Tonight, 7News is in possession of an unusual memo from the Commissioner of Police, Allen Whylie. Dated 10th. December, it tells all commanders of all operational units how to conduct vehicular checkpoints.
Now, it would seem that this is pretty much common knowledge in the police department - but the commissioner wants business as usual to change.
His memorandum says the police department has received numerous complaints about police checkpoints blocking traffic. He refers specifically to checkpoints on the George Price Highway, quote, "where buses are pulled to the side of the road and all passengers are ordered to disembark with their personal belongings in order that the officers can conduct searches on them.."
The memorandum, says, quote, ""All personnel are hereby directed that effective immediately, this practice of having passengers disembarking the bus must stop. " End quote.
The COMPOL instead wants the officers to quote, "enter the bus, acquaint themselves (with) the occupants…and…ensure all is normal." It adds that if there is credible information about wanted persons or illegal drugs and items, the police should enter the bus to apprehend or confiscate such items.
He also directs police when checking for license and insurance, to pull vehicles over to the shoulder of the road rather than stopping the flow of traffic.
It all seems practical enough, to, as he put it, quote, "balance the right of the commuting public." But those with knowledge of the situation suggest that the commissioner may be bowing to political pressure. That's principally because thorough bus searches are very unpopular with commuters - who may be rushing to work or tired after a long day. And commuters, lest we forget, are also voters.
But, police say those thorough searches are an essential part of the work they do - and they are known to produce prize seizures such as this 22 rifle with forty four live hollow point rounds along with some marijuana. That was found on a BBOC bus at a mile eight checkpoint last week.
Police say that under the new rules such seizures would be impossible.