2019: The Research Year in Review
At the end of every calendar year, I collect all of the Canadian peer-reviewed, published, policing research I can find from searches* of academic databases of credible journals.
I do this incredibly painful and completely thankless task in order to present you, my dear readers, with a snap shot of how Canadians are doing in terms of producing
rigorous, useful studies aimed at informing policy and practice.
Rather than recite a bunch of statistics to you, or assess each for their relative merits, I present instead an overview of what 2019 produced and YOU decide how we did. Here goes:
Exploring Barriers to Researching the Economics of Municipal Policing
Sytsma, Victoria & Laming, Erick
Using Ontario municipal expenditure and access to various technologies as an entry point, this article identifies several barriers to and limitations of studying the economics of policing in Canada. We explore several data sources, including the Police Administration Survey, Statistics Canada Census Program, the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, and municipal and First Nations police service annual reports. We conclude that in an era of evidence-based policing, Canadian researchers and practitioners are unable to explore capital expenditure in any meaningful way because of restrictions on accessing detailed equipment information, as well as limitations of the existing Police Administration Survey. Further, several challenges are associated with identifying land area of jurisdiction and size of population served by municipal police services. Such challenges are heightened in those jurisdictions served by First Nations services.
Community Policing: Perceptions of Officers Policing Indigenous Communities
Jones, Nicholas, Ruddell, Rick & Summerfield, Tansi
The introduction of the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP) in 1992 was intended to provide professional and culturally appropriate policing responsive to community needs; however, there is considerable evidence that these efforts have fallen short of what was originally envisioned. This research examines perceptions about police work from a 2014 survey of 827 sworn officers policing Indigenous communities and draws some comparisons to the results of surveys conducted in 1996 and 2007 by different sets of researchers that asked the same questions of officers policing these places. Our results show that perceptions have changed: Officers in 2014 were less likely to favour key aspects of community policing, such as getting to know community members, soliciting help from the community, or getting help from community agencies, and a growing number of officers did not feel that Indigenous policing required a different policing style. We found these results varied according to the respondent's organizational affiliation and whether the individual was of Indigenous ancestry; additionally, as the proportion of non-Indigenous and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers increased, the support for community policing decreased. Given these findings, implications for a renewal of Indigenous policing are discussed.
Implementation, Uptake, and Culture Change: Results of a Key Informant Study of a Workplace Mental Health Training Program in Police Organizations in Canada
Knaak, Stephanie, Luong, Dorothy, Mclean, Robyn, Szeto, Andrew & Dobson, Keith S
Background: Organizational characteristics and attributes are critical issues to consider when implementing and evaluating workplace training. This study was a qualitative examination of the organizational context as it pertained to the implementation of a workplace mental health program called Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) in police organizations in Canada.
Methods: We conducted a qualitative key informant study in 9 different policing organizations in Canada.
Results: The central theme of “successful cultural uptake” emerged as key to R2MR’s implementation and the ability to facilitate broader culture change. Successful cultural uptake was enabled by several contextual factors, including organizational readiness, strong leadership support, ensuring good group dynamics, credibility of the trainers, implementing widely and thoroughly, and implementing R2MR as one piece of a larger puzzle. Successful cultural uptake was also described as enabling R2MR’s impact for broader cultural change within the organization. This enablement occurred through enhanced dialogue about mental health and the introduction of a common language, a supportive workplace culture, increased help seeking, and organizational momentum for additional mental health programming and policy initiatives.
Successful uptake of R2MR has the potential to lead to promote change within policing organizations. The model derived from our research may function as a tool or roadmap to help guide other organizations in the process of or planning to implement R2MR or a similar intervention.
Implementation contexts and the impact of policing on access to supervised consumption services in Toronto, Canada: A qualitative comparative analysis
Bardwell, G., Strike, C., Altenberg, J., Barnaby, L. & Kerr, T.
Background: Supervised consumption services (SCS) are being implemented across Canada in response to a variety of drug-related harms. We explored the implementation context of newly established SCS in Toronto and the role of policing in shaping program access by people who inject drugs (PWID).
Methods: We conducted one-to-one qualitative semi-structured interviews with 24 PWID. Participants were purposively recruited. Ethnographic observations were conducted at each of the study sites as well as in their respective neighbourhoods. Relevant policy documents were also reviewed.
