The resident, the black Honda and the Regional Police budget.

News 100 redBy Rob Narejko

December 31st, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The temperature was minus 2, crisp, not cold. The sun was shining brightly in a clear blue sky. I decided to walk 1km to the local gym’ an enjoyable way to start my day. It would keep me off the detested treadmill. I slung my gym bag over my shoulder and started my walk.

As I headed east on Millcroft Park Drive, I started to cross Country Club Drive at 8:18 AM. There were no cars at the four way stop, but a black SUV was approaching the intersection, heading west on Millcroft Park Drive.

The SUV stopped at the intersection as I was two  or three  steps across Country Club. The SUV turned south on Country Club, heading right towards me.

frosted car window

Failing to clean the snow or frost from the window is a Highway Traffic Offense.

I looked towards the driver, but couldn’t see who was driving, or even if there was anyone in the vehicle, driver or passenger. The inside of the vehicle was totally dark. Not only were the windows blacked out, they were frosted over. The side windows were 100% covered in frost. Only the bottom one-quarter, maybe one-third, if I’m being generous, of the front window was clear of frost. The clear section was most likely from the car heater. The driver hadn’t bothered to scrape the frost from any of his or her windows!

I literally had to spin out of the way of the vehicle, like a bullfighter avoiding the horns of the bull. In this case, a 4,220 pound Honda Pilot SUV black bull with license plate starting with CCCW. I didn’t note the 3 numbers of the plate.

Honda Pilot SUV

A 4000 pound lethal weapon.

I was upset, to say the least, yelling at the driver to watch where they were driving while I angrily waved my arms. The SUV went slowly down the road. I thought the driver would stop and apologize for almost hitting me, but he just kept rolling away. I’m sure the driver was totally unaware that I was even in the intersection. If I couldn’t see the driver, could the driver see me?

Being severely annoyed, I called Halton Regional Police Services (HRPS) and relayed my experience to the operator. She told me I could go online to report the incident.

When I told the person I only had the first 4 characters of the license plate, she said the Police could do nothing. I needed to have the entire license plate in order to send an officer by to speak with the driver. In my state of anxiety, I was only able to capture a portion of the vital information. In other words, the HRPS was  telling me complete information is required for the police to act. No effort is to be expanded by the police to track down what many would consider to be assault with a lethal 4,000 pound weapon.

That was a major disappointment. I wanted someone to speak to this driver. If I had not reacted quickly, I could have been injured or worse. Millcroft is a neighbourhood of people of all ages. Moms with strollers, young school age kids, and also a lot of older people walk the neighbourhood. Not all are attuned to their environment, or have the mental or physical ability to react quickly to a car being driven at them. Who would think, on a clear, bright, sunny morning, that a vehicle would be driven at a person crossing the road with the right of way. It definitely felt like an assault.

Narejko Rob-with-bikesAfter my workout, I walked home, able to enjoy the sun and relative warmth without incident, thankfully. But as I was walking, I kept thinking about all the items in the prior paragraph. And I was asking myself questions about the HRPS.

I know they are well funded. With a 3.5% increase over 2018, the 2019 HRPS budget will be $155.4 million.

HRPS crest

The police services budget has exceeded inflation for most of the past decade.

A quick scan of the budget shows heavy investment in information and communications technologies. Some of the items are:
● Upgrade/replace front-line technology tools
● Research/implement efficient digital storage
● Deploy a separate LTE wireless network for first responders ($1.2M)
● Network Server replacements ($153k)
● Technology replacements ($362k, including $150k for a call manager upgrade for the 911 call centre)
● the acquisition/construction of a new tactical response vehicle ($450k)

Two mobile commands

TRV are also known as Mobile Command vehicles.

I don’t know exactly what a tactical response vehicle (TRV) is, but it’s not an inexpensive item. I am sure we, the citizens who pay the taxes that pay for the TRV, are getting good value from the HRPS for our $450k.

I also know the HRPS has Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs), high speed computer controlled camera systems that capture all license plates that come into view. They capture the location, date and time of the vehicle as it passes the camera. All the data, including photos of the vehicle, it’s driver and passengers, are uploaded to a central server. This information, over time, can paint a picture of where you drive, where you go to church, where you shop, who your doctor is and many more facets of your life. The system captures the data, regardless of whether you are a law abiding citizen or a . If your car has a license plate, and all cars have license plates, you and your activities can and are stored in the database.

