Panhandling Police officers?

They aren't looking for change, they're waiting for you to break the law. Guess what? It's legit...

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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  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. 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?
  2. Jack posted on 03/25/2014 05:26 PM
    Good! I've lost count of how many times I've nearly been run over by someone who's more interested in checking their text messages and turning on the red light than they are in making sure they won't kill anyone.

    Besides, the sooner we get self-driving cars, the sooner distracted driving will become a thing of the past.
    1. Dixie posted on 03/25/2014 05:51 PM
      @Jack This is clearly only going to work on fully stopped drivers at red lights, not people who are moving through a right turn.
    2. Dixie posted on 03/26/2014 01:12 AM
      @Jack And futhermore to your point, I wouldn't wait for self-driving cars. That'll takes decades to come. We just need responsible drivers. That will surely be the end-all-be-all. You idiot.
  3. Ernie posted on 03/25/2014 05:35 PM
    Texting at a light is a bit extreme - if that is the intent of the enforcement of McStupids legislation then he needs to be castrated.
    1. Matt posted on 03/26/2014 09:12 AM
      @Ernie I agree. Castration is definitely the way to respond to something that's a bit extreme.
  4. Meg posted on 03/25/2014 06:08 PM
    OMG! Saw that guy with the sign today ! *thinking back* - thought he (and his sign ) looked too clean, and well-written! LOL

    Brilliant idea! I'm on the highway everyday and can't believe the number of drivers texting/talking - not watching where they're going….
    1. Sara posted on 03/25/2014 08:40 PM
      @Meg Ridiculous enough how some guy was going about 70-80mph on the highway and he kept breaking, there was no traffic this was about 10:30pm passing Port Union. So I went around to pass him and sure enough he had his phone up in his hand not even paying attention to who or what was around him.
  5. Ziggy posted on 03/25/2014 06:46 PM
    "Yes Your Honour.
    I picked up my phone to report this creepy homeless guy harassing commuters stopped at this intersection", otherwise I would not have picked it up.
    I agree, entrapment
    1. MVA Survivor posted on 03/27/2014 12:33 PM
      @Ziggy And for all of you twits cryin "entrapment", perhaps brush up on your Canadian Criminal Code, before making yourselves look even more foolish than you already are!
      For those of you too stupid, or too lazy...

      The Supreme Court of Canada developed the doctrine of entrapment in three major decisions: R. v. Amato, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 418, R. v. Mack, [1988] 2 S.C.R. 903, and R. v. Barnes, [1991] 1 S.C.R. 449. There are two different forms of entrapment in Canadian law.

      The first type of entrapment, "random virtue testing", occurs when the police offer an individual the opportunity to commit a crime without reasonable suspicion that either that individual, or the place where that individual is located, is associated with the criminal activity under investigation. If police do have such a reasonable suspicion, they are still limited to providing only an opportunity to commit the offence.

      The second form of entrapment occurs when the police go beyond merely providing an opportunity to commit an offence, and instead actually induce the commission of the offence. Some factors a court may consider when deciding whether police have induced the offence include the type of crime being investigated, whether an average person would have been induced, the persistence and number of attempts made by the police, the type of inducement used (e.g. fraud, deceit, reward), and the existence of expressed or implied threats.

      The question of entrapment is only considered after there has been a finding of guilt. If, after finding the accused guilty, the court determines that the accused was entrapped, the court will enter a judicial stay of proceedings. In effect, this is similar to an acquittal.

      A police officer standing on a corner enabling him/her to peer into your vehicle to determine if you are breaking the law or not, is nowhere near entrapment!
    2. Garry Ward posted on 03/30/2014 08:46 PM
      @Ziggy This is just another money grab by the law (gestapo) Cops wonder why they are thought of as scum. To want to be a cop, you would most likely been bullied at school so have a severe low esteme and want to hit back even at innocent people. Sick low life pigs.
  6. Ziggy posted on 03/25/2014 06:46 PM
    "Yes Your Honour.
    I picked up my phone to report this creepy homeless guy harassing commuters stopped at this intersection", otherwise I would not have picked it up.
    I agree, entrapment
    1. Reni posted on 03/26/2014 08:36 AM
      @Ziggy @Ziggy...give me a you or anyone else would do that? Riiight.
      You would just ignore the guy so no judge would believe that stupid excuse!
    2. the people posted on 03/26/2014 04:14 PM
      @Ziggy spare change so i can pay this ticket
  7. Ziggy posted on 03/25/2014 06:47 PM
    "Yes Your Honour.
    I picked up my phone to report this creepy homeless guy harassing commuters stopped at this intersection", otherwise I would not have picked it up.
    I agree, entrapment
    1. Rocco Bertolini posted on 03/25/2014 07:32 PM
      @Ziggy Justice - do you have the police log from your call or your itemized bill stating you called to report him.

