New cadet program aims to open doors to Sarnia police

Sarnia police have a new cadet program, to make it easier for qualified candidates interested in joining Sarnia’s service to get a spot, the force’s deputy says.

Sarnia police have a new cadet program, to make it easier for qualified candidates interested in joining Sarnia’s service to get a spot. his deputy chief says.

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Until now, would-be officers who passed the screening process – including applications, interviews, physical and psychological testing, and medical and background investigations – might be out of luck because of lack of space for mandatory training at the Ontario Police College, said deputy Chief Julie Craddock.

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Sarnia typically gets two or three spots per intake – four per year – while larger centers get more than 100, she said, and candidates need that training at the Aylmer-area police college to get hired as constables.

Police college spots are determined by a department’s size, she said.

Testing is only good for a year, so candidates have to requalify if it takes longer, Craddock said.

In the past, she said, candidates have often gone to larger police departments, such as in Toronto or Peel, to get training spots at the college, leaving the time spent on the qualification process in Sarnia lost.

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Sarnia doesn’t have dedicated recruiters, Craddock said. Instead, officers take time off from other duties to deal with recruitment.

“A lot of the people who apply here, they’re from the local community, they want to stay in the community,” she said.

Paying them as cadets until a spot at the police college opens up helps keep them here, she said, adding other small and mid-size services like Sarnia’s are looking at similar programs.

The program pairs cadets with full-time officers and duties range from general patrol and desk duty, to special events, traffic duty and other things, she said.

There’s no budget impact because the positions are like a queue to fill vacancies, she said.

Sarnia started the year with 13 vacancies and recently sent four recruits to the police college, she said.

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The cadet program, meanwhile, will begin with three on the road after they finish training in May, she said, noting they won’t carry firearms and will have uniforms and gear clearly marked ‘cadet.’

The program is also a chance for the cadets to gain experience while boosting police presence in the community, similar to a volunteer auxiliary program also getting underway, she said.

The number of cadets will vary, depending on vacancies in the 129-officer force and the number of spots available at the police college, she said, estimating the longest a person would remain a cadet would be a year.

The program will allow police to “make sure we keep good candidates that are qualified in the community, giving them meaningful work,” Craddock said.

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