Peel’s Ninth Principle

Principle Nine

 To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

In 1829 the word ‘efficiency’ had a broader meaning in the context of measuring organizational performance than it does now.  As performance measurement has progressed, organizational performance measurement has been divided into two distinct areas, efficiency measurement and effectiveness measurement.  In 1829 the term efficiency essentially embodied the meaning of both those terms.  As the word is used in the Ninth Principle it embodies both the concept of delivering a service at a reasonable price, and delivering a service that has the desired outcomes.

This principle is one of the first to express the need to test or measure  police performance.  It essentially says the emphasis should be on outcomes as opposed to outputs.  In this context the desired outcome is the absence of crime and disorder, the outputs are the actions undertaken by police to achieve the outcome.         

Efficiency is measured in terms of cost, i.e. are tax payers receiving good value for their tax dollars?  In the policing context cost is examined at various levels.  At the highest level cost would be looked at as the per capita cost of policing.  The per capita cost of policing in Winnipeg according to the Winnipeg Police 2008 Annual Report was $259.40.* Cost can also be calculated on a per-unit of service basis.  As an example, the cost of issuing a photo radar ticket in Winnipeg was reported to cost $48.01 in  2004. **  Once established, cost figures can then be compared to costs reported by other police agencies to determine a relative level of efficiency. 

Establishing whether the organization is effective is more difficult and involves an examination of whether the organization is doing the right things to achieve its stated goals.  Most police agencies have a stated or at least implied goal of reducing crime and disorder. Effectiveness measures establish whether the strategies, approaches and tactics employed result in the desired outcomes.  In Winnipeg, as an example, the Police have employed an innovative strategy to address the auto theft issue.  The stated goal was to reduce auto- theft.  With reductions of 16, 37 and 43 percent between 2006 and 2008 the strategy can be judged to be effective. *   The desired outcome was realized.

Many public service delivery organizations (both policing and non police) have become overly politicized.  In the case of municipal policing, police departments can become extensions of their political masters – especially if there are no effective buffers between the police and the mayor.  This is most clearly demonstrated in the United States where the links between municipal policing and mayors is closer than in Canada.  In the United States the mayor’s agenda frequently becomes the police agenda.  In some major American cities the position of Chief of Police is essentially a political appointment.  Many mayors in large American cities run on law and order platforms and one of the first things they do when elected is to appoint a new police chief whose approach and values are in keeping with their own.  Miami and Atlanta are recent examples of this phenomenon.

The more politicized an agency becomes the greater the emphasis on activities, or in Peel’s words, “visible evidence of police action”.  The emphasis on action allows both the politicians and the police to be seen to be doing something.  The emphasis on action can detract from a close examination of the services being delivered.  Program evaluation is mandatory to determine if the actions undertaken are yielding the desired results in terms of outcomes. The action orientation tends to discourage evaluation. 

Daily news conferences held by police agencies are intended to inform the public through the media of crime that is currently occurring in the community and, of course, what the police are doing about it (actions).  News conferences are not the forum in which to discuss outcomes. 

Reporting to the public on outcomes is more appropriate in an annual report.   Most police agencies, however, give limited coverage to reporting on outcomes in their annual reports choosing instead to highlight activities.  It is the statistical portion of the annual report that tells the real story about police efficiency and effectiveness, not the pictures and stories.  Statistical reporting, however, accounts for only 10% (in terms of volume) of most police agency annual reports. 

Some progressive police departments actually publish meaningful business and strategic plans that outline in detail police priorities and goals for the next 1-3 years.  The degree of goal achievement is reported upon in subsequent years and in some cases during the course of the current year.  Generally the goals relate to crime reduction or the restoration of order in the community and reflect an attempt by police to deliver services and measure their outputs and outcomes in keeping with this principle as opposed to simply reporting on their activities.    

In order to achieve outcomes police agencies need to state their goals and objectives up front and then report on their progress.  This needs to become part of the public accountability process.  In order for police to establish widespread public support they need to be accountable to the public. 

The Vancouver Police Department publishes an Annual Business Plan which lists both its goals and the strategies that will be employed to achieve the goals. ***  It serves as a good example for police agencies that do not formulate or publish meaningful business or strategic plans. 

