Sarnia police auxiliary demographics unexpected: deputy chief

Sarnia police auxiliary demographics unexpected deputy chief

Sarnia’s male-dominated police force is getting a few more women in uniform.

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Five of the six officers in the service’s new auxiliary unit are women, the force’s board heard recently before approving their appointment.

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Swearing in happens May 2, deputy chief Julie Craddock said.

The results are “amazing” and unexpected, she said, for the service that has just nine per hundred female officers — the national average is around 23 per cent — and has been trying to recruit more.

The auxiliary program, a first in Sarnia that pairs trained and tested auxiliary members with police officers for duties ranging from directing traffic, community events, missing person searches and general police work, isn’t designed for recruitment, Craddock said.

“It just sort of worked out,” she said.

In the past, at other services, units tended to attract people with other careers but interests in policing and wanting to give back, she said.

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“This recruitment experience here was different for me,” she said.

All but one — a paramedic, who’s being made auxiliary unit sergeant — are university-age students with an interest in pursuing policing, she said.

Sarnia police auxiliary members recently received training in Sarnia. (Submitted) jpg, SO, apsmc

“We’re hoping (a) positive auxiliary volunteer experience … sort of transitions into applications” in the years to come, and positions as police officers in Sarnia, she said.

Auxiliary members wear uniforms similar to Sarnia officers but with a checkered pattern on their hats, and patches on uniforms that say ‘auxiliary,’ Craddock said.

There were 40 applicants to the program, whittled down via the vetting process that included physical testing, interviews and background checks, she said.

Recent training over 32 hours focused on powers of arrest, handcuffing and defensive tactics, along with legislative and ethics training, and how different police roles fit together in the force, Craddock said.

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Members were also given firearm familiarization training, since they worked closely with officers, she said. Auxiliary members don’t carry guns.

Plans are to see how the unit works in the community before recruiting another intake, likely in 2025, Craddock said.

Some of the markings on a Sarnia Police auxiliary officer uniform.  (Screenshot)
Some of the markings on a Sarnia police auxiliary officer uniform. (Screenshot) jpg, SO, apsmc

Total cost to equip and outfit the new auxiliary unit is $18,000, police reported to the board, noting the unit reports to a sergeant in the service’s community support division.

“It’s really important to emphasize that these were the best candidates,” police chief Derek Davis said, calling them “the best applicants … selected based on merit alone.”

Police this summer are also starting a new summer student program for 15 to 18-year-olds, Craddock said, with grant funding from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

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Four minimum-wage positions over eight weeks in the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI) program are grant funded and expected to do community service initiatives like garbage cleanup, bike safety events, and promoting crime prevention through things like creating pamphlets to inform people about scams and fraud, Craddock said.

Police are also covering the salary over four months for a program coordinator, she said, noting it’s in line with a summer student’s salary pay at the City of Sarnia.

“All of this plays into our larger recruitment efforts,” of familiarizing people with the police service at a young age, she said.

“Recruitment doesn’t happen the day of,” she said. “It happens with years of building capacity and building relationships with the young people that are going to be the future of the organization.”

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Sarnia’s new auxiliary unit:

• Ann Millar (sergeant)

• Liam Chicoine

• Bella DiMuzio

•Sarah Gardner

• Grace Stover

• Lauren Whelpley

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