Taking steps towards more diverse police services
September 28, 2022 By Brittani Schroeder
This edition of the magazine marks one year since I took over as editor of Blue Line. Over the last 12 months, I have learned from you, our readers and contributors, and from the industry events I have been fortunate enough to attend.
One topic that has repeatedly come up during my time as editor is the diversity, equity and inclusion within police agencies across the country. Policing is often described as a traditionally male-dominated profession, but many members of police leadership have been finding opportunities for their specialized units and/or higher ranks to showcase an increasingly diverse team.
More and more police departments are promoting women to their top ranks. A few examples in the last year include Supt. Treena MacSween of the Hamilton Police Service, who is the fourth woman and first person of colour to hold the position; Prince Albert Police Service’s Deputy Chief Farica Prince, who was promoted from the rank of inspector at the Blood Tribe Police Service; Deputy Chief Julie Chanin, who was promoted from her rank as sergeant in the Oak Bay Police Department in September, is the first female to enter the Greater Victoria region’s police leadership circle; Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Ebert, who was promoted to Commanding Officer of the RCMP’s “B” Division in Newfoundland and Labrador; and Chief Shawna Spowart, who is the first female police chief in Cornwall Police Service’s history.
Recruitment is one piece of the puzzle when making a more diverse police service.
Many members of police leadership have been finding opportunities for their specialized units and/or higher ranks to showcase a more diverse team.
In this edition of Blue Line, we spoke with the brand-new Surrey Police Service (SPS) in British Columbia to talk about their recruitment strategies, and how they’re striving to hire the right candidates for their new team. The SPS is set to become one of the biggest police services in the province, with a planned 800 sworn officers and 400 civilian staff. As of August 2022, the service had hired 261 police officers and 54 civilian employees, which already puts the SPS in the second-largest municipal agency spot in B.C. Surrey is a very diverse, large community that is growing quickly, averaging an annual growth rate of 1.85 per cent each year over the last 10 years. The new police service is looking to have a team that represents the people they will serve on a daily basis.
Before SPS could start hiring their new team of both experienced and rookie officers, they first needed to decide what values and ethics would be prioritized in their police service. This helped them determine what kind of person would be best suited to serve in their community policing model, which is highly important to Chief Lipinski, Deputy Chief Jennifer Hyland, Deputy Chief Mike LeSage and Deputy Chief Todd Matsumoto.
In a time when all police agencies are looking to recruit more officers, Surrey Police Service was worried that a police agency without any kind of footprint or reputation would have troubles recruiting. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. The SPS had a large influx of applications shortly after the job posting. As Deputy Chief Hyland said, people have been very interested in being a part of the once-in-a-career opportunity to join and help build a brand-new police service. You can read the full story on SPS here.
Until next time, happy reading and be well.
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