Results: Policing was overwhelmingly discussed by participants from both SCS sites. However, participant responses varied depending on the site in question. Subthemes from participant responses on policing at site #1 described neighbourhood police presence and fears of police harassment and drug arrests before, during, or after accessing SCS. Conversely, subthemes from participant responses on policing at site #2 described immunity and protection from police while using the SCS, as well as a lack of police presence or fears of police harassment and arrests. These differences in implementation contexts were largely shaped by differences in local neighbourhoods and drug scenes. Police policies highlighted federal laws protecting PWID within SCS, but also the exercise of discretion when applying the rule of law outside of these settings.
Conclusions: Participants’ perspectives on, and experiences with, policing as they relate to accessing SCS were shaped by the implementation contexts of each SCS site and how neighbourhoods, drug scenes, and differences in policing practices affected service use. Our findings also demonstrate the disconnect between the goals of policing and those of SCS. Until larger structural barriers are addressed (e.g. criminalization), future SCS programming should consider the impact of policing on the SCS implementation context to improve client experience with, and access to, SCS.
Spousal Violence and Evaluations of Police Performance in Canada: Does Police Contact Matter?
Barrett, Betty, Peirone, Amy & Cheung, Chi
Using data from the Canadian General Social Survey-Victimization main file, this study assessed the relationship between spousal violence victimization and attitudes towards police. In a nationally representative study of male and female Canadians, we conducted multinomial logistic regression analyses to evaluate the extent to which spousal violence was related to evaluations of police performance [in terms of (a) enforcing the law, (b) responding to calls, (c) being easy to talk to, (d) supplying information to reduce crime, (e) treating people fairly, (f) keeping people safe, and (g) overall confidence in the police] after controlling for socio-demographic and neighborhood characteristics. In follow up analyses, we evaluated if victims of spousal violence who had police contact as a direct result of the violence differed from spousal violence victims who did not have police contact. As hypothesized, spousal violence victimization was significantly and negatively associated with ratings of police performance and confidence in the police in all areas. Counter to our hypotheses, we found no significant differences in attitudes towards police related to police contact; however significant differences were found among survivors based on socio-demographic, violence severity, and neighborhood characteristics. Despite twenty years of policies to improve police response to spousal violence, negative sentiments towards police on the part of victims persist. Officer training programs that specifically address relational aspects of policing, in addition to educational aspects, are recommended to improve survivor-police relations.
Collaborative policing: networked responses to child victims of sex crimes
Grace, Anita, Ricciardelli, Rosemary, Spencer, Dale & Ballucci, Dale
Background: In response to child victims of sex crimes, Canadian police agencies are required to work collaboratively with child victim oriented community organizations. Such collaborations involve the navigation of potentially competing objectives of partner agencies.
Objective: In our research, we examine police interpretations of collaborative responses to child victims of sex crimes in order to assess the challenges and benefits of police and community partnerships.
Participants and Setting: We conducted 52 semi-structured interviews and focus groups with police officers working on one of different ten police service organizations across Canada in order to unpack the joint responses of police and community partner agencies to child victims of sex crimes.
Methods: We coded and analysed focus group and interview transcripts for emergent themes pertaining to police interpretations of their collaborations with governmental and non-governmental organizations when responding to child victims of sex crimes. In focusing on the management and sharing of information, the complexities and practicalities of joint responses to child sexual abuse are revealed.
Conclusion: Collaborative tensions, such as differing mandates and blurred boundaries, were present in all participating policing agencies, but police working in and alongside CACs were more likely to recognize that the safety and best interest of children was a shared goal across partner agencies. Operating in successful partnership requires clearly demarcated roles and mutual understanding and respect between both police and partnerships agencies.
What does robbery really cost? An exploratory study into calculating costs and ‘hidden costs’ of policing opioid-related robbery offences
Mark, Aaron, Whitford, Andrew & Huey, Laura
Recent attention on the opioid crisis has almost exclusively focused on this issue as a public health concern. Although we do not dispute this approach, we recognize that the opioid crisis in Canada has also generated significant policing costs—particularly in the form of robberies of pharmacies and other businesses. Much of this cost, we argue, remains unknown and/or hidden from public discussion. In this study, we present a more accurate costing of investigating robbery cases, by focusing on a series of opioid-related robberies committed by two individuals in London, Ontario. To calculate the costs, we sought to identify some of the hidden factors not commonly accounted for. Our results indicate that the cost of investigating a robbery case—from initial call to closing of the case—is comparable with previous estimates. However, as opioid-related pharmacies occur as a series of events, total costs are not insignificant. The results of this study have implications for resource allocation policies and highlight the need for a standard police costing metric and a more nuanced understanding of opioid addiction as a policing issue.
