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Last week, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders acknowledged a “backlash” to the recent colour change, a decision he admits he made without a lot of thought or consultation.The civilian oversight board has asked for a report on the fleet and Saunders hasn’t ruled out backtracking on the planned rollout.Having built my life as a design professional in the field of visual culture over the past 20 years, I have to ask what purpose is served by the recent shift in police vehicle design in cities across Canada.Toronto police cruisers are getting a drastic make-over, from white with bright red and blue decals, to stealth-like dark grey colours with equally somber decals that blend into the paint.They’re integral to our safety, security and well-being.We need officers on the street engaging community, visiting schools, chatting with students and handing out swag, not scaring the crap out of law-abiding citizens.
“If you need a cop, you need a cop, you don’t care if they come in a black and white, a pink car, you don’t care if they’re a man or woman.”But Johnathon Vaughn Strebly, ethics chair and president of the Graphic Designers of Canada, said policing agencies seem unaware that “there’s a real connection between the use of colours and perceptions,” and that these designs convey “oppressive, aggressive, intimidating and combative traits.”Strebly argues Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary appear to be influenced by TV, and films such as There will always be the need for the undercover, covert aspect of policing, “but when that becomes the norm in regular community exposure value, then we’ve lost sight of what it is we’re trying to do for our community assistance,” Strebly said from Vancouver. It does not stand out well against background,” said Solomon. a police cruiser on their block every now and then.
I recently had the pleasure of listening to BC RCMP’s Lower Mainland District Commander Bill Fordy speak at a Creative Mornings event, where innovators explore and share ideas.
He said he became a police officer “to help people.” He spoke a lot about being trustworthy, transparent, visible and engaging the community.
There might be a few bad apples we see in the media, but police officers are courageous, responsible individuals with empathy and compassion.
They demonstrate integrity and respectful engagement and collaboration with citizens.
Many countries in Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, have used bright, colourful Battenburg Markings for decades to Fortunately, the RCMP, internationally known for its scarlet red uniforms, has maintained vivid colour schemes.