Byers-Lane, Bradon - Ontario Police Officer

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[edit] Ontario Police Officer (Bradon Byers-Lane)

[edit] General Overview

Police officers uphold laws and statutes by responding to emergency situations, investigating crimes, apprehending and charging offenders. Ontario’s police services consist of one Provincial police service (OPP), 58 municipal police services and nine self-administered First Nations police services [1]. Aside from uniform patrol officers can explore opportunities in: tactical, forensic, marine, homicide, K-9 units and more.

The diverse nature of Ontario both geographically and culturally leads to many different policing opportunities within the province. While the Criminal Code of Canada applies the same throughout the country, Ontario also makes use of Ontario Provincial Offences such as the Highway Traffic Act and the Liquor Licence Act. These are just two of of the many differences between policing in Ontario and policing in the rest of the country, which is predominantly done by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

[edit] Job Duties and Responsibilities

[edit] Core Responsibilities

The Police Services Act outlines five core areas of responsibility for a police constable:[2]

  1. Preserving the peace
  2. Preventing crimes and providing assistance to others in their prevention
  3. Assisting victims of crime
  4. Apprehending and charging offenders and executing warrants
  5. Emergency response

In addition, a police officer is responsible for:[2]

  • Referring individuals to community services and agencies
  • Educating the public

[edit] Declaration of Principles

Ontario is the first province of Canada to have a declaration of principles written into its statutes, which is again outlined in the Police Services Act. Directly from the Police Services Act, Ontario police are committed to:[2]

  1. Ensuring the safety and security of all people and property in Ontario.
  2. Safeguarding the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  3. Working closely with the communities they serve.
  4. Respecting victims of crime and working to understand their needs.
  5. Being sensitive to the diverse, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario society.
  6. Ensuring that police services are representative of the communities they serve

[edit] Typical Workday

Police work is demanding. Police constables must work shifts, including evenings, nights and weekends, at all times of the year. Depending on the service and department, the shifts vary. The most common shift rotation is two 12 hour days (6am-6pm) followed by two 12 hour nights (6pm-6am), followed by four days off.

There is no typical workday, which to many is part of the appeal of the job. In one shift an officer might be making a presentation in a local school and the next an officer might be actively making multiple arrests. As described above in Job Duties and Responsibilities, there are numerous responsibilities as a police officer. As a result, each shift is dynamic and just like the calls that officers respond to, no two shifts are the same. When considering the position of uniform patrol (which all officers enter at after hiring) officers have a variability in numbers of calls. One shift an officer might be dispatched to only one call (making for a slow night), while the next an officer might receive ten (comparably very busy).

[edit] Educational Requirements and Other Qualifications

Figure 1: Application Process
Figure 1: Application Process[3]

[edit] Minimum Requirements

To be considered for a career in policing, applicants must meet certain minimum requirements as outlined in the Police Services Act. Specifically, (in accordance with and directly from the Police Services Act) applicants must:[2]

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada:
  • be at least 18 years of age;
  • be physically and mentally able to perform the duties of the position, having regard to your own safety and the safety of members of the public;
  • have successfully completed at least four years of secondary school education or its equivalent. (Note: official transcripts and diplomas will be required). Where education has been completed outside Ontario, official proof of equivalency must be obtained by contacting the Ontario Ministries of Education/Training, Colleges and Universities;
  • be of good moral character and habits, meaning that you are an individual other people would look upon as being trustworthy and having integrity. In addition, you must:
  • possess a valid driver’s licence with no more than six accumulated demerit points, permitting you to drive an automobile in Ontario with full driving privileges;
  • have current certification in CPR and first aid by the time the offer of employment is given; and
  • be able to pass a security clearance as well as background investigation, credit and reference checks.

[edit] Standardized Applicant Testing

After the minimum qualifications are met, an applicant is allowed to start the application process. Before formally applying to individual services applicants must complete standardized testing. This was introduced as a formal screening process by both the Ontario Ministry of Community of Safety and Correctional Services and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police[3]. The testing consists of four tests (analytical, English writing, physical abilities, behavioural assessment), followed by a hearing and vision screening[3].

After successful completion of the aforementioned testing an applicant receives a Certificate of Results (COR). With an up to date COR, applicants are then eligible to apply to the service(s) of their choice.

