Seizing car over window tint fair and legal, acting police commissioner says
Police yesterday denied that a family – including a baby – was “abandoned at the side of the road” after a traffic stop on Monday.
Acting Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons said he was satisfied after a review of officers’ body camera footage that they had “handled themselves professionally, courteously and empathetically” last night when they pulled over and impounded a car for an illegal windscreen tint.
Mr Simons added: “I am satisfied that officers made offers to assist the couple and their infant, but that assistance was repeatedly declined.”
Mr Simons said a court summons had been served on the owners of the vehicle, which had been found to have illegally tinted windows that were a hazard to public safety.
Laws to limit tint levels go back to 1991, and include only allowing a small strip at the top of the windscreen.
Mr Simons was speaking after a Facebook post blasted police for pulling over the car, which was occupied by a couple and their baby.
The post accused police of leaving the family stranded at the roadside after their car was impounded.
But Mr Simons insisted officers had behaved with compassion and several offers of transport were turned down.
Mr Simons said the post had generated “a significant amount of public concern”.
He added: “I felt the public should have as much information as possible about the incident.”
Mr Simons said the incident happened as officers carried out traffic stops along Middle Road, Devonshire near Garthowen Road as part of the road safety programme Operation Vega.
He added the area was well lit and that officers “observed the vehicle tint was particularly dark, as they were unable to see the occupants inside the vehicle”.
The car was stopped near Fort Hill Road and officers questioned the male driver and the female passenger.
Mr Simons said there was also a young child in the car, but “neither the passenger nor the driver were forthcoming with information about the child”.
Police told the driver of their observations when the passenger interrupted and admitted they had earlier been told the tint was illegal.
She told officers they planned to remove the tint before the car was relicensed with the Transport Control Department in March.
The woman asked the officers why they could not be warned again or “just be given some tickets”.
But police impounded the vehicle for examination by TCD officials, which Mr Simons said was consistent with the law and public safety.
Mr Simons said police offered the family a lift in their patrol car, but that the couple were unwilling to sit with their baby in their car, which was also carrying a police dog.
He added: “Later, an offer was made to give them a lift in an unmarked police car. That offer was also refused.”
Mr Simons said an officer had waited with the family while they tried to get alternative transport.
But he added the officer “became concerned her presence maybe aggravated the situation and left”.
Mr Simons said police had devices that allowed them to carry out an initial tint test, but explained a TCD was required for evidence.
He added police had made “a good decision in impounding and were compassionate and courteous in dealing with the occupants”.
Mr Simons warned it was up to car owners to make sure their vehicles were fit for the road.
He said: “If you’re going to put tint on your vehicle, it needs to comply with the law.”