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Mark all bylaw vehicles: councillor
Niels Konge says unmarked vehicles perpetuates idea that bylaw enforcement is a 'speeding department'

Candace Thomson
Northern News Services
Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Councillor Niels Konge doesn't want to see unmarked bylaw vehicles patrolling the streets of Yellowknife.

nnsl photo

An unmarked Ford Explorer SUV used by Municipal Enforcement Division officers sits next to a marked Crown Victoria. Councillor Niels Konge said he doesn't understand why MED needs two of their four vehicles unmarked, and said it perpetuates the idea of bylaw officers being traffic cops and nothing else. - Candace Thomson/NNSL photo

"I think there's a big perception in Yellowknife that bylaw is only for traffic violations," said Konge.

"And when they're driving around in unmarked vehicles that just plays into it."

During Monday night's council meeting at the library, Konge asked Dennis Marchiori, director of public safety, how many vehicles are used by the Municipal Enforcement Division and how many are unmarked.

"MED has four vehicles and two snowmobiles," said Marchiori. "We run two fully-marked and two unmarked vehicles and the snowmobiles are fully marked."

Marchiori said MED runs 50 per cent of its vehicles unmarked to perform school zone monitoring and monitoring of traffic areas where drivers are prone to speeding.

"It would seem to me that if we're more concerned with public safety than having vehicles that are fully marked would not only lower the (number of) people who got caught speeding but traffic in general," said Konge.

"I think that having half of our fleet as unmarked vehicles plays well to the public's perception that it's not an MED force that we have, it's actually ... a speeding department."

Konge asked if there was a policy around marked and unmarked vehicles Marchiori said there wasn't.

"I think all vehicles should be marked, quite frankly. It provides people who are in need of assistance, it shows them there's a vehicle that is there that can assist them for the public safety side of things. A marked vehicle provides more public comfort," said Konge.

Marking the other two vehicles isn't complicated, according to senior administrator Dennis Kefalas, but he asked council to wait until the departmental review of MED comes in next year to look deeper into whether or not the current practices are working.

"I think it's a little bit comical that they're going to drive around in unmarked vehicles but when they have a speed trap the guy stands on the side of the road behind a tree in a bright orange vest and is hard to miss," said Konge.

"There's gotta be some common sense there."

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