By Brieanna Charlebois
March marks a full year since the novel coronavirus disrupted everyday life in Canada. While it’s beenchallenging for all, it also provided an opportunity for reflection. It’s given many of us the needed time to examine various aspects of our lives to determine which parts we’d like to resume “once this is all over”.
It’s undeniably been a tough year for law enforcement. Organizations and governing bodies have begun releasing 2020 data, much of which suggests and sheds light on the many unintended consequences of various public health and safety measures. While crime rates are down
for most departments, law enforcement across the country observed an uptick in mental health-related calls last year.
Our cover story profiles how the pandemic has exacerbated the ongoing mental health crisis and how this has, in turn, affected officer well-being. Domestic violence is also on the rise, another unintended effect of the pandemic. While stay-at-home orders were intended to protect the public and prevent widespread infection, it also left many DV victims trapped with their abusers, isolated from friends, family and other supports. Police too, who already confront an increased risk of mental health disorders as a result of their work, faced additional scrutiny due to the social movement that began south of the border.
While mental exhaustion continues to run rampant, department have started to reflect and refine their practices. In the feature “A case for an integrated interdisciplinary approach”, Lori Horne discusses how the pandemic created a renewed commitment to reducing conflict during police-civilian encounters, minimizing use of force and preventing injury. This, she writes, can only be done through a collaborative effort.
“Organizations and governing bodies have begun releasing 2020 data, much of which suggests and sheds light on the many unintended consequences of various public health and safety measures.”
“Teamwork makes the dream work”. It’s a saying (first attributed to American John Maxwell) that we’ve likely all heard at one point in our lives—I know it was a major theme in my collegiate soccer days—but it’s also become integral to modern-day policing. For example, to combat many of the aforementioned mental health calls, many departments teamed up with their local Canadian Mental Health Association to provide an integrated approach when responding. This month’s Q&A features Inspector Derek West of the Thunder Bay Police Service, who discusses the success of the department’s new pilot project: The Integrated Mobile Police and Crisis Team (IMPACT).
Michelle Vincent’s Holding the Line column also features the power of partnerships. She discusses the culture of policing and suggests the established competitive nature within organizations is actually far less effective than collaboration in achieving a collective goal.
Tom Wetzel brings the message home in the Back of the Book section. He challenges leaders to lean on—and listen to—every member of their team and to use all resources and personnel, regardless of rank. He encourages management to take advantage of the talent within their organization. Do this, he writes, and success is bound to follow.
This issue largely reflects on the past year, with the goal of arming ourselves with newly acquired knowledge and data as we look forward to the future. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t get through difficult times without leaning on each other. That said, everyone must pull their own weight and do their part. We either succeed together or we fail together. I challenge you all to bring this notion into your workplace because it’s clear: we’re simply better when we work together.