Halton police cruisers looked like taxis

Undercover police cruiser taxi

Was that a taxi or a police car?

That’s what motorists in parts of Halton Region have been asking for the past year.

Halton police say that they’ve been putting taxi-style lights atop some unmarked cars to nab speeders and aggressive drivers in Milton and Halton Hills.

But Insp. Bill Ford said the program, although successful, was scuttled three weeks ago because some folks thought it gave police an unfair advantage.

“The complaint was that we were using a cab light, but my response is that we were using a police light that looks like a cab light,” Ford said. “It didn’t say Halton Taxi on it. It said POLICE 878-5511.” — Inspector Bill Ford

“Our goal here in Halton Region is to reduce the number of deaths caused by aggressive driving and motor vehicle accidents,” Ford said. “It was very effective.

“But we’re not about catching people committing traffic offences at any cost.”

Ford said there was only one complaint from the public about the project, which was suggested by traffic officers who thought the lights would help police vehicles blend in more than unmarked cars alone.

“The complaint was that we were using a cab light, but my response is that we were using a police light that looks like a cab light,” Ford said. “It didn’t say Halton Taxi on it. It said POLICE 878-5511.”

Part of the strategy was that motorists might start slowing down any time they saw a taxi, thinking it might just be a police car, Ford said.

Ford said Halton Region police Chief Gary Crowell initially supported the project, but learned some members of the public didn’t.

“The feeling the chief had from the community was that it wasn’t perceived as being fair,” Ford said.

“It was perceived as being a dirty trick, I suppose.”

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18 Comments

  1. Rose Mary Landry says:

    I think it is a great idea. The streets in Milton, Georgetown, etc will be safer for us to drive on. There are so many speeders and careless drivers that could get caught by a police taxi, I like it.

    I hope you will get some positive feedback on this.

    Regards
    Rose Mary Landry

    Reply
  2. Although ‘sneaky’, it’s an out-of-the-box idea that may indeed make our streets safer, and I guess that is a good thing.

    Mind you, if I ever was to be nabbed by one of these ‘taxi-cops’ or ‘police-cabs’, then I’d scream bloody murder : )

    I’m generally in favour of an increased police presence in some of the ‘trouble spots’ throughout Milton — residential or school zones where there is a high instance of drivers going well above the limit or driving dangerously in general.

    Yes, speed bumps, humps, rumblestrips or whatever will slow people down also, but they’re a pain in the you-know-what for everyone.

    I currently religiously drive the speed limit in areas that I have previously been caught for speeding (a few places around town…), so IMO, tickets and police work the best to bring down speed. Hang out in the spots where there are a lot of speeders and catch them every day, every week for an extended period and you’ll see the speeds come down and stay down (for awhile at least).

    If you add speed bumps or whatever to certain streets, you just risk slowing down the wider, feeder roads through the new subdivisions which I’m not thrilled about, or, the speeders will avoid those streets and speed down other ones….

    Just my $.02.

    Good to hear from you, Rose Mary.

    Reply
  3. Philip Coppack says:

    For those who might criticise this, ask any police officer, paramedic or firefighter who has had to attend a motor vehicle ‘accident’ whether it’s a poor idea. The first time you witness a child in such a crash will convince you (I hope) that such measures as this – if they work to reduce accidents from so called ‘aggresive’ drivers – cannot be anything but a step in the right direction.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the comment, Philip and you make a great point.

    My father worked for the MTO for 35+ years and always said that the cause of almost every traffic accident is: SPEED. It is always involved somehow.

    Bringing down speeds on our roads is always a good thing. Unfortunately when I say this to people, most just give me the ‘talk to the hand’ approach, refusing to believe this (because, hey, everyone likes to speed a little).

    But the stats don’t lie. The underlying cause of almost every traffic accident is speed.

    My father also wouldn’t let me start riding a dirt bike when I was young (knowing it would lead to wanting a motorcycle eventually) because of seeing photo after photo of motorcycle accidents throughout Ontario — but that’s another story.

    Reply
  5. truth says:

    The only problem with people who think speeding is the cause of most accidents is that they’re wrong. Speeding is the an easy way to harass motorists and make extra profit. However when looked at the *FACTS* speeding is one of the least likely causes for accidents.

    Here are the facts, according to a National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and published in July 2008. Only 5 percent of all highway crashes were a direct result of excessive speed. This statistic can be found in the chart on page 23 of the NHTSA report. It lists “Traveling Too Fast” at 5 percent.

    As shown by the NHTSA report, this issue is actually not about safety at all but about raising revenue for the state. The problem is that they are getting this money from many people who have lost jobs and are least able to afford the exorbitant fines and increased insurance premiums.

    That’s for NHTSA in the USA.. lets see what other countries think.

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/13/1362.asp

    But who would care about results done by government bodies who’s actual JOB is to determine why accidents happen?

    Reply
  6. I agree that speeders are an easy target for police and are ‘cash cow’ to a certain extent — this is especially evident when you travel in the U.S.

    We did so recently on a trip to Florida from Ontario this past October and I was amazed — several times we witnessed cops flying out onto the interstates like a bat out of hell from hiding spots on overpasses, onramps and behind forsted areas in the medians (almost causing a multiple car pileup one time) to nab speeders who are basically driving with the flow of traffic, if a few MPH above the speed limit. Since you are from the U.S., I can appreciate your point of view on speeding — it’s not quite that bad here.

