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CBSA looks for actors to play smugglers, be struck for recruit training program


July 25, 2019
By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Canada Border Services Agency is looking once again for a handful of stunt actors to be thrown down, handcuffed, searched and beaten to help train new recruits.

The agency has posted bid documents online, looking for a company to supply actors for its training centre in Rigaud, Que., between Ottawa and Montreal.

The documents outline how the stunt actors will act out up to 15 situations a day, such as feigning nervousness while trying to smuggle drugs across the border in a car, to help the agency assess the skills of new border agents.

The people hired can expect to be handcuffed, thrown, held down using “pain compliance techniques,” and hit by trainees’ fists, feet or batons.

They also must avoid any personal relationships with the recruits or CBSA staff “in order to keep it at a professional level only.”

Bidding for the one-year contract closes in early September, but the documents don’t list an expected price.

The CBSA has yet to respond to questions posed to the agency this morning.

It’s the second time this year that the agency has gone out looking for a company to supply it with actors, and it appears that some of the feedback from that earlier work has been incorporated into the new contract offer.

For instance, the bidding company has to have at least 12 months experience over 10 years finding professional stunt actors, instead of the 36 months over five years after the CBSA was told the latter target would be difficult to hit.

The government’s procurement website doesn’t list a contract awarded for the last offer, which closed in early April.

The bid documents posted Monday say actors will need to know how to use a pistol, speak both official languages, and have completed the national firearms-safety course.

During simulations, they will have to wear their own clothes, along with safety gloves, forearm pads, knee pads and shin guards, among other safety gear provided by the winning company.

The goal is to have “professional stunt actors” on hand to “act out the scenario while taking into account the reactions of the persons being assessed,” the bid documents say.

“The actor must be able to recreate different behaviours while respecting the context established by CBSA instructors and being able to be physically restrained using the prescribed control and defence tactics related to the use-of-force continuum and CBSA policies.”

Border-agent recruits spend 18 weeks in training after completing up to 50 hours of online distance learning. They then work in various spots across the country as officer trainees.

More than 300 recruits are trained annually by the CBSA.

Alberta real estate agents get safety app after Calgary open house assault

CALGARY — An association representing Alberta real-estate agents is providing its members with an emergency response app a month after an alleged sexual assault during an open house.

The Alberta Real Estate Association is including a subscription to the LifeLine Response app at no additional cost to its 10,500 members. The app allows users to alert their personal support network, summon police to their location using GPS and view threat notifications in their areas.

“Realtors love helping their clients with the largest and most important purchases of their lives, but the job requires us to sometimes work alone in unfamiliar locations and with relative strangers,” association chairwoman Jennifer Gilbert said Tuesday.

“The LifeLine Response app is an important tool in improving Realtor safety.”

Calgary police say a real-estate agent was working at an open house last month when a man came into the home. Police say the woman tried ending the conversation, but he kept talking to her. He then grabbed and touched her sexually without her consent. The man left the house and returned two more times.

Merideth Schutter also had a scary experience working as a real-estate agent in Vancouver six years ago.

Two men came into an open house she was holding, locked the door and shoved her into the kitchen cabinets. A young couple came in and the men ran off.

Schutter had a few bumps and bruises, but she knows the situation could have been a lot worse. The experience left her feeling alone and terrified and made her question whether to stay in a career she loved.

“These are crimes of opportunity. As Realtors, we’re encouraged to put our faces on things — the sides of buses, social media — and tell people where we are at any given moment,” she said.

“If one of my teenagers ever did that, I’d have something to say about it. Yet, here I was doing exactly that for a long time.”

Schutter has since left the real-estate business. She is now CEO of PROtect, a safety app inspired by her frightening open house encounter. PROtect syncs with calendars and contacts, so that loved ones and colleagues can be alerted if the user doesn’t “check out” at a certain time. There’s also an emergency help button.

PROtect has partnered with ReMax, but nurses, young restaurant workers and others have also used it.

“Even somebody who sells insurance and mortgage brokers — places where people are out meeting strangers alone or going into their homes.”

– Lauren Krugel

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2019