What image do police want to project?
Re New cruisers a ‘disturbing trend, ‘ critics say, Oct. 31 When speaking about the shift in service vehicle appearance to a more aggressive or menacing scheme, Const. Riley Babott states: “I can’t identify with this feeling because I don’t find inanimate objects or colours to be capable (of ) being aggressive . . . It is a very identifiable look for police vehicles dating back many decades and used throughout the world.”
Curiously enough, a very similar logic was used to decide which firearms were to go on the restricted and prohibited list. Many of the aforementioned firearms were categorized so, simply because of the way they looked — i.e. aggressive or scary, and not for any quantifiable reason, in terms of their functionality.
It is evident that the interpretation of what appears threatening is only a one-way looking glass.
The mood and perception-altering effects of colours has long been well understood and can be witnessed on artists’ canvasses dating back centuries. From the dialogue in the article, it seems that the police are feigning ignorance on the issue to appease those who want to appear more aggressive or tactical.
I wonder, then, how the police services of Canada as a whole wish to paint themselves, intentionally or not, on to the canvas of the Canadian landscape — friendly regulators or grim enforcers? Tom Whent, Sault Ste. Marie Changing the colour of Toronto’s police cruisers from white to grey was “a decision he admits he made without a lot of thought or consultation,” according to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders. Given the history of heated debate and concern over past changes, Saunders has dropped the ball, as the saying goes.
The switch to yellow cars was hotly debated but ultimately was taken in the name of visibility, visibility for everyone’s benefit in being able to identify police vehicles quickly whether needed for police presence or to get out of the way in case of emergency.
The discontinuance of the yellow was also hotly debated but prevailed with assurances that white met the same criteria and did not share a colour with school buses and some taxis. Now we have the most recent colour change, to drab, innocuous and nondescript grey.
Negative comments have been made about the grey colour, the most disturbing being the similarity to military vehicles. The military does not want their vehicles to attract attention; quite the opposite. Police vehicles for uniformed officers should attract the notice of the public. Grey is a terrible choice and the decision should be rescinded. David Kister, Toronto