Welcome to the light

Morley Lymburner
November 04, 2013
By Morley Lymburner
Let's go back 26 years to see how police work has evolved since Blue Line Magazine began. The following not-so fictional story may help. The hot salesman and former cop knew his way around policing and understood the needs and wants of all stripes. Hired by a rather large company with some success selling to police, he decided to talk to a chief about replacing the agency's six-shooter revolvers with semi-automatic handguns. They were safer to handle, store and carry than revolvers and packed 16 rounds, giving officers firepower the crooks already had. Win, win situation, right? The chief gave the salesman a long hard stare, then leaned forward and beckoned him to lean closer. "What you are selling we can't afford. We would not only have to buy the guns but the holsters as well, and after that train every officer in the department. That costs a lot of money we don't have. What you say may be true – but if you ever, I mean ever, tell any of my people what you just said here, you will never get a penny's worth of business from us again. Furthermore I will ensure any chief with ears also never does business with you."

Let's go back 26 years to see how police work has evolved since Blue Line Magazine began. The following not-so fictional story may help.

The hot salesman and former cop knew his way around policing and understood the needs and wants of all stripes. Hired by a rather large company with some success selling to police, he decided to talk to a chief about replacing the agency's six-shooter revolvers with semi-automatic handguns. They were safer to handle, store and carry than revolvers and packed 16 rounds, giving officers firepower the crooks already had. Win, win situation, right?

The chief gave the salesman a long hard stare, then leaned forward and beckoned him to lean closer. "What you are selling we can't afford. We would not only have to buy the guns but the holsters as well, and after that train every officer in the department. That costs a lot of money we don't have. What you say may be true – but if you ever, I mean ever, tell any of my people what you just said here, you will never get a penny's worth of business from us again. Furthermore I will ensure any chief with ears also never does business with you."

So it was. The salesman was content to keep supplying police agencies with the many other staples they required. He never spoke a word about it again. His knowledge stayed in the dark – and he prospered.

A whole new paradigm began to develop with the advent of Blue Line. There was considerable angst, suspicion, intrigue and gossip about the publication at many levels; some good, some bad. Thankfully not all of it was immediately shared with us. It kept paranoia to a minimum.

People and organizations evolve into strange things when they are kept in the dark. After a while light becomes the enemy. Coping with it is a strain and any person who tries to introduce light also becomes an enemy. Policing was a cloistered society and those at the top kept control by ensuring only limited and highly controlled bits of information were leaked to the masses. Introducing anything new had the potential of anarchy within the rarified air of the status quo.

The light cast by Blue Line made it difficult for top managers to control the message to their "troops below." There was an abundance of stories about agencies across the country and what they were doing; not in a quarterly publication but a monthly glossy magazine. A continual flow of information – concepts, strategies and news about new products of value to all law enforcement personnel at all levels.

Back to the issue of concern over the firearms situation. Blue Line had recognized the shortcomings of police weaponry for many years. We understood the importance of balancing out the threat levels between criminals and police. Constant editorial commentary and related stories did much to spark the interest in firearms and training in police agencies across Canada. OPP Cst. Cam Woolley led the charge by submitting a health and safety concern. The ultimate result was an order forcing agencies to properly equip and train their members with semi auto firearms.

After the firearms success a secondary campaign was launched in the magazine to point out the dangers of police using NATO rounds in their new firearms. The basic issue – the rounds tended to bounce around and pass through bodies. Our editorial stance was that once a bullet is fired, it must stop at the first thing it strikes. With the help of the Anishinabek Police Service, agencies changed to the ammunition used today by 70,000 police officers.

Today's new breed of top manager welcomes members being kept up to date. "They have to be taught less at the costly departmental training level," one chief said. "Equipment committees who study and test products they read about in Blue Line have greatly lightened the burden of deciding what equipment to buy," pointed out another. Top managers no longer have to answer for products that fail. Proof that a well informed membership makes for a smoother running operation.

Blue Line has attained a level of refinement which puts the best interests of law enforcement first. It has a bias toward the profession, not to a particular patch on the shoulder. It encourages interforce and interagency cooperation and acknowledges free speech as an important factor in open, honest communication and not as a foundation for self aggrandizement or corruption.

Between the covers of Blue Line you will see an absolute hatred of anything that endangers police officers or reduces their ability to do the job safely and more efficiently. You can also be assured of balanced journalism. If there is something you don't like, the opportunity to disagree is as close as your computer. We welcome all opinions, pro or con. That's the way we like it – and that's the way it will stay.

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