The grinch that stole Labour Day

“No more long weekend blitzes, no flavour-of-the-day enforcement, no more humorous stories about those who compromise public safety. Rather, every day, 24-7, OPP officers will be deployed in an all-out effort to put an end to the senseless carnage,” Fantino wrote.

Full story here.

The good news is that I don’t think Julian Fantino’s attempt to silence the irrepressible Sergeant-Cam-Woolley-of-the-OPP (it’s all one word, and has been for a while) will last – he’s far too successful, and he’ll be wearing an OPP uniform long after Fantino has gone on to grandstand somewhere else.

In the meantime, he is possibly the single most recognizable OPP officer, (video here) which now that I think about it is possibly the problem, at least for Fantino.

“It’s got nothing to do with Cam. It’s a corporate approach to an issue we’ve identified as our core responsibility,” Fantino told the Star last night. “What has happened, people have looked to him as the voice of traffic safety issues, and that’s fine. But this is all about how we as an organization are approaching a very serious traffic safety issue, a public safety issue,” Fantino said.

Because God knows we’d never want to use humour to make a serious point. That’s never worked in the past. Hasn’t it?

Honestly, how did Fantino get as far as he has? I don’t see the appeal. How do you make a success of yourself as a thin-skinned big-city police chief?

Wooley hit on a very successful formula: he knew that newspapers had problems finding copy (and broadcasters had problems filling time) on a holiday weekend, and that cops liked to trade stories about the bizarre people they had pulled over. He combined the two into what must be the most successful PR technique ever used by a Canadian police force, using a method at least as old as Erasmus: teaching good behaviour by entertaining the listener with stories of bad behaviour.

It might have been repetitive, since the formula never really varied, but the anecdotes were always fresh. Woolley’s holiday weekend roundups were basically all about what happens to the Goops when they’re unleashed on a 400-series highway in a holiday mood.

The result was much more digestible than if he had gone into Elmer the Safety Elephant mode and said:

Obey posted speeds.

Over half the charges were for speeding, with one man driving a rented convertible clocking in at 200 km/h.”The driver told the officers he has such a terrible driving record, it’s cheaper to rent a car than pay for insurance if he owned his own car,” Woolley said.

Police initially bought a sob story of a 28-year-old Thornhill driver when his black Chevy Cavalier was stopped at 128 km/h.”He said he was late for work and couldn’t afford the ticket with the high cost of gas. The officer reduced the ticket and gave him a break.”

But then later in the day, the same driver was caught doing 145 km/h. “No break this time,” Woolley said.

If you have to pull off the highway, do so safely.

A man who left his van parked on a highway passing lane with his children inside was among those nabbed by the Ontario Provincial Police in their first long-weekend patrol of the summer.The man “went to relieve himself behind a bridge,” said Sgt. Cam Woolley.

Maintain vehicles properly.

Jeffery Jordan can’t figure out why police keep pulling him over. Last time he checked, it wasn’t illegal to drive a 1977 Plymouth Fury, even if it is the colour of butter, leaking brake fluid, and so corroded that near the rear bumper the chassis is visible through a hole in the car’s body.Of course, it could’ve been the pair of plastic palm trees strapped to the roof. The officer who pulled him over said the rope Jordan used to fasten the trees was obscuring his vision and his licence plate.

Still, he didn’t think much was wrong with his car.

“Other than the brake fluid, I keep it in pretty good shape,” Jordan told officers. “Last time I hit the brakes, they worked. I don’t mind you inspecting vehicles. It’s probably a good thing. I just don’t understand why you keep picking me.”

Don’t drive drunk.

A 56-year-old man from Concord won an officers’ straw poll as the worst of the bunch, for “wildly slaloming” in traffic in the rain and fog at 185 km/h. Police received numerous cellphone complaints, but before an officer caught up to him, the Jetta driver crashed sideways into the guardrail, Woolley said. He was charged with dangerous and impaired driving and driving with an open bottle of liquor.

Review the laws of physics as necessary.

A 27-year-old driver clocked at 138 km/h in a BMW convertible offered a classic, saying he was running out of gas and had to get to a gas station “faster.”