Opinion

Care for some cod with lemon? I can give you a fish knife if you’d like. I just finished reading Consider the fork: A history of how we cook and eat, by British historian Bee Wilson, and now know why we have fish knives. I also know why Brits cook things till way past dead and people from China stir fry rather than roast.
I’m writing this on a miserable Saturday morning, one of those dark, dreary, wet days when staying in bed seems the only reasonable option. Some days, the idea of doing NOTHING really appeals, but given the length of my to-do list, it’s not going to happen.
Police had a duty to enter an apartment to check on its occupant’s safety during a domestic abuse call.
Harbouring a suspicion of illegal activity did not render a legitimate traffic stop unlawful, Alberta’s highest court found.
The manner in which police carry out an investigative detention can make it arbitrary, Newfoundland’s highest court has ruled.
In much of Canada, snow and freezing temperatures are the norm from November through March, give or take a few weeks and the occasional random storm.
It’s never been easier to work outside the traditional office environment. Powerful and compact mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets can access corporate systems at any time and from any place through almost universally available high-speed cellular data networks.
As Canada irreversibly heads towards decriminalising marijuana, the spectre of more drug-impaired drivers is naturally a major concern.
As I sit in the specialist doctor’s office with my mother waiting for her to be seen, I glance around and wonder how many of the clients researched and sought out this professional? Did a friend or family physician refer them, or did they end up here in a panic after a medical emergency?
While standing proudly among my fellow officers paying their respects at the Canadian Police Memorial service, gazing up at the majestic parliament building and flags at half mast, a question came to mind.
They were called “police” cars but they weren’t, really Looking over the materials for this month’s cover story, our annual Best Dressed Police Vehicle contest, makes me reflect, reminisce (and cringe) at my memories of the sad state of affairs that police cars once were. When I joined the then Metropolitan Toronto Police Force as a cadet back in 1979, I was assigned to the Summons Bureau, where my daily duties consisted of delivering outstanding parking tickets to often unwilling recipients. I was shocked to discover that my ride for the first few months at least, was a bright yellow marked Ford Pinto two-door that had seen better days, sometime well before my arrival. Nagging in the back of my mind of course was also the propensity for the Pinto’s to explode into a ball of fire when rear-ended. For a time afterwards I was assigned a brand-new metallic brown unmarked AMC Spirit. It’s not surprising that AMC went out of business, considering how poorly designed and built, and uncomfortable that Spirit was. One could easily get sea-sick if relegated to the front passenger seat because the ride was so soft. During my final six months or so my regular ride was upgraded to a brand-new marked Ford Fairmont four-door sedan with a relatively rare six-cylinder engine (most others only had the inline-four). Without roof-lights of any kind, the car was mistaken for a taxi on more than one occasion. After turning 21 and being sworn in as a constable I was sent off to recruit training at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer Ontario. During field training and then after graduation I finally got to move up to a “real” police car, although real would soon get tempered by the reality of what that was, or more accurately, wasn’t. In an apparent attempt to save money, we continued to get still more Ford Fairmonts (mostly with four-cylinder engines that stalled if one attempted a quick 3-point turn). Some of these actually had A/C, but the vinyl benches persisted, presenting a challenge when 2 officers of largely different stature had to share the car for a shift. The taller officer typically drove so they didn’t have to sit with their knees rubbing against the dashboard all night long. The Fairmonts were replaced quite quickly once their complete unsuitability for police work was realised. We then got mostly Plymouth Caravelle/Gran Fury’s equipped with an anemic slant-six mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. They had vinyl bench seats, untinted manual windows, no A/C, and no police equipment other than an antique GE police radio. Roof-lights consisted of six large red incandescent tractor-lights mounted on a primitive roof rack that howled-up a storm at highway speeds. Our traffic colleagues were at least lucky because they had actual real sirens – beautiful long cylindrical chrome units, while we divisional guys got saddled with cheap European-style two-tone “mee-maw” horns that created more confusion with the public then clearing the way for us during emergencies. There was also no prisoner partition and there was nowhere to put portable radios, so officers quickly improvised and pried the dash-vents out, wedging the portable radio into the resulting hole, which was a surprisingly good fit. We eventually got basic wire-mesh partitions, A/C and tinted windows, electronic sirens and in the late 80’s a MDT. Thankfully Dodge ended production of the Caravelle/Gran Fury’s (so we couldn’t buy them anymore) and we finally got full-sized Ford LTD’s and a few Chevy Impalas. With that we got V8s, tinted power windows, commercially built partitions and roof-lights and the Panasonic ToughBook computer. We also got a proper centre console with a mobile radio, proper siren and PA controls, and even coffee cup holders. Before retiring last year, I marvelled at how far police cars had come during my years of service. Now equipped with all the usual creature comforts, plus state of the art mobile computers, GPS, shotguns/patrol rifles, in-car cameras, stylish decal packages and all proper commercially made equipment. Car manufacturers have also stepped-up quite nicely over those years, providing a wide range of police-specific features and equipment in their police-package offerings, instead of just bolting heavy-duty everything onto regular cars and selling them as “police” cars. Another thing that has changed a lot over the years is the implementation of joint management and employee equipment committees that brought enlightened and progressive thinking to the fleet procurement and equipment process. User input has gone a long way towards fielding real “police cars” and professional equipment for all. Enjoy the rides, and this issue.
A recent call to send “peace keepers” to Syria has once again confused police with soldiers in the public’s mind. The problem has become even more acute in Canada, with its many refugees and high ethnic diversity. Many of the new immigrants come from countries where there is little difference be- tween the functions of police and the military. This is made even more difficult by some agencies permitting officers to wear militarylooking exterior armour.
The Canadian public’s expectation is that police officers will work and live within established legal frameworks and at a higher standard than other members of the communities they serve. Those parameters should not be cast aside as they are now in some – albeit limited numbers of cases, when officers drive while impaired.
I recently read the article (October 2016 issue of Blue Line) titled “Two More Years of Ball Bouncing” authored by Ian T. Parsons who is identified as a retired Inspector with the RCMP.
As the first police officer on the scene of a serious motor vehicle collision in 2004, Brian Knowler worked frantically to save the life of a seriously injured driver while awaiting the ambulance.
Billed as the first book of its kind, Listening to their Voices of Bravery and Heroism uses case studies to examine what gives officers strength during life-threatening situations.
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.

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