Surrey: With a rapidly growing population, five policing districts, and a land mass two and half times bigger than Vancouver, the City of Surrey can be a daunting place to learn policing. Fortunately, the Surrey RCMP’s Field Coaching Program is in place to teach new police officers the ropes when they arrive at the largest RCMP detachment in the country.
After completing the rigorous training at the RCMP’s Depot Academy in Regina, all new RCMP officers are coached and mentored by experienced police officers as part of the RCMP’s Field Coaching Program. In Surrey, the goal of this program is to produce competent, technically-sound police officers who are able to efficiently respond to any situation they encounter in the City of Surrey. This six month “on the job” training program shows new officers what they can expect once they hit the road as General Duty patrol officers.
“There are a number of competencies that must be met by these officers at every stage of their development,” says Peter Bird, Surrey RCMP’s Training Program Administrator. “These include problem solving, teamwork, knowledge of applicable legislation and RCMP policies, conflict management, communication, and various tactical skills and techniques. A big part of the program includes community engagement, which requires officers to step outside the scope of enforcement and build relationships within the community.”
Each new officer is paired up with a “field coach” officer who mentors them throughout the duration of the program. Constable Manny Sidhu is the current Field Coach for Constable Maxime Jacob, a 27 year old from Gatineau, Quebec.
“The most satisfying part for me is when they put into practice something we’ve been discussing and it results in a positive outcome – whether that’s a good arrest or the proper discretion being applied,” says Cst. Sidhu, who’s been with the Surrey RCMP for four years.
Cst. Jacob has been enjoying the fast-paced training and the natural rapport with his Field Coach.
“I can ask him anything – he’s very open-minded and constantly giving me feedback,” says Cst. Jacob. “He’ll even test me using scenarios he has dealt with before to see if I can figure out the best course of action.”
Based out of the Whalley/City Centre district, Cst. Jacob is already seeing the many cultural, social, and economic factors at play in a city as large as Surrey. As part of his training, Cst. Jacob must complete a community profile with a particular focus on a local agency or group to further advance his understanding of the city and its inhabitants. He is also working on another project that involves finding an alternative resolution to a traffic problem that is occurring in a local neighbourhood. This involves soliciting feedback from residents, liaising with the city’s engineering department, and relying on his knowledge of the community and current legislation.
“A big part of our training involves learning how be responsive to local residents’ needs,” says Cst. Sidhu.
After approximately three months, the majority of new officers have enough experience to take a more independent approach to investigations and contact with the public, but there continues to be oversight and supervision from their trainer and other members of their team. The trainer and other officers are always close at hand to guide and support them through their last three months of field coach training. In addition, new officers go through a number of review processes to evaluate their performance and progress at various stages of the Field Coaching Program. These include learning plans, performance reviews, self-evaluation, and a practicum.
Cst. Jacob has ambitions to join some of the specialized sections of the RCMP such as the Emergency Response Team, but for now he is content to learn the ropes on General Duty, where he will respond to a wide variety of calls for service.
“The training I’ve received has definitely set me up for a rewarding career in law enforcement,” say Cst. Jacob. “There is a lot of opportunity in Surrey and I am looking forward to getting to know the people of this city.”
“Ideally, every new officer who comes through our doors is trained to become a future mentor for our next batch of officers,” says Bird. “While some do move around to pursue different opportunities, there are many who stay for years or come back to hold more senior positions.”
This past year has seen an unprecedented number of officers recruited to Surrey detachment. Recently, the one hundredth police officer arrived at the detachment as part of a contract between the RCMP, federal government, and the City of Surrey.