Blue Line

Features Editor’s Commentary Opinion
Trust, face time — it does matter

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.

September 5, 2017  By Renée Francoeur

I was able to network with some personable and passionate top brass, hear experts detail new technology and products, and gather countless story ideas from loyal readers — all things I can’t really secure as nimbly via an email exchange. Being physically present helps bolster relationships. It leads you to doors you never even knew existed and, as a new face in the industry, it is a crucial component for me as I build my own layer of trust with our audience.

Trust. It was a word I heard numerous times throughout the conference and exhibition.

One of the first visitors to our booth was former Peel Regional police officer George Harrison, who is now the business development director of Altia-Abm Inc. While it is constructive for police to make strides in social media and other technology that can make the job more effective, Harrison told us all too often we forget to take a break from our devices. He shared an anecdote with us from his policing days about how a former criminal contact reached out to him with a useful tip. This contact didn’t call the local station or Crime Stoppers. This contact called someone they recognized, someone they had made a connection with over the years, someone they trusted.

On a similar note, the 2017 cohort of the CACP Executive Global Studies was assigned the task of “examining the dimensions of public trust” in police across 15 different countries. Their findings, which were first presented in Montreal, centred on several foundational principles they regard as the “genetic code” of public trust, including “trust is reciprocal” and “trust demands transparency.” Based on those principles they issued seven “calls to action,” which include charges such as:


•     Engage with each and every community,
•     Employ a mutual trust dashboard, and
•     Celebrate Canadian policing.
       (See more at

“Canadian policing is unique and something we should all be proud of,” said CACP president Mario Harel. “There are many priorities facing Canadian policing but none is more vital than to continue to understand and improve the relationship with those we serve.”

And we do that by continuing to put in the face-to-face time through community policing and on-the-ground volunteer work — by trust.

I can call a number of our readers up, as I did with Chief Frederick for this month’s Q&A on page 8, but it doesn’t beat getting out there, shaking hands and having impromptu conversations.

So while equipping our officers with the latest tablets and modernizing operational centres with technology like mapping analytics, we cannot forget, as Harel says, that serving the community in a positive manner is what matters most.

I look forward to continuing this journey with you all — over email, on the phone, and, most importantly, on show floors, in plenary sessions and meetings, and in the field.

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