I have always been a big fan of setting goals. I tend to have many goals on the go at any given time. I have goals for things I want to accomplish today; goals for things I want to accomplish this week, this month, this year, and in my lifetime. I find goals useful for focusing my activities, as I’m a person who tends to go off on random tangents at times. It can be helpful to go back to my goals and see if the activities I’m involved in are actually useful and related to furthering my objectives. It is generally a good feeling when I accomplish my goals.
I was recently reading the Canadian Police Executive Research Agenda Summary from the CACP (Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police) Research Foundation and I noted “policing persons with mental illness” made the Top 10 (No. 2 actually). I have been involved with this issue for about 15 or 20 years now. So on the one hand, I am always gratified to know that people are thinking about this. On the other hand, I got to wondering what it is that we still need to research.
There’s nothing more annoying than running into a bunch of information that contradicts something you always believed, you always knew, you were sure about.1 Fortunately (or not... ) it appears that most of us are quite capable of avoiding information if we think it is not going to tell us what we want to hear. How can otherwise sensible people believe that cutting taxes creates new jobs or that autism is caused by vaccinations?
It was not so long ago that the whole idea of mental illness was something we kept locked away in a closet (or an institution).
I was having a shower this morning and suddenly the solution to a problem I had been wrestling with for a few days came to me. It was an “ah-ha” moment. 
One of the hot trends in psychology these days is the concept of “mindfulness.”
In a split decision, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has ruled that an assistance order attached to a Transmission Data Recorder (TDR) warrant can order a telecommunications service provider (TSP) to give the police subscriber information related to the numbers recorded.
If a redacted ITO (information to obtain) does not disclose sufficiently compelling and corroborated information provided by a credible informer, a search warrant issued on this basis could be found invalid and the evidence obtained subject to exclusion.
Despite the reasonable manner in which a strip search was conducted, its location nevertheless rendered it a s. 8 Charter breach. In R. v. Pilon, 2018 ONCA 959 the police obtained a warrant under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to search a motel room. When police entered the room, they arrested all three of its occupants, including Pilon.
The police were justified in conducting a clearance search of a residence following a 911, despite the likely possibility the call was actually false. In R. v. Serban, 2018 BCCA 382, the police received a 911 call made from a payphone about a possible break-and-enter in progress at the accused’s residence. The caller claimed to be the homeowner and said he had received a telephone call from his 80-year-old father who was alone in the residence. The caller said his father was frightened because someone was attempting to break into the basement. The caller gave his father’s name and provided a telephone number for his father, but the caller hung up when he was asked to provide his own name. The 911 call-taker phoned the father’s number but received no answer.
Just because a vehicle is not “impounded,” but rather towed under provincial legislation, does not mean the police cannot safeguard its contents by conducting an inventory search.
An officer who believed, but failed to confirm, a warrant existed made an unlawful arrest the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ruled in tossing out drug charges.
Law enforcement officers around the globe are becoming increasingly adept at catching child traffickers, child sexual abusers and online pornographers. Artificial intelligence is helping to grow the capture rate exponentially while simultaneously reducing the human toll on law enforcement and data mining staff. In fact, evidence now shows that the psychological damage from viewing online images while vetting child-centered sex trafficking online has an adverse effect on our men and women in blue.
Mass murder, like the attack on Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre in 2017 and the ongoing eradication of Iraqi Yazidis by ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), is rarely without precedent. For international watchdogs, as for law enforcement, a forensic path extends backward, through escalating violence and inflammatory language, through news reports and social media, through a myriad of unresolved conflicts that lead, seemingly inexorably in hindsight, to loss of life. The needle points to the haystack, but the haystack tells us little of the needle.
As Canadian police fleet managers continue to deal with the ever-changing world of mobile technology, Sound Off Signal has provided a solution with a program called bluePRINT.
Back in 1989 when Blue Line was first published, technology in law enforcement was a fairly primitive affair, and much of the daily work centred around paper —  lots of it. Most patrol officers carried a briefcase filled with numerous five- or six-part reports, which used thin carbon-paper inserts to transfer the hand-written word through to the parts below.
On March 7, 2018, Canada’s Minister of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale hosted a Summit on Gun and Gang Violence. The conference brought together a range of experts and decision-makers from law enforcement, government and academia to address the growing threat of gang violence.
Our digitally connected world has created enormous benefits for our business and personal lives. That being said, the advancements in technology have not been wholly positive. The development of technologies such as encryption, the dark web and cryptocurrencies have created a situation where criminals who are abusing children, trafficking human beings, committing fraud online or enabling terrorism almost have an unlimited right to digital privacy, shielding them from investigation and prosecution through technological means.