    Your key statement is ‘direct result’. What I am saying is that yes, it may actually be a low percentage of accidents that are ‘directly’ a result of excessive speed, however, I believe speed to be a factor in the majority of all accidents ‘indirectly.’

    You could have an accident where it is deemed to be the fault of a driver making a bad lane change — however, part of the reason for the accident could also have been that the driver (or the other driver who collided with him) was travelling too fast and there may or may not be proof of speed.

    A driver could rear-end another driver. The cause: following too closely I suppose — however, more than likely the driver was driving too fast to be able to slow down in time to avoid the collision.

    I stick by what I said earlier and my father’s observations — speed is definitely a factor without a doubt in MOST traffic accidents if not the direct cause. When you speed, you become an offensive driver and are less likely to be able to avoid other drivers when they inevitably make an evasive (or boneheaded) move.

    Reply
  7. Marc Jones says:

    So when they start using plain mini vans and SUVs to catch people, will that mean the owners of plain mini vans and SUVs who follow a little too close to other cars will be charge for impersonating the police or intimidating the public? They tried that shit with me 5 years ago cause I owned a dark blue Grand Marquis with a CB radio antenna on the trunk lid.

    Reply
  8. John says:

    you make me sick, this is cheating. Police shoud take care more of unsafe trucks with scrap metal. Old people that shoudn’t drive anymore. But all you do is talking about little speeding.

    Reply
  9. I’m not opposed to anything that may reduce speeding through RESIDENTIAL areas. I don’t think speeding on our highways is really that big of a problem — when was the last time you were out of gridlock traffic in the GTA long enough to really speed?

    As for tractor trailers and ‘old people that shouldn’t drive anymore’ – um, yes, those are good areas to focus on as well. I don’t think the number 1 focus should be on catching speeders, although in Milton, speeding through residential areas has become a problem lately.

    Reply
  10. Bull-oney! says:

    I agree with the poster above: speed is a factor in ALL car accidents.
    This makes it a great marketing tool for insurance companies that want to charge more and police departments that want to raise money.
    You see, there cannot be an accident between two vehicles that are un-moving. At least one has to be moving. Anything moving must have speed. Speed is a factor in all accidents. What a blight on society! It’s just a coincidence that so much money can be made from it.
    The real ‘speed’ dangers are the people driving too fast for road conditions. The safe driving speed is often slower but usually faster than the ‘speed limit.’ Too bad there’s no law against driving that’s ‘unsafe for road conditions’…oh wait, there is. WTF!?

    Reply
  11. It sounds like you’ve received one to many speeding tickets….

    The speeders are not usually the bad drivers out there, but because they are driving fast, are usually unable to avoid collisions probably the fault of careless/bad/unobservant/nervous drivers on the roads. These drivers do things like change lanes without looking, slam on their brakes on the highway, drive unpredictably etc. etc. but speed is usually involved because they can’t react quick enough to avoid said boneheaded moves.

    Anyways, back to the taxi-cops — again, not sure if I really like the idea but if it gets drivers to slow down in residential areas, then I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Yes, it’s kind of a dirty trick, but if people drive reasonably in residential neighbourhoods this won’t be a cash cow.

    There is no need to disguise police cars on main arteries and expressways however IMO.

    Reply
  12. John says:

    Hahahaha, people are literally complaining that it’s too easy for the police to catch them breaking the law.

    Reply
  13. TWS says:

    I think this is a great idea… to those who think this is cheating, think again… this isn’t a game where there’s a winner or loser. It’s the law. If I get busted speeding then guess what… it’s my fault, I have no one to blame but myself (and I have been caught a few times).

    I find a few of the posts interesting… one post indicates the following:
    “Only 5 percent of all highway crashes were a direct result of excessive speed. This statistic can be found in the chart on page 23 of the NHTSA report. It lists “Traveling Too Fast” at 5 percent.”

    “We did so recently on a trip to Florida from Ontario this past October and I was amazed — several times we witnessed cops flying out onto the interstates like a bat out of hell from hiding spots on overpasses, onramps and behind forsted areas in the medians (almost causing a multiple car pileup one time) to nab speeders who are basically driving with the flow of traffic, if a few MPH above the speed limit. Since you are from the U.S., I can appreciate your point of view on speeding — it’s not quite that bad here”

    I’ve driven in the US and I admit, the police presence on the highway is much worse AND it’s been my experience that drivers do not speed as bad as we do here in Canada (that only my experience though). Perhaps if you were to combine these two posts it would be realized that there’s a certain “Cause and Effect”, the reason there’s only 5% of accidents which are “Directly” related to speeding is because of the increase police presence and their effectiveness of catching speeders…hmmm.

    I have one more thing to say, have you ever driven the speed limit… if everyone drove the speed limit it would practically eliminate accidents due to the increase response time you would have because you’re driving much slower, and the accidents that did occur would experience far less damage/fatalities. Next time you drive, specifically drive the speed limit and think about how much better you would be able to react”

    Just some food for thought

    Reply
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