March 19, 2016

Ottawa Citizen – Joanne Laucius
‘Where do they get help?’ PTSD and stress in the police force

PTSD among front line first responders are again in the news with the suicide of an Ottawa Mountie assigned to the Embassy Protection Detail.  Among police, there were 11suicides in 2015, 14 in 2014.  The crux of the problem, says Laucius, is not only the culture that hides the need for treatment but also the lack of a way of pursuing the help.  “But when they come forward, we don’t have the infrastructure,” said Vince Savoia, executive director and founder of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust Fund, a group founded to specifically confront these problems.    Related article:  Ottawa Citizen – Meagan Hurley    RCMP officer dies from self-inflicted gunshot

Ottawa Citizen – Peter Kuitenbrouwer
Federal Liberals look to ramp up weapons sales in Middle East

The Liberal government has been taking some heat for the decision to sell armoured vehicles to well-known human rights abuser Saudi Arabia.  It appears that beyond this decision, Crown agency the Canadian Commercial Corporation is looking for a business development manager in Abu Dhabi to ramp up sales of weapons.  Minister Dion told a United Nations audience this week that “Canada will strengthen rules on sales of weapons “to ensure that the equipment that we sell is not misused.”

Huffington Post (NY) – Nick Malinowski
Despite Rhetoric of Criminal Justice Reform, Benefits Are Slow to Come for Those Aging in Prisons in New York State

Fishkill Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley, just north of NY City, has a special unit of 30 beds for the cognitively impaired – those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer.  The US has 2.3 million incarcerated and another 440,000 in immigration detention each year but the issue of aging inmates is not part of the mainline conversation and releasing elderly inmates is slow, cumbersome and generally not happening.

The Trace (US) – Kate Masters
Police Kill Far More People with Guns than Key Federal Data Sources Show

A study by Harvard and Northwestern University reveals a considerable discrepancy in the statistic of incidents in which police shoot and kill.  The article looks at several data banks including three of the best know: the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report, the Centre for Disease Control’s National Vital Statistics System, and the National Violent Death Reporting System.  The numbers vary and the study took in 16 of the states but in worse case the total killed went from 400 to 730; and two newspapers – the Washington Post and the London Guardian (UK) have identified more than 1,000 making all such current stats suspect.

Globe and Mail – John Ibbitson
Ottawa wrestles with challenge of deterring pot-impaired driving

The prospect of legalizing marijuana, and some of the experiences in the state of Colorado where marijuana has been legal for some time, invites consideration around the impact of legalization on the rate or incidence of driving while under the influence of the drug, especially in those incidents involving a death. The use of marijuana is more difficult to detect and the proof in the driving standards are still somewhat elusive.  Five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood is the measure in Washington and Colorado but the experts think the law is ahead of the research.

 Montreal Gazette – Christopher Curtis and Charlie Fidelman
Special report on suicide: ‘Does it run in families like a disease? Like diabetes?’

With a warning to readers that the content may upset, the two journalists look at the impact on the community of Uashat and neighbouring Maliotenam, two small communities near Sept Iles where suicide seems to run in families and in clusters.   University of Victoria psychologist Christopher Lalonde, whose field of expertise is First Nations suicides, suggests, following a thirteen year study, that 90 per cent of aboriginal suicides occur in less than 10 per cent of communities and that many First Nations communities are unaffected by suicide.