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Informal Cape Breton police recruitment sessions offer ‘pathway’ for job applicants

SYDNEY — Some come looking for a career opportunity. Some seek a career change. Others just want to find out what kind of financial, educational or physical commitment is needed.

Whatever the reason, roughly 40 attendees dropped by Center 200’s main concourse area on Thursday night to learn what they could about potentially becoming a member of the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, as the police force undertakes a recruitment spree which, according to Deputy Police Chief Stephen MacKinnon is expected to span the next three to five years.

“These are based on a lot of retirements (coming up), along with a lot of other factors,” said CBRPS Deputy Chief Stephen MacKinnon.

Between Tuesday and Thursday nights, information sessions took place in North Sydney, Glace Bay and Sydney, attracting anywhere between 15 and 40 people.

For two hours each night, interested community members could drop by and informally speak with several CBRPS sergeants and officers (both in uniform and plainclothes), representatives from the Atlantic Police Academy and the Department of Labour, as well as the Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s human resources department.

“We were all here to say here are your steps you need to take and here’s your pathway to make this successful if this is the kind of career you’re interested in,” MacKinnon said.

Jeff Minten, deputy director with the Atlantic Police Academy, center, and CBRPS Deputy Chief Stephen MacKinnon, right, speak with Sherri MacArthur, team leader with Employment Nova Scotia, during a Cape Breton Regional Police recruitment information session at Center 200 Thursday night. IAN NATHANSON/CAPE BRETON POST

‘Certain kind of personality’

“Policing attracts a certain kind of personality,” said Jeff Minten, deputy director of the Prince Edward Island-based police academy. “It’s that person who not only wants to help their community but be involved with their community.

“From the academy’s standpoint, we have set some minimum standards that applicants have to meet: maturity, able to think critically, be physically fit, passionate. But police work is constantly evolving … they’re all things to all people. They could be your teachers, your coaches, your counsellors, your shoulders to cry on, your motivators, and, yes, sometimes your cops.”

Policing positions aren’t just limited to front-line work. Forensic identification, internet crimes and computer forensics, mental health, school liaisons comprise some potential opportunities.

But Minten does make clear that some police work is not totally for the faint of heart — particularly for anyone looking to work on the front-lines or out on patrols, dealing with high-stress emergencies or any frantic situations.

‘Calm, level-headed’

“You need to know how to be calm and be level-headed,” he said.

Const. Jian Ming Hu, who’s been with the force for five years, recognizes that there can be a stigma attached to local policing.

“Sometimes when you’re dealing with people, they only want to listen to the answers that they want to hear,” said Const. Jian Ming Hu, who’s been with the force for five years. “And if you try to tell them an answer straight out, or something they don’t want to hear, you risk hearing complaints about you.”

Hu said he’s learned to deal with many heat-of-the-moment matters with the public while on the job and does not take these things personally.

“They’re often looked at as the bad guy when they’re really trying to make everybody safe and do their jobs day in and day out,” said Trevor Adams, 52, from Halifax who is looking to settle in Cape Breton.

Melissa Hawco, right, a special constable with the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, joined by Jamie Dearing, a CBU security officer.
Melissa Hawco, right, a special constable with the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, joined by Jamie Dearing, a CBU security officer. “It’s great to recognize that women are trying to get into more of this line of work,” Hawco says. IAN NATHANSON/CAPE BRETON POST

Adams said he’d consider joining the force to add some more diversity — which the Cape Breton Regional Police have said is an area they want to improve upon with these recruitment sessions. “I’d love to be part of such a great team,” he said.

Diversity a major theme

The diversity element played out as a major theme during Thursday’s informal sessions, with potential applicants wanting to see more women, more people of colour, more international representation.

“It’s great to recognize that women are trying to get into more of this line of work,” said Melissa Hawco, a special constable with the regional police.

Simranjeet Singh, 21, of Sydney:
Simranjeet Singh, 21, of Sydney: “It’s a good profession. But I think it also could help with any communication barriers that international students face.” IAN NATHANSON/CAPE BRETON POST

For Simranjeet Singh, he sees policing as more than just a potential job opportunity for a community that continues to grow thanks to more international students populating the area.

“It’s a good profession,” said the 21-year-old, who has called Sydney home for the past two-and-a-half years. “But I think it also could help with any communication barriers that international students face. People become more familiar and less afraid if they see these more diverse faces on the force.”

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