that by your statements you don't have a job that puts you in harms way for the safety of others everyday. So maybe take a step back and think for a second, "what would happen if I was attacked in the street or was hit by a car while walking across the street?" Who would I call or who would respond to help me???? Oh yeah, the people you have a lack of trust in!!!!! Smarten up!!!
    11. Graham posted on 03/26/2014 10:26 AM
      @Rocco Bertolini Actually, the majority of accidents involving cellphone are 30-50 year olds. And 90% of those involve people talking on the phone, not texting.
    12. NicG posted on 03/26/2014 10:29 AM
      @Rocco Bertolini I forgot that 20 something year olds are the only ones who get in accidents...and have access to social media
    13. Dave posted on 03/26/2014 10:39 AM
      @Rocco Bertolini Yes Rocco punishing the masses for the mistakes of some has always worked so well in the past.. This is not about public safety. Any cop can drive down any road in the city I live in and catch half a dozen people. There is no need for deception. Unless it's another cash grab to compliment speeding tickets.

      As for someone getting run over, it's called natural selection.
    14. Dave posted on 03/26/2014 10:44 AM
      @Noel_One Well the private prison industry would certainly agree. So I assume you're ok with higher taxes to cover the housing costs of all the people going to prison?

      I find it laughable so many people see prison as a just punishment for a mistake. Do you think they won't be haunted by that day for the rest of their lives? Broad generic laws for things like this never help anyone, except business.

      So I assume all of you have never made a bad judgement call, certainly not one that robs you of a decade(s) of your life.

      How hard would it be to have car manufacturers restrict the ability to make a call while the car is in motion? I am certain the technology exists to detect a cell signal, if the car picks it up within the car and the phone is not connected to the Bluetooth, the car disables it. Seems fairly simple and I am sure there are a lot better solutions than that.