*Winnipeg Police 2008 Annual Report.  Available at

** City of Winnipeg Photo Radar Audit.  Available at

*** Vancouver Police Department, 2009 Annual Business Plan.  Available at

Helicopter Naming Rights

Today the City’s Executive Policy Committee approved the capital expenditure for the purchase of a helicopter for the Winnipeg Police Service.  Already, the spin from City Hall is taking the citizens of Winnipeg on a new course.  It is no longer just a helicopter: it is now a “Crime Copter”.  A catchy phrase with a  strong ‘law and order and tough on crime’ ring to it.  Politicians are astute enough to recognize the benefits of portraying that image.  

Personally, I was not surprised to see our Mayor come up with the required funding for the so-called Crime Copter.  It seems at budget time there are always a few hidden pockets or hats with rabbits or money in them tucked away for pet projects.  The helicopter money was a nice ‘pull from the hat’ at the eleventh-hour.  

What did surprise me was the discovery that the helicopter was listed on the Sponsor Winnipeg website as one of the city assets available for naming rights.   Had the debate about the merits of  purchasing a helicopter been legitimate the posting of the naming rights would have been delayed until the funding decision was made, if for no other reason than for the sake of perception.  Some people may have naively concluded that as the issue was being debated and winding its way to  EPC for a vote, a final decision was still pending.   Listing the helicopter as being available for naming rights two weeks prior to the vote suggests the decision to purchase a helicopter was made at least two weeks ago, maybe longer, but certainly not today.  

Listing a city asset as being available for naming rights before the decision to even acquire the asset is finalized is, if not an abuse of process , at the very least, inappropriate.  One could simply dismiss it as a scenario where the organization is so large that the left hand is not aware of what the right hand is doing.  Or, is it instead a situation where the right hand is simply arrogant. 

Perhaps the City should take a closer look at what else is on the ‘naming block’ and make sure we own it before naming rights are awarded.

The link below will take you to the Sponsor Winnipeg website:

A Helicopter for the Winnipeg Police – Part 3

Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 likely conveyed a hint of cynicism.  Any cynicism would be based on an examination of various documents:  specifically, the most recently available Winnipeg Police Business Plan and the recently submitted Capital Budget request.  Neither mentions a helicopter which might suggest that acquiring one is a ‘Johnny come lately’ idea.  

Based on media reports, it would appear that acquiring a helicopter was not high on the minds of anyone – not the mayor, the police service, nor the province – until the idea was refloated by the Winnipeg Sun about a year ago.  Was there a memo somewhere that  decisions re police tactics and approaches now come under the umbrella of the Winnipeg Sun?!  

Be that as it may, at least according to newspaper reports, a Sun reporter brought up the topic with the police service a few months later and they subsequently agreed to study the issue. 

Could it be that the Sun’s giddiness about a helicopter is related to a desire for naming rights?  ‘Sun 1’ has a nice ring to it and goes well with the ‘midnight sun’ feature most police helicopters are equipped with.  Perhaps the mayor’s ‘put your name on a piece of Winnipeg’ campaign is about to pay off.  

The study of the issue by police started some 10 months ago.  The report generated by that study has not been shared publicly.  Perhaps the mayor has a copy, but it’s probably too complicated for the tax paying masses to comprehend. 

What the Report Most Likely Contains 

One can only guess at what is contained in the report.  Probably fairly precise figures as to the cost of purchasing a helicopter together with the cost of the special equipment required in order for a helicopter to be useful in an urban setting.  It may outline additional costs relating to leasing hangar space.  Appropriate housing space is critical if the helicopter is to meet the “it can be in the air in a matter of minutes” criteria expressed by the Winnipeg Police Service, especially on those minus 30 degree days.  Suffice it to say the purchase and storage costs are the easiest to estimate and will be in the report.  

Based on the experience of other police departments, the operating costs can also be determined with a high degree of precision.  A figure for salary costs (pilot and spotter), plus fuel, maintenance, insurance etc., can all be plugged into the costing formula.  

Determining the cost side is the easy part.  It’s determining the benefits side that requires greater discussion and presents more challenges.    

