On Thursday, in an article titled "When cops can't be bothered to do the jobs they're paid to do, they ask for civilian volunteers?", I wrote about how Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight wanted civilians volunteers to set up and operate speed traps for the Fredericton Police while they do other, unspecified tasks.
Naturally, I didn’t think much of the idea, but I’m just that kind of guy. If I’ve hired someone to do a job, I actually expect that person to do it, not go running off to find volunteers to do it for him.
Lawrence Manzer, who I referenced at the end of that article, sent me the following note:
I just found this major connection to the police and Mayor resulting in our drunk driving campaign being canned this year! It should be added to your article. Wish I let you know yesterday! Great article.
The Daily Gleaner article is certainly interesting, as it points out that the people stopping the whole anti-drunk-driving Operation Red Nose this year is actually the City of Fredericton itself.
The City of Fredericton refuses to pay for the background checks required for volunteers to be part of the program.
What’s interesting about this whole debacle over keeping the streets safe is that the very people who claim to be fighting for safer streets refuse to do the very things required in order to make it happen.
Operation Red Nose, for those not in the know, is a national group that is dedicated to reducing drunk driving accidents at Christmastime. They currently have a roster of 55,000 volunteers that help drive people home each December.
It’s a commendable program, and one that has probably saved numerous lives and careers that would otherwise have been ruined.
As their website says, they’ve “been safely driving you home since 1984!”
The issue is over who should pay for the background checks. Operation Red Nose is a volunteer organization and doesn’t have the resources, but to even go down that road means that I’m not even asking the right question.
The City of Fredericton charges $28.50 per criminal background check. They’ve offered a reduced rate of $10 to Operation Red Nose.
That’s called “revenue” for those not familiar with the idea of payment for services rendered. The City is simply demanding a smaller portion of revenue for this service than they would regularly charge your average shmuck off the street.
The right question to ask is actually this:
Since the City of Fredericton is already paying one or more constables to perform background checks as part of their daily activities, why is the city demanding Operation Red Nose pay even a “reduced rate”?
Placing their revenue stream above the safety of citizens is both ludicrous and abhorrent on all levels.
The unnamed editorial writer at the Daily Gleaner wrote:
It's disconcerting that the two groups have been working on this impasse since last May, without success. That's some mighty inflexibility going on there.
That’s certainly one way to look at it, but not one the Mayor of Fredericton, Brad Woodside, agreed with.
"If it's your goal to get drunk drivers [off the road], you've got to be a little more flexible," he said. "The stalemate is with their office."
Here’s another viewpoint.
Operation Red Nose is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing drunk driving at Christmas. They are, to quote David Latouche, the operations director for Operation Red Nose, “one of their (the police’s) partners”, and should be treated as such.
I find that a pretty powerful position.
Volunteers are lined up for this program, one that actually makes the job of police much easier during the Christmas holidays, and one you would think the City of Fredericton, given it’s recent protestations about how dangerous the roads are because of speeders, would be willing to support.
You would think they’d do whatever it takes to make this deal happen.
But that’s the thing about bureaucrats when they get their mind made up that someone must pay…
They’re right, even when they are dead wrong, and you will never, ever change their minds.
I would suggest the good citizens of Fredericton take a look at the current roster of elected officials at City Hall and make good notes about those folks… because the next municipal election might be a really great time to hold these mental giants accountable for their absurd decisions.