      Defendant - well no, I, well no, I never called.

      Officer - i clearly observed his screen, it displayed Facebook......

      Defendant-............ Uhm

      Justice- guilty

      But ya come up with something better. I'm sure you can make up a million excuses for risking other people's lives.
  8. JIT posted on 03/25/2014 07:52 PM
    I saw this guy earlier this week (his sign made an impression from the typical request for change). I never saw the other side of his sign, nor did I see a badge. Definitely sounds like entrapment.
    1. JN posted on 03/26/2014 09:44 AM
      @JIT Entrapment only occurs when the police actually induce someone to commit a crime.
    2. illicit posted on 03/27/2014 01:07 AM
      @JIT I was at the Markham and 401 ramp earlier this week with a couple friends. This cop did walk up to my drivers side door. But guess what his PIZZA PIZZA box was held up to his chest, covering the BADGE and message. I said to my friend that was weird how he starred inside. Then I saw him pull over the guy behind me, and I thought it was a smart way to do it, but THEY NEED TO MAKE IT MORE EVIDENT THAT THEY ARE COPS AND NOT JUST SAY THEY ARE DOING THINGS.
  9. Brandon posted on 03/25/2014 09:35 PM
    I really hope these proposed changes happen. $280 isn't going to keep people off their phones any more than the $100. We NEED demerit points off our license before people stop acting like reckless idiots behind the wheel.

    I thoroughly applaud the police for finding a tactic that works. The more people they catch, the better - because at least 1 in 100 is going to learn from that and stop.

    Good on you!
    1. Redrum posted on 03/25/2014 11:22 PM
      @Brandon Dermit points aren't taken off your license. They are added.
      And you are stating 1 in 100 are going to learn from that and stop? Seriously? And this ratio seems to get you happy to applaud? Drunkn drivers will still continue to drink and drive. Careless Drivers who use their phone frequently will still continue to use it, to be on Facebook, Twitter. Instagram, texting etc. The ones who will stop (which I believe is more than your 1 in 100 ratio) are the innocent non-frequent users who answer only important calls. This 1000 dollar fine and dermis points are just a bitch to the responsible drivers who use their phone for emergency and at a safe interval. (Redlights).
  10. Shirley posted on 03/25/2014 09:36 PM
    If it saves one life then it's worth it. Driving on the DVP I cannot believe the number of times I see people weaving in and out of traffic and when I pass them they're texting and holding up traffic?? Who does that? Somebody has to stop them.
    1. Craig posted on 03/27/2014 03:59 PM
      @Shirley So if it saves 1 person it is worth it? Realistically if something saves 1 life it isn't worth it as the time, money, resources and attention spent on this act killed, sickened more people and surely polluted the planet enough to make how many people more sick and susceptible to sickness?

      This literally asks all the people not looking at a cell phone to distract themselves by reading a sign on the side of the road. It might stop 10 people doing it and make x amount of money while doing it but it does just as much harm as good.
  11. MrsMonster posted on 03/25/2014 09:55 PM
    Don't pick up the phone, don't get a fine, don't lose demerit points, one less distraction for drivers. If you're careless enough to be on your phone, you deserve it.
    1. Big Harv posted on 03/26/2014 10:54 AM
      @MrsMonster Its not that simple and you know it. This is a cash grab, if you're parked and look at your phone for a second you're a mile away from texting while driving. There should be a sliding scale.
  12. EH posted on 03/25/2014 10:38 PM
    To all the people writing that this is somehow "entrapment" do you even know what entrapment means? Clearly not. Entrapment as a defense in court claims that you would not have broken the law if you weren't tricked into doing it by law enforcement officials. Simply getting busted while at a stop light by a cop dressed as a bum is not entrapment. It's you being too much of a self absorbed prick to put your phone down for 5 minutes while you're driving. Serves you right!
    1. Reni posted on 03/26/2014 08:40 AM
      @EH took the words right out of my mouth!! Some people are just soooooooooooooo stupid!
    2. Maverick posted on 03/26/2014 02:05 PM
      @EH @eh, you can talk about the "stupidity" of people all you want, but the reality is that the person could have been picking up their phone to report that homeless man panhandling for money. In this context, that would clearly and legally be considered a case of entrapment.

