Blue Line

BOOK NEWS – Canadian Policing in the 21st Century

July 10, 2013  By Bob Chrismas

607 words – MR

BOOK NEWS – Canadian Policing in the 21st Century
A frontline officer reflects on challenges and changes

by Bob Chrismas

The policing profession has evolved in ways not imagined 20 years ago.


Personal computers, smartphones and social networking have become part of our new human experience. Increased access to information has transformed the public’s relationship with all government agencies and has changed the nature of accountability. Globalization and the complexity of today’s social problems have created the need for more collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches. Gender, race and age diversity have also changed policing dramatically.

describes a front-line officer’s perspective on how policing has evolved over the past two decades. It offers first-hand experiences and observations supported and complemented by a wide range of academic and professional sources. While not an account of all aspects of policing, this book describes two decades of unprecedented change.


Canadian police agencies are experiencing significant changes in the new millennium. Criminal sophistication, advancing technology and evolving societal demands continually challenge police officers and administrators in new ways. Terrorism, organized crime, Internet-based child exploitation, human trafficking and a host of other borderless crimes have globalized law enforcement, requiring interagency cooperation and information and resource sharing on a unprecedented level.

In response, police services are undergoing fundamental shifts in strategic planning. They are being challenged to replace long practiced reactive tactics with proactive, evidence-based strategies that target the root causes of social problems, not just the symptoms. Increased accountability is driving innovation as individual officers and whole systems adapt to new challenges almost daily.

Mass retirements are changing the demographic makeup, causing a loss of critical corporate knowledge and forcing a new focus on recruitment, retention and mentoring. Effective managers are now aware of dynamics of age, gender and ethnic diversity unheard of 20 years ago. Physical distance and communication barriers are collapsing so quickly that we may barely recognize their impact or know how to respond effectively. Police and all public servants must be vigilant in dealing with the change occurring all around us. We must be aware of technological advances and their implications and be prepared to take full advantage of them rather than being overwhelmed.

Canadian policing has gone from a culture of change resistance to a culture of continuous innovation and increased transparency, often brokering change with others in the broad spectrum of service agencies. Criminals operate in an increasingly borderless and globalized world, without the constraints that affect police – such as the need to act lawfully, respect jurisdictions and work with limited resources administered by bureaucracy – but they are still not winning the war.

New frontiers of policing lie in increasing community engagement and approaches that can help resist the tendency to revert to reactive strategies of the past. New methods of analysis and reflective practice hold the potential for helping police agencies to remain aligned with changing community needs and continuously adapt for optimum effectiveness.

The narrative within communities and among the agencies of justice needs to evolve to engage all of society to work together to reduce crime and improve quality of life (). Police can play critical roles in this discourse but are only a small part of a larger system. The implications for the future are considerable – police agencies that fail to work in whole community teams risk failing to contribute to the solution of significant social problems.

The evolution from the manual typewriters in use in 1989 to the connected, globalized, digital world of today does not redefine the ageless fight between good and evil – it only changes the weapons and the battleground.

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