The Report will no doubt contain operational performance information from other police departments such as Edmonton and Calgary listing total flight hours, response times, vehicle pursuits and foot chases managed, as well as the number of arrests directly attributable to the presence of the helicopter.   And by the way, Winnipeg must be looking at some kind of ‘super’ whirlybird as, according to the Winnipeg Police, it’s expected to be in the air some “4 to 5 hours a day”.  That is actually quite amazing: the Edmonton police helicopter, for example, had an all time high of 1150 flight hours in 2007 which  equates to 3.15 hours of flight time when averaged over 365 days.  There is a limit to how many hours a year a helicopter can be flown from a technical maintenance and safety standpoint.  The only way to achieve the suggested four to five hours a day would be to restrict the helicopter to only flying between 230 and 287 days a year.  

Without questioning the validity of the figures from other police agencies the definition of the terms being used is important.  One must remember that when new programs, or equipment acquisitions (particularly expensive ones as in this case) are being evaluated, the definition of terms such as ‘arrest directly attributable to’ becomes important in terms of evaluating the actual role played by the new technology or approach that is under study.    

The report, in addition, will no doubt include one of the mayor’s favorite lines of reasoning about how in terms of efficiency a helicopter on the ground is the equivalent to a large number of police officers on the ground.  A study conducted by KPMG pegged that figure at 15 two-person units.  That’s a ratio of 30:1 – even higher than the 18:1 ratio the mayor talked about.   

What the Report Should Contain 

The report should reflect the realities of policing in Winnipeg with the ultimate decision being based on a careful examination of the intended use of a helicopter.  

This would involve preparing a list of all the call types (situations and scenarios) to which a helicopter would be most likely dispatched. 

A review of historic calls for service data would determine the frequency of the types of calls identified for helicopter dispatch.  (Such an analysis should be mandatory in any event to determine when most of those calls occur so as to best determine during which hours of the day a helicopter should be deployed.)  Once those data are available the following questions need to be answered: 

  • How many calls identified for helicopter dispatch ( vehicle pursuits, pursuits of suspects on foot,  and of course those other examples cited – putting  snipers on roofs, locating lost elderly people in the Assiniboine forest) occur in Winnipeg on an annual basis; 


  • How many of those calls occur during the proposed helicopter flight hours; 


  • In what percentage of cases would the presence of a helicopter make an appreciable difference in terms of a successful conclusion to the call for service/incident? 


Only once those numbers have been determined, can the cost per incident of helicopter usage be established.  It’s simple mathematics. 

Even that step is fairly basic compared to establishing the benefits.  Benefits come in the form of either real savings or opportunity savings.  ‘Savings’ in this context are not usually calculated in terms of millions of dollars that can be removed from the police budget; rather, they are primarily in the form of opportunity savings.  Opportunity savings are defined as savings in terms of freeing up resources to do other things because of the deployment of a helicopter. 

Consider the scenario of a helicopter being dispatched to do a flyover over of a ‘brawl’ that involves a large number of brawlers.  (This is an example given by the Winnipeg Police although no media reporting of brawls comes to mind.)   Further, suppose the helicopter crew were to determine that it was actually a fight between two or three people as opposed to a brawl involving a large number of people and therefore less likely to spin out of control or require a large police presence.  In such a case the patrol units dispatched to the event could be diverted to other activities, thereby creating an opportunity saving.  In other words, instead of wasting their time driving to a non-existent brawl they could perform other policing functions.  Opportunity savings, if properly invested, can enhance efficiency and effectiveness.  

The report should address all potential opportunity-saving scenarios and once those are quantified, the next step would be to address the issue of how those ‘savings’ would be invested.  Unless those savings can be directed into specific areas of police operations and used to translate operational activities into tangible outcomes (such as a reduction in response times, the overall crime rate, or a reduction in crime rate related to specific crimes, i.e. residential break in or non-commercial robberies which are currently on the rise in Winnipeg), the savings would be meaningless.  They become nothing more than paper tigers in support of a weak argument.  

Once the capital and operational costs, the per-call cost, and the question of how the opportunity savings will be invested has been determined, politicians can start wrapping their heads around the issue and intelligently address the appropriate question, that is, do the Winnipeg Police need a helicopter vs. the want aspect of the question. 