Change can be an anxiety-filled experience and yet it takes place throughout every aspect of our lives, whether we recognize it or not. Everything — from the cells in our bodies to the universe we live in — is constantly changing and evolving. I spoke of change in past articles and how our perception of that change can be viewed from a positive perspective. As the world evolves, we are also learning of and creating change with our perception of every experience. It is so exciting to know we can never unlearn anything and as such we are forever changed.
As we enter the new year, we often come up with a fresh look at what we would like to change in our lives. As I look around at the people in this world and how they go about achieving their goals, I notice there are two approaches typically taken:
It happens in every service in a variety of ways; our brothers and sisters sometimes end up in circumstances that take them away from the family in blue.
It is your last night shift and the queue is full. You had court between your nights and your four-month old is trying to figure out that night time is for sleeping not crying. To top it off, your spouse snaps about the lack of financial means to look after the overflow of bills. Your anxiety levels are high and the coffee and $5 Chinese food special is churning in your gut as you try to fit yet another paid duty in to bring financial relief. A recent call you attended haunts you; voices echo in your mind and visions replay over and over. You contemplate going home sick so you can have a few drinks to take the edge off but you know you will have to listen to your spouse go on about how you are doing nothing to help with the house and kids.
When we ponder the significant events that have occurred nationwide in our policing family —from the shooting of our members in Onanole, Man. and Fredericton, N.B., to our Ontario Provincial Police officers who have died by suicide — we have to ask ourselves what we are doing as a society to support the surviving members.
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
The body worn camera (BWC) debate was one of the topics we covered at Blue Line Expo 2018. It seems to be a discussion we revisit frequently — never getting much further along in a collective Canadian consensus than the last time we all hummed and hawed about the best way to navigate this evolving technology.
Collaboration within the law enforcement sphere has been exploding in the headlines I’m reading these days.
Blue Line is kicking off 2019 in party mode: there’s 30 big candles on our cake to celebrate this month!
As Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair announced federal funding to target gun violence and illegal firearms last month, I went back to thinking of the 3D firearm printing debacle in the U.S. this summer.
Selecting stories for this issue — traditionally our clothing and duty gear edition — proved to be quite the challenge.
It doesn’t occur that often, but every now and then, when we have our booth set up at a trade show, someone will exclaim, “when did two women become the face of Blue Line?”
It’s a busy Saturday night at the port of Douglas, south of Vancouver. You’re a CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) officer, in your third one-hour road stint that shift. The secondary parking area is full; mostly travelers paying taxes and people applying for immigration permits.
I closely followed the unfortunate situation regarding the potential replacement of the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) by Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner, who has been noted in the media as a “longtime ally” of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. I have read various responses to the situation, including the letter that was written by the acting commissioner, Brad Blair, and the response by others to that letter.
Some of the most renowned nitpickers to frequent a police training venue would be the drill instructors, closely followed by equitation personnel.
It has probably gone unnoticed by many, but here in my agency, we are currently in what I believe is the closest we may get to a lull when it comes to “controversy over police officers.”
Const. Mark Simms and Const. Jordan Long, two B.C. police officers, face a situation of grave injustice in Cuba. Detained in mid-March after criminal accusations were made against them by a Canadian woman, they are still there. They have not been allowed to leave the country.
Silos! This has been the common complaint relating to information and intelligence not being shared between agencies and, in some cases, within agencies themselves. The Ontario Gang Investigators Association (ONGIA) actively seeks to reduce information silos by bringing law enforcers together.
Just a Cop: A Memoir of My 30 Years with the Toronto Police Service and as an Undercover AgentBy Hal Cunningham; 2018, 184 pagesISBN: 978-1-792-06588-0
You Break It, You Buy It: Owning the Life Behind the Broken ReflectionBy Dean Young; 2018, 100 pagesISBN: 978-1-387-43130-4
Armor Your Self: How to Survive a Career in Law EnforcementBy John Marx; 2017, 433 pagesISBN: 978-1544661810
You Can’t Make This Sh#t Up: Policing Through StoriesBy Randy Ward; 2018, 128 pagesISBN: 978-1775289302
Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain WorldBy Melissa Agnes; 2018, 288 pagesISBN: 978-1684014132
The North-West Mounted Police: 1873-1885By Jack F. Dunn; 2017, 812 pagesISBN: 9780969859611
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.
