Police intrusiveness can discourage co operation

Police intrusiveness can discourage co-operation Last week while on a canoe trip, we spotted a minivan crashed in the Yukon River, at the bottom of a 30-metre cliff. From the open driver's side door it looked like it had been pushed over the edge, and, j

Last week while on a canoe trip, we spotted a minivan crashed in the Yukon River, at the bottom of a 30-metre cliff. From the open driver’s side door it looked like it had been pushed over the edge, and, judging from the multi-level water stains on the side and no body inside, had been there for a week or two at least.

Still, being good citizens, when we got to somewhere we could make a call we phoned the police just in case nobody had reported it yet. They received the report easily enough but then demanded name, phone number, street address, a few other things I don’t recall, and birthdate.

Needing to know name and number makes sense, address is a bit more intrusive, but OK, who knows, maybe I’m a disgruntled lover trying to get someone in trouble. But birthdate? Take a hike! That’s irrelevant to the issue at hand and none of their business.

This morning, while walking the dog along a bush trail, I found a bike that looked stolen or abandoned. Late this evening it was still there. Now I know from past experience that a bike left on it’s own in the trees will very likely soon end up a kilometre or two down the trail smashed and bent, and with some of the better bits missing.

An unknown faceless someone would likely be very grateful to have it moved somewhere for safekeeping and reported to the authorities, meaning the police, and eventually returned safely home to them. And I’d feel pretty good for having played the good Samaritan. Trouble is I don’t want the police treating me like a suspect when all I’m trying to do is hand someone else a good turn.

I’ll call them, eventually, an unknown faceless someone deserves it, but I have to overcome resistance to do so. Maybe next time I see something by the trail or in the water I’ll just keep going.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I have the past experience in the first place of seeing unattended things transformed into junk and garbage. Others before me had decided it’s just not worth the hassle: “nothing to see here, move along.”

That’s sad.

Matt Wilkie


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