The following questions need to be answered by our politicians:  Can the per incident cost of having a helicopter be justified?  Are the opportunity savings real, and have they been presented in the form of evidence based outcomes that are measureable?  Lastly, if the police service were given 1 to 1.5 million dollars of new money annually with the understanding it was to be applied to the most effective and most efficient means of preventing crime, reducing crime, and enhancing community safety, would they then use it to purchase a helicopter?

Taser Cams

What is a Taser Cam?  Quite simply it’s a digital audio and video recording device that’s attached to the battery that powers the Taser. 

What does the Taser Cam do?  Once the Taser is removed from its holster and activated it starts recording.

What does the Taser Cam cost?  $400 to $500 (USD) per unit.

Which model of Taser will accommodate the Taser Cam?  Model X26

Which model of Taser do the Winnipeg Police use?  Model X26

How many Tasers does the Winnipeg Police Service have?  In the range of 175

What would it cost to equip the Winnipeg Police Service with Taser Cams?  Between 70 and 90 thousand dollars

Why don’t the Winnipeg Police use Taser Cams?   That’s a question worth considering.     

Based on the 2010 capital budget submissions it seems that the Winnipeg Police Service is preparing to spend a fair bit of cash on digital recording technology.  The 2010-2015 preliminary capital budget contains $523,000.00 for digital recoding devices in interview rooms in 2012.  It also contains $1,000,000.00 (yes you read that right, it’s one million) for an officer mobile video system in 2015.  These preliminary capital budget figures would seem to suggest that capturing the actions of officers and suspects on video is of some importance. 

Capturing the actions of officers on video is especially important in circumstances where force is used.  This became very apparent as the Braidwood Inquiry into the RCMP use of Taser at the Vancouver airport unfolded.  The Braidwood Inquiry was able to rely on some video recorded by a by-stander but in most cases police use of Tasers is unrecorded.  Unrecorded, despite the fact that the technology to do so exists, and is relatively affordable.   Using an estimate of 175 Taser units the cost of equipping the Winnipeg Police Service with Taser Cam would be under 100 thousand dollars. 

With the existing climate in Canada regarding Taser use it is in everyone’s interest to record their use.  A video of each and every Taser deployment would establish an unbiased record of what took place.  It would serve to protect both the public and the police.  It would curb any misuse of Tasers by police, and it would nullify complaints against police about Taser use in situations where they were clearly appropriately deployed.  

Perhaps this is any area where Standing Committee on Protection and Community Services could ask the police to do a study and submit a report.  Careful examination might reveal that although the police have not asked for and perhaps don’t want Taser Cams, they may actually need them.   

Pictured below (left) is the Taser Cam and (right) a Taser X26 gun.  (Images retrieved from the Taser International website on 09 11 24)


A Helicopter for the Winnipeg Police – Part 2

Part 2 

In the early 1960’s Mick Jagger and Keith Richard wrote, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you find you get what you need”.  Although the words were written some 50 years ago, one can find some relevance to the current argument about whether or not police in Winnipeg need a helicopter, serving as they do, to underscore the difference between wants and needs. 

At a personal level the utilization of our own resources gives us the freedom to indulge ourselves in terms of what we want.  They are our resources, not public resources and the individual is the ultimate decision maker on how those resources should be spent or allocated. 

In the public realm the expenditure of public monies must involve a careful examination of ‘wants’ and ‘needs’.  In terms of Winnipeg, should the police feel that they currently are not able to fulfill their mandate unless they have the use of a helicopter, then they may be able to make the argument that they ‘need’ a helicopter.  If, on the other hand, they are executing the fulfillment of their mandate and a helicopter would simply enhance their ability to do so, then it becomes a ‘want’ versus a need. 

At both the individual and organizational level, things we want are usually justified on an emotional basis and supported by anecdotes.  Needs on the other hand are justified based on logic, reason and factual proof.   Phrases  like “it would be a huge benefit” or “it could be used to locate missing elderly people in Assiniboine Forest” or “ it’s the right thing to do” and even “it’s as good as 18 officers on the ground;” and “it could be used to put a sniper on a roof” do not reflect deep thought from our deep thinkers. 

Where is the beef?  Where is the report being prepared by the Winnipeg Police Service, the report that was supposed to be released months ago?   

Things that are asked for because they are needed are backed by factual information that can be used to reach a logical conclusion and justify the decision made.    One can only hope that the police helicopter report will be brought to bear before the funding decision is made. 