      The fact is that our police should be working for the people of Toronto, not dressing up as the homeless trying to catch someone doing something wrong. That's not helping, that's simply issuing tickets in a disgusting and unprofessional manner.
  13. Mike posted on 03/25/2014 11:09 PM
    So, if I see a cop holding a coffee while driving is that against the law too? Cops have been entrapping motorist for the longest time, hiding behind bushes with radar guns and now dressing up with a reversible sign that doesn't identify him until the infraction has occurred. What they should be doing is staying in plain sight in uniform so that motorist don't break the law in the first place.
    1. Mike posted on 03/25/2014 11:46 PM
      @Mike Just to add, tickets will be given out regardless if you held the phone for less then 5 seconds or if you are just 5 km over the speed limit. Cops have a ticket quota that they must reach every month. The best thing to do as a motorist is stay within the limits and always be aware of your surroundings, don't give them a reason for a ticket.
    2. Roger posted on 03/26/2014 12:17 AM
      @Mike If the police somehow knew your phone number and texted you to pick up your phone cause it's an emergency and you picked up and they gave you a ticket for it.... That's entrapment. Simply wearing a disquise and catching you doing what you are already doing is not entrapment.
  14. Don posted on 03/25/2014 11:10 PM
    Yeah here's an idea - just like stunt driving seize the phone for a week and see how they react. Trust me - they won't risk it if they lose their phone and not that easy to replace it nor is it that cheap. Fine them the $280 and take their phone away - no leniency and it applies to EVERYONE including cops as they should be leading by example. Besides no one is above the law right?
  15. Ash posted on 03/26/2014 12:01 AM
    Entrapment? No police officer is forcing that cell phone in your hand nor does who you think is a homeless man, make your cell phone jump into your hand. Your cell phone, your choice. NOT entrapment. Police trickery has been around forever. It is legal in all of North America...hence john sweeps and undercover drug deals.
    Integrity can be doing the right thing when no one is watching. Those caught by Cst. Stibbe of course wouldn't be on it or holding it if they knew they were getting caught. Why be mad at police doing their job of traffic safety? If people followed the HTA there would be no tickets. You should be embarassed you were caught and doing it.
    1. Maverick posted on 03/26/2014 02:11 PM
      @Ash @Ash, actually, if a person picked up their phone to report that homeless man, then yes, it is entrapment. The reality is that this police officer can't know the reason for people picking up or using their phones, so they should conduct their jobs PROFESSIONALLY and without AMBIGUITY as to the nature of the offences.
  16. Steve posted on 03/26/2014 12:08 AM
    Ontario Regulation 366/09 of the highway traffic act. Section 9. Police are exempt for cell phones in the execution of their duties. Same with road repair labourers and construction, etc. on roadways.
    1. Jack posted on 03/26/2014 01:18 AM
      @Steve Except Ontario Regulation 375/03 of the highway traffic act states that law enforcement officers are not' exempt from cell phones in the execution of their duties. It's a weird contradiction. Why didn't you read regulation 375 Section 3? You're an idiot Steve.
  17. Soundless posted on 03/26/2014 01:15 AM
    May be this cop should park his ass at Jane and finch where there are shootings everyday and try to stop those.
    Texting/talking while driving and picking your phone up while stopped at a light are two different things IMO. Even I might do the latter. Definitely not while there are bums around moving forward :P
    Was there a study done to show that catching people holding their phones while stopped at the intersection has reduced the number of people who talk/text and drive?
    Or are we spending $50k+ a year of tax payer money so this cop can hang out at a highway exit all day making spare change for the city.
    1. Luke McKenzie posted on 03/26/2014 09:00 AM
      @Soundless Agreed 100%!!!
    2. Missy posted on 03/26/2014 12:00 PM
      @Soundless Excuse me but stopping at a light and using your phone is no different. I've been hit while I was rightfully crossing the street by people who start DRIVING before they even look up from their phone to see if they can go yet.

