Dogs, directions, & excuses: Cops get candid about traffic stops

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(Photos: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)


Ontario Provincial Police Const. Ian Michel loves dogs, but he doesn’t want to greet any in your lap during a traffic stop.

From “little pocket poodles to labs,” Michel, who works out of the OPP’s Port Credit detachment, said he sees it daily along on-ramps, highways, and city streets.

Cue the excuses.

“A lot of times people say they just jumped up there … you can’t have anything impeding your ability to operate a vehicle,” said Michel.

The charge under the Highway Traffic Act is drive while crowded, punishable with a $110 fine.

Michel said his own dog once flew forward and came between the front seats while his vehicle was moving.

He bought a doggie seatbelt.

Now he owns a German Shepherd.

“If we were to get involved in a collision, there’s 100 pounds – basically a person – flying around the cab of the car,” said Michel.

Securing a pet is your responsibility, much like paperwork.

“It’s not the Ministry of Transportation’s job to ensure that you get your licence plate renewed or your driver’s licence renewed,” Michel said.

“Ultimately, driving is a privilege, not a right.”

To the right is where Michel wants you to move – whether it’s on the highway or city street – if emergency lights are flashing in your rearview mirror.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting pulled over. Michel was en route to an accident on Hwy. 401 and in the left lane, wanting a minivan to move right.

The driver decided to pull onto the highway’s left shoulder, thinking Michel was stopping him, then got stuck trying to merge back into the fast lane where cars were going 120 km/h.

When Michel stopped a man driving a silver GMC Acadia for aggressive behaviour, they pulled over on the highway’s right shoulder.

A woman parked her vehicle behind Michel’s and came to the driver’s side window, asking him for directions.

“Don’t walk up when there’s a cruiser stopped,” said Michel, adding it’s a safety issue for everyone.

“We could be in the middle of arresting someone.”

He suggested waiting until the interaction with the first driver is over, then getting his attention.

Another man driving a hunter green GMC Savana had his eyes on his cellphone when Michel eyeballed him heading north on Hurontario St. near the Brampton courthouse.

The man saw flashing lights in the rearview mirror and turned left.

Even though Michel was in Peel Regional Police territory, all cops are sworn peace officers, meaning in Ontario, “we can stop people on municipal roads and municipal police can stop people on the highways,” said Michel.

“There’s no difference.”


  • Move to the right by signaling. “Certainly, we don’t want them to do so abruptly,” said Peel police Const. Joel Genoe from the road safety unit. Signaling lets the officer know you’re acknowledging his or her presence. “We want them to pull over to the right, or to the curb, in a safe, orderly fashion … we don’t want them to crash as a result of us being there.”
  • Don’t assume you’re getting a ticket. “In road safety, there’s a strong message that has to be sent. Sometimes that’s through enforcement, sometimes that’s through education,” said Genoe.
  • Stay in the vehicle. “Sometimes the immediate reaction is they want to get out and come back and talk to us to find out why they’re being pulled over,” said Genoe. “There may be a delay in the officer coming up because we’re talking to our communications and relaying certain information.”
  • Lower your window (day) or turn on your overhead light (night). “It makes it a little bit easier for us coming up to see inside of the vehicle and know … there is no threat to us inside that vehicle,” Genoe said.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel. From an officer safety perspective, “we don’t want people sort of reaching for stuff as we’re walking up to the car.”
  • Wait for the officer to approach and explain why you’ve been stopped.
  • Be polite. “From my perspective … I’m going to be as professional as I can be. We kind of expect the same courtesy,” said Genoe.
  • Ask now. “If somebody has a question, by all means, ask the question … that being said, it’s not appropriate to try and arbitrate matters on the side of the road,” said Genoe.
  • Be sweet. “If a person is nice, it probably makes it difficult” to issue a ticket, said Genoe. Having said that, sometimes “nice people make bad decisions and a ticket is the appropriate response.”



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