28 Jan 2010

When 2 wrongs make 1/2 a right

A MAGISTRATE became so incensed by a motorist he witnessed breaching a red traffic light, he followed the car in an attempt to scold the driver. To his dismay, it was a police vehicle and Senior Magistrate Rajendra Rambachan was out manoeuvred by the police officer driver.

The incident occurred last week at Bamboo Intersection, Gulf View Road, near La Romaine, and yesterday Rambachan said it was a clear breach of the law.

The magistrate without knowing at the time it was a police vehicle, said that he pursued the vehicle in his Black Audi motor vehicle. The motorist committed a further breach of the law, he said, when it overtook a line of traffic. With Rambachan still in hot pursuit and pulling up close to the driver, the police officers at the wheels switched on the blue flashing lights, and disappeared in a flash.

Rambachan said yesterday in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court that he abandoned the pursuit, and had to contend with filing an official complaint with the police on what he described yesterday as “a blatant and callous breach of a red traffic light.”

Yesterday, Rambachan, presiding in the Traffic Court, San Fernando, said he was hard- pressed to impose the heavy hand of the law on traffic offenders when police officers are seen breaking it with impunity. “It is unfair to the public, when those charged with the law doing the very thing which I as a magistrate condemn,” Rambachan said.

Krishendath Nancoo had appeared before Rambachan to answer a charge of breaching a red traffic light at Union Road, Marabella, on November 14, 2009.

After pleading guilty, Rambachan told Nancoo that he usually would have suspended such an offender from driving for two weeks for such an offence. However, he questioned the fairness in dishing out such treatment to Nancoo given his (Rambachan’s) encounter last week.

“I saw the vehicle run the red traffic lights. There were no flashing lights at the time. One could not detect whether it was a police vehicle until I saw the flashing lights. I followed the vehicle and tried to get the attention of the driver,” Rambachan said, in a court with police officers and the police prosecutor, Sgt Russell Ramoutar.

Rambachan added that he had pursued the vehicle, intending to confront the driver on the illegality of his act. “ I followed the vehicle and tried to stop him, still not knowing it was a police vehicle. And there it was — an official police vehicle breaking the law in front of all other drivers,” Rambachan said.

Telling Nancoo that he felt constraint to impose the brunt of the law, and inquiring from prosecutor Ramoutar for an update on his investigation into the incident, Rambachan said: “I cannot take your permit which normally I would do for a serious offence like this of breaching a red light. Such a breach gets people killed. But there must be equality before the law — and here police officers, who are charged with enforcing the law, are breaching it so openly.”

Ramoutar told the magistrate that he has compiled a report on the matter which he has sent to the Chief Clerk in the Police Service. Rambachan said that he also has filed a report and yesterday, insisted that action be taken against the police officer of that particular vehicle. “If I didn’t see it, I would have doubted it, until they put the flashing lights on. There is no excuse, unless it’s an emergency, for any law enforcement officer to break the law. They should be transferred,” Rambachan reiterated.

He fined Nancoo $300.

The Newsday has that above article published today.

So I wonder, why did the magistrate himself break the law? Could he not have noted the number and then pursue enquiries that way?

I note with horror the recommendation of the magistrate that ‘any law enforcement officers who break the law should be transferred’.

What happened to charged, fined, or imprisoned? What happened to suspension (with or without pay) to get these menaces off the roads and out of contact with the public?

It seems to me that the idea of cleaning shit is really to spread it around.