When I was in grades 5 and 6, I was a member of the School Safety Patrol, a program sponsored by the Canadian Automobile Association. As patrolmen we would be assigned a crosswalk near the school, and our responsibility was to watch for traffic and indicate when it was safe for students to cross the street. We didn’t have the power to stop or direct traffic, we simply stood on the sidewalk. If traffic was coming we would stand with our arms held out at ninety degrees to our sides, indicating to pedestrians that it was not safe to cross. Once it was safe we would drop our arms and stand to the side. We wore white Sam Browne belts with our patrolman badge attached (I still have my badge, by the way). I took my job very seriously.
One very foggy morning I was standing duty at the corner of Havelock and Young. It wasn’t my usual beat, but it was a busier intersection. I saw this as a sort of promotion.
At one point I could hear a car approaching. There were no students at the crosswalk so it was not necessary for me to take any action; however, I remained ever vigilant.
I could hear that the car was getting closer but, because of the fog, I still could not see it. It eventually emerged from the haze. I immediately noted that the vehicle did not have its lights on. I was certain that this was a violation of the Motor Vehicle Act. I quickly pulled out my notepad (yes, I carried one when on duty) and jotted down the vehicle’s licence plate. I thought, If you travel my beat buddy you do it by the law.
When the school bell sounded, patrolmen were off-duty and needed to enter the school and get to class. Because of the incident I witnessed I went directly to the school office. I asked to speak to the vice-principal as he was the person responsible for the safety patrol.
I reported the matter and handed him the licence plate number. He thanked me for doing so and said that he would handle it from there. I went to my class.
All morning I had visions of a police officer coming to my classroom, asking me to step into the hallway and interviewing me. I figured if this matter went to court that I would be called as a witness. I was ready.
The next day passed ……. still no police officer.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that they probably let the guy off with a warning. If it was his first infraction then that was probably fair. Perhaps he confessed to the crime; consequently, there was no need to bring me in.
Who knows, perhaps this remains a cold case with the Saint John Police Department.
By the way, if that was you travelling south-bound on Havelock Street at the intersection of Young on that foggy morning in 1970, I want you to know that if you got away with it, it wasn’t because I didn’t do my job.