A reporter’s update on an old story highlighted a case of serious police over reach that had slipped through the cracks of the news originally. A mother was stopped and ticketed by an officer for pushing a pram along a Mandurah footpath while talking on a mobile phone. The ticket has been withdrawn and an apology issued:
A mother who was talking on her mobile phone while pushing a pram was stopped by a policeman and given a $250 fine under laws to prevent drivers endangering lives. The bizarre incident more than a year ago left a black mark next to the officer's name because senior police withdrew the infringement and apologised 24 hours after it was issued.While it is great that common sense has prevailed, the question arises as to just why a police officer would ticket a woman walking down the footpath with a prem. It is clearly not endangering anybody, not a threat to law and order, nor was the law on mobile phone use when driving in anyway intended to cover prams.
The West Australian understands a senior constable with the Peel traffic office issued the penalty, which also carries three demerit points, after he spotted the woman talking on a mobile phone as she pushed her baby in a pram along a Mandurah footpath in April last year.
Police recognised problems with the infringement and the officer in charge of Peel traffic apologised to the woman. Insp. Bill Munnee said yesterday the infringement was cancelled and the woman had accepted the supervising officer's apology.
"The officer concerned had misinterpreted the law involved regarding the definition of a vehicle," he said.
It is more than merely a matter of misinterpretation of the relevant regulation on the matter. Were she to be crossing the road, there would be at least some possibility of the law applying although even this is a questionable as long as she checked both directions before doing so.
To pull up a pedestrian on the roadside and charge her with an offense intended for those in charge of a vehicle has to mean that the officer was determined to use any pretext to fill his book, even on a technicality. Police are not supposed to be hired to slam the public on anything they can interpret as an offense, rather to keep reasonable order.
There are certain types who are attracted to power and authority and are prepared to exercise it at any pretext. These are the wrong type of people to have in a police force, but tend to be drawn to it. The desire for a uniform and the ability to make pricks of themselves should not be a qualification.