Police civilianisation in Canada: a mixed methods investigation
Kiedrowski, John, Ruddell, Rick & Petrunik, Michael
Although the ratio of police officers to population in Canada has been relatively stable since the 1980s there has been a substantial increase in the number of civilians working for police services. To better understand the economic and other consequences of civilianisation, we employed two strategies: an exploratory qualitative examination of the challenges of civilianisation involving a survey and follow-up interviews; and a quantitative analysis of the factors associated with deploying police officer and civilian personnel in 167 municipal police services. When asked about the costs and benefits of civilianisation, police executives reported that the overall number of employees and costs to the police service are not necessarily reduced, as monies saved through civilianisation were spent elsewhere in their organisations: a finding in keeping with a structural contingency perspective. The ordinary least square regression results show that the prevalence of civilian personnel in the police workforce decreases in poorer communities and they are less likely to be employed in larger organisations. There was also a higher prevalence of civilian personnel in police organisations that operated more efficiently. Given these results, a number of suggestions are made for future policy, practice, and research.
Police Militarization in Canada: Media Rhetoric and Operational Realities
Brendan Roziere, Kevin Walby
This paper examines police militarization in Canada between 2007 and 2017. We contrast media and police accounts of militarization with special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team deployment records disclosed under freedom of information (FOI) law. Discourse analysis reveals a series of armoured vehicle purchases has been justified by police claims about the danger faced by police officers, and the need to keep police officers and the public safe. Media and police accounts thus suggest militarization is limited. However, our FOI research shows planned and unplanned deployment of SWAT teams have risen in major Canadian cities and are higher in some cases than those reported by Kraska on public police militarization in the USA. After revealing this juxtaposition between media rhetoric and the organization and operational reality of police militarization, we reflect on the implications of police militarization in Canada and the challenges that police may face in communications about armoured vehicle purchases as public awareness of SWAT team use rises and police legitimacy is questioned.
New public management and the extension of police control: community safety and security networks in Canada
Carrie B. Sanders & Debra Langan
There are growing discussions regarding the need for collaborative responses for the provision of community safety, such that crime prevention efforts include the partnering of police with various community organisations and social services. In this article, we ethnographically examine one such development in Canada – community Situation Tables – to better understand the processes by which security networks are developed, implemented and governed. We argue that the managerial measures introduced to govern Situation Tables work as a technology of social control that redistributes responsibility for community safety and risk mitigation onto organisations and the clients they serve. Situation Tables, we argue, operate as if they are neutral entities. However, by looking at the mentalities, political and economic contexts of their development, implementation and governance identifies how they are influenced and shaped by traditional policing practices, which if not attended to carefully, can evade democratic accountability.
A mixed-methods study of police experiences of adults with autism spectrum disorder in Canada
Alisha C.Salerno & Regina A.Schuller
The current study examined the experiences and perceptions of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in relation to their interactions with the police. Thirty-five adults with ASD living in Canada completed a detailed survey that probed their experiences with police in depth. Amongst respondents, police contact was common and frequent, occurring under a diverse range of circumstances. More than three-quarters of respondents reported at least one lifetime police interaction, with 53% of respondents reporting four or more. The majority of respondents viewed their police interactions unfavourably, and many reported experiencing adverse effects. Results suggest that this negativity toward their police encounters may be largely due to the fact that police are unaware they are interacting with someone with ASD, and perhaps also a lack of resources available to police officers for people with ASD. Findings provide insights into the nature of police encounters amongst individuals with ASD, emphasizing how interactions between people with ASD and the police may be improved in the future.
