The Atlantic Police Academy (APA) in Slemon Park trains future public safety officers in programs such as Police Science (Cadet), Basic Firefighting, Conservation Enforcement, Correctional Officer, and Sheriff and Public Safety Officer.
“The type of people who do well at these jobs are people who truly want to serve their communities,” says Forrest Spencer, Executive Director, Atlantic Police Academy.
Graduate opportunities on PEI and across Atlantic Canada
“Police Science graduates are sought after by agencies across Canada” says Jeffrey Minten, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Police Academy. “Cape Breton has approximately a dozen openings. Over the past five years, 88 to 93 percent of APA police graduates found employment in a field related to policing.
“Many officers who are hired as part-time on PEI, work full-time hours and gain a lot of experience. Moreover, if they are willing to travel, agencies across Canada are looking for our cadets.”
Both Forrest and Jeffery explained that there are also opportunities to join the RCMP. Regular RCMP cadets must take a six-month program, but APA graduates only require six weeks of RCMP training. They do have to be prepared to be mobile, and there is no guarantee they will work in Atlantic Canada.
“Conservation Enforcement jobs are also available in Atlantic Canada,” says Forrest. “We are working on a partnership with Environment Canada to increase opportunities for possible federal government employment as well.
Corrections Officers are in demand. “Corrections Services on PEI and across the Maritimes are looking for Corrections officers,” says Forrest.
“Public Safety Sheriffs are in very high demand in Newfoundland and Labrador right now. Jobs for graduates are also available in PEI and New Brunswick.”
Basic Firefighting graduates are trained to an international standard and can work anywhere in the world. “In Atlantic Canada, many will join volunteer fire services to protect their communities. Full time positions in fire services are less common in the region, but there are also firefighting careers available in private industry such as oil and gas. The training also opens doors to such positions as Industrial Safety officer.”
Women and minorities in policing
The APA encourages women to consider a career in public safety. “Half the Canadian population are women and this is one area that has been underrepresented in policing” reports Forrest. “Police Services across Canada are seeking female officers. Two years ago, we had our largest graduating class of women, with 16 women out of a class of 56. Last year, 10 women graduated from the police science program.”
Minten continued “The percentage of women graduates has been about 20 to 25 percent for our policing program.”
“We would also love to see more visible minorities here. Every police service in Canada would like to see more officers representing the communities they serve. It is a bonus to speak French, and it is also great to have an officer on hand who can speak Mandarin, Punjabi, or another language.”
“The Police Science cadets who are most likely to be accepted into the program are already engaged in their communities and they have the values expected of a police officer,” says Jeffery.
“Our training focuses on customer service, community involvement, and leadership. Every cadet in our programs will be a leader in their community. We stress the importance of conducting their lives appropriately as role models for their communities.
“In addition to our Instructors, our students are privileged to learn from the experiences of senior police leaders. In the past, the Chief of the Halifax Police, the previous Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia RCMP, and the Commanding Officer from PEI spoke to our students about their careers. The academy also provides peer leadership training to students who seek to become course and squad leaders for their class.”
All areas of Public Safety have an increased demand
At the Atlantic Police Academy, 34 police cadets are currently enrolled in the program. Last year there were 38 graduates, and the 2018 class had 52.
“Across Canada, a large percentage of police officers are approaching retirement age, and we simply don’t have the same numbers of young people interested in replacing them,” says Forrest. “Future job opportunities look promising.”
Changes to the program and policy
“In the past two years, there have been a lot of enhancements to the Police Science program,” says Spencer “Students spend more time practicing all their skills. With the change in cannabis laws, students are trained in standardised field sobriety testing for drugs and alcohol.
“All our students receive cyber investigative training,” says Jeffery. “More and more crimes are borderless and happen over the Internet, which brings a ton of challenges, because suspects and investigations extend beyond our borders. There is always someone using new technologies to take advantage of someone else. We are continuously challenged to keep up with the changes.”
With the influx of a diverse population of immigrants from various backgrounds, more emphasis is being put on communication skills. “De-escalation training here at the Academy is second to none. Cadets have the opportunity to become more empathetic and understanding of how to interact with people suffering from mental health issues.”
More details about the Police Science (Cadet) program
The 34-week program starts with three weeks of distance learning. Cadets also receive ten weeks of on the job training with a police service.
“Most of our cadets choose to stay in Atlantic Canada, although many work across Canada,” says Jeffery. “We stay in constant contact with Atlantic agencies to make sure our content is relevant and current with the trends and needs faced by organizations and officers.”
Liam Jay from Charlottetown is a student in the Police Science (Cadet) program. “I chose this program because it is close to home, and a couple of my buddies went through the academy, and they had nothing but good things to say about it. They are all employed now, and they found jobs relatively quickly after graduation. I made the decision to enter this career after working for an Island-based security company for four summers. The experience was a good exposure to law enforcement. The company gave me training, and we worked hand in hand with police during many events. After graduation, I would like to work close to home, but given the realities of employment I am totally willing to go to northern Quebec or to join the RCMP. The job market is smaller in Atlantic Canada, and as a fresh recruit I can’t expect to get a full-time permanent job in my home town right away.”
Spencer Morrison is from Fredericton, New Brunswick. He took the Basic Firefighting program and graduated in January 2020. “When I was in high school, I took a co-op program at the Oromocto Fire Department, and I loved the atmosphere and the idea of giving back to my community and helping people in need. I realize that if I wanted to get a firefighting job in a larger city in New Brunswick, it is really competitive. However, there are always opportunities in in western Canada and many other places in the world. I plan to take advantage of that, because I like to travel.”
For more information about the Atlantic Police Academy, visit www.hollandcollege.com/apa.