The Handbook

The long publishing history of the Law Enforcement Handbook began with a conversation over coffee in the office of Superintendent Des Rowland, commanding officer of the Peel Regional Police Special Services Division. He and his friend, Jim Bailey, a former crime reporter for a Mississauga newspaper then working as a public relations officer with the Ontario Government, were discussing police training methods. As they talked, Des mentioned that most courses for officers were supported by handouts prepared by individual instructors. Although there were criminology texts available for study in academic settings, he said, there was no practical manual for officers to refer to in the course of their normal duties.

The two decided that the law enforcement community needed a hands-on text — written in plain language — that gave officers the essential information they needed to do their jobs on a daily basis. They wanted this handbook to be sturdy and compact, so that it could easily be carried in officer's jacket pocket while he or she was on duty. They also decided to write it in bullet-point format for easy readability and quick reference.

Although it is usually difficult for first-time authors to acquire publisher, Des had an opening: his brother Jim, a squash professional, had been approached by one of his clients, the head of a major Toronto publishing company, to write an instruction book about his sport. The effort had been successful and so it was easy for Des to arrange a meeting after his brother made the introduction. The publisher’s general manager was enthusiastic about the idea, and a contract was quickly signed.

Over the ensuing months, Des would appear at Jim's house every Saturday morning with a large briefcase full of police-related books, articles, procedural manuals and other items that he had either collected during the course of his diverse career or borrowed from the Peel Police library. As they sat at the kitchen table over coffee, Jim would take notes and review documents as Des recounted anecdotes from his police career or pointed out specific points from the material he had gathered that would be of practical use to police officers in the field. After Des left, Jim would fire up his computer and write a chapter based on what they had discussed. At their next meeting, Des would review and discuss it, and Jim would make the necessary changes.

In preparing the manuscript, the two authors endeavored to ensure that the Handbook presented policing best practices that would be applicable in all jurisdictions, without getting bogged down in legal interpretations or policy guidelines that were specific to particular federal, provincial, and state law enforcement agencies. They also wanted to make the book relevant to the many thousands of security officers who are often the first point of contact for both suspects and victims, and who may also conduct initial criminal investigations on behalf of their employers or clients.

The manuscript of the first edition of the book was submitted within six months and the book came out in 1983. While the publisher placed some ads in police publications, Des took it upon himself to conduct a one-man marketing campaign by carrying copies of the brochure describing the book in the trunk of his car and handing them out at every police-related event he attended.

The book was warmly received by the law enforcement community and Desmond received several letters from experienced senior officers praising the book. In fact, a renowned Toronto Police Staff Superintendent, Frank Barbetta, wrote Des a personal note to say that it was the best and most practical book for police officers that he had ever read. In addition to the Canadian edition published by Methuen Publications, a US edition was subsequently published by Facts on File and later Barnes & Noble as well. A second edition of the Canadian version of the handbook was published by Nelson in 1990 and a third followed in 1999, only a few months after Des's tragic death from cancer at the age of 61. 

In 2006, Jim and Des's son, Stephen Rowland, then Detective in Charge of the Peel Police YYZ Airport Intelligence Unit, were approached by Nelson Education to prepare a fourth edition of the book, which by this time had become a national bestseller. They decided to undertake the project in order to celebrate Des's career and contributions to law enforcement on the 10th anniversary of his passing, which would occur in two years time.

The same creative process began once again, with Jim sitting across the kitchen table from Stephen every Saturday morning reviewing documents and discussing what needed to be included in the book to bring it up-to-date with current police practices.

The latest edition was published in January 2009. For Stephen, publication of Fourth Edition of The Law Enforcement Handbook was an exhilarating experience that ensured his father's legacy would continue to guide new generations of police officers. For Jim, it was a tremendous way to remember with affection great times spent with an old and still-missed friend and to learn that Des’s dedication to the community and skill as a police officer lived on in his son.

And both are grateful to have had the opportunity to ensure that Des’s voice continues to be heard in a successful book that has been strongly endorsed by his professional colleagues through their readership and support for more than 25 years.


Other Information

More information about the book

Jim Bailey

Co-author Jim Bailey at the Blue Line Trade Show in Markham, Ontario, on April 28th, 2009. A showcase for product and services available to Canadian law enforcement personnel, the annual trade show draws hundreds of attendees from across Canada and from various sectors of law enforcement.

Jim Bailey

Co-author Jim Bailey signs special thumb print editions of The Law Enforcement Handbook at the Blue Line Trade Show.