Blue Line


November 16, 2012  By Geoff Gruson

1914 words – MR

Connecting forces, securing futures
The Police Sector Council

Concept: The next step to “professionalization” of policing. A nationally recognized and fully implemented policing skills certification program, with accreditation programs/processes to ensure agency training delivers the appropriate skills acquisition and qualifications.

Issue: absence of certification/accreditation programs in the policing/security sector.


Although policing in Canada began more than 140 years ago, it is not readily recognized as a “profession.” The perception that policing “is a blue-collar job and my parents don’t want me to make a career in the trades” was common in a recent survey of youth attitudes toward policing.

In a sector with certified professional partners and stakeholders, the absence of certified “police professionals” doesn’t go unnoticed. The context for increased “professionalism” is clear.

• The cost to taxpayers – 11 jurisdictional silos and 202 policing services reinventing workforce management practices and processes.

• The contribution police should be making to the social policies being developed by “professional” partners in education, health and social services, etc.

• Transformations in the social, political and economic environments in which policing and security services are delivered.

• Workforce management efficiencies/benefits through recognized/formalized occupational standards.

• The benefits of certification to career management and labour mobility.

• The significant efficiencies provided by common training standards and standardized curriculum.

• The need for “defensibility” before the courts for training methods and results.

• The importance of progressive and accredited (qualified) instructors and learning institutions delivering curriculum against standards of excellence.

• Auditing/evaluating and modifying learning products and services to meet increasingly complex service demands

Rationale – for a move to certified “professionalism,” making the career more attractive.

Wikipedia defines the criteria for “professional” as “expert and specialized knowledge in a field… a high standard of professional ethics, behaviour and work activities.”

One of the federal government’s five priorities is its “law and order” agenda. With that comes an implicit expectation that police, security workers and management have the qualifications and competencies to do the “right job right,” are compensated at the appropriate level and able to develop and communicate a “performance story” on the money Canadians invest.

For many years, the Police Sector Council (PSC) has been researching, developing and implementing a vision of well-managed and high-performing police and security workforces. The federal government (HRSDC) has been the primary partner, investing over $4.5M over the past four years for a series of strategically planned and future-focused projects designed to:

• examine the “work” of policing;

• examine the requirements of a qualified, mobile and professional workforce; and

• develop and implement occupational standards for policing/security roles.

The main tenet of the council’s vision has been improving, sector-wide, the four critical strategic workforce management “pillars” – recruitment and selection, education and training, succession management/leadership development and performance management.

The investment has resulted in a solid foundation.

• Competency-based occupational standards for three categories of policing – general duty, investigative and leadership roles.

• A competency-based workforce management framework, including technology support – iSkillsSuite for Policing and curriculum mapping software to ensure alignment of courses to competencies.

• Extensive guides and tools for HR practitioners, accessible nationally.

Can policing now build on this foundation, continue to function as a sector and realize the benefits of professionalization through competency-based workforce management?

There has been growing demand for certification and accreditation over the past year. The council has witnessed a budding transformation in policing – from being jurisdictionally siloed, with limited sharing of management practices – to sector-wide awareness and acceptance/recognition of the benefits of:

• a more sectoral approach to research, evidence-based policy development and competency-based workforce management;

• competency-based occupational standards to better ensure sustainable high quality workers in policing and security;

• national qualification standards for all roles/rank levels;

• competency-based qualifications/certification;

• a better focus on developing leaders for the future (competency-based requirements);

• competency-based training standards;

• competency-based accreditation of trainers and institutions;

• national performance management benchmarks (role/rank career and learning expectations); and

• seamless interaction between private and public policing through shared/recognized standards.

Federal/provincial/territorial (F/P/T) and municipal governments endorse certification/accreditation because of:

• “Professionalism” – police and security organizations have a primary role in the safety/security and long term economic sustainability of Canadian communities, based on crime reduction and community safety strategies. As fiscal restraint measures are enacted in other government departments delivering community services, police are increasingly being asked to take on a broadening “first responder” role. Highly competent and well-respected professionals improve the success of partnerships with other departments and NGOs and help ensure common strategies.

• “Defensibility” of performance – police/security actions and initiatives must be defensible in the courts. Trained, certified professionals working to national performance standards ensure defensibility across jurisdictions.

• “Mobility” of the workforce – the policing and security sector falls under the broad auspices of the F/P/T ministers’ approved “Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)” – whereby they agree to remove or reduce inter-provincial barriers to the movement of workers, goods, services and investment.

Chapter 7 of the AIT deals with labour mobility and stipulates standards be in place to enable full workforce mobility across Canada. Any worker certified by a regulatory authority of one province/territory must be certified for that occupation upon applying to another. Recognition of certification is to be granted expeditiously without additional training, experience, examinations or assessment requirements. “While provinces and territories maintain their right to adopt occupational standards and thus ensure the protection of the public at the level they consider appropriate, provinces and territories agree to examine their measures and to reduce and eliminate barriers to labour mobility.”

• “Connecting” police and security for many roles and levels. Certification means national recognition of labour force mobility and much wider communication of job openings and opportunities. A national certification system will lead to both role standardization and a competency-based compensation process, supporting workforce mobility and comparative pay scales for comparative work.

