Last year, I wrote about a new City of Winnipeg police cadet program, an initiative that allows individuals to gain occupation-specific work experience that might assist them in making a career decision to be a police officer.
One of the corporate goals of the program was to increase the number of staff for low-risk front-line tasks while seasoned, trained officers could attend to more serious incidents. All in all, the program is also intended to enhance the visual presence of the police service and to help to build positive relationships in the community.
According to Sgt. Michelle Wagner, officer in charge of the auxiliary cadet program, cadets are classified as peace officers. Duties assigned to cadets include conducting neighbourhood foot patrols, directing traffic, enforcing provincial statutes and municipal bylaws, referring citizens to various agencies for assistance, dealing with non-violent intoxicated persons, assisting in ground searches and guarding crime scenes.
Over the years, I have encountered so many individuals, who in spite of many years of training and experience are not happy in their chosen profession. Therefore, I am convinced that some type of internship and/or co-operative program that assists people in making better career choices is a wise program initiative for any employer.
While there have been many studies over the years that extol the benefits of such internship programs, I decided to personally take the opportunity to catch up with our very own auxiliary police cadet program as it reaches its one-year anniversary. My curiosity led me to inquire about the results of the program to date. Here is what I found.
Candidate selection and career fit
The cadet program has proven to be successful in not only identifying high performing potential candidates for the police service, but also in assisting participants to more fully assess the overall career opportunity. For instance:
-- The inaugural class of auxiliary cadets consisted of 30 participants -- 26 men and four women -- all between the ages of 18 and 42. Two members of this class were accepted into the regular police service training program prior to finishing the cadet program.
-- The next two classes trained another 26 cadets. Of these, seven have recently been accepted into the regular police service training program. One participant was accepted for training in another province.
-- A further 15 cadets are in the application process for the position of constable with the Winnipeg Police Service.
-- One cadet program participant assessed the choice of a policing career and decided to discontinue the program as it was not the right fit.
Calls for service
One of the goals for the cadet program was to increase front-line service while redirecting the seasoned, trained officers to more challenging assignments. The following results were identified:
-- Cadets responded to approximately 20 calls a day.
-- Cadets have enabled the service to free up approximately 30 hours a day for police officers to focus on core duties.
-- Cadets have responded to over 5,300 calls since Jan. 1.
One goal of the program was to have auxiliary cadets act as the "feet on the ground" for the police service. They provide a public safety service by demonstrating a presence and profile in several neighbourhoods. Cadets have been involved in:
-- Identifying numerous suspects.
-- Identifying crimes in progress, including robberies.
-- Locating missing persons.
-- Providing over 8,500 hours of beat patrol.
Wagner provided a typical example of the value of the cadet foot patrol. She recalled that on one occasion the cadets were guarding a murder scene during which time they were provided with a description of a suspect. Within only a few hours, the cadets identified two males matching the description and forwarded this information to their superiors. As a result, the suspects were quickly apprehended. The two cadets were recommended for a commendation in recognition of their keen observation skills.
What do the auxiliary cadets themselves have to say? Two graduates provided their view of the program. Darryl Manoosingh, now a fully trained police officer and a cadet from the 2010 program, said "the experience cemented in my mind that I wanted to become a police officer and in my opinion was the single greatest contributing factor that allowed me to pursue my goal." Darryl, a professional with over 20 years' career success in another field, had always felt a longing for community service and policing. Taking the risk of leaving behind all of his earlier accomplishments and testing out a second career was obviously a good decision.
Erin Beaudry, on the other hand, had always wanted an "exciting" career such as a police officer. Yet, she put this goal aside and first trained as a paramedic. However, when the cadet program became available, Beaudry knew this was the right direction for her. Today, Beaudry says that being a cadet was "such a great experience. It has made me more confident now that I'm a police officer, not only with driving the cruiser cars and talking on the radio, but also talking with people with all sorts of different backgrounds."
The value of mentoring and coaching
According to Wagner, one of the nice surprises arising from the cadet program is the number of volunteer cadet mentors. As the new cadets begin their work downtown, they quickly have their eyes opened to the realities of poverty and life on the street and are often presented with difficult situations. Seeing the graduate cadets step up and coach the newer members, makes the cadet transition to a policing career much easier.
All in all, from both the corporate and participant view, the auxiliary cadet program is considered a phenomenal success. Individual cadets get to explore the life of a law enforcement officer and experience the tremendous variety of opportunities to contribute to the safety of society while learning and growing in life.
The police service, on the other hand, has been able to increase neighbourhood policing presence, increase call response service and free up more officers to deal with those more difficult challenges.
For individuals interested in exploring the career of a police officer; the Winnipeg Police Servicwe is recruiting for full-time and part-time cadets. For more information, go to the website, www.winnipeg.ca\policerecruiting. Deadline for applications is 3:30 p.m., Oct. 14.
Source: Sergeant Michelle Wagner, officer in charge, auxiliary cadet program; Derrel Manoosingh, Erin Beaudry, police constables, Winnipeg Police Service.
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP, is president of Legacy Bowes Group and vice-president of Waterhouse Executive Search. She can be reached at email@example.com