Police officers go deep undercover to a) infiltrate a drug cartel b) uncover terrorist operations c) pose as panhandlers by the side of the road, writing tickets to drivers who take off their seatbelts to get at their wallets to give them money
A man who received a $175 traffic ticket for unbuckling his seatbelt to give change to what turned out to be a police officer posing as a panhandler is likely to think twice before giving to the less fortunate again.
Dane Rusk was driving away from a mall in Regina on Wednesday when he spotted what he thought was a panhandler on the side of the road.
“As I came up to the stop sign, I stopped and looked and I saw this homeless guy holding a sign,” Rusk said. “I instantly felt sorry for him.”
That’s when Rusk said he took off his seatbelt and grabbed $3 from his pocket.
“I reached out – I had to undo my seat belt, hang over and drop the change on the curb,” Rusk told CTV Regina.
Moments after dropping the change, Rusk was pulled over by police and issued a ticket.
“I said, ‘What do you mean? I didn’t talk to any police officer,’ and he said, ‘Well ya, you gave him money,’” Dusk said.
“I said, ‘Oh, the homeless guy?’”
The person Rusk handed change to was an undercover cop, and Rusk received the fine for not wearing a seat belt.
Rusk said he was “pretty shocked” by the incident. “The ticket’s $175 and the three dollars I gave to him – I’m out $178 all because I was trying to help out a homeless guy.”
But Regina police say this is nothing new. It’s part of a project that has police watching for traffic violations at intersections.
“Intersections are probably one of the most critical areas when it comes to accidents obviously, and our high-volume intersections are ones that we tend to target,” said Insp. Evan Bray. “So we will run random intersection projects throughout the city.”
The police officer’s sign was not soliciting money. In Regina, panhandling is not considered a crime, however, the city does have a bylaw that prohibits soliciting to vehicle occupants in high-traffic areas.
It’s the reason Dale Lakeman no longer holds up a cardboard sign on the streets of Regina. Instead, he collects bottles to support himself. He told CTV News he feels bad for Rusk.
“Cancel that seatbelt ticket to that gentleman because the poor guy took pity on a homeless person to give them some money.”
Lakeman said he hopes it won’t deter others from giving to homeless people.