I am in the midst of another round of assessments for police wannabes. As usual, almost all the candidates are lovely young people, with much cleaner personal histories than mine, who appear virtuous (to the point of being nauseating), and who generally want to save the world.
A friend of mine is developing a course about critical thinking. If I had to guess, I’d say he was doing this because he is trying to figure out why otherwise rational people voted in a rather peculiar manner in the last American presidential election. I think his premise is that if we can just teach people to think critically, evaluate information and weigh consequences, then people will make rational decisions. He has a point — but making rational decisions is actually more complex than it appears on the surface.
I was talking to some HR people the other day who were musing about the increased focus on employee well-being in recent years. Some reflected with a chuckle about the “good old days” when they thought everything would be peachy once they offered something like R2MR (Road to Mental Readiness) training to the masses.
One of the things police and psychologists have in common is we are both often trying to get people to stop doing things that they shouldn’t be doing; we try to get people to change their behaviour.
I am a big fan of British TV shows and so I often find myself watching British “cop” shows. One thing that always strikes me is the obtuse wording they use for the Miranda-like warnings they give. I had to watch quite a number of British shows before I figured out exactly what the words were — and even more shows before I figured out what they actually meant. Part of my difficulty had to do with accents; I am really bad at understanding accents. But the language they use also seems a little convoluted to me.
Two of the local hospitals recently amalgamated here in my hometown. It is an interesting pairing between your basic government-type psychiatric hospital and a long-term care/geriatric hospital, operated by a Catholic organization. Some years ago, the government decided to get rid of its psychiatric hospitals, so the psych hospital was handed over to the Catholic organization. Ergo these two organizations came under the same governance structure but were maintained as two different physical facilities. Although there was a degree of shared higher management, generally the two institutions retained some level of separation. But only until April 2017.
Hindsight is not the measuring stick by which courts should judge police decisions in how warrants are executed, so says Ontario’s top court.
Two protestors have been awarded damages after police used plastic ties to restrain them and detained them longer than necessary. In Godin v. City of Montreal, 2017 QCCA 1180, three plaintiffs were amongst a group of 60 to 70 other protestors occupying a small and densely populated tent city in Montreal’s Victoria Square in support of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Municipal authorities ordered the public park, which included Victoria Square, closed on a 24-hour basis. An order to leave was given by the Montreal police and most of the protestors left voluntarily and peacefully. However, about a dozen people, including the three plaintiffs, refused to leave and attached themselves to each other and a tent. They were arrested — two of the plaintiffs had their hands bound behind their backs with plastic tie wraps and were held in a heated bus parked at the site for about 20 to 60 minutes. Following their arrest, the plaintiffs were photographed and the back of one hand was marked with a number in black felt pen and invisible ink, which could be viewed under a special light in the event that the black ink is erased or blurred (for the purposes of identification). In the experience of the police, some people refuse to identify themselves or provide a false name and so the numbers allow the police to match the person arrested with any possessions seized from them. As well, the numbers provide easy identification should the arrestees return to occupy the square upon their release from custody. The ink would ordinarily be gone from the hand in three days. An extensive video recording was also made by the police of the entire operation. One of the plaintiffs, Godin, was released on site (his car was parked nearby) but the two others, Haugh and O’Callaghan, were placed in the back of police cars, still bound by plastic ties, and driven to other parts of the city. This prolonged their detentions for about 20 minutes.All three plaintiffs sued the City of Montreal, seeking damages for bodily, moral or material injury under the Civil Code of Quebec for, among other things, marking their hands with invisible and black ink, taking photos of them during their detention, and for the duration and manner of their detention, including the cuffing of their hands with plastic ties and their transport to other parts of the city.A Court of Quebec judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ actions. He found the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate the police did not act reasonably. In the judge’s view, the techniques used and the force applied were not excessive, given the necessity of physically removing the plaintiffs from the square, their persistent refusal and their passive resistance. Marking their hands with invisible and black ink was not offensive in the context of a mass arrest. As for the binding of the hands behind the back with plastic tie wraps, the judge found this to be a lawful common practice. The judge ruled that the detention in a heated bus was, in the circumstances, reasonable. The taking of the plaintiffs’ photos following their arrest was for the purposes of identification. And, even if the police did commit a fault, the plaintiffs suffered no damage and any discomfort experienced by them was minor and temporary.The plaintiffs appealed the trial judge’s decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal. Marking the handsThe Court of Appeal found that marking the hands with ink was momentary and minimal, did not penetrate the skin, and did not interfere with the plaintiffs’ physical, psychological or emotional integrity in more than a fleeting manner. Nor