      If you are in your car and you need to talk to someone, pull over and then talk. There is no excuse for using your phone while driving. NONE.
  18. Dawn posted on 03/26/2014 07:00 AM
    How can anyone who is even half sane condone using a cell phone while driving either talking or even worse texting. The fine should be severe too teach people to smarten up and be responsible.
  19. Boristheblade posted on 03/26/2014 08:41 AM
    Yup and smoking with one hand drinking a coffee with the other hand is just dandy. There are more distractions than simply texting.. and the fines just happen to be raised around the same time that they increased the parking fines in toronto dt in rush hour plus now parking enforcement can ticket for expired plates even though it was considered a moving violation a few months back. Heard of people getting tickets for old cars for sale parked in the driveway of their own house for exp plates...
  20. bonnie posted on 03/26/2014 08:53 AM
    If people get caught texting while driving they should be given an option of handing over their phone or their drivers license on the spot. 1 month without either should cure the urge to text behind the wheel !
  21. sean posted on 03/26/2014 08:53 AM
    I think this whole thing is in insane...
    If we can't have coffee or meal while driving first step is to eliminate all drive thru
    And I believe we have more accidents then before since thew enforced this law since people have to hide their phone and use so they have to look down in which case people use to have phones up in the same view point...
    This law is not stable unless they stop cars with cupholders and extra accessories and stop all drive thru
    And for the cop action badge is not visible from 15 feet and message have to be in proper police sign not just writing on cardboard
    So he fail to identify him properly.
    We need fix root causes before we implement laws.
    Just saying...
    1. Ladybug posted on 03/26/2014 04:04 PM
      @sean The distraction law applies not only for the use of cellphone, it also includes anything that will distract the driver, even the radio in the car can be considered a distraction if you are busy playing with it while driving.
  22. NVS1 posted on 03/26/2014 09:14 AM
    I applaud the efforts of our police force. But tricking people into thinking they are about to a victim of solicitation is not right. many people may feel uncomfortable with
    someone approaching their car especially if they are trapped at a red light with no where to go. Perhaps the same results can be made from dressing up as road repair crew for some less intimidating. The police should also remember there are people that have been victims of violent solicitation and have a duty to protect all people.
  23. Maggie posted on 03/26/2014 09:32 AM
    Cry unfair or entrapment all you like, bottom line, the law is the law, follow the rules in place and you have nothing to worry about. Do the crime, pay the fine, I think $1000. is ok too. No text or phone call is that important, if it is...pull over !! Accept responsibility for your actions and stop blaming the cops for doing their job of protecting you !!!
  24. Angry Bill posted on 03/26/2014 09:38 AM
    Well, good for them. They have found another golden cash cow. Cha-ching.

    Their arguments would hold a lot more weight for me if they themselves weren't immune to prosecution for driving THEIR cars while on cell phones, radios, messing with their in-car laptop computer, drinking coffee, eating donuts, or a multitude of other things. It's dangerous for the public, but not them. We pay through our arses, but not them. They can do this because they're better trained than we are. Ayup.

    All you bright lightbulbs here who are arguing that this is the best thing since sliced bread, give this a think: Don't you think that if they were really interested in safety, they would put OBVIOUS police presences at these red lights? Don't you think THAT would be a deterrent for someone to not use their cell phone at that red light? Instead, they dress up in disguise in order to give people tickets. Now, is that the action of an establishment who is more interested in safety, or one that is more interested in a cash cow?

    I don't go out and break laws (other than artificially low speed limits that are there for the sole, express purpose of generating revenue.. in which case I keep a sharp eye out for the cops), I don't rob banks, stores, or little old ladies. I don't do drugs. I don't do all these things not because they're against the law, but because they're just wrong. I have respect for fellow human beings. I do not have respect for an establishment who hides their revenue generating agenda under the guise of safety. "My gawd, won't you think about the KIDS!". And I see stupid people posting here who swallow all this crap, hook, line and sinker, who are calling OTHER people stupid.

