Officer was wrong to ticket driver who asked why he wasn’t wearing mask: Winnipeg police chief

Officer was wrong to ticket driver who asked why he wasn't wearing mask: Winnipeg police chief

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In the video, the officer says he’s not within six feet of the couple and is standing outside. The officer then says, “You know what? If you want to do it that way, I will just write a ticket.”

A 28-minute version of the video shows the officer return to the vehicle wearing a mask. He hands the driver a $298-ticket.

“Since it bothers you, now I’ve put one on. But he’s getting a ticket,” the officer says.

The police chief said the reason the driver was originally stopped is a serious one. The officer was shaken by the vehicle driving so close to his cruiser before the encounter on camera, Smyth said.

“I don’t think this was an old-school attitude,” Smyth added. “I think this was an officer who lost his composure.”

The officer’s subsequent behaviour with the couple was inappropriate, Smyth said. He has directed the force’s professional standards unit to review what happened.

Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth wears a mask while walking through the city’s downtown area on Thursday, December 10, 2020. Photo by Chris Procaylo/Postmedia

In a news release Wednesday, police said the traffic stop had also been flagged for Manitoba Prosecutions and attempts were being made to speak with the driver who got the ticket.

The woman said neither she nor her boyfriend have yet been contacted by police or any other agency about the traffic stop.

She said she recorded the video because she was concerned by the officer’s confrontational attitude. A family member later posted it online.

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The woman said she understands tensions are high during the pandemic. But she also sees the strain of COVID-19 on the health-care system during her 12-hour hospital shifts and knows how important wearing a mask is.

She doesn’t want the officer to lose his job, she said, but she hopes he gets training about dealing with the public and mask usage.

“I want him to realize what happened is not right. Abuse of power is not good when dealing with citizens.”

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