Blue Line

Back to police school

July 2, 2013  By Nancy Cologiacomo

645 words – MR

Back to police school _pics: nancy aug folder__

by Nancy Colagiacomo

The picturesque 1,600 acre John Abbott College campus, reminiscent of a New England school, is in the small town of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, on the western tip of the island of Montreal. It is harbored by McGill University’s Macdonald College, two football fields and Lake St.Louis.


The college is housed in 10 interconnected early 20th-century buildings. It offers the usual college courses but what makes it special is that it is the only Quebec college that offers a bilingual police technology program.

As a former student, I recently revisited my old roots and was pleased to see many positive changes since my days living in the basement of the Hochelaga building.

Chair Jim Anderson has been an active part of the police program at Abbott since it began in 1973.

“Over the years, some of our teachers have included lawyers, graduate students, former Director of the Surete du Quebec Police, Serge Barbeau and NFL great and Grey Cup winner George Springate,” he notes.

“It’s important to have teachers with field experience but they must also be capable of teaching their knowledge and we employ roughly 30 full and part time teachers requiring a bachelor’s degree. Our instructors are mostly still active experts in their respective fields, teach up to date material and are well respected by their peers.”

The police program is a 50-50 split between theory and practical training, including scenarios and workshops. Past graduates employed in the field are encouraged to donate their time to help with student assessments during scenarios.

“John Abbott is a small family and we are always scrounging for equipment such as TV’s, DVD players, recording devices and other police gadgets in order to make the training as real as possible for our students” says Anderson.

It’s a challenge to stay on the leading edge of investigative techniques such as identity theft and human trafficking and to work with diverse communities, he says. To stay current with the latest developments, Anderson is actively involved with the Interpol Group of Experts on Training and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) training division.

{High standards}

Getting accepted into the three year police program is not easy. Applicants have to meet high fitness, behaviour and academic achievement standards. The school invites 450 candidates from the approximately 3,000 who apply each year for physical testing, which includes timed conditioning tests in swimming, running and muscular endurance.

About two thirds pass and are considered for entrance. To be eligible for admission, applicants must have a Quebec Secondary School Diploma with the required courses; a drivers licence and be functionally bilingual.

“We have about 250 spots at any given time for the three years,” notes Anderson. “In other words if 70 graduate, we can only accept 70 new students.”

Complimentary to classroom courses on interrogation techniques, criminal investigation, criminal and civil law and crime prevention, students receive practical experience in patrolling, traffic control and are taught how to interact with diverse clientele. This training is done in campus labs; realistic sets such as an apartment, store, bar and crime scene complete with corpse.

Students are required to demonstrate a high level of competence in driving and swimming. Graduates may go on to a career in law enforcement or work in other areas of the criminal justice system across Canada in both the public and private sectors.

“We provide superior training for our graduates to better prepare them for the police academy,” says Anderson.

It was a privilege to attend the program and my long overdue visit brought back many fine memories.

Mug photo cut (not related to story):

Former Quebec City Police Chief Serge Bélisle died March 10, 2013 from cancer. Bélisle was named chief in 2007 after serving 28 years with Laval Police and resigned in late 2011 for health reasons.

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