was there any suggestion that the plaintiffs were bothered or suffered psychologically beyond the fact of their arrest by the markings. The police committed no wrong. And, even if they did, there was no material damage proven. Photographing Although there was no statutory authority for the taking of the plaintiffs photos, since they were only arrested for a by-law infraction, the police may nonetheless “take a photo of people they arrest as part of their duty to retain evidence of the offence (i.e. the identity of the alleged perpetrators)... A photo simply records in visual form what a sketch or notes of a detainee’s appearance would preserve in written form,” stated Justice Schrager, adding:A police officer acting reasonably would seek to preserve evidence of the offence, including the arrestees’ identity and appearance for the purposes of collecting evidence to present to a court. There was consequently no fault committed by the police in taking the photographs in question. [para. 39]Furthermore, no damages (bodily, material or moral) had been proven that might have resulted from the taking of the photos after arrest. Plastic tie wrapsThe two plaintiffs who had their hands bound with plastic tie wraps argued this was unnecessary because they were co-operative. The police, on the other hand, contended that the binding was necessary to prevent the detainees from rubbing out the black ink numbers marked on their hands and as a security concern. “Police officers, acting reasonably, may handcuff an arrested person for reasons of security or to execute their duties,” said Justice Schrager. “Even though handcuffing may arise upon arrest, the fact of arrest, even if legal, does not automatically give rise to the right to apply handcuffs to a detained person… Handcuffing should not be carried out systematically. Applying handcuffs (or tie wraps) is within the discretion of an arresting officer but there must be a good reason to do it, such as the security of the police or others, including the arrestee.”In this case, the initial binding of the hands was not unreasonable. However, the plaintiffs’ continued restraint in the back seat of police cars with their hands bound when they were taken off the bus was unreasonable. At this point, the police had already decided not to charge the two plaintiffs.Detention durationThe Court of Appeal found the plaintiffs’ detentions in the bus for 20 to 60 minutes was not unreasonable. However, the prolonged detention once they were off the bus constituted a fault by police. Once it was decided the plaintiffs would be released, their continued detention was not necessary and the police were therefore obliged to release them:Though the police do not operate a taxi service, if having resolved to release the [plaintiffs], the police really felt the necessity to remove [the plaintiffs] out of the area of Victoria Square to avoid a re-occupation of the square, they could have uncuffed them and offered to drive them home. Instead, they left them handcuffed and transported them without consent to a distant point. This constitutes a fault in what was otherwise reasonable action on the part of the police. [para. 58]DamagesIn assessing damages, the Court of Appeal awarded Haigh and O’Callaghan, the two plaintiffs who were zip tied and transported to other parts of the city, $2,000 each with interest for moral and material loss related to the inconvenience of the transport and discomfort of the tie wraps. As for Godin’s detention, the third plaintiff, it was not prolonged and he was not handcuffed so no damages were awarded. However, his initial order to pay legal costs was reversed given the public interest questions involved in this case.Mike Novakowski is Blue Line’s case law columnist. He can be contacted at
There is no need to establish a causal connection between a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and the death of a third party resulting from an accident on charge under s. 255(3.1) of the Criminal Code.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has found a safety search conducted incidental to an investigative detention permitted the police to search a trunk when officers responded to a man with a gun report.
A safety search of an assault arrestee’s bag was justified even though there was no information he possessed a weapon and was handcuffed at the time the search took place. In R. v. Aviles, 2017 ONCA 629, the police responded to a report of an assault occurring at a Mac’s Milk convenience store. The victim told police he knew one of the attackers by name. The other two attackers were a dark skin man wearing baggy hip-hop style clothing and a woman. The victim said he had lost a shoe during the assault and police found it in a nearby alley. Then, while talking with the police, the victim pointed through the convenience store window to three people approaching, a woman and two men, and identified them as his attackers. One of the men was the individual the victim had identified by name. The other man was Walter Aviles. He was wearing a black pea coat, black jogging pants, brown boots and a black baseball cap.
Every detail of an informer’s tip does not need to be verified by independent investigation before it rises to the level of reasonable grounds for arrest. In R. v. Dunkley, 2017 ONCA 600, the police were surveilling a suspected cocaine dealer’s residence when they saw Orlando Dunkley, a slim black male about six feet tall with a dark jacket, park a silver Honda Accord on the street near the house at about 9:05 p.m.
Over the last year, we have seen innovations in the surveillance space create more accurate analytics, higher resolution cameras, and better video compression.
What if your officers could use one single computing device to access all their law enforcement applications and data? It’s a vision shared by many CIOs (chief information officers) and IT directors in the policing world.
“Good fences make good neighbours.”
With more volts than ever in electric vehicles (EVs) and solar-panelled rooftops, first responder safety is a growing concern. Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL in the U.S.) are addressing this challenge with the development of a probe to accurately detect direct current (DC) energy.