It is the role of the police to prove the effectiveness of helicopters to those who control the purse strings.  And the proof should consist of more than simple anecdotes from police agencies that have a helicopter or companies trying to sell helicopters.  It should consist of more than just examples of things a helicopter could be used for.  The proof needs to be in the form of outcomes, end results that can be attributed to a helicopter.  Results must be evidence based. 

Politicians must be prepared to ask the pertinent and at times tough questions.  We need politicians who are prepared to be objective and who insist on seeing the proof even if they personally support a proposal.  What we need are politicians who are willing to determine objectively whether a helicopter is a ‘want ‘or a ‘need’.  That is their fiduciary responsibility when spending taxpayers’ public dollars.      

If any civic department comes before their Standing Committee or Executive Policy Committee (EPC) and is able to prove that in order to fulfill their mandate (which is set by council), they require additional or different resources or policies, the decision makers have three choices:  fund the request or approve the policy change being sought; change the mandate; or, allow the department to flounder knowing they will be unable to fulfil their mandate with their existing resources or under existing polices. 

Leaving funding for a helicopter out of the first draft of the capital budget may mean that the mayor and EPC have decided it’s a want and not a need.  On the other hand it may simply be an astute political move.   From a strategic standpoint, by not including the funding, the mayor and EPC provide themselves with an opportunity to gauge the response on the issue without incurring any political heat or backlash.  The process provides for enough wiggle room for helicopter funding to be added later in the process.   It’s always easier to add something to a draft budget than to remove something.   Anything removed from a budget, even a draft, is seen as a promise broken.  Anything added is seen as being responsive to the will of supporters.

If logic and reason prevail, the decision will be based on facts.  If  ‘we want what Calgary has or what Edmonton has’  is the mentality that prevails, don’t be surprised to see funding for a whirlybird in the budget when it’s finalized in December  – with or without a formal report on the study conducted by police. 

The facts might only confuse the issue.

Peel’s Eighth Principle

Principle Eight 

To recognize always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the state, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty. 

This principle addresses the separation that must exist between the police and other components of the criminal justice system. 

The criminal justice system consists of four main components.  They are: the police; the crown; the judiciary; and corrections.  Each component plays a specific role in the criminal justice process.  The police determine what will become the subject of investigation, and how the investigation will be conducted.   With a few exceptions (cases where the approval of the attorney general is required to lay specific charges), crown prosecutors cannot tell the police if charges should be laid or which charges should be laid.  The police may at times consult the crown to avail themselves of legal expertise but the decision to lay charges (with the noted exception) falls under the purview of the police. 

Police may lay a charge if they, on reasonable and probable grounds, believe that an offence has been committed.  Reasonable and probable ground (sometimes referred to as simply reasonable grounds) has been defined as a set of conditions or circumstances that cause an ordinary prudent individual to form a strong belief which goes beyond mere suspicion. 

If police determine that reasonable and probable grounds exist and lay a charge, the crown determines if the charge will be prosecuted.  The crown will examine the strength of the case in terms of the credibility of the witnesses and the admissibility and strength of the evidence gathered by police.  The crown must look beyond simple reasonable grounds.  In court the crown must prove criminal cases ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.  This is the highest level of proof required by the courts.  Civil cases are decided based on a lower standard,  the civil standard being  balance of probabilities.  If the crown is of the opinion that the case can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, in other words there is a likelihood of conviction, there is a secondary consideration.  The crown must determine if it is in the public interest to prosecute the case.  Although the police can offer their opinion, the decision to either proceed with or stay a charge lays with the crown.   

Judges have no input into police investigations or decisions by the crown in terms of cases that should be brought before the courts.  Their role is to hear and pass judgement on the cases that are brought before them.  Judges decide if the crown, based on the evidence gathered by police, has proved a case ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.  If not, judges are required to ‘acquit’, that is  find the accused person not guilty. 

If a person is found guilty, it is the role of judges to impose a penalty. 

 The main issue addressed by this principle, that of the police not ‘usurping’ or ‘seeming to usurp’ the role of judges, is at times not adhered to by police and at times results in public sniping by police. Although there are at times disagreements between police and the crown as to whether cases should be prosecuted, these disagreements rarely spill over into a public forum. 

