Focus on evidence-based policing could lead to brighter Barrie Police squad cars and vests

Any cruiser colour change is a long way off, and would come following public survey

Some within the Barrie Police Service are mulling over whether a different squad car colour scheme could be more effective, but admit any potential changes are a long way off.

At Thursday’s Barrie Police Services Board meeting, Inspector Rich Johnston provided a glimpse into the work he’s doing on evidence-based policing within the service. Within that glimpse was a look at a potential bright colour scheme that could be used on future Barrie Police cruisers, after research showed them to be more effective. “There is some strong research showing reduced collisions, so saving money and time and injuries to people,” Inspector Johnston told Barrie 360 Friday afternoon. “It’s increased visibility having a deterrent effect on unwanted behaviours. While at the same time, we’re a public safety organization, and we want to stand out so people can see us.” A similar line of thinking is being applied to the question of whether to outfit frontline officers with highly visible vests.

A proposed colour scheme for Barrie Police cruisers involves highly-visible yellow and blue

Johnston said there is currently no plan to change the colour of the vehicles but adds if that were to come about in the future, there would be no additional impact on the taxpayer. “We’re not necessarily moving forward on this but certainly, this would not be an en masse thing. So as with the white cars, when they flipped over to the blue, they just wait until when the cars were to be replaced. They simply replaced them with the newer model. You don’t want to look back and retrofit everything, that would be cost-prohibitive.”

The examination of squad car colour is part of the service’s recent efforts to find efficiencies through evidence-based policing. Johnston says this can actually cut costs in the long run. “Part of the mantra there, and part of the thought process is, how do we do things smarter, more effectively, and more efficiently? And generally speaking, that means reduced costs. And I think that has value to the public,” he said. “Our intention is to be cost-effective, as cost-effective as possible, and responsible with public dollars. We’re not deaf to that, we’re well aware, and we need to be good guardians of that, and good investors in the most efficient, effective way of doing things.”

Johnston says a survey regarding cruiser colour is being prepared for public participation, and that the results will be one more piece of evidence. “At the end of the day, it’s not what we think, it’s about what the research tells us. And if the research from other areas that’s informing what we’re checking out, tells us that the public likes it because it increases our visibility, and they view that as a positive, then we cannot be deaf to that.”