MANITOULIN—The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)-led Operation Lookout is celebrating over a decade of service this year and, with it, an exponential increase in use by concerned citizens of the Island community.
The Expositor was alerted to the story of a Wikwemikong woman, Linda Dokum, who received a registered letter in the mail from the Ontario Provincial Police, stating that she had been speeding beyond the 70 km/hr posted speed limit in Sheguiandah at a specific time and place on a date in July 2013. The letter warned Ms. Dokum that she could have faced certain repercussions under the Highway Traffic Act and warned her to slow down in future. When contacted, Ms. Dokum said she vaguely remembered travelling Highway 6 that July morning and was surprised to see that letter in the mail.
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When contacted, Constable Al Boyd, community services officer with the OPP, explained that Ms. Dokum’s letter was part of the successful Operation Lookout, “a program we’ve been running for years and years.”
He explained that Operation Lookout is a campaign launched in 2001 which asked Island drivers to be on the lookout for drunk and dangerous drivers and to either call 9-1-1 or dial *OPP on their mobile devices to alert the OPP communications centre as to the make, model, colour of the vehicle and a description of the driver, and the time and place of the offence.
“This could include passing on curbs, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic or cutting other drivers off,” Constable Boyd said.
“Often, an officer intercepts the driver, but there are instances where the officer can’t get there,” he said. “In these cases, if we have the licence plate number and a good description of the car, we will follow up with a registered letter from the OPP with information from the call-in, stating what was reported at what time and where.”
“The letter basically states that the public is watching your behaviour on the road,” he added.
In 2001, the OPP received 74 reports from the public, which led to 102 apprehensions and 36 people charged. By 2011, there were 287 calls to Operation Lookout resulting in 233 apprehensions and 32 charges laid. From 2001 to 2011 OPP received 1,555 reports leading to 1,415 apprehensions and 309 charges.
[pullquote]“The program works extremely well,” he added. “There’s that old cliché ‘you never see an officer when you need one.’ We encourage the public to call in using 9-1-1 or *OPP.”[/pullquote]
The constable said that Operation Lookout hot spots seem to be the Highway 6 corridor from Espanola to Little Current and Highway 540 leading into Little Current, among others. “The nice thing about these spots is that there is nowhere to go so the apprehension rate is very high.”
Constable Boyd said there is nothing an officer enjoys more than pulling a driver over with a hot tip from a concerned citizen.
Constable Boyd also thanked Manitoulin Transport for its role in Operation Lookout, donating the billboards that can be found along Highway 6 at the swing bridge and Tehkummah turn-off, the corner of Highways 540 and 542 and Highway 551 in M’Chigeeng.
When asked if the OPP letter did the trick, Ms. Dokum shared that it did indeed. She has watched her speed ever since.