Comments by police on either a judge’s findings or penalties imposed are not in keeping with this principle and are somewhat unseemly.  Firstly, they speak to a possible lack of understanding on the part of some police executives and union spokespersons as to the police role in the criminal justice system.  Secondly, to publicly criticize judges is inappropriate for two reasons:  judges are not in a position to defend their findings and decisions in a public forum, and an appeal process exists to review and remedy flawed judicial decisions.     

Police executives should not allow  frustration in relation to specific cases to cloud their judgement.  They should refrain from public comment that is critical of the judiciary.  Police constables and investigators working on the front lines should not and must not allow their own personal views of judicial decisions, or the comments of police executives, to influence them in terms of their interaction with suspects.  Any police perception of either an unwillingness or inability by the judiciary to impose appropriate penalties cannot be allowed to translate into any form of behaviour either seen, or intended, to be punishing to the suspects they interact with.  Punishment is clearly not the role of police. 

The criminal justice system was designed to ensure a separation of roles between the police, the crown and the judiciary.  The system is designed to ensure fair treatment at all stages of the process.  The truism that it is preferable for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to be convicted speaks to the tradition of our approach to justice.  While all legal avenues should be pursued to ensure that the guilty are convicted, the pre-conviction rights of suspects, and the rights of the innocent must share an equal footing.  Those rights include the right not to be punished prior to conviction. 

Any police officer who either does not understand this or can’t live with it should pursue alternate employment.

Truthfullness in Policing: An Issue of Public Trust

The citizens of Winnipeg expect police to be tough on crime but do they expect police to step beyond the bounds of the rules in order to do so?  Is it acceptable for the police to ‘fudge the truth’?  Do the ends justify the means if the cause is noble?

According to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis, “Cops have been getting a pass on lying for a long time”.  This has prompted Davis to introduce a policy that sees police officers in Boston fired if they lie in the course of their duties. 

In Canada the approach has been less direct.  Although the courts have been urging police agencies to use audio and video tape interactions with suspects for some years, the reasons given have always been couched in benevolent terms.  The courts have indicated that audio and videotaping would establish an accurate record of what transpired and add credibility to the evidence of police officers.  What judges have been loath to say is that they simply don’t believe the testimony of some police officers who appear before them. 

The term used by defence lawyers and enlightened police executives in the United States (and at least one in Canada) is ‘testilying’.  The term is commonly used by defence counsel in Winnipeg.  It has even been suggested that lawyers maintain an informal list of police officers whom they suspect of ‘testilying’.  They share this list with each other so they can properly prepare themselves when they will be cross-examining one of the listed officers.    

Lack of truthfulness by police officers manifests itself in different situations.  Some of the common ones include:

  • When testifying in court
  • When preparing official police reports
  • When documenting a case in the form of their original notes
  • When presenting information to obtain search warrants
  • When being interviewed by internal investigators

Lack of truthfulness by police is one of the first steps down the road of alienating the public from its police.  It the police cannot be trusted to be truthful and honest in all their dealings, public trust is eroded.  

Police in the United States are starting to come to grips with this issue. 

 At a recent Police Executive Research ForumTown Hall Meeting (Denver Colorado, October  4th 2009), in excess of twenty Chiefs of Police including Toronto Police Chief William Blair confronted head on the issue of police truthfulness.  

The discussion revealed that most police chiefs understand the seriousness of the issue and like Commissioner Davis in Boston are taking steps to address it.  Some of their comments underscore the seriousness of the issue from both a public and an organizational perspective. 

Pasadena Chief Bernard Melekian indicated “The Public no longer presumes that police tell the truth”.  * 

North Charleston Chief Jon Zumalt stated: ‘My fundamental filter for making decisions on this is that we’ve got to gain the trust of the people we serve”. * 

And it’s not just an American problem.  Toronto Chief William Blair said this: “We’ve had lots of situations where officers have lied, and it has cost us dearly.”  Blair took it one step further: “And it’s not just a question of lying; it’s also about failing to tell the truth.  What we find so often in cases where an officer or a group of officers are engaged in inappropriate or even illegal behaviour there is reluctance in our policing culture to report it.  People simply don’t tell.  They avoid it, they stay out of it, they don’t have the courage to step forward”.* 

If, as is so often the case, the first step in addressing an issue is recognition that the issue exists, then in the United States and at least one Canadian city we are heading in the right direction.  The problem has been recognized and is on the action agenda.  