Change is a natural part of the human experience and the extent to which organizations embrace fluidity in their operating environment is an excellent indicator of their strategic health. Police services are not immune to disruptive change. Technological, demographic and sociological shifts are creating megatrends that will reshape the communities that police agencies serve. This disruption is having a significant impact upon the nature of policing. New operating models are being leveraged to deliver essential police services more effectively and digital tools are delivering significant new capabilities to officers on the front line.
The concept of relationships coupled with technology for “success and safety” has somewhat taken hold in the law enforcement community this year.
The word resilience has been a buzzword in the world of policing for several years now and its essential role in our successful mental health and wellbeing also makes it known as a top-notch performer. Resilience is infused in our training programs, such as Road 2 Mental Readiness, and is heavily promoted as our recruits begin their journey as first responders.
“Every interaction we experience as human being is a meeting of sorts.”
Our firearms as police officers are significant pieces of our culture and what we do. It is hard at times not to allow it to define us, especially when it is unexpectedly removed after an incident involving a shooting for example. What is the message we receive when, after having discharged our firearm in an incident, we are ushered into a room, secluded and stripped of our firearm? There is good reason for this of course, as the firearm that was used may need to be tested and forensically investigated, but the experience and chronology of its removal can be very challenging.
Progress — that unstoppable, onward movement. It doesn’t come without a few bumps in the road. Progress guarantees change and that can be challenging in the workplace, especially in an industry with a long history like law enforcement.
It always fascinates me how we as human beings experience change and contrast. We often see these occurrences as big, scary monsters thrusting us into the unknown. We — especially as police officers — often equate that dark abyss of change with a loss of control.
Although I believe we have improved significantly when we look at how we address time off at work, I feel we still have a long way to go in how we ascribe value to it and manage it as individuals. Time off is integral in the world of policing but there is an unspoken word amongst us officers that we must be justifiably ill in order to take a sick day.
As I sit down to write this (late February), a flood warning for my hometown (St. Marys, Ont.) has just been lifted and the residents of Brantford, Ont., who were evacuated due to the mid-February inundation, have been allowed to return home. My personal social media feeds have been teeming with videos and photos showing the dangerously high Thames River.
I’ve been watching Stranger Things and the German science fiction/horror series Dark on Netflix over the past few months and thoroughly enjoying whenever one of the retro police cars or trucks whizzes (or putts, as with that circa 1953 fir green Volkswagen police beetle in Dark) across the screen.
A few months ago Blue Line co-hosted a private roundtable on protecting smart cities, sponsored by BlackBerry and hosted at Deloitte’s downtown Toronto office. The day saw a number of chiefs, deputy chiefs and IT (information technology) policing personnel assemble to discuss — in an open dialogue — innovation and technology in public safety.
I am not the best shot.
The weekend of September 30, 2017, was a heavyhearted one, to say the least.
Every October issue of Blue Line includes an Education & Training Directory, so naturally I found my ears perking to any news smacking of the hallowed halls of knowledge. With school back in session, I noticed one particular story was receiving a lot of attention: officers in schools.
In my previous life, I was directly involved with Ontario corrections, first as an officer and then as a frontline operational manager. I left the field to further my education and I have just recently completed my master’s degree. My master’s research honed in on administrative and investigative processes in corrections in Canada as well as across the world.
Police are on the frontline of a health crisis. Again.
I want to draw attention to a Calgary Police pilot project started in May 2017 to combat the increase we were seeing in stolen property being fenced through online companies such as Kijiji, Facebook and LetGo. Whereas traditional stolen property was usually fenced through pawnshops, technology has now provided the means for quickly dispersing stolen property through legitimate websites with relative anonymity.
How do you watch someone else live your worst nightmare? How do you manage that emotionally?
