Hobocops: Police posing as homeless to catch distracted drivers at intersections

Mar 26, 2014

Toronto Police Const. Brian Kellar posing as a homeless man targets distracted drivers. (image credit: Twitter/@PCArsenault )

Imagine sitting in your car and being approached by a man in a hooded jacket carrying a piece of cardboard that says “I’ve Got High Hopes — Frank Sinatra.”

What comes to mind?

If you thought “panhandler,” you would be wrong. It turns out the man is a cop, and he probably has high hopes of catching you on your cellphone.

Recently, a Toronto police officer, dressed in a jacket and jeans and carrying the above-mentioned sign, took to walking among vehicles coming off Highway 401 at Markham Rd., in search of distracted drivers.

When a culprit was discovered, out would come the badge from behind the coat, and the sign would be flipped to read: “Hello I’m a police officer. If you are reading this, you are about to get a cellphone ticket.”

Sneaky? Creative? Or just plain wrong?

Even if the average citizen is more accustomed to tales of undercover police officers cracking drug trafficking rings than slapping fines on cellphone users, experts say the move is perfectly legal.

“On the scale of activity designed to catch people breaking the law, it is at the low end of deceit,” said defence lawyer Frank Addario, who recently crafted a draft policy on carding for the Toronto police.


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