Ethics can be taught in a classroom but it does not end there. Ethical behaviour must be practiced on the street and in the office of police executives.  It must be modeled by those in leadership positions.  It must be reinforced through discipline.  Enforcing discipline within police organizations requires commitment from the chief of police.  It requires that tough decisions be made about the future viability of police officers who have been untruthful  as well as  police officers who have been convicted of committing a crime.  

Police chiefs must recognize that they cannot be everyone’s ‘buddy’.  

The first step is recognizing that a problem exists.  In Winnipeg we may not be there quite yet.    

* Quoted from Subject to Debate, A newsletter of the Police Executive Research Forum, Vol.23. No. 10 (October 2009)

Peel’s Seventh Principle

Principle Seven 

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen, in the interests of community welfare and existence. 

Peel’s seventh principle is perhaps the most well know and most often quoted.  The historic tradition referenced by Peel is the tradition of community members coming to each other’s aid.  The principle in essence says that it is incumbent on all citizens to perform, on a part time basis, the policing function in the interest of community welfare and existence.  Police officers are simply citizens paid to do on a full time basis what all citizens are expected to do on an ad hoc basis.  This principle embodies the foundation of what has more recently come to be known as community policing. 

So what does it mean for the public to be the police.  Firstly it implies that the public has a stake and interest in the welfare of the community.  It also requires that the public act in the best interests of the community.  It means that it is incumbent on the public to take action when ‘community welfare’ is threatened. 

Although this principle is often cited by community activists and used as an indicator of the degree of alienation that exists between the police and the public, the fact is that maintaining the tradition enunciated in this principle is a two edged sword.  The principle puts a heavy emphasis on both the police and the public to do their part. 

It is not uncommon to hear complaints from the community that the police are not fulfilling their obligations.  An equally common complaint in policing circles is that the public is not living up to its obligation.  We often hear the comment ‘the police cannot do it alone’.  When you examine the ratio of police to population which is in the range of 1:500 it becomes obvious why the police need public assistance.

The police have an obligation to deliver professional police services on behalf of the public and the public has an obligation to assist the police. 

This means that the public is under an obligation to take action when ‘community welfare’ is threatened. 

Community welfare is a somewhat nebulous term.  It embodies the notion of maintaining a set of community standards and values that allow society to function in keeping with the values of society. 

In Canadian society we value our personal freedoms and rights.  One of those rights is the ownership of personal property and the enjoyment of that property.  The commission of crimes that affect that right, such as auto theft and break-ins, represent a threat to our personal rights and to community welfare.  Under Peel’s model the public has an obligation to assist police in preventing such crimes, and in instances where crimes are or have been committed in assisting police in apprehending the culprits.

The community cannot simply say ‘let the police handle it, that is what they are paid to do’.   Although that is indeed what the police are paid to do, if the police are expected to do it alone without public support, then the size of police departments needs to be increased dramatically if crime is to be held in check. 

So what type of public action did Peel envision on the part of the public?  British Common Law and the Canadian Criminal Code provide provision for members of the public to make citizen arrests in certain circumstances.  In the 1800’s, when criminals were much less likely to be armed this was a more viable option than at present.  Because of the dangers inherent in citizen arrests most police agencies discourage citizens from making arrests.  

There are, however, other measures that, citizens can take.  In the communication era citizens can be in almost instant contact with police via cell phone and provide real time information about crimes in progress.  Also, with existing technology digital photographs that can provide evidence can be taken.  As well, citizens who learn information about crime can pass that information on to police, not to collect a Crime Stoppers reward, but as an obligation of citizenship.    

On the police side of the equation, police must be equipped to receive and deal with information from the public in a professional manner.  One of the often heard complaints from the public is that information passed on to police seems to enter a void, a massive black hole and does not result in action by police.  When police receive information from the public they are under an obligation to deal with it in a professional manner and to report back to citizens what action if any was taken.  The public does not expect miracles but they do expect and have a right to know what action was taken as a result of the information they provided.  Police failure to provide feedback and close the communication loop is often cited as the reason citizens no longer call police and provide information as frequently as in the past.   