My life was forever changed after pulling the trigger in 1977 and taking the life of a penitentiary escapee who was about to kill a police recruit.As a result of my long journey through hell with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I’ve learned mental illness is truly a horrendous and lonely injury, requiring much compassion and care. Unfortunately, an underfunded, failing health agency — the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) — creates an untenable recovery atmosphere for us. WSIB is responsible for the recuperation of on-duty injuries but it actually inflicts harm to many police officers and other first responders suffering from Operational Stress Injuries (OSI).In 2010, I endeavoured to have the Ontario ombudsman (André Marin at the time) investigate the lack of treatment and assistance for police officers with PTSD by their policing services and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS). With the help of Toronto Sun reporter Mark Bonokowski, along with the OPP Veterans’ Association and the OPP Commissioned Officers’ Association (COA), we gained sufficient support for the ombudsman’s investigation into how the OPP and MCSCS addressed operational stress injuries affecting police officers. It resulted in his scathing report, In the Line of Duty. “Both the OPP and Ministry have been reluctant to acknowledge and tackle operational stress injuries among police and have shown little leadership in implementing proactive, preventive programs to help officers,” Marin concluded in the 2012 report.He made 34 recommendations, forcing positive change within Ontario and beyond.Unfortunately, the ombudsman would not investigate WSIB’s conduct at that time, as I had also requested.I believe there are hundreds of us who are unable to receive acceptable levels of care, nor financial support, for daily living needs. Benefits have been unfairly cancelled, treatments rejected, houses lost and families destroyed. Unbeknownst to me, I had been deemed to reach my level of maximum recovery on the same day that WSIB gave me benefits. This unjust designation came after I struggled for over 800 days to obtain these benefits. The fact that my condition is worsening doesn’t qualify me for additional assistance. Amazingly, I have never been notified or examined by any WSIB personnel to warrant this status. Nevertheless, the specialized treatment I so desperately require is now completely cut off.The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Group and the Federation of Labour recently submitted a major research paper to ombudsman Paul Dubé. It outlined over 550 mentally injured workers who, like myself, were also refused help and/or benefits by the WSIB. A WSIB oversight tribunal had determined these findings in their appropriately titled report, No Evidence. Still, the ombudsman has refused to conduct a thorough investigation into WSIB. It’s imperative that he does, otherwise no reasonable change will occur, as proven by the past seven years.I wonder where our police associations are when it comes to this issue? Where is the hewn cry from them to their memberships, encouraging everyone to contact the ombudsman? If WSIB took wheelchairs or crutches away from physically challenged officers, would there be a protest from policing groups? Most definitely, I say. Why not the same loud support for our mentally injured officers who are denied their special needs?Det./Insp. Bruce C. Kruger retired from the OPP after 30 years, having received several bravery and life-saving awards. He is a life-member of the OACP and Town Crier of Bracebridge, Ont.
There has been much debate in the news, social media and social service reports on segregation/solitary confinement and interest groups, such as the Ontario Ombudsman’s office, have been calling to abolish or strictly limit the use of segregation in Ontario and Canada’s correctional institutions. This stance fails to take into consideration the reality faced by correctional officers daily.
Mental Health Awareness: Self-Care for First RespondersBy Stephanie Miloknay and Marc Laferriere; 2017, 128 pagesISBN: 978-1-77255-252-2
To Guard My People: The King’s Police and Fire Services Medal in CanadaBy Jack Templeman; 2017, 138 pagesISBN: 978-0-9951888-0-8
Transforming Community Policing by Hugh C. Russell; 2017, 376 pagesISBN: 978-1-55239-649-0
An Ounce of Prevention: Navigating Your Way Through Damage Control and Crisis Response by Allan Bonner; 2010, 322 pagesISBN: 978-1926755021
Canadian first responder Natalie Harris has penned a raw and honest memoir of her mental health journey. And unlike the Netflix sensation “13 Reasons Why,” Save-My-Life School is anything but the romanticized fictional series.
Interviewing and Investigation, Third Edition by Kerry Watkins; 2017; 252 pagesISBN: 978-1-77255-064-1
I recall my number ONE Breathalyzer test. This is “the biggy” that every breath tech worries about because you can imagine what the defence lawyer could do when they found out that this is — THE FIRST.
Poor management skills are nothing new and the management style which prevailed when I was a young officer had me mystified. My first days as a station duty operator at a glistening new district headquarters building is an example.
In my last column I explored the importance of adopting the right attitude towards work through the topic of epigenetics. The truth is that a great deal of our time is spent at work and that has repercussions on our health.
Unquestionably, every law enforcement officer and their loved ones can benefit from maximizing the probability of a long and healthy life.
Mental toughness can mean the difference between life and death in the realm of law enforcement. Those who reject the notion of “giving up” are more likely to survive a life threatening situation and better handle precarious situations.
Mental training is as critical as physical training for law enforcement officer preparedness and hardihood. Not only does frontline law enforcement come with the obvious physical risks, it has also been referred to as the most dangerous job emotionally and psychologically.
A recent study from Rand Europe had a startling finding: 33 per cent of the population in Canada is not getting enough sleep and that’s including children. The study went on to find experts estimate that lack of sleep costs the Canadian economy up to $21.4 billion a year due to decreased work productivity, including 80,000 working days lost per year.
Train harder. Be more active. Focus more. Set clear goals. Work harder. These are amongst the adages we have come to equate with personal, social and work performance. Indeed, no one will argue the wisdom behind such motivational and inspirational words. There are countless books and articles providing advice on how to “do more.” Our society continually comes up with innovative ways for us to be more productive.
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