Building on a proud past
By Jamie Armstrong
Peel Regional Police (PRP) is celebrating its 40th anniversary – an important milestone. It's an opportunity to look back at successes and challenges while also looking ahead.
Five local police departments – Brampton, Chinguacousy and Mississauga townships, Port Credit and Streetsville – amalgamated on the first day of 1974 to form Peel Regional Police. Considered a bold move at the time, it created what would become one of Canada's leading municipal police services.
Many things have changed over the last four decades. Peel Region's population has soared from 334,000 to 1.3 million and it is now one of the fastest growing and most diverse communities in the country.
By Jamie Armstrong
Peel Regional Police (PRP) is celebrating its 40th anniversary – an important milestone. It’s an opportunity to look back at successes and challenges while also looking ahead.
Five local police departments – Brampton, Chinguacousy and Mississauga townships, Port Credit and Streetsville – amalgamated on the first day of 1974 to form Peel Regional Police. Considered a bold move at the time, it created what would become one of Canada’s leading municipal police services.
Many things have changed over the last four decades. Peel Region’s population has soared from 334,000 to 1.3 million and it is now one of the fastest growing and most diverse communities in the country.
The PRP has also grown to meet the many challenges of providing safety and security while also establishing itself as a law enforcement leader and the third largest municipal police service in Canada.
Members have made every effort to not only provide the best service to their community but to also reflect it. The sworn complement has ballooned from 412 officers in 1974, including 17 females, to 1,957 officers in 2013, including 332 females. Civilian ranks grew from 81 to 818 during the same period.
Today, one quarter of members speak a language in addition to English; in fact, officers and civilians speak 53 of the world’s languages, including American Sign Language.
There have been six police chiefs since amalgamation, each offering a unique vision to meet the challenges of the day. Although innovative and groundbreaking in their own rite, each has demanded professionalism, dedication and teamwork from members, seeing the service through many challenges over the years – and the PRP has seen more than its share of challenges.
The Mississauga train derailment in 1979, the Air France crash in 2005 and 28 murders in 2008 are just some of the significant events that tested the organization’s strength and character. Each time, members rose to the occasion with dedication to duty, compassion for victims and resolve to solve the most heinous of crimes.
No matter how successful the organization became, members never stopped striving to improve. Being better meant being open to honest and constructive feedback, the most important of which came from the community. The business owners and families throughout Mississauga and Brampton know what they want in a police service and are more than willing to share their ideas and opinions.
Since the early 1990s, PRP has regularly surveyed both business and residents and holds regular focus groups to get face to face input about the service and suggestions on how to improve.
As the nature of the policing profession changed, so did the needs of those who serve and protect. It was recognized that those who take care of the public also needed to be cared for. Three new units were created in 2008: risk management, organizational wellness and corporate communications. Individually, these areas work to address the day to day needs of staff and ensure members are kept safe, healthy and engaged. The results have been impressive.
The annual PRP employee survey shows a marked increase in overall employee satisfaction and confidence in the chief’s management group to act in the best interest of employees.
The service has an operating budget of $350 million and feels an obligation to manage public funds responsibly and transparently. The constant effort to gauge public and employee opinion and solicit input is a significant undertaking, yet nothing could be more vital to ensuring the continued success of a police service – especially when the information is used as the foundation for the organization’s most important document – the strategic plan.
The 2014-2016 strategic plan is based on the changing needs of the community and members and re-affirms a commitment to community safety and policing excellence. It serves as a roadmap for how the service does business in the following areas:
- Community safety together
- Member focused workplace
- Quality service & fiscal responsibility
- Growth & changing demographics
The hard work, determination and innovation of members during the past four decades has established PRP as a leader in Canadian policing. Some of its more noteworthy firsts include polygraph use, successful fingerprint identification on human skin, establishing a direct data entry system and convening state-of-the-art strategic planning sessions, to name but a few.
The list of accomplishments is long and distinguished. Each one came about not as a result of one person’s actions but through a collective effort by sworn and civilian members alike.
Throughout the year, the service will commemorate its 40th anniversary with officers and civilian staff at various public events throughout Peel Region.
PRP has so much to be proud of and 2014 will be remembered as a year to reflect on the organization’s ability to continuously strive for improvement, appreciate its proud past and prepare for exciting challenges in the future.