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Key Issues Emerge from Police Education and Learning Summit
Charlottetown, PE – Representatives from more than sixty police organizations gathered this week in Charlottetown to examine how the economic landscape will shape the future of the Canadian police sector.
The Economics of Policing: Police Education and Learning Summit brought together individuals from police services, associations, training academies, academia, and other sector groups for candid discussions about the future of police training.
“The rising cost of policing in this country has created some very real challenges for supporting a sustainable sector,” says Sandy Sweet, President of the Canadian Police Knowledge Network. “While training is just one part of the equation, it underlies every aspect of a successful policing community. Moving forward, collaborative approaches to knowledge-sharing and innovation will be essential to bridging the economic divide. ”
Co-hosted by the Canadian Police Knowledge Network and Public Safety Canada, opening remarks were provided by the Honourable Julian Fantino on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. In his address he discussed the work of the government, in partnership with the provinces and territories, to introduce and support initiatives such as the Index of Policing Initiatives and a police research Centre of Excellence, which will contribute to maintaining the highest levels of policing standards in this country.
Over two days, participants deliberated on many issues that are impacting training within the community. Several lead themes emerged out of those discussions. First and foremost, participants recognized the need to understand the true cost of training to the sector. While estimates calculate that training consumes as much as a billion dollars in resources, there is no established benchmark against which the sector can measure itself. The need to effectively evaluate training against performance was also raised as a key issue. “Knowing that the training we provide is impacting behavior and performance is critical. We continually need to find new ways to engage learners and assess transfer of knowledge.” Identifying a common language and more opportunities to train across the sector were also emphasized. Training to competency-based standards, which define the knowledge and skills required at each rank, is recognized as a means to support to the craft of policing, regardless of jurisdiction, and improve efficiencies across the sector.
Sgt. Andrew McKee discussed how the Victoria Police (Australia) used technology and e-learning to overcome significant workplace learning challenges.
In his keynote address, Sgt. McKee related Victoria Police’s rapid integration and uptake of technology as a means to train and communicate with more than 12,500 officers across the State.
“In terms of capacity, we were at the breaking point,” says Sgt. McKee. “We took this approach out of necessity – it was the only way to meet the growing demands for training.”
In addition to addressing capacity challenges, VP has found that the technology-based approach has been effective in managing risk and quickly modifying officer behaviors, such as shooting at moving vehicles, which negatively impact on the community and the organization. e-Learning has also allowed VP to get more officers back on the street. McKee believes that over time, that will generate a significant impact on crime rates.
While the Victoria Police Learning Hub has been in place for just two years, there are plans to expand beyond the organization to provide training to other emergency services and to implement a re-education program within the community (i.e. individuals charged with traffic infractions). In future, Sgt. McKee hopes to share the approach with other police agencies across Australia.
While technology and innovation was woven throughout these themes, there was a clear consensus that it’s not about cutting budgets. Rather, it’s about making the most of available resources and investing in appropriate tools and relationships to meet growing demand for training and to ensure that all police have the knowledge and skills to do the job safely and effectively.
“There’s a lot of innovative training models in place across Canada and beyond,” says Norm Taylor who facilitated discussions throughout the conference. “We know that technology-enhanced approach works. In the interests of a sustainable future, we need to harness those approaches for the benefit of the collective police community.”
A summary report of Summit discussions is currently under development. Presentations and other related resources have been posted to the conference website at www.policelearningsummit.com/outcomes.html.
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