B.C. Mountie pretends he’s homeless to catch drivers on cellphones

VERNON, B.C. — A British Columbia Mountie who posed as a homeless man — sort of — says the tactic was an effective way to catch drivers using cellphones or not wearing their seatbelts.

Cpl. Mark Taylor dressed in plain clothes and stood on a Vernon, B.C., street holding a cardboard sign that read “I am not homeless.”

Taylor said some passing drivers still assumed he was begging for change and avoided looking at him.

He said that when he saw drivers using their cellphones or not wearing seatbelts, he radioed officers further down the road, and they ticketed 11 drivers in one hour on Monday.

RCMP spokesman Gord Molendyk said similar enforcement campaigns have involved officers impersonating construction workers or commuters waiting for a bus.

He said the method works because drivers are much less likely to realize they’re being observed by police if the officer is not wearing a uniform.

“There’s no law saying we can’t do this,” Molendyk said.

“The whole idea is education, and that we’re serious about enforcing road safety.”

Occasionally, Taylor revealed the bottom half of his sign, which read, “RCMPolice looking for seatbelt/cell phones.”

Some law-abiding drivers appeared to appreciate the sly policing approach and gave Taylor a thumbs up.

Police plan to use a similar enforcement approach at other intersections in Vernon in the near future. (Kelowna Daily Courier)

Ron Seymour, Kelowna Daily Courier, The Canadian Press