Interactions between Police and Persons Who Experience Homelessness and Mental Illness in Toronto, Canada: Findings from a Prospective Study
Kouyoumdjian, Fiona G, Wang, Ri, Mejia-Lancheros, Cilia, Owusu-Bempah, Akwasi, Nisenbaum, Rosane, O’campo, Patricia, Stergiopoulos, Vicky, Hwang, Stephen W
Objective: We aimed to describe interactions between police and persons who experience homelessness and serious mental illness and explore whether housing status is associated with police interactions.
Method: We conducted a secondary analysis of 2008 to 2013 data from the Toronto, Canada, site of the At Home/Chez Soi study. Using police administrative data, we calculated the number and types of police interactions, the proportion of charges for acts of living and administration of justice, and the proportion of occurrences due to victimization, involuntary psychiatric assessment, and suicidal behavior. Using generalized estimating equations, we estimated the odds of police interaction by housing status.
Results: This study included 547 adults with mental illness who were homeless at baseline. In the year prior to randomization, 55.8% of participants interacted with police, while 51.7% and 43.0% interacted with police in Study Years 1 and 2, respectively. Of 2,228 charges against participants, 12.6% were due to acts of living and 21.2% were for administration of justice. Of 518 occurrences, 41.1% were for victimization, 45.6% were for mental health assessment, and 22.2% were for suicidal behavior. The odds of any police interaction during the past 90 days was 47% higher for those who were homeless compared to those who were stably housed (95% CI 1.26 to 1.73).
Conclusions: For people who experience homelessness and mental illness in Toronto, Canada, interactions with police are common. The provision of stable housing and changes in policy and practice could decrease harms and increase health benefits associated with police interactions for this population.
Policing space in the overdose crisis: A rapid ethnographic study of the impact of law enforcement practices on the effectiveness of overdose prevention sites
Alexandra B.Collins, Jade Boyd, Samara Mayer, Mary Clare Kennedy, Ricky N.Bluthenthal, Thomas Kerr, Ryan McNeil
North America is in the midst of an overdose crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas of Canada, local responses have included the implementation of low-threshold drug consumption facilities, termed Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS). In Vancouver, Canada the crisis and response occur in an urban terrain that is simultaneously impacted by a housing crisis in which formerly ‘undesirable’ areas are rapidly gentrifying, leading to demands to more closely police areas at the epicenter of the overdose crisis. We examined the intersection of street-level policing and gentrification and how these practices re/made space in and around OPS in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside neighborhood. Between December 2016 and October 2017, qualitative interviews were conducted with 72 people who use drugs (PWUD) and over 200 h of ethnographic fieldwork were undertaken at OPS and surrounding areas. Data were analyzed thematically and interpreted by drawing on structural vulnerability and elements of social geography. While OPS were established within existing social-spatial practices of PWUD, gentrification strategies and associated police tactics created barriers to OPS services. Participants highlighted how fear of arrest and police engagement necessitated responding to overdoses alone, rather than engaging emergency services. Routine policing near OPS and the enforcement of area restrictions and warrant searches, often deterred participants from accessing particular sites. Further documented was an increase in the number of police present in the neighborhood the week of, and the week proceeding, the disbursement of income assistance cheques. Our findings demonstrate how some law enforcement practices, driven in part by ongoing gentrification efforts and buttressed by multiple forms of criminalization present in the lives of PWUD, limited access to needed overdose-related services. Moving away from place-based policing practices, including those driven by gentrification, will be necessary so as to not undermine the effectiveness of life-saving public health interventions amid an overdose crisis.
Management of crime scene units by Quebec police senior managers: Insight on forensic knowledge and understanding of key stakeholders
Vincent Mousseau, Simon Baechler, FrankCrispino
What do policing leaders think and know of forensic science? Beyond crime scene investigators or detectives, how do police senior managers perceive the role, utility and limitations of forensic science? Very few empirical studies have addressed the issue. Forensic scientsts should be concerned about the perception that law enforcement senior managers have of their discipline for two reasons. First, strategic and financial decision-makers are obviously key players in the overall administration and provision of forensic science, either as a supervisor, money provider or as a customer. Second, literature has highlighted that other actors involved in forensic science underestimate the scope and possibilities offered by forensic science, hence limiting its exploitation and potential. Following interviews with 18 police senior managers from Quebec (Canada), this study shows that they generally restrict forensic science to a reactive discipline whose role and utility is to identify offenders and support the Court. This understanding of forensic science, like that of many others including a significant share of forensic scientists, differs from the perception of other police activities in modern law enforcement agencies where proactive action is sought. Considering these findings and the growing body of literature which calls for forensic science to connect more tightly with policing and security, we advocate a more extensive education of police leaders regarding the scope of forensic science.
