Meeting Minutes - John Sheflin: Policing in the 21st. Century - July 20th. 2017
The July 20, 2017 RCMC meeting was held in the Trintiy United Church sanctuary with President Ed Herold chairing. There were 43 members in attendance with John Sneyd introduced as a new guest.
President Ed began the meeting by asking member Ken Marchant to lead the membership in an old familiar sing-along.
Today’s guest presenter and a Club member, John Sheflin, was introduced by Ed Herold. John Sheflin is a retired member from the Toronto Police Services having joined in 1971 after his initial training at the Aylmer Police College. John was a Detective/Sergeant with the Toronto Police Service from 1972 – 2001. With the TPS he conducted criminal investigations using various training, tools and resources, prepared legal reports, conducted interviews, completed court duty as required, supervised units within the Criminal Investigations Branch, 31 Division, Jane and Finch, for over 15 years. As well he educated new officers at the C.I.B. as the Training Officer, planned and conducted private sector presentations, worked in partnership with various agencies, companies, police forces and governmental departments to solve criminal investigations.
His awards include:
Merit Mark Award in 1991;
Police Officer of the Month in October 1993 and February 2001, Toronto Junior Board of Trade;
Many Commendations for Outstanding Investigations, Bravery and Police Work;
Considered the highest decorated Police Officer at the time of retirement.
After retiring from TPS, John worked as Security & Safety Manager at a couple of commercial firms until 2010.
John Sheflin – Policing in the 21st Century John began by telling us that there are things going on in policing today that bother him. In the 1950’s and 60’s public opinion was that the police were always right. However, during the 1970’s public opinion began to change and police became over zealous. Statement cases became a thing of the past. In the 60’s and 70’s homicide rates in Toronto were almost one hundred percent solved. But starting in the 70’s the defense attorneys defended a case by attacking the police statements.
Today the potential criminal is seen on TV before the case ever gets to trial and this is because of technology. Things changed starting in 1995 with the O.J. Simpson trial and the greater use of DNA. In the 21st century criminal trials need DNA and technology in order to get criminal convictions. Policing today is tougher. A year and a half ago the Toronto Police Service had 5700 police on the road. Today that number is down to 4700 … not enough to catch the “bad guys.” Guelph has not hired more than one or two officers in the past two to three years.
One aspect of policing that has changed is “carding.” Carding—is a reference to the contact cards police have been using to collect information about those who are stopped and questioned. Carding started in the 1930’s. It was intended to help police or an individual who was shot or stabbed by knowing the people who lived in the community. Today it has limited use due to a change in public opinion and the police have to give the person being carded at “receipt” that they have been carded. It was intended by the police to try to be proactive.
In John’s view our policing services are always behind the US and in particular about 5 years behind the Chicago Police Service. Policing underwent a major change after the Miranda vs Arizona case in 1966 in the US. The Canadian Constitution also provides the same right in Canada. Should you be arrested you have a right to retain and instruct counsel without delay. That’s a charter right.
John informed us of the various commendations and awards he has received. In Toronto John was the highest decorated officer at the time of his retirement. (Some of these awards and commendations can be found on the Club website under Speaker’s Notes).
Policing will always be a military type operation. During training you had to march and do the “spit and polish” routine etcetera. It is a total military type operation. He showed pictures of the police uniforms over the years. (found on the website). He explained the reason for this is because of the types of operations that the police are involved in. John showed pictures of riots and uprisings that the police have to deal with such as the riot on Yonge Street in 1992 and the anti-poverty riot in 2000 and the G20 riot in 2010.
John told us about an incident on his first shift on the job in 1971 following spit and polish training at Aylmer Police College. He started the day with nicely pressed trousers and nicely shone boots. However, he came upon a situation where it was necessary for him to chase a fugitive who happened to be on the opposite side of the Humber River and beyond a chain-link fence. In a short time he had to wade across the river and climb the fence in order to chase the suspect. This resulted in his pants being soaked – minus the crease – and his shiny boots scratched from climbing over the fence. So much for the military spit and polish training.
John also told us about some of the cases he worked on and helped to solve. He was known in his precinct as the Dirty Harry of Janet and Finch.
At the conclusion of John’s presentation, Ed Herold thanked John Sheflin for his presentation.
Activities – Ray Biffis - Horse Races at Elora on Mon. Sept. 25th / 2017 - there is a table for 6 on the upper level for people with difficulty climbing stairs. Let Len know if you want to sit at this table. - The Activities Committee is looking into possible prices for a wine tour by bus in October.
Coffee Gathering: - next week at the Boathouse or the Airpark Café
Next Meeting: August 3, 2017 with Jane Mitchell speaking on the History of the Grand River Conservation Authority