Awhile back I wrote about a woman who called 911 to report that she had been following a cement truck and that a rock had shot up and cracked her windshield. She complained that she had brought this to the attention of the other driver and that he was rude and swore at her. After the member called her it had become clear that she had forgotten to mention that she had pulled up alongside the offending vehicle, in the opposing lane of travel, in order to conduct her version of citizen’s arrest but the traffic stop variation of it. I went on to write that the member told her three important things. First: A driver is not responsible for the actions of a rock which he may have driven over and caused to bounce up and hit someone else’s windshield. Second: The powers of “citizens’ arrest” are rather narrow and only apply to serious criminal offences and in any case do not authorize one to conduct traffic stops. Lastly: 911 is for emergencies; chipped windshields and colourfully articulate truckers are not on the list of applicable emergency situations for which the system was devised.
The reason I have been moved to revisit that incident is that, this week, we had one of those rare cases where gravel coming off the back of a gravel truck was worthy of a call to 911. It started (probably) with that single loud ‘snap’ sound that heralds a new crack or chip is adorning your windshield; only when he looked ahead his eyes beheld a horrifying sight. He saw …
… Let me jump ahead to what the gravel truck operator said had happened, “I was accelerating on the highway, jammin’ gears, when I accidentally jabbed the “dump gravel” button”. In the end, nobody was injured and the property damage was limited (though not inexpensively) to a few windshields of the vehicles which were closest to where the mountain of gravel had astonishingly materialized.
So, to summarize: DO NOT call police if someone’s tire kicks up a rock and chips your windshield. DO call the police department’s routine complaints line if your windshield is cracked because of a rock coming off the surface of the vehicle (either insufficiently cleaned equipment deck or an insecure load of gravel and the like). In such cases, the licence number of the offending vehicle would be most helpful. DO call 911 if the rock which came off the back of a dump truck is suddenly joined by metric tonnes of his fellow quarry comrades.
A member was patrolling the Riverside area late one night when a speeding vehicle crossed his path. He wasn’t sure what it was he saw at first; a green crotch rocket with three helmet-less riders? A green shopping cart … with three helmet-less riders? He had to chase whatever it was down to the bottom of the hill and into the ball diamonds parking lot. That was where two of the riders ran away on foot and the third was unable to dismount before the member arrived. The member latched onto that driver and then had the opportunity to discover that he was, in fact, chasing three drunken idiots who were racing down a steep road on a John Deere riding mower (a personal “first” for that member). A second rider was caught after a short foot chase and the third managed to escape by the dark river (or was eaten by an alligator – whatever).
The result of this may possibly be the foundation for a new Olympic event. It will be a triathlon of sorts. Starts out with a downhill tractor race where the three riders have to wait for the tractor to come to a stop before dismounting and trying to run away from physically fit (and slightly annoyed) race officials. The ones who are caught first are then responsible to push the lawn tractor four blocks back up to the top of the hill in order to “win” (in order to avoid a nasty outcome). It is a physically challenging endeavour, especially the final leg. Apparently John Deere riding mowers are always in gear … no neutral. Hmmm?
That was the reward for these three (well two of the three) bozos this time. The one occupying the driver’s seat of the running mower is very fortunate not to be facing a judge in an impaired driving trial. Especially when you consider the part that comes just before sentencing; when your lawyer tries to downplay the seriousness of the offence (“your Honour, he was simply stealing bread to feed his hungry children”) and show you to be a responsible, contributing member of the community (“your Honour, he is employed full time as a driving instructor and is a role model to his younger siblings”). There is very little that your lawyer could say for you in this case though; “Ahh, your Honour, umm … my client is wearing a very nice shirt today”.
If you have information about any unsolved crime or ongoing criminal enterprise, call the Ponoka RCMP at 783-4472. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or now leave tips anonymously on-line at www.tipsubmit.com . If this is the kind of environment that you would like to work in, we are hiring. Check us out at www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca or call 1-877-RCMP-GRC for information about the application process.