“This isn’t your father’s police force”: Digital evidence in sexual assault investigations
Alexa Dodge, Dale Spencer, Rose Ricciardelli, Dale Ballucci
Digital evidence, once regarded as existing only in a portion of criminal cases, in our digitized world commonly appears within all crime categories and is a factor in many (or arguably most) cases of sexual assault. In this article, we draw from 70 interviews with sex crime investigators from across Canada to demonstrate that the infusion of digital evidence into sexual assault investigations results in new opportunities and challenges for police and both negative and positive impacts on victims’ experiences within the criminal justice system. We show that while digital evidence certainly provides more opportunities for documenting the context and content of acts of sexual assault, police perceive this evidence as a double-edged sword that provides both more evidence and new challenges for police and victims. While officers express that digital evidence may provide more conclusive proof in the notoriously difficult pursuit of proving sexual assault charges, they are also concerned that this evidence provides new challenges for already overburdened sex crime units and makes cases more lengthy and invasive for victims. This article contributes to emerging research on the challenges of policing in the digital age and to the dearth of research on the potential and pitfalls of digital evidence in sexual assault investigations.
The importance of gender in the spatial distribution of police interactions involving emotionally disturbed persons: an examination of call types
Vaughan, Adam D, Hewitt, Ashley N, Andresen, Martin A, Verdun-Jones, Simon N, Brantingham, Patricia L
The current study investigates gender differences in the spatial distribution of the British Columbia Mental Health Act (MHA), criminal and non-criminal police calls-for-service involving emotionally disturbed persons (EDP). Using a sample of 4341 police incidents over a three-year period, 13 pairwise spatial comparisons of similarity were completed across four dimensions: Mental Health Act events, criminal and non-criminal events, and gender. Results indicate that the locations in which EDP intersect with police services are spatially concentrated, and the spatial patterns differ depending on whether the events are calls that fall under the Mental Health Act, criminal, or non-criminal in nature. When considering the gender component, findings indicate that the locations of Mental Health Act calls are the most spatially distinct between males and females. Findings further emphasise that EDP are involved in many different types of contacts with the police, most of which are apprehensions under the British Columbia Mental Health Act, followed by criminal and non-criminal interactions. From a spatial perspective, the findings also highlight the need to differentiate between genders as well as event types to improve police resourcing and better guide situational crime prevention efforts.
Special weapons and tactics teams in Canadian policing: legal, institutional, and economic dimensions
Roziere, B. & Walby, K.
Despite extensive social science analysis of special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team deployment across the United States, the phenomenon in Canada has been overlooked. Drawing from data on deployments disclosed under freedom of information (FOI), legal decisions, and media data, our findings reveal that the use of SWAT teams have escalated in many major Canadian cities. Public police now deploy SWAT teams across Canada for routine law enforcement activities such as warrant work, traffic enforcement and other routine tasks, as well as responding to mental health crises and domestic disturbances. We then develop three sociological explanations for the rise and current use of SWAT teams in Canadian policing. We draw from sociologies of law, institutionalism and institutional effects, and field/capital. This paper concludes with reflections on the implications for public policing and avenues for future research on police militarisation and in Canada and beyond.
Policing Women’s Bodies: Pregnancy, Embodiment, and Gender Relations in Canadian Police Work
Langan, Debra, Sanders, Carrie B, Gouweloos, Julie
Despite the influx of women in policing, women continue to face barriers to their full inclusion. In this article, we put women’s bodies at the center of our analysis by theorizing how pregnancy shapes the gendered interactions and experiences of women police at work. Through in-depth, qualitative interviews with 52 Canadian officers, we find that pregnancy frames women’s bodies “out of order” for “police work” and positions women even further from the ideal police body, which is ostensibly male. In response, women engage in myriad strategies to reassert their value as officers, strategies that require women to do additional labor.