    It's a cash grab now. Once they raise it to a thousand bucks, plus the insurance companies who are getting their thousand bucks extra from you because they will raise your rates, then it will be a real behemoth of a cash cow for everyone. The insurance companies snug in their bed together with the government, chortling all the way to the bank.

    That being said, I don't disagree that texting and driving is bad. It is bad. People do stupid things when they aren't paying attention to the road. But they've always done that even before there was texting. Where was this great outcry before? Cell phones didn't invent distracted driving. That's been around since there have been cars. Cell phones are a great lightning rod for the establishment to milk yet another cash cow. Because it's simple, and that works great for simple-minded people.

    What you all don't realize is, this isn't just targeting you if you text and drive. If you have your phone for ANY reason.. even if you're picking it back up off the floor to put on your seat while stopped at a red light.. guess what? You will be charged and fined for distracted driving. "But", you say, "I wasn't even driving so how can I be distracted?? And I wasn't even looking at the phone or using it! I only had it in my hand for the 2 seconds it took to pick it up off the floor while at a red light!" Well, guess what, buddy? Now you're finally getting it. You had it in your hand for 2 seconds at a red light. According to the law, YOU WERE DISTRACTED DRIVING! Think about the KIDS! My GAWD! So shut your cake hole, and fork over your money. That's what we're really after, here. Cha-ching!
    1. Lucy posted on 03/26/2014 11:37 AM
      @Angry Bill I totally agree. I almost got T-boned recently by some stupid B on her phone, coming through an intersection when I had 'the right of way'...BUT....that was while driving. If Police officers want to keep the communities faith...they need to SHOW respect too....and they often don't.
      I swear to God...they'd sell their great-grannie's underpants to make quota or make more $$$$....and in the meantime? At dangerous parts of the city? CRIMINALS are having a heyday...YAAAYYYY for good Policing! NOT! I've seen those SOB'S turn on their sirens to go THROUGH an intersection...and then, slow down....I guess supper must be ready! lol
      Keep it classy, Oh Mighty Keeper Of Peace....but you serve at OUR tax-dollar....and it would be nice if you remembered that now and then, because it seem's every GD cop now comes ONTO the job with not a chip on their shoulder, but the whole LOG! I guess that may have something to do with the 'testing' done on them, BEFORE they're enrolled to train....where the most aggressive are now chosen?
      Oh, you didn't KNOW that? They don't WANT 'nice cops' anymore...they want ass kissers who will follow orders, no matter WHAT they're told to I'll be carrying a MIRROR....and if they did stop me...they wouldn't find my cell anyway, as I don't use it AT ALL during driving....I keep it for emergencies only....but I WILL 'reflect back TO them WHAT they're becoming!" Cowards...who should be out there, fighting CRIME....
      Now, if someone is DRIVING and using their phone to text, etc...I could care less what they charge them with...they deserve it....but I do NOT support Police misleading people so they can get that almighty $$$$$$$$$$$!!!!
    2. Karl Burgin posted on 03/26/2014 12:45 PM
      @Angry Bill This is entrapment...
      The only thing this will accomplish is fuel the belief that we are turning into a police state.

      If you want to best maximize your time catching people texting and driving, get in your SUVs and roam up and down the Gardiner or Lakeshore for a few hours. Not fart around at a stop light, and peering in.

      And I've heard that this is going beyond texting and driving. Now is if you're eating and driving, drinking (juice/water) and driving, or having something else in one hand while driving. The pendulum has swung far the other way into the realm of the ridiculous.

      Stop the madness.
      We shouldn't have really needed another law to begin with. If you see someone swerving on the road, pull them over and charge them. Regardless of whether they were talking/texting on the phone, reading a paper, putting on makeup, etc.
      If someone is driving excessively slow in the fast lane, pull up beside them to see what's going on.

      Be efficient. Use the existing laws we have to apply to current situations.
  25. Jeff posted on 03/26/2014 09:42 AM
    All this is going to do is keep traffic court mica and busy with people "fighting" this ticket. Last time I was in traffic court, about 90% of the people that were there, we're fighting cell phone tickets. All of them were being reduced quite a bit. How is this such an industry in this province??
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