Northern News Services
He may have even given you his autograph... on a speeding ticket. But that's all part of his job as a member of the RCMP's highway patrol based in Hay River. The two-person patrol was reintroduced last year after being discontinued in the mid-1980s.
Originally from Manitoba, Const. Brock Linaker has been in the RCMP for four years and has served in Rankin Inlet and Fort Smith, before joining the highway patrol. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
News/North: What area does the highway patrol cover?
Brock Linaker: We cover the whole road system in the Territories, all the numbered highways to Yellowknife, Fort Smith, down to Fort Liard, Fort Simpson and to the border.
N/N: Isn't that a lot for just two people?
BL: It's a lot of ground to cover. Obviously, we concentrate where most of the traffic is, and that would be from the border and up to Hay River and from Providence to Yellowknife. We do scheduled patrols into Fort Smith, Simpson and Liard on a continual basis.
N/N: What is the main role of the highway patrol?
BL: For the RCMP's highway patrols across the country, the slogan is 'Improving public safety on our highways.' And that's what we're out there for. Speeding is a major concern in the Territories. It's kind of specific to the Territories, more so than down South.... Such vast distances, the roads are decent, there's nothing in between and very little traffic. So people feel it's free sailing.
N/N: What are some of the more interesting excuses you've heard for speeding?
BL: I don't know about the most interesting. The most common, I would say, is that they just weren't paying attention. They just didn't realize they were going that fast. They were talking with someone, driving for several hours and it just creeps up on you.
N/N: Can people talk their way out of a ticket?
BL: I won't say it will never work. Normally, when I stop a vehicle, I've already made a decision whether they're going to get a ticket or not. What dictates it after that is attitude. The driver attitude makes or breaks what happens at that stop. It might change your mind not to write a ticket or change your mind to write more tickets if there are more than one offence. They dictate what happens.
N/N: What's the fastest moving vehicle you're ever pulled over?
BL: It's not uncommon to get speeds 60-65 kilometres per hour over the posted speed limit. Not uncommon. At that point there's no discretion. You have to enforce it.
N/N: Are people surprised to see you on the road?
BL: People are. Many times I'm told, 'Oh, I didn't expect to see you here. What are you doing here?' They're not used to seeing it. Not so much now, because we've been around for over a year. But last year I continually heard, 'What are you doing out here?'
N/N: Are you making a difference?
BL: The speeds have definitely decreased over the period of the unit being in operation. It's word of mouth and people know that we're out there, and it definitely has changed.
N/N: Is speeding the major cause of accidents on NWT highways?
BL: Speeding and impaired driving are the two leading factors in the Northwest Territories.... Over the last four years, 75 per cent of all fatalities in the Territories had speed as a contributing factor, and 48 per cent of all vehicles on the road are exceeding the speed limit.
N/N: How dangerous is wildlife on the highways?
BL: I think anywhere in Canada it's a problem because there is a large amount of wildlife across the country. Statistics don't show that it's more of a problem here than anywhere else.
N/N: How many kilometres do you drive in an average week?
BL: I know we have a vehicle that we got a year ago and I'm the only one that has been driving it, and it's got 60,000 kilometres on it.
N/N: Does it ever get boring on the highways?
BL: It does. When there's no traffic, it's boring. But some days it's so busy that you're just stopping constantly.... You get to know when the peak traffic times are and where the traffic is going to be, so you schedule patrols around that.
N/N: Some people believe there is the posted speed limit and then the real speed limit. Is that the case?
BL: The speed limit is 90 and anything over 90 is enforceable, from 91 up. It becomes a discretionary call of the member stopping. Everybody has their own limits to where that is. Legally, 91 kilometres per hour and up is enforceable.
N/N: Are drug seizures a major part of your duties?
BL: It is. Not just drug seizures, but any Criminal Code offences that are on the roadways -- outstanding warrants, drugs, stolen property or vehicles. Anything like that is our mandate.
N/N: How do you know when to search a vehicle?
BL: It could be on information that we have on a specific vehicle, information that we have that there's something illegal in that vehicle, or it could just be based on training.
We stop a vehicle and we pick up on indicators that we see and we proceed with that. I do have training, actually both of us in the unit have training for drug interdiction, recognizing signs of drug traffickers, stolen property and that sort of thing.
N/N: Is seatbelt use enforcement a major part of your duties?
BL: Seatbelts are a major priority.... The reason being the best way to save lives in a collision is by people having their seatbelts on.
N/N: Do you enjoy being in the highway patrol?
BL: I do. It's a challenge. It's never the same thing.
You don't know what you're getting into when you stop a vehicle. It might be a speeding ticket or it might end up being a drug seizure. You never know.
N/N: Do you ever get comments from people that they're glad to see you on the highway?
BL: I do. I've had many people tell me, 'It's nice to see you here. It's nice to see what you're doing.'
A lot of people, even after you serve them a ticket and explain the reasons why we're there, they say, 'Thank you.'