[edit] Application Process

See Figure 1 (above, right) for the step by step breakdown of the application process. This breakdown starts with Self-Assessment and ends at Probationary Appointment[3].

[edit] Related Skills, Interests and Abilities

[edit] Essential Competencies

Below are knowledge, skills and abilities which a candidate must demonstrate before becoming a police officer. These competencies are taken from Applicant Testing Services, and are the competencies that police services in Ontario use in their selection process.

  1. Analytical Thinking: The ability to analyze situations and events in a logical way, and to organize the parts of a problem in a systematic way[3].
  2. Self-confidence: A belief in your own abilities and judgment, and a recognition of personal limitations and development needs[3]. This ensures than an officer will trust ones own training and seek out further development.
  3. Communication: The ability to demonstrate effective listening, verbal and written communication skills[3]. This is very important in conflict management, and articulating situations in reports that might eventually be used in court.
  4. Flexibility/Valuing Diversity: the ability to adapt your approach in a variety of situations, and to work effectively with a wide cross-section of the community representing diverse backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic circumstances[3].
  5. Self-control: The ability to keep your own emotions under control and to restrain negative actions when provoked or when working under stressful conditions[3].
  6. Relationship Building: The ability to develop and maintain a network of contacts, both inside and outside the police service[3]. Strong relationships inside the service ensures that a strong team atmosphere is kept. Effective team skills are integral to problem solving in potentially hazardous situations. Outside the service relationships serve as a personal support system to officers. Policing can be a stressful job and strong relationships can help guide an officer through the workplace-induced stress, or any other situations that might compromise an officer’s ability to effectively do their job.
  7. Achievement Orientation: The desire for continuous improvement in service or accomplishments[3].
  8. Medical/Physical Skills and Abilities: Job-related medical/physical skills and abilities, including vision, hearing, motor skills, cardiovascular endurance and upper-body strength[3]. These must be maintained as policing has inherent physical skills necessary to complete day to day duties.

[edit] Essential Competencies Interview

These aforementioned competencies are tested on as part of the essential competencies interview (ECI). The goal of this interview is to determine the suitability of applicants based on their competencies. This interview is generally done by a panel (of at least 2 people), and takes on average 2 to 2.5 hours to complete[3].

[edit] Relevance of Psychology Undergraduate Degree

Many aspects of an undergraduate psychology degree are transferable to the profession of policing. Forensic psychology, for example, involves the interaction between psychology, crime, and the legal system. These courses help an officer determine how a criminal has potentially acted, and help them to predict factors concerning future criminal behaviour such as recidivism. Social psychology allows an officer to gain a greater perspective on how individuals and groups interact in dynamic situations. For example, through an education in psychology an officer might be able to determine the biases that a witness is encountering while giving them a statement.

Overall, having a psychology degree gives potential applicants a competitive edge when applying for policing jobs. While the minimum education required is high school (or equivalent), it is rare to see an applicant hired without a minimum of an undergraduate degree or (college diploma with) several years of work experience.

[edit] Salary Potential

The graph (above, left) displays the average annual employment income from a full-time (non-commissioned) police officer in Ontario in 2010[4]. The 2014 OPP constable salary grid is displayed above (right). While it should be mentioned that it is before overtime (which is very common), most police services in Ontario offer a comparable salary structure to this. This salary would continue to rise as an officer gets promoted, with the highest rank being Chief of Police.

[edit] Job Outlook

Job Openings, New Jobs and Attrition
Job Openings, New Jobs and Attrition[4]

The job outlook is mostly predicated on the replacement of old jobs rather than the creation of new jobs. From 2013-2017, it is projected that 73% of the non-commissioned policing jobs are opened up as a result of attrition[4]. In 2013, Employment Ontario ranked the outlook of non-commissioned policing in Ontario as average. This took into account variables such as labour market conditions, labour increase, available jobs and unemployment status[4].

[edit] To know more

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services :: Policing. (2011, September 9). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Police Services Act, RSO 1990, c P.15, <> retrieved on 2015-02-10
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Applicant Testing Service (Ed.). (2014, January) Police Constable - General Information. Retrieved February 11, 2015, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Service Canada (Ed.). (2013, January 1). 6261 Police Officers (Except Commissioned). | Retrieved February 10, 2015, from
  5. OPP - Careers. (2009-2014). Retrieved February 10, 2015, from
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