Police Academy Halifax: force to develop own curriculum to recruit more women, minorities

Published on May 13, 2014
Officers take part in a Halifax Regional Police Public Safety Unit training session at the Nova Scotia Firefighters School in Waverley last year.
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

HALIFAX - Halifax’s municipal police force is developing its own version of a police academy in an effort to boost the number of women and visible minorities among its ranks.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais told the Board of Police Commissioners Monday that senior brass are working on a program that will allow members of the general public – with or without policing experience – to apply and then be trained in-house at HRP.

He said the traditional practice of hiring from college programs or from other police forces tends not to produce a very diverse workforce.

HRP recently added eight new members to its ranks, and although Blais said the combined level of policing experience was “very positive,” all eight hires were white men.

“There’s so few hirings that go on, and we’ve got such a large number of police officers who would want to come in from another police service…it’s a bit of a challenge to get the requisite number of women and visible minorities out there,” said Blais.

“The reality is that…our complainants are not just white males. Our bad guys are not just white males.”

The chief said improving diversity is about more than just meeting quotas or being politically correct. He said there’s economic and organizational benefits to a police force made up of people of all genders, races, and backgrounds.

“By only having people who look the same and who for the most part act the same, you end up getting the same results,” he said. “And we want to have different results.”

The chief said there are several other municipal jurisdictions, as well as the RCMP, that use similar in-house training programs.

The Halifax version won’t be launched until 2016, giving senior brass time to develop a curriculum and time for a “critical mass” of vacancies to accumulate as current members retire.