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March 17, 2014
By Corrie Sloot

1544 words – MR >>> LETTERS >>>

A belated congratulations on the 25th anniversary of Blue Line Magazine and a very happy New Year to you and yours. You have truly achieved a place in police journalism that few magazines have. I haven’t seen anything in the US that can compete with your comprehensive beneficial law enforcement package that graces police environments every month. I will continue to look forward to my monthly copy of Blue Line and contribute if and when I can.

Ian Parsons
Alberta

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Reading your article in the January issue of Blue Line Magazine about traffic direction brought back old memories of my experiences in directing traffic. I wasn’t a traffic officer but in my first seven years on the force I directed traffic every day and afternoon shift.

As a retired Metro Toronto trained police officer, one who had to learn directing traffic in the real world, my first time directing traffic was at Don Mills and Eglinton with the traffic lights turned off, no safety vest, just white gloves, hat cover and a whistle.

If you remember, motorcycle officers were issued white coats, which with snow/fog/heavy rain almost made them invisible. Later beat officers were issued white coats to use when directing traffic. We were never issued wands and had to purchase them if we wanted one.

Now I teach new security guards the requirements needed to obtain their security guard license and that includes directing traffic. I would love to have them get practical experience directing traffic in the college’s parking lots but due to the limited time for all the required training this is not practical.

I use most of what you have stated in the article in my training and will be using this article to re-enforce the requirements to do it properly and safely.

Since retiring (in ’93) I have observed officers from many different forces directing traffic and only once have I observed an officer doing it in the manner mentioned in your article. Most wear safety vests and after that their arms and hand directions make you guess what they want to do.

In my travels I found one situation quite interesting. It was night and raining when I saw a marked police vehicle, with the lights activated at an intersection. The officer sat in it with the window opened about two inches and with one finger stuck out he directed traffic. This was on a major street in Toronto.

Keep up the good work.

Alan W. Richardson

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Congrats again on your anniversary issue and thank you for the piece on our car design winning second prize. Just for clarity I thought I would point out a couple of things.

The car design was done entirely in house by a member of the VPD Public Affairs crew, graphic designer Sharmini Thiagarajah. The firm you credit with the design merely applied the decal of her art work.

The final design was one of five designs Sharm created that we submitted in a survey to every member of the VPD, sworn and civilian. It was the overwhelming choice of the majority of the respondents.

The design was specifically created to follow the lines of the new Dodge Chargers in our fleet. The award-winning gradient concept that proved so popular was conceived by Sharm in an effort to honour the tradition of old black and white cars that has once again become popular and at the same time reflect the modern, innovative and distinct nature of the VPD.

The swoosh on the front panel is unique to the VPD and is not a raven or an eagle. This art work was developed especially for the VPD and generously donated by the world renowned native artist Susan Point. It is a thunderbird and in native lore the thunderbird is known as the protector. This symbol of protection is a nod of respect to the people who were here first and it is also iconic of the Pacific Northwest. We are unaware of any other large municipal police department in Canada and possibly in North America that carries this distinction.

Thanks again to you and the judges for your time and consideration.

Paul Patterson
Senior Director Community and Public Affairs
Vancouver Police Department

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I read with interest your commentary on traffic direction. When I first landed at 5T (1968) about a dozen officers were needed on each of both days and afternoons to cover all of the traffic points created by the closure of the Leaside (or Millwood) bridge for rebuilding and widening to six lanes. It went on for about nine months. We sure got to learn about traffic direction.

I read each of your points and they were all very correct. Foremost, you want to be seen so that you get to go home without getting run over. Thus the vest, white gloves etc. but very important was that whistle. As you point out, good traffic direction requires a whistle accompanied by good hand direction.

So we fast forward to now. Traffic direction is a lost art. Today’s uniform member appears to hate it. Even when they are being paid $70 an hour on a paid duty, they want to look in the hole being dug rather than keep traffic flowing. This past summer for several months there was a daily traffic point paid duty. Two of three eastbound lanes were shut down for hole digging. We would travel westbound through the intersection two or three times a week. Eastbound traffic would be backed up for blocks. The officer on a paid duty would usually be standing on the sidewalk ignoring the traffic but looking at his/her iPhone. Perhaps getting the latest stock quotes.

But on a particular Friday evening around 5:30PM we saw an officer standing in the middle of the eastbound lanes. It must have been a traffic guy because he had leggings on, a white hat cover, a bright lime coloured vest, white gloves and a funny looking thing around his neck held there by a shoe lace. It looked like the black whistle that I used to carry. It was in his mouth and he was blasting out loud sounds in conjunction with solid hand signals. He was letting one lane at a time proceed. There was no doubt this guy knew how to get motorist’s attention. Traffic wasn’t backed up and flowed nicely.

I wish those days of competent traffic direction would return.

There, I have vented.

Bob Shirlow
Toronto

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I wanted to express my sincere appreciation for you printing our article on GO transit safety and security. (December 2013 Blue Line Magazine) My team was thrilled (still are) and I am in your debt – this level of awareness goes a long way to helping us in the work we do with local police and emergency services. We have placed a copy of the article on our GO web page and flagged it on Twitter.

Again looking forward to anything we can do to help in the future.

Bill Grodzinski
Director Safety and Security
GO Transit

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I’m a former police officer of some 32 years’ service in different parts of Canada. There were many times during my career where it would have been handy indeed to announce to the community just who we suspected were committing crimes and what we thought of these people. I’m retired now and involved in other work, but as you no doubt agree, former police officers never quite leave the fold. And on that note, I want to offer a different perspective on Chief Blair’s comments as related in (Blue Line March 2014).

Leaving aside for the moment Mayor Ford’s ridiculous, probably criminal and certainly embarrassing foolishness, he has – at least as far as I know – yet to be charged with anything. This observation, added to the fact that police are generally (and properly) tight-lipped about investigations prior to charges being laid, renders the chief’s press conference more than a little perplexing. His offering up an opinion on how he personally feels about Mayor Ford only added to the puzzlement.

While something of an over simplification, I believe it’s accurate to say that it’s the fundamental task of the police to uphold the law and bring offenders to justice. And yes, to be involved in the community too, but with respect, Jim Chu’s remarks on the value of youth literacy in reducing crime, a police officer commenting on a particularly heinous crime or one thanking a community for help in solving a case are all miles distant from Toronto’s chief of police telling us he has an incriminating video of the mayor and he’s disappointed in him. With that in mind, police officials need to be careful (and indeed generally are to a fault), to restrict their public remarks to issues of safety, requests for assistance, confirming charges and the like. Opinions on others’ behavior and how it makes them feel is best left to others.

Thanks for the article and the time. Please feel free to contact me if you wish.

Dan Tanner
Hammonds Plains NS

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I just read your comments about Chief Blair in Blue Line, (March 2014 – Disappointed) It is nice to see a common sense opinion coming from an experienced standpoint. I couldn’t agree with you more

John Harris
Hamilton, ON


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