For the first time ever, 50% of Toronto Police’s cadet class is made up of women and 41 per cent of the cadets represent racialized and indigenous communities.
“Although the current intake is gender equal, we engaged in equity thus enabling us to hire a class that’s reflective of the communities we serve,” said A/Insp. Joyce Schertzer, of the Talent Acquisition Unit.
Since 2019, the Talent Acquisition Unit has been transforming its hiring and sourcing practices to reflect the diversity of the city of Toronto.
“Our communities have been asking for a diversity in policing for a long time. This was reflected in The Way Forward, where our Chief Mark Saunders directed Human Resources to develop a multi-year plan to achieve a police service that mirrors the broad diversity of Toronto,” said Gloria Pakravan, interim Manager of the Talent Acquisition Unit. “And Talent Acquisition responded through new sourcing and recruitment strategies that focused on increasing female and racialized applicants”.
Some of the new strategies that Talent Acquisition implemented included adding female Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police (PREP) sessions aimed to attract and supporting female applicants, targeted social media posts highlighting women and racialized people in policing, and holding outreach events like the Women in Policing symposium and the “Women Who Work Ride Along”.
“My view has always been if you can see it, you can be it,” said Schertzer. “These events and activities really resonated with potential applicants. When they can see themselves represented at the Toronto Police, it provides them with the inspiration needed to go through the rigorous recruitment process that we have in place.”
The Unit, also, rallied together to transform the way in which it look at applications. “As a result of changing how we promote Toronto Police to applicants and due to provincial process changes, we now have over 30,000 candidates applying to Toronto Police”, said Pakravan. “This phenomenal increase has allowed us to be more selective. Before, our processes were based on a first-come first-serve model as we were so afraid of losing applicants, today, we have a rich applicant pool to draw from.”
The cadets are currently completing their 21-week training program. Normally, this training is split between the Ontario Police College (OPC) and TPC.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time since 1987 that the training has been held exclusively at the TPC.
“This is possible because of our Grade A instructors who are committed to ensuring the best quality of learning,” said Supt. Chris Kirkpatrick. “We had a very quick turnaround from when this was discussed to getting the program up and running. In about a five week span, our instructors – working with our partners at OPC – had to gather the material, put it into our database and learn it before getting ready to instruct.”
Kirkpatrick said there’s a benefit to having the recruits complete their entre training at TPC.
“We have completely immersed them in the Toronto Police culture,” he added. “And though we have to teach them the OPC curriculum, we are also able to inject portions of Toronto’s culture. So, we are really focusing and demonstrating for them through the instructors our core values. They get more insight in the training as to the city because they are doing things like their vehicle operations that’s all done within the city. They are practicing on the streets they are going to be policing.”
The recruits will complete the OPC program on September 2 before going into their post-Aylmer training.
“There will be Toronto-specific elements that the same instructors will be giving them,” added Kirkpatrick. “It really helps us to have that relationship with the recruits all the way through.