Jamie Graham says cops should seize bicycles if cyclists are caught four times without a helmet
When Jamie Graham completed his tenure as Vancouver's police chief in 2007, many thought that this ended his influence over local residents.
Over his five-year term, Graham's authoritarian tendencies sometimes became a public issue.
This was particularly true in his responses to Pivot Legal Society allegations of police misconduct in the Downtown Eastside.
He was known back then as a cop's chief—someone who wouldn't fry an officer who became a little overzealous on the job.
He wasn't afraid to take on the Hells Angels or to excoriate critics of the department.
And who can forget the time he dropped a bullet-splattered target from the shooting range on the desk of then–city manager Judy Rogers?
Graham apologized for that, but the incident only reinforced his tough-guy image. It may have even helped him get hired as chief of the Victoria Police Department.
Now, Graham's back again to haunt Vancouverites, this time as chair of the B.C. Association of Police Chiefs traffic-safety committee.
The Vancouver Sun's Kevin Griffin has reported that Graham wants the mandatory-helmet law changed to allow police to seize bicycles if the owner is caught four times riding without headgear.
Graham also wants fines sharply increased from $29 for cycling without a helmet.
But the most astonishing part of Griffin's article was Graham's suggestion that if people don't wear a bicycle helmet, they should sign a document forefeiting their right to use the medical system if they suffer a head injury while cycling.
That's pretty mean-spirited, especially when you think of poverty-stricken Downtown Eastside cyclists who can't afford a $60 helmet. Teenagers' prefrontal cortexes haven't sufficiently developed to provide them with the judgement to know when not to take risks.
Graham may not be aware that there is a physician in this province—Dr. Tom Demarco—who supported a legal challenge against the province's mandatory-helmet law.
Believe it or not, there is a public debate over this legislation.
One of the city's best-known cyclists, former city councillor Peter Ladner, told CBC's Mark Forsythe earlier this summer that he thinks the mandatory-helmet law should be repealed.
But Graham still wants police to be able to seize people's two-wheelers.
When Graham appeared on the cover of the Georgia Straight in 2005, the headline read "urban general".
Perhaps a more accurate title would have been "urban generalissimo" in recognition of his latest recommendation.