Halton taxpayers are a generous group and there is no lack of funding for police services in Halton. HRPS has increased its budget every year for the past 6 years, and probably longer. 2019 – 3.5% / 2018 – 3.5% / 2017 – 3.7% / 2016 – 1.9% / 2015 – couldn’t find / 2014 – 3.6%). In 2016, HRPS was budgeted $139.7M. From 2016 to 2019, that is an increase of $15.7M in 4 years. Or an increase of greater than 11% in 4 years. No shortage of funding.

Maybe, however, there could be an allocation somewhere in that $155.4M budget for something that would be a great enhancement to the services that the HRPS offers. Maybe HRPS could find it in their budget to pay for software that would more directly help the citizens by making their everyday interactions with HRPS more satisfactory. A TRV may be used on occasion, but I am sure there are many more scenarios, similar to mine, occurring everyday, that could be addressed to make the roads safer.

That information alone would narrow down the search area to a homeowner in Millcroft. Having an IT background, the ability to do a search on a partial set of information sounds extremely simple, almost painfully simple. The data already resides in the MTO (Ministry of Transportation) database. I know the police access the MTO data. Sounds straightforward, but there must be complexities that go beyond my understanding.

ALPR

ALPR is a very efficient data collection service.

The ALPR technology, on the other hand, is quite sophisticated. But it must be easier than having the ability to do a partial search on a license plate, with 4 of the seven characters, the make, model and colour of the vehicle as well as the general vicinity of where the vehicle’s owner lives.

Let’s assume you have access to the data. The vehicle has a built-in GPS. The driver (most certainly) has a smart-phone, also equipped with a GPS. Pull the information from both devices and you have the location, date and time of the driver and vehicle being at that intersection.

I get this information from my own phone. Google knows where I have been. How long it took me to get from start to destination. How long I spent at the gym. Where I stopped and for how long. Easily accessible information.

You may say this is a waste of time and a waste of limited resources. No one was hurt. Move on. I agree, to a point.

If people are allowed to get away with sloppy driving habits, they will eventually take more risks and not improve their behaviour. Sloppy driving habits could lead to life altering consequences for a future victim, the perpetrator and their respective families. I can’t imagine the pain of knowing that a person would have the ability to walk, run, bike or otherwise enjoy a life of full mobility, if only I had taken two minutes from my day to scrape the ice from my windows.

If you drive your vehicle without the ability to see down the road, this isn’t an accident. This is willful neglect.

To the driver of the black Honda Pilot, license CCCW who lives east of Country Club Drive in Millcroft, I’m keeping my eyes open for you and so should everyone else.

And clear your windshield!

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3 comments to The resident, the black Honda and the Regional Police budget.

  • Stephen White

    Re: “When I told the person I only had the first 4 characters of the license plate, she said the Police could do nothing…”

    Let’s recap. The incident happened early in the morning. The fact the Honda had ice on its windshields that obscured visibility suggests the vehicle was probably started and driven not far from the near mishap with Mr. Narejko. License plate numbers are usually handed out sequentially, and a CCCW sequence would suggest the car and license registration were both fairly recent purchases. If the vehicle looked like the one in the picture it was probably new, and likely purchased from a local area dealership, possibly Halton Honda or Oakville Honda.

    Putting the pieces together isn’t brain surgery. It needs a bit of good old-fashioned detective work, but not beyond the realm of possibility to identify the owner of the vehicle. Having better identifying technology in place is nice, but not mandatory. Having a commitment by the police to take issues like this seriously and do some investigative work to hopefully prevent a similar occurrence is what is needed.

    What was that line Shauna Stolte used during her election campaign? Oh yeah….”Demand Better”.

  • Hans

    Pepper, I’m glad that you were not injured. It’s very disappointing; one would think that knowing the make and model plus some of the licence plate data would enable the police to find the driver. If there had been a murder involving that SUV they would surely have made a greater effort – and there almost was a fatality. The police response was not nearly good enough.

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