Opinion

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.
A few years back, in the dead of winter, I decided I might be coming down with the plague and decided to visit my local after-hours clinic.
I was reviewing the details of a training program about interactions with people with mental illnesses recently, and I noted that the prescribed course devoted a whole lot of time to addressing people’s attitudes toward mental illness.
Ever feel like screwing up on the job just because your boss treats you like you are an accident waiting to happen? You’re not the only one. Consider this study:
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.
Although a co-resident cannot waive the constitutional rights of another, living with someone else can impact the expectations of privacy and may allow for valid consent to enter by one of the occupants.
In R. v. Pearson, 2017 ONCA 389, a man was killed after being shot in the back with a shotgun. The following day a police officer stopped Damian Pearson driving his car, concerned about impaired driving, given the manner in which the car was being operated. When he approached the driver’s side of the car, the officer noticed unusual redness in Pearson’s eyes. His pupils were dilated and the officer smelled burnt marijuana. Pearson was slow in retrieving his papers and failed field sobriety tests. The officer arrested Pearson for impaired driving and he searched the vehicle, seizing two shotgun shells in a knapsack in the trunk.
“Good fences make good neighbours.”
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.
“Big Data” has multiple personal definitions for people across many spectrums. As investigators, whether frontline uniform officers or secondary investigative units, the proper collection, analysis, interpretation and sharing of this information is becoming more critical in all investigations.
The use of hand-held recorders, desk-top microphones, ceiling mounted microphones, video cameras and even multiple microphone setups is common in today’s interview settings. The type of recording equipment can vary depending on budget and of course the room itself.
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.
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.
When we hear the word “court,” as police officers, what comes to mind? Evidence, defence lawyers, notes, the stand, the stress of presenting, responsibility, anxiety, frustration, final accountability… There is a myriad of words that come rushing in. Yet once the case is over and the anxiety and other emotions we experience that cause us stress are through, what happens to us from the human element?
If we put some thought into what we do on a day-to-day basis as first responders, call takers and dispatchers, dealing with the unknown, the challenging and the horrific, it would be unreasonable to think that we can move forward without some form of mental health care. That might come in the form of self-care, such as meditation, exercise or it might come in the form of some type of therapy, like psychotherapy, psychologist appointments and/or group sessions.
I normally encourage people to look for the positive in order to achieve their goals, whether it’s at work or at home. When we look for something, we always find it, the mind makes it so. This is why it is so important to be selective in what we entertain from a mental perspective.
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.
It never fails to astound me how valuable a face-to-face moment can be in these digital times. This is something I rediscovered (and for the first time from a law enforcement angle) at the 112th Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) conference, held earlier this summer in Montreal, where the theme was about policing in a digital society.
After reading this issue’s cover story, The passion to serve, a profile about the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), I immediately remembered the time I attended a change management workshop delivered by Peter de Jager.
As I watch the ongoing public controversy about street-checks (aka “carding”) run-on like Niagara Falls, I’m often stuck by the statistical data typically quoted by the mainstream media and other critics, who claim that the practice is inherently biased against certain identifiable groups.
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.
If you were to ask one out of every 10 Torontonians what a special constable is, I’m sure the answer would sound along the lines of: “I have no idea,” or, “The police?”
Recently, I had the opportunity to provide a safety presentation to a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors. The program was geared towards crime prevention, which is ironic as these gentle souls had been victims of some of the worst crimes against humanity this world has ever seen.
When I began my career with Metropolitan Toronto Police, I elected to be posted to 4-District Traffic Unit in the old borough of Scarborough. I rode the motorcycle, operated radar, and thanks to a kindly old sergeant, managed to patrol in an accident car years before a typical junior officer would be given that privilege.
With a New Year upon us, it’s time to reflect on new changes and new beginnings for police services across Canada.
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
Walk the Talk provides readers with a thorough and well-structured guide on how to build an effective, complete and credible peer support program for first-responder organizations. It uses 17 evidence-based modules that follow guidelines from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, supported and endorsed by the Mood Disorder Society of Canada.
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.
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.
Law enforcement officers can be seen as occupational athletes and also “chameleons of a wide range of professions” as they are constantly adapting to operational demand and performing a variety of physically demanding tasks. Sports experts widely recognize specific proficiency training designed for specific proficiency outcomes achieves optimal sport-specific results. This same theory holds true for law enforcement.
Sugar is a beloved natural ingredient, deep-rooted in our diet for thousands of years. It is adored for providing an immediate boost of energy along with instant gratification.

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