Exploring Mental Health-Related Calls for Police Service: A Canadian Study of Police Officers as ‘Frontline Mental Health Workers’
Krystle Shore, Jennifer A A Lavoie
Official police data from a Canadian city were used to provide insight into calls for police service that were primarily related to mental health concerns (N = 400). People with mental illness (PMI) consumer demographics, situation features, and outcomes of these interactions were analysed. Police encounters with PMI included youth and ethnic minorities, and were often characterized by substance abuse and self-harm. Over half of the encounters were resolved formally by police making Mental Health Act (MHA) apprehensions, though less than half of these apprehensions resulted in hospital admission. Indicators of PMI self-harm, abrupt cessation of medication by PMI, and police contact initiated by civilians or service providers (e.g. paramedics) increased the likelihood of MHA apprehensions. Police made mental health referrals during 40% of informally resolved incidents. Indicators of PMI self-harm, PMI ethnicity, and police contact initiated by service providers were predictors of police-initiated mental health service referral. Implications for police training and collaborations with mental health service providers are discussed.
Gold standard strategic plans: how well do Canadian police services do?
Rogers, Z., McIntyre, M.L., Caputo, T.
This paper reports the results of a content analysis of the business/strategic plans of 23 Canadian police services that provide service to 48% of the country’s population. The results indicate that these plans vary considerably with respect to environmental scans; statements of values, vision and mission; descriptions of goals; resources to be applied to goal achievement; and indicators to be used to assess success and inform ameliorate action. The findings also indicate that the plans pay limited attention to statements of strategic purpose and the competitive environments within which these police services operate. These results are considered in light of the potential that well-done strategic planning processes may have for police leaders and oversight bodies as well as for helping police services better meet accountability requirements and stakeholder expectations.
Canadian Rural Youth and Role Tension of the Police: ‘It’s Hard in a Small Town’
Ricciardelli, R., Adorjan, M., Spencer, D.
This article presents findings from a case study examining youth perceptions of the police in rural areas of Eastern Canada. A total of 20 semistructured focus group discussions were conducted with 60 youth from Canadian rural Atlantic areas, who were purposively recruited, with groups stratified by age and gender. Discussions centered on role tension regarding the police’s role, that is, along a continuum between law enforcement and public protection versus community policing and crime prevention. Our discussions highlight the arguably ironic view that it is harder to maintain trust when there are strong personal relations with the police. Discussions highlight the ‘pros and cons’ of informal familiarity with police officers, especially the presence of school resource officers and policing in the context of monitoring youth on modes of transportation germane to rural Atlantic Canada (i.e. skidoos). Implications from this study suggest that when dealing with youth, identifying and addressing youth perceptions of the police role can help improve police–youth interactions.
"It's like super structural" - Overdose experiences of youth who use drugs and police in three non-metropolitan cities across British Columbia.
Selfridge M, Greer A, Card KG, Macdonald S, Pauly B.
Youth who use drugs (YWUD) are vulnerable to experience or encounter drug related overdose deaths. Fentanyl has increased the risks, calling greater attention to overdose. In response, there have been increases in harm reduction services and policies such as the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act (GSDOA) which exempts people who witness an overdose and call 9-1-1 from being charged for possession of drugs. However, fear of police continues to be a barrier to calling 9-1-1. This paper focuses on the experiences of youth with police in overdose situations and their knowledge of GSDOA.
METHODS: Youth, aged 16-30, who had used drugs at least weekly, and had encountered police in the past year were recruited between May 2017 and June 2018 in three non-metropolitan cities in British Columbia, Canada. 38 participants completed qualitative interviews asking them about their experiences with police, overdose, decisions to call 9-1-1, and their understanding of the GSDOA. Their responses were coded in NVIVO and analyzed using interpretive description.
RESULTS: For many YWUD in this study, overdoses are an ever-present part of their lives and fear of fentanyl has left them concerned for themselves and others. Negative experiences occurred when police used their power without benefit to youth or were rough or disrespectful, without care for the person overdosing. Youth saw police in a positive light if they were compassionate, stepping aside for paramedics or reviving someone experiencing an overdose. Youth had very mixed knowledge of the GSDOA and were concerned about criminalization if they called 9-1-1.
CONCLUSIONS: Collaboration with police and local stakeholders is required to address the concerns of YWUD and to increase awareness and penetration of policies such as the GSDOA. Changes to policing cultures that prioritize health rather than criminalize YWUD may increase youth's trust of police and increase calls to 9-1-1.