Action required – endorse/support the initiation of a national certification/accreditation body.

To best leverage the work and resources already expended in developing competency-based occupational and training standards, the logical next step is establishing a national not-for-profit corporation dedicated to developing standardized competency-based qualification/certification and accreditation programs.

Such a program will require extensive involvement of federal and provincial government departments responsible for policing/security. The council has already facilitated sector-wide implementation of:

• competency profile-based occupational standards for 80 per cent of police roles (excluding highly specialized/ limited employment functions);

• well-defined competency-based management framework, practices/processes;

• role-based competencies/proficiencies required for success at the various levels of work; and

• national training and curriculum standards to baseline qualifications and certification.

The next step is to continue the implementation widely and deeply, with a focus on:

• a certification program and process based on national/provincial standards;

• organizational structure and governance for accrediting institutions/instructors; and

• an audit and evaluation process/program to ensure standards are monitored, adjusted and met.

Funding is required to ensure the four years of effort, public money and in-kind contribution from more than 70 police services, 10 provincial stakeholder organizations and 900 experts produces public value for Canadians.

Key activities required (each of these three broad areas will require one year of effort):

  1. Implementation sustained – continued support to occupational standards and a national qualification framework, sustaining the momentum and critical mass of effort already underway.

  2. Design, development and acceptance/approval of a national strategy and plan for a certification and accreditation program and processes.

o Timeline – six months required for exploratory analysis, business plan and funding:

  • Conduct sector analysis and clarify gaps and issues.

  • Review existing national and international programs, determine best practices both within the sector and in other relevant sectors.

  • Gauge/solidify sector support from key stakeholders.

  • Develop and assess alternative program models.

  • Develop detailed business plan based on selected model.

  • Obtain stakeholder support and commitment on the business plan.

  • Secure future funding based on the business plan.

o Requirements

Project manager and administrator – salary, travel and operating expenses.

Consulting services – program/business advice, legal, communications, IT, translation, etc.

  1. Establish the new certification/accreditation “body:”

o Timeline – six more months

  • Initiate operation (board meetings, company by-laws and policies, staff key resources and consulting services).

  • Develop accreditation and certification programs (structure, policies, procedures and support material).

  • Develop financial model and IT support systems.

  • Design and develop communication plan and promotional material.

o Requirements

  • Executive director, business administrator, program manager.

  • Travel and operational costs.

  • Consulting services – program and business advisors, legal, accounting, IT, communications, etc.

Key deliverables – outputs in the first year of operation

• Research on current Canadian and international practices in policing/security standards and certification.

• Guiding principles for a national not-for-profit “body” mandated to deliver policing/security occupational standards, certification and teacher/institution accreditation.

• Guidelines of collaboration/standards of practice for all key stakeholder organizations to ensure highest standard certification and accreditation regimes.

• Organizational model to ensure most effective F/P/T cooperation and implementation of occupational standards and certification/accreditation programs.

• Partnership/consultative agreements to define shared support and responsibility for sustainability of a standards and certification organization.

• Business model – strategic and operational plans for successful implementation of the function.

• Policies/processes for assessment/evaluations programs, fully supported by all stakeholders.

• Guidelines for investment to ensure long-term sustainability and fairness/equability.

{Key outcomes}

Although this proposal is limited to a one year horizon and to the mechanism to put in place a certification/accreditation body – there are some tangible outcomes to be expected from the investment:

· engagement of all stakeholders in a “new” model for common HR management, driving police professionalism;

· securing the core elements for better F/P/T cooperation and integrated activity; and

· enabling the sector to initiate a process for skills development and management that will drive efficiencies and effectiveness and better align scarce resources with operational priorities of safe and secure communities.

Implementing this concept will require months of work and $1M of investment but there is a caveat. The current federal funding for the PSC and its activities will end March 31, 2013.

{Mitigating risk}

For perspective, this is not a new idea; a 2005 Law Commission of Canada report, “In search of security,” recommended the following:

<Recommendation 15

A National Policing Centre should be established. The centre should be independent of any particular police service, with a broad mandate to foster and coordinate research, experimentation, innovation and best practices in policing, policing policy and relevant legislation in Canada. The centre should foster the widest possible collaboration between state and non-state contributors towards effective policing that reflects Canada’s core democratic values. For this purpose, it should have a broadly inclusive board of directors and a budget that will allow it to pursue and commission leading-edge research and educational initiatives and serve as a clearinghouse for the most up-to-date information about policing in Canada and elsewhere.>

As a national-level partner in policing and a successful not-for-profit, the PSC is well-positioned to actively engage all key stakeholders in a strategic change agenda.

The PSC is widely recognized and supported for its work to date and innovative integrative initiatives. No other organization presently exists that can bring to the table the government officials responsible for the federal or provincial framework for policing and security (licensing, registrars, associations, etc.).

Additionally the PSC has extensive outreach with the education and training institutions/associations and a proven track record in building awareness and the “intent to change” current practices.

There are numerous more integrative opportunities to be found and the council is a well-positioned and welcomed participant.

Total cost: $950K in the first year, revenue generation thereafter should sustain the organization.

Print this page


Stories continue below