The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Cops under investigation in Quebec for snoozing in vehicle; video posted online

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MONTREAL - Two Quebec provincial police officers caught snoozing in their cruiser are now under investigation by their force — and living under the global glare of YouTube.

They were caught on video early Thursday morning by a curious onlooker carrying a cellphone cam.

When they woke up, they gave him a $156 ticket. He immediately posted the video online and plans to contest the ticket.

The amateur videographer, Maxime Carpentier, told The Canadian Press he was driving by when he noticed the police vehicle parked with its engine still running.

"I saw a vehicle that looked like it was empty, there were no heads visible inside and I could see it was running and there was smoke coming from the bottom," said Carpentier, 31.

So he moved in for a closer look.

The camera-toting citizen started recording when he noticed the two officers, their seats tilted all the way back, ensconced in somnolent recline.

One officer was quietly curled up in the fetal position in the passenger seat, his back turned to his partner on the driver's side. Both were still wearing their olive-green police jackets.

That's when Carpentier exclaimed on the tape, "They're sleeping on the job!"

It was around this time that the cops began to stir. Carpentier figures it was the ice crunching underneath his feet — and not his impromptu home-movie narration — that woke them up.

One officer unfurled himself from the recline position and swiftly delivered that timeless request that strikes terror in the hearts of delinquent motorists everywhere: "Let's see your driver's licence."

After a half-hour wait, Carpentier was given a ticket for performing an illegal U-turn in a zone reserved for emergency vehicles.

The president of the Quebec provincial police officers' union said it's important to get all the facts before rushing to any conclusions.

"It depends on the circumstances,'' said Jean-Guy Dagenais.

''Were those police officers on their meal break? Were they on their union break? Had they worked double time?

"There are often officers lacking and people work a lot of overtime, so instead of driving while fatigued, it would be better to stop on the side of the road."

Dagenais said both officers will be questioned by internal affairs. But he added that a police officer on a break is entitled to catch a quick nap.

"A police officer can do as he pleases during a break," said Dagenais.

As for the ticket, Dagenais said cops are there to enforce the Highway Safety Code and handing out tickets is always a discretionary judgment on the part of the officer.

Police spokesman Ronald McInnis confirmed the force is investigating. The police can't do anything to erase the ticket, he said, but added that the recipient is free to contest it.

A local radio station has offered to help raise the $156 to pay the ticket, said Carpentier.

The citizen journalist defended his actions.

"As I told one of my friends, if I get there and the officers are on the verge of dying because of carbon monoxide poisoning, then I've saved their lives," he said.

The incident occurred near Highway 40 in the Mauricie region, about halfway between Montreal and Quebec City.

The events on the video clip last just over 20 seconds.


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