Opinion

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:
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.
A three-member panel of Ontario’s Divisional Court has found police conduct amounted to racial profiling and it nearly tripled the damages that had been awarded at trial.
Ontario’s top court has thrown out a marijuana grow-op that police found in a man’s home after they entered it to check on his parenting.
A Saskatchewan judge has thrown out a two-foot-long machete as evidence because a police officer failed to articulate the need for a safety search.
Exigent circumstances are more about urgency than about police convenience,’ Canada’s top court has said. In R. v. Paterson, 2017 SCC 15, the police responded to a dropped 911 call from a cellphone. A woman was crying and apparently injured. The cellphone belonged to the caller’s mother and she was contacted. The mother told police that she thought her daughter was with her boyfriend, Paterson, who lived in a nearby apartment. The mother also said he had a shotgun. The police went to the apartment building and learned that the daughter had been transported by ambulance to the hospital with unknown injuries. The police knocked several times at Paterson’s apartment and announced “police,” and the door was eventually opened.
A man who sent email messages to an undercover police officer posing as a 14-yearold girl did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the messages received by the officer.
BC’s highest court has ruled that the police may ask a detainee narrowly tailored safety questions in the course of a protective search incidental to an investigative detention.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our annual Supply & Services Guide is always a good starting point to shop for uniforms, equipment and supplies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the cold winter night of November 24, 1990, 17-year-old Neil Stonechild, a young aboriginal man left a residence in Saskatoon, after consuming an amount of alcohol over the preceding few hours. He was not adequately dressed for the intensity of that unusually cold Saskatchewan night. Five days later, his body was found frozen to death in a snowy field on the edge of town.
This book should be on the “must-read” list for all police officers and their partners and other adult family members. For officers it will help them understand why they often feel the way they do, and for partners and family members it will help them understand why the officer in their lives behaves the way he or she does. Police managers and administrators would also be well advised to read this book to better understand and deal with the emotional dangers their personnel face during their careers.
Reading retired OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis's new book on leadership brought back a lot of memories about the good, bad and indifferent leaders I served under during my career.
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.
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.
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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