Recent police operations targeting repeat offenders have been met with outcry from some that we are living in a fascist state.
Police enforcing the laws we ask them to enforce is equal to some of the worst oppression humankind has witnessed?
Those people need to read a history book and get some perspective.
Traffic operations are not new and neither are people getting annoyed about them.
Several years ago I reported on one conducted on a main highway during the school drop-off rush.
People were super annoyed at being breathalysed at 8.30am and having their licences checked. "Go and do real police work and catch real criminals," was the common refrain.
It was amplified when that operation only nabbed a handful of offenders at the expense of the majority who had their day interrupted when they were doing nothing wrong.
I get that is an inconvenience. Police, no doubt, get it too.
However, that traffic operation caught a woman drink-driving and I'm talking the, "How did she get in the car at all let alone start it and drive" level of drink-driving.
Police stopped that person driving in heavy traffic and through school zones so inebriated it would comatose or kill most of us.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Does anyone want such a person driving past their children's school drop-off zone? Don't think so.
Other offences might have been relatively minor like driving while disqualified or having unregistered cars, but think of the insurance headaches if that person crashes into your vehicle and injures you.
You will be calling the police pretty quickly, I'd imagine.
Police have been criticised for targeting particular suburbs because these were low socio-economic areas.
It is reasonable for law abiding citizens in those regions to be offended that they have been lumped in with a small minority.
But police are also entitled to use data and intelligence to inform their decisions on where to conduct operations. There will no doubt be others not in those areas.
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The simple fact is police are enforcing the laws we as a society, through our elected officials, agree are the ones we want.
It is a covenant between community members wanting to live in relative harmony that we obey these laws.
We want to feel safe on the roads. We want to feel safe in our homes. And we want repeat offenders on bail monitored to see they are not committing more offences.
If our side in that contract is a minor inconvenience, then so be it.
There is no greater impact on your driving behaviour than seeing a police presence.
Even if you have been doing nothing wrong, you still check your actions and refocus your attention.
That is a very good thing.
On the rare occasions I've crept above the speed limit and seen a police car, my heart thumps and I immediately pull my head in.
(I hope that's not taken as an admission of guilt. I better check if these columns are covered by self-incrimination laws.)
This week police caught a man driving at 180 km/h on the Bass Highway.
A quick search of my emails of the words "police", "detected", "drink-driving" and "speeding" brings up countless examples of idiots operating lethal weapons:
- A learner motorcyclist doing 180km/h on the Bass Highway
- A drug-driver who had never had a licence caught at 165 km/h when the road was wet and foggy
- A man who blew .216 after he was nabbed doing 127 km/h in an 80 km/h zone
- A woman caught drink-driving twice in three days with readings of .350 and .324.
These examples are the tip of the iceberg of people breaking laws that put us all at risk.
And that's before we get into the other areas of policing like property crime, fraud and violence.
As one senior police officer commented, in all their years of policing they have not seen too many crooks come through the station doors and hand themselves in.
Police should have our full support to tackle these offenders and enforce these laws we have agreed upon and enacted.
Emotional and exaggerated claims of fascism do nothing to keep us safe.
- Mark Baker is Australian Community Media - Tasmania managing editor