So who is mandated to maintain the traditional relationship between the police and the public?  It’s the police.  How do police maintain the relationship?  By living up to their professional obligations and embodying in their day to day practices the values and attitudes espoused by Peel in the first six principles.      

That, however, is much easier said than done and requires a dedicated commitment to the community that few police agencies are prepared to make.

Racial Bias Exists in the Toronto Police Service

Does Racial Bias Exist within the Winnipeg Police Service?

Proposition 1     Racial bias exists in society at large.

Proposition 2     Police agencies hire employees that are representative of society.

Conclusion          Some police officers hold racially biased views.

The question should not be,” does racial bias exist?” but rather, how prevalent is it and how does it affect the delivery of police services to the citizens of Winnipeg. 

The first step in effectively dealing with racial bias in police agencies is recognition from the very top of the organization that it exists.  No organization is able to take effective steps to address an issue until it first recognizes that the issue exists.  If a police chief does not recognize that racial bias exists within a police service, then there is no need to address it.  Racial bias is not an issue that lends itself to change percolating up from the bottom of the organization.  It requires decisive leadership from the top. 

 As recently as 2002, then Toronto Police Chief Julian Fantino took the position that racial bias did not exist within the Toronto Police Service.  The police union followed up with a $2.7 billion class action libel lawsuit against the Toronto Star. * Seven years later current Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair not only recognized that racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service but also recognized that racial profiling is a problem.   

The recognition by Chief Blair that racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service demonstrates true leadership.  It makes it easier for other police chiefs to admit the obvious.  If racial bias exists within the Toronto Police Service it’s hard to imagine that somehow Winnipeg and other major Canadian police agencies are immune. 

In Toronto, Chief Blair has followed up with action that has created positive results in the area of female and visible minority recruitment and hiring. The hiring of women and visible minorities has increased dramatically.  Recruit classes used to have from 10-15 percent female and visible minority representation.  Women and visible minorities now account for 30-40 percent of recruits in typical recruit classes.   The Toronto Police Service has also invited the Ontario Human Rights commission to conduct a review of its policy and procedure. 

Some measures that the Winnipeg Police Service might consider to improve race relations and address the racial bias issue are:

  • Public recognition that racial bias exists within the Service and a commitment from  the top to address it;
  • Employ innovative recruiting strategies to boost the hiring of members of minority groups;
  • Revamp the mandate of the existing Race Relations Unit, and staff it appropriately;
  • Provide meaningful training and education on racial bias and racial profiling at all levels of the organization;
  • Develop partnerships with minority communities;
  • Fully investigate all race related complaints and demonstrate that race motivated misconduct will not be tolerated;
  • Develop a partnership with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and invite a review of the Service’s personnel policies and procedures;
  • Form research relationships with the two local Universities and engage in proactive research to establish the extent of racial bias within the Service and approaches to address it.


*The lawsuit was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada which upheld a previous Ontario Superior Court decision.

Do You Swear to tell the Truth?

Tell it Like it is, or Else

Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis announced in September that he is finalizing a policy that will allow him to fire any police officer who is caught lying in the line of duty.  Davis indicated that truthfulness is fundamental to being a police officer. 

The failure on the part of some Boston police officers to be truthful has resulted in civil suits and tarnished the reputation of the Boston police force. 

The proposed policy would be a ‘one strike and you’re out policy ‘and applies to both oral and written communications by police officers.  Davis acknowledged that policies of this nature are difficult to implement.  Policies of this type also tend to result in opposition from police unions. 

The ‘no lying’ policy is also intended to address the so-called ‘code of silence’ which it is alleged exists in many police departments.  Cases of lack of truthfulness in both Canada and the United states frequently center on fabricating information to obtain search warrants and withholding information from internal investigators whose job it is to investigate allegations against police officers. 

The first two core values of the Winnipeg Police Service are:

Honesty – being truthful and open in our dealings with each other and the citizens we serve; and

Integrity – being above reproach, ethical and doing what is right.

Do these two core values recognize and reinforce the importance the Service puts on truthfulness? 

How committed is the Winnipeg Police Service to its core values and is it doing enough to ensure its core values are being adhered to?  Is the Service prepared to take a stand on the issue of truthfulness and make it a condition of employment?