Beyond the Badge - The evolution of police recruitment

November 19, 2018 - 9:00am

When I was a child, my father was an RCMP officer at several detachments throughout Southern Alberta. I remember the stories he would tell me about different crimes he investigated and the calls he attended. He would also tell me about his RCMP training and how police recruits at the time were required to be a certain height and weight to enlist, and were required to swim long distances and compete in boxing tournaments with fellow cadet officers. I was even surprised to learn that he required permission from the RCMP to marry my mother, and that the approval was subject to her passing a security clearance.

Reflecting on the stories, I am amazed by how much had changed from my father’s experience as compared to today’s police cadet training. Generally, police officers during my father’s career (1960’s to 1990’s) saw their mission as (1) responding to calls for service and (2) investigating crime. Today, the expectations for police services and police officers are far more complex. While we still respond to calls and investigate crimes, we have taken upon new challenges including efforts to prevent/reduce crime and the fear of crime. We see our role as community partners, engaged with other stakeholders including; social agencies, the private sector and the business community. Our police officers are directly involved in the schools, on boards and commissions, and are volunteers in the community.

As the expectations for policing have dramatically changed, so have our recruiting efforts. No longer do we desire uniformity among those who apply but rather seek out a variety of individuals who represent the diversity of the community we serve. Diversity comes in many forms, and includes but is not limited to; gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, and personality types. To succeed in modern policing and officer must display exceptional communication and customer service skills, empathy, and be able to de-escalate volatile situations.

I am often asked if there is a specific path to becoming a police officer and while there is not one path to take I highly recommend starting with advanced education in any form. If you are interested in Psychology, Social Work or Kinesiology, obtain a degree in that field. My university degree was in Psychology. Obtaining a post-secondary degree demonstrates that you are willing and learn, and exposes you to new ideas and concepts. This is the root of modern day policing. Secondly, applicants should focus on fitness. More people fail the fitness test component, than any other aspect of the recruitment process. Fitness should include a diverse program: functional fitness. Try joining a CrossFit gym or use a “Workout of the Day” (WOD) App. Being able to bench-press twice your body weight or long distance running, isn’t enough. Lastly, I would also suggest volunteering. Volunteering gives life experience and allows us to broaden our understanding of others. I currently volunteer with the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Southern Alberta Sexual Assault Response Committee. Each of these agencies are wonderful and provide insights into different community issues, I was not previously aware of.

The Medicine Hat Police Service will begin recruiting in the very near future, starting in 2019, for our next Police Cadet training class to be held in January of 2020. If you are interested in a career in policing, please contact the MHPS Recruitment Team by email at [email protected] and connect with one of our team members who can help you be successful on the path to a rewarding career in policing.

-Inspector Brent Secondiak has been with the Medicine Hat Police Service since 1999 and has served the community in a variety of units including the Patrol Section, the Drug Enforcement Unit, the Major Crimes Section and the Administrative Services Section. He is currently a member of the Executive Team and provides oversight to a variety of sections, including Major Crimes, Community Safety, the Tactical Team and the Victims Assistance Unit. 

Beyond the Badge
By Medicine Hat Police Service