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.
It can be tempting to stigmatize a previous or subsequent generation. It is often a reaction to fear of the unknown. Embracing a way of thinking or behaving in a way that is foreign to us can be daunting, as we are inclined to think and act according to what we know or believe to be true.
The topic of leadership is at the forefront of various models and strategic plans amongst law enforcement organizations. Despite being recognized as a key factor to success and human resource wellness, “leadership” remains an elusive and poorly understood subject, often blurred by a number of myths.
Silence is a peculiar and multi-faceted concept. Studies demonstrate silence in its purest form is beneficial for the brain. We all need periods of silence to relax, rest, or reflect on things. Silence is linked to a number of virtues, such as respect, decorum and modesty. We hold a minute of silence out of deep respect for our fallen officers and troops. It is also an extremely powerful tool capable of conveying a strong message without a single word being spoken. Silence offers many positive effects but it can also have a dark side. This negative counterpart will be explored in this article.
Taking control, conflict resolution and problem solving are key skills of law enforcement officers. When a community member’s problems exceed their ability to cope, no matter the breadth of the issue, the instinct and common practice is to call the police for a resolution. In the mind of many, the police have all the answers and the ability to meet their expectations.
A career in law enforcement is undoubtedly highly stressful with an elevated risk of experiencing life-threatening situations, traumatic incidents involving violence, fatal accidents and other death scenes.
Water is life. Over 60 per cent of the human body is composed of water. In fact, proper fluid replenishment is an essential part of health, proper body functioning and preventing dehydration.
It is no secret that assaults on correctional officers in Canada have increased significantly over the last few years. This rise may be attributed to a number of factors such as generational specifics of inmate population, overcrowding and recent changes to institutional policy and procedures.
Anyone who has ever been employed by a correctional employer anywhere in the world knows gang and other criminal activity does not stop when the offenders are arrested and brought into custody. Offenders and gang leaders find various creative ways to continue their criminal enterprise from behind the walls of correctional institutions. Three-way calling to arrange business transactions, using a third party to traffic contraband and arrange for outside deals, and even human trafficking are only a few ways that offenders and gang leaders continue to communicate and run their criminal enterprise from behind the prison walls.
I found myself aimlessly scrolling through Facebook recently – you know those types of days – when I came across a post of a book with a front cover that looked a whole lot like the inside of the old “Don Jail” in Toronto.
It was mid-afternoon on another usually busy day at my office. My phone rang a few times — it was one of my old co-workers from the Toronto Jail, most widely known as the Don Jail. I knew he was now retired and hasn’t been well for a while, so I was happy to hear from him.
“Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty. Your employees should know that if they do the job they were hired to do with a reasonable amount of competence and efficiency, you will support them.”- Harvey Mackay
It’s Tuesday morning, about 9:00 a.m. and I just made it in to work at my office downtown Toronto.
The link between animal cruelty and other forms violence was discussed in the February 2019 Behavioural Sciences column. Animal cruelty can co-exist with other forms of violence, such as domestic violence, homicide and child abuse, to name a few. The blood sport of dogfighting, and its connection with gangs and organized crime, was also discussed. Although more prevalent in other countries, it has become a growing concern in Canada. Dogfighting is the act of encouraging, aiding and assisting in baiting or fighting of dogs (or dogs fighting with other animals) and is addressed in s.445.1 of the Criminal Code.
Referred to, in the academic literature, as the Violent Link, research has shown a robust connection between animal abuse and interpersonal violence (IPV) and, in particular, domestic violence (DV). Pets can be found in as many as 80 per cent of these homes and may also be at risk of suffering severe or fatal injury. Victims of domestic abuse have a strong bond with their pets and their abuser is aware of this bond and can use it as an abusive tactic against their partner.
Once upon a time alcohol was banned in Canada. Initially the decision to ban alcoholic beverages was done by individual communities in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, it was done by some provinces, and then there was a nation-wide prohibition from 1918 to 1920.
We would like to introduce Blue Line’s newest column, Behavioural Sciences, by Peter Collins, the operational forensic psychiatrist with the Ontario Provincial Police’s Criminal Behaviour Analysis Unit. Collins has an extensive background in violent crime and has worked with, as well as instructed, numerous criminal justice agencies in North America and beyond. This column will tackle modern behavioural issues in relation to law enforcement and seek to provide solutions through the latest research and tools, as well as stimulate discussion. Special thanks to Niagara Regional Police officer Robin Bleich for making the introduction.

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