With more and more “baby-boomer” police officers retiring every day, the demand for new constables is steady.
As such, the Ontario Provincial Police is looking for young men and women to consider a rewarding career in a field that promises learning opportunities and room for advancement.
Local OPP Community Services Officer Cst. Anne McCoy delivered a seminar last Wednesday night at the Civic Centre outlining the OPP recruitment process, covering information about what prerequisites are required for a career with the OPP, as well as benefits and pay, training, and career opportunities.
Cst. McCoy said the OPP is looking for men and women of diverse backgrounds who have integrity and accountability, demonstrate compassion and courage, are fair, are willing to engage in continuous learning, and want to make a difference in their community.
Being an OPP officer also offers opportunities to specialize within the law enforcement field, whether it’s being part of a highway traffic unit, an emergency response team, tactical emergency medical services, aviation services, court services, canine teams, negotiations, tactics, and rescue teams, explosive disposal unit, or underwater search and recovery.
There also is flexibility within the organization in terms of shift work and day shifts.
While salaries will change once a new contract comes into effect, cadets currently get paid $32,436 year while recruit constables (who still are completing training) earn $41,684.
Probationary constables get $53,148 until they become first class constables, who earn $75,926.
As well, constables in Northern Ontario get an incentive bonus of $5,000-10,000, and in some cases up to $19,000, depending on the duration of their posting.
The OPP is the only police service in Ontario to offer 50/30 pension (where you have to be a minimum of 50 years old and have a minimum of 30 years of pension credits in order to qualify), and has life insurance based on salary, not age.
It also offers a comprehensive drug plan, as well as dental/vision/hearing coverage (including coverage for dependent children up to 26 years of age). Spouses of 10+ year employees have most benefit/pension coverage.
Most benefits are retained on retirement and/or beyond the age of 65.
It offers paid sick leave for six days a year at full pay, and an additional 124 days at 75 percent pay. Officers also get paid vacation leave, starting at three weeks a year and going up to five weeks after 15 years of service.
In order to be an OPP constable, you must:
•be a Canadian citizen over 18 years of age;
•be physically and mentally fit;
•have a Grade 12 or equivalent education;
•possess a valid ‘G’ class driver’s licence in good standing;
•meet vision and hearing standards;
•be willing to serve anywhere in Ontario; and
•have no criminal record (although some exceptions may be made).
If you qualify for the above conditions, you then must get a registration package (which costs $294), which gives you access to pre-interview assessment testing. This includes vision and hearing tests, a deductive reasoning test, a written communication test, a physical readiness evaluation, and other components.
If this is successfully completed, you will have a Certificate of Results (COR). You then fill out and submit the OPP application package and undergo pre-screening, followed by a pre-background questionnaire (PBQ), a Local Focus Interview (LFI), a background investigation, medical assessment, and psychological assessment.
A final review by the command staff at general headquarters in Orillia, Ont. will determine whether or not you will be eligible for hire.
OPP recruits spend the first week at the Provincial Police Academy in Orillia for orientation training, followed by 12 weeks of constable training at the Ontario Police College (OPC) in Aylmer.
This gives candidates a knowledge of the laws and procedures they’ll need to apply in the performance of their duties, including crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims of crime, public order maintenance, and emergency response.
Recruit then spend five more weeks at the Provincial Police Academy to complete their training before going to their posted detachments.
Cst. McCoy gave several tips for potential candidates, including:
•Start and maintain a physical regimen right now to get into shape to become a police officer and stay fit for your career.
•Be aware of the lifestyle you lead and the company you keep. Not only is this considered during the interview process and background checks, but if you are to become a police officer, you are supposed to be a leader and a role model.
Set the bar high for yourself.
•Be a well-rounded individual. Life experience counts. Get involved in your community as a volunteer if you’re not already.
It will give you a better understanding of people and help you develop resources you’ll need later on.
•Education doesn’t hurt. While you do not have to be a post-secondary graduate to be an OPP officer, having an education can help you in many ways in your job.
Also, if you ever choose to leave the force, you’ll have something to fall back on.
Anyone interested in becoming an OPP constable, but wanting to get a taste for what the job is like before applying, is encouraged to consider the OPP cadet program.
While you don’t have to be a cadet before applying to be a constable, the experience you get as a recruit is a definite asset.
This ranges from answering basic inquiries to assisting officers with criminal and traffic investigations, public displays promoting safety, collecting data and assisting with the security of property and evidence patrols to administrative duties (which can help regular constables and other officers get back out in the field).
Cst. McCoy said being a cadet is a good way to “get [your] foot in the door” to be a constable as their interactions with the public and fellow OPP personnel will reveal if they’re a strong candidate.
Cadets are hired on a one-year contract basis that is renewable for one further year. The position is restricted to a maximum two-year tenure.
Many of the prerequisites to be a cadet are the same as those to be a constable (e.g. being a Canadian citizen over 18 years of age, possessing a valid ‘G’ class driver’s licence, etc.)
Those wanting to be cadets follow a separate application process than that to be a constable, but it is possible a recruiting officer may recommend the candidate apply to be a full-fledged constable if they feel they’re ready.
An option for those interested in helping out in the law enforcement field on a volunteer basis is the OPP auxiliary.
OPP auxiliary members are a group of dedicated civilian volunteers who are trained to work alongside regular OPP police officers, and are able experience first-hand the excitement and challenges of police duty.
This can open an avenue for future employment with the OPP, or at the very least give individuals a better understanding of policing and a chance to help make their community a safer place.
The duties of an auxiliary member include traffic control, ground security at major events, surveys, seat belt clinics, assisting on R.I.D.E. initiatives, bicycle inspections and rodeos, assisting at safety displays and presentations, foot and road patrols with regular members, lodging evidence, ceremonial duties, and search and rescue.
OPP auxiliary members must be:
•at least 18 years of age;
•a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada with a valid driver’s licence;
•have completed the Ontario Secondary School Diploma program or equivalent;
•have completed CPR and first aid certification;
•be of good moral character, and mentally and physically able to perform the duties of the auxiliary position; and
•able to commit the time and effort required of the program (a minimum 10 hours per month on patrol with a regular force officer and six hours in-service training).
Additional information about any of these positions may be found on the OPP’s website at www.opp.ca or by contacting Cst. McCoy at 274-3322.