Building relationships is a key part of any successful community policing effort and an excellent manner for police services to excel in this effort is to create linkages to local educational institutions. Benefits can be quickly realized by both institutions. The first is career progression of existing staff and secondarily as a pool of identifiable talent drawn from the community policed.
By example a long history of collaboration between Fleming College and the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service (PLCPS) has produced tremendous results.
The strong connection with the local community college has been a key in producing successful graduates who go on to professional policing and security careers.
Relationship building has also been the hallmark in the career of PLCPS chief and Fleming alumni Murray Rodd, who joined the force in 1983 and moved up through the ranks to inspector and then chief in August, 2008. He was named police officer of the year in 1996.
A direct connection between the force and college has never been more evident than now. Shortly before becoming chief, Rodd was appointed chair of the board of governors of Fleming and can now directly connect with students, faculty and staff involved in educating and training future officers.
“I have always been committed to community policing and to preparing and supporting our front-line officers in the best possible way,” said Rodd.
“Policing in today’s communities requires a well-rounded individual with a strong combination of law enforcement skills and critical interpersonal and team-building skills. A college education is a good tool in building that combined set of capabilities.”
The PLCPS polices a large geographic area in a complex environment, serving a population of approximately 80,000 out of two stations – its City of Peterborough headquarters and a detachment office in the Village of Lakefield.
The link between the college, police service and community is deeply embedded. Approximately 62 per cent of the civilian and sworn members are Fleming graduates from a variety of disciplines, in addition to the police foundations (PF) program. Uniform and non-uniform staff include graduates of human resources management, recreation and leisure services and business administration.
Fleming was one of the first Ontario community colleges to offer a two-year PF diploma.
Graduates have gone on to serve communities across Canada for more than 25 years. The program is one of the largest in the province and the largest single program offered at the college, with more than 260 students currently enrolled.
Students can gain extensive applied learning through practicum and placement opportunities offered by local police forces. The program links to the community through its volunteer advisory board, which has police and community service representatives. It helps guide curriculum updates and placement opportunities and offers guidance on specific employer needs.
“The Fleming experience has helped me immensely on my career path,” says Rodd. “More importantly, the connections to the people and students at Fleming that are a part of our police service and our community at large help me and our police service on a daily basis.” Rodd sees the value of connections between colleges and police forces growing in importance in the future.
“Society is changing quickly and so is the role of a community police force. Working with our local college helps us link the needs of our community with the skills that we can build in new officers and employees to meet those community needs. The relationships we create only serve to make our communities stronger and safer.”
The Fleming faculty has law and law enforcement experience with many police forces and, “is dedicated to providing the highest level of academic rigour and personal support in training our students,” says Paul Legacy, dean of Fleming’s School of Law, Justice and Community Services. “Our goal is to produce graduates with a well-rounded skill set and an aptitude that prepares them for the high demands placed on new police officers today... (and) diversity of environments in which they will work.”
Fleming is an approved PARE testing centre and has developed articulation agreements for degree-level programs at several universities, often with significant course credits.
The PF program also features an Aboriginal emphasis initiative, a special stream of curriculum that is an inclusive approach to providing more understanding of Aboriginal communities, including links to police forces.