Stress-Activity Mapping: Physiological Responses During General Duty Police Encounters.
Baldwin S, Bennell C, Andersen JP, Semple T, Jenkins B.
Policing is a highly stressful and dangerous profession that involves a complex set of environmental, psychosocial, and health risks. The current study examined autonomic stress responses experienced by 64 police officers, during general duty calls for service (CFS) and interactions with the public. Advancing previous research, this study utilized GPS and detailed operational police records as objective evidence of specific activities throughout a CFS. These data were then used to map officers' heart rate to both the phase of a call (e.g., dispatch, enroute) and incident factors (e.g., call priority, use-of-force). Furthermore, physical movement (i.e., location and inertia) was tracked and assisted in differentiating whether cardiovascular reactivity was due to physical or psychological stress. Officer characteristics, including years of service and training profiles, were examined to conduct a preliminary exploration of whether experience and relevant operational skills training impacted cardiovascular reactivity. Study results provide foundational evidence that CFS factors, specifically the phase of the call (i.e., arrival on scene, encountering a subject) and incident factors (i.e., call priority, weapons, arrest, use-of-force), influence physiological stress responses, which may be associated with short-term performance impairments and long-term health outcomes. Implications of research findings for operational policing, police training, and health research are discussed.
Sexual Assault Policing and Justice for People With Developmental Disabilities.
Smele S, Quinlan A, Fogel C.
The Services and Supports to Promote Social Inclusion of Persons With Developmental Disabilities Act that passed in 2008 was intended to improve services and supports for persons with developmental disabilities in Ontario, Canada. This legislation introduced a new mandatory police reporting policy for any suspected abuse, including sexual assault. While heralded as a significant advancement, questions remain about the policy and the Canadian criminal justice system's capacity to effectively respond to abuse of people with developmental disabilities. Drawing on qualitative interview data with police investigators and Victim Crisis Services employees in Ontario, this article examines how police respond to these reports. The findings highlight the need for more clearly defined protocols and training on these types of sexual assault investigations and increased provision and coordination of appropriate support for victims/survivors with developmental disabilities.
Police-related barriers to harm reduction linked to non-fatal overdose amongst sex workers who use drugs: Results of a community-based cohort in Metro Vancouver, Canada.
Goldenberg S, Watt S, Braschel M, Hayashi K, Moreheart S, Shannon K.
High rates of overdose and overdose-related mortality in North America represent a pressing health and social concern. Women sex workers face severe health and social inequities, which have been linked to structural factors including negative police interactions; however, little is known regarding the burden of overdose or how policing impacts overdose risk amongst sex workers who use drugs. Given this, we aimed to explore the independent effects of experiencing police-related barriers to harm reduction on non-fatal overdose amongst women sex workers who use drugs in Metro Vancouver, Canada over a 7.5-year period.
METHODS: Data were drawn from An Evaluation of Sex Workers Health Access (AESHA), a community-based open prospective cohort of women sex workers in Metro Vancouver, from 2010 to 2017. Using multivariate logistic regression with generalized estimating equations (GEE), we used a confounder modeling approach to identify the independent effect of experiencing police-related barriers to harm reduction strategies on non-fatal overdose amongst sex workers using drugs within the last six months at each study visit.
RESULTS: Amongst 624 participants, 7.7% overdosed within the last six months at baseline and 27.6% overdosed during the study period, contributing 287 non-fatal overdose events over the 7.5-year period. 68.6% reported police-related barriers to harm reduction strategies during the study. In a multivariate confounder model, exposure to police-related barriers to harm reduction strategies [AOR: 2.15, CI: 1.60-2.90] was independently associated with higher odds of non-fatal overdose after adjustment for key confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that in the context of the current overdose crisis, adversarial policing practices may undermine access to lifesaving overdose prevention services and exacerbate overdose risks for marginalized women. Findings underscore the urgent need to scale-up access and remove barriers to progressive harm reduction strategies for women sex workers.
*For true academic geeks, here's what I did. I used the Omni search engine hosted by the University of Western's library site and ran a series of keyword searches for 2019. Search terms included "Canada and policing", "Canadian and policing", "RCMP", "OPP police", etc. As always, I excluded comment, historical and other pieces not citing relevant primary research. To make sure not much was missed, I also searched PubMed.