OPP out to attract more women recruits

Duane Hicks

The OPP is hiring—and it wants to see more women among its new recruits.
To assist with this drive, the OPP is hosting a symposium on Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre that will focus on “Policing as a Career Choice for Women.”
It will run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and there is no fee to attend.
Local OPP community services officer Cst. Anne McCoy said roughly 20 percent of the OPP’s officers are women. But when one looks at the diversity of the population the OPP serves, there is a need for even more.
“As a service provider, we like to meet the needs of our community, and part of that is diversifying our detachment to match the needs of the community,” she explained.
Cst. McCoy said the symposium is specifically targeted to women who would like to know more about the policing profession, learn about the recruitment process, and how to prepare themselves for a policing career.
“We’re taking an approach that would offer women information they may need,” she noted. “It’s a little more gender-specific [than a general recruitment session] in terms of we’re looking at giving them information as a parent, as a child-care provider, as a wife, and how different things affect their lives in terms of relationships.
“The responsibility and requirement for shift work pertaining to your family life.
“Some women have specific questions in regards to child care, and how the OPP can help a female wanting to apply to be a police officer, what services will be provided to them,” she added.
“If they’re a single parent, for example, they may have concerns about being stationed in a remote northern location,” Cst. McCoy said. “Fort Frances, Kenora, Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake—we’re all remote in terms of southern Ontario.
“Certain communities provide certain services, but we all support each other,” she stressed. “So when new members come to our area, for example, I can be part of the team that says, ‘If you’re looking for child care, I can recommend certain areas in town that would have that service.’
“Or if a parent has a special needs child, we can refer them to community partners that might be able to support them.”
Other topics covered in the symposium will include benefits and pay (i.e., salary, pension, maternity leave, medical insurance, etc.)
“There’s financial supports within our contract so if they’re a sole provider, they can provide very well for their family,” Cst. McCoy remarked.
“I want to encourage women to consider it even if they are a single parent because it would give them an independence,” she added.
“It would also give them a chance to provide for their family.”
Symposium participants will be provided with general information about the OPP, its hiring process, and the constable selection system. They’ll also tour the local detachment.
Cst. McCoy said participants will get a chance to speak with other female police officers about their jobs, their experiences being women on the force, and what opportunities they have for advancement.
“We’re a force of over 6,000 police officers and if you want to move up the ladder in terms of being in a supervisory position, you can go anywhere within the province or stay within your community,” she remarked, adding there’s plenty of chances for officers to specialize in different areas.
In fact, Cst. McCoy is aiming to get officers with varying specialties (negotiation, marine patrol, etc.) to talk at next month’s symposium.
“We’re trying to increase the number of women applying, and it all starts with information,” Cst. McCoy stressed.
“We do have different recruitment drives throughout the year, but this is one they’ve done in other areas of the North West Region—Kenora and Thunder Bay—and they’ve been successful,” she noted.
Anyone interested in participating in the symposium is urged to contact Cst. McCoy at 274-3322 immediately as space is limited to 16 people.
The symposium is open to all women 18 years of age and older who reside in Northwestern Ontario and who meet the basic qualifications for employment under the Police Services Act.
All candidates must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, be physically and mentally able to perform the duties of a police officer, and have regard for your own safety and the safety of members of the public.
The OPP is looking for individuals who successfully have completed at least four years of secondary school education or its equivalent, and be of good moral character and habits, meaning you are an individual other people would look upon as being trustworthy and having integrity.