Opinion

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.”
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.
Just because an arrestee wants to speak to a lawyer again does not mean they are entitled to do so.
Just because an officer does not follow an approved screening device (ASD) procedures manual does not necessarily mean he cannot rely on the accuracy of its results.
Saskatchewan’s highest court has ruled that s. 10(b) of the Charter does not impose an obligation on a police officer to ask a detainee whether they want to speak to a lawyer.
Asking an accused if he wished to say anything after he expressed a desire to speak to a lawyer breached s. 10(b) of the Charter and his subsequent statement was excluded as evidence. 
A driver who led police on a dangerous high-speed pursuit had his vehicle’s forfeiture upheld on appeal. 
Leaving the scene of an accident to avoid criminal liability for possessing a stolen vehicle still fits the main component for a Criminal Code hit and run charge, as we see in R. v. Seipp, 2018 SCC 01.
Electric bikes have been around almost as long as traditional bicycles, but advances in motor and battery technologies in recent years have been driving consumer growth in places like Europe and China.
Few officers relish the opportunity to complete paperwork and administrative duties. It’s not the most glamorous function of law enforcement, but proper documentation and recording of information is critical to prove the authenticity of evidence and integrity of investigations. By digitizing records, taking some of the “paper” out of paperwork, information becomes more searchable, auditable and reliable, while reducing the administrative burden on officers.
Let’s start by picturing a busy Saturday market scene in a larger Western city:
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.”
How often does life deal us a real challenge and we think: How will I ever get through this? I am just not sure I can.
A routine call is rarely “routine.” Every call we attend as police officers has us fully engaged. When the call is intense, we can be so immersed at times our physiological responses could cause us to lose vital information that might help us successfully navigate the call.
As police officers, our actions in the name of public safety are scrutinized under a microscope. We use too much force, or not enough. We took our time getting to a call or we rushed and caused an accident. Our investigation was fraught with error or we over-analyzed the situation, causing us to experience confirmation bias.
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.
By the time this reaches your mailbox, the Senate will have cast its final vote to usher in Bill C-45, also known as the Cannabis Act. And my guess is we all draw in a sharp breath yet again.
I am proud to bring you our annual Blue Line Expo Show Guide in this month’s issue. On May 3, we have a jam-packed day planned for the Canadian law enforcement community, including an exclusive new workshop on building resiliency with Dr. Stephanie Conn of First Responder Psychology. 
When people mentioned “meditation” to me in the past, I thought of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love book and the far-away ashram she attended where schedules were strict, the silences long and the mental work intense.
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.
Proactive policing should be a big part of what officers do. It shouldn’t simply be responding to radio calls. Conducting high visibility patrols, checking out suspicious people in suspicious circumstances, interacting with vulnerable people and preventing crime and victimization — these are all critical roles for police officers.
A police dog and his or her officer need to function as one. This cannot happen without effective communication.
In 2014, ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) recruiters planted seeds of terror across the world with a digital social media-marketing message. The extremist campaign encouraged newly radicalized members to serve the state in their own home countries, without the need to travel abroad and fight for ISIS. This is what came to be known as the “lone wolf” terrorist ideology.
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.
Taking Care of Business: Police Detectives, Drug Law Enforcement and Proactive InvestigationBy Matthew Bacon; 2016, 352 pagesISBN: 9780199687381
No Time to Bury ThemBy Mark C. Eddy; 2017, 166 pagesISBN: 978-1771802222
Mental Health Awareness: Practical Skills for First RespondersBy Stephanie Miloknay and Marc Laferriere; 2017, 302 pagesISBN: 978-1-77255-255-3
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
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.
Vegan diets, blood type diets, liquid diets, lunar diets, werewolf diets, grapefruit diets — one cannot avoid being bombarded by the hype for the latest “revolutionary” and transformative diet proposal. The overwhelming number of fad diets emerging with “pseudo” scientific demonstrations can easily be confused with proven nutritional facts.
General Sir Samuel James Brown is credited with inventing the duty belt for tactical advantage after an unfortunate incident left him with one arm. Facing this physical disadvantage as a cavalry officer, he designed a belt with an additional leather strap to which he attached his weapons. This innovative concept — still referred to as the “Sam Browne” today — spread widely and made its way into police forces worldwide.
Projective studies astonishingly anticipate half of human kind will be overweight by the year 2030. Sadly, obesity kills over three million people worldwide annually, which is three times more than famine.
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.
It’s Tuesday morning, about 9:00 a.m. and I just made it in to work at my office downtown Toronto.

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