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Saint John Police Force holds first-ever Inclusion and Diversity Recruitment Camp


The Saint John Police Force’s latest recruitment effort has an increased focus on creating a more diverse workplace.

Saint John police held an inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Recruitment Camp at its headquarters in the uptown core on Thursday. It aimed to provide underrepresented community members (like women and visible minorities) a hands-on opportunity to explore a career in policing.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect coming in here today,” admits Staff Sergeant Matthew Weir. “But I am very pleased with the outcome and how involved people are being.”

Roughly 30 people from different backgrounds took part in the first-of-its-kind camp. The day consisted of a wide range of interactive sessions for attendees to take part it, including the chance to speak with current officers in the force.

The camp started with attendees learning what it means to be a difference-maker as police officers, and what the process is to become a full-time officer of the law. Attendees learned how to put on handcuffs, conduct traffic stops, and remove someone from a home.

Attendees, with help from Saint John police, learned how to cuff and remove someone from a home at the Inclusion and Diversity Recruitment Camp on May 23, 2024. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)The force’s forensics and canine teams also conducted a demonstration before those taking part had once last chance to speak with officers from a variety of the force’s sectors.

“We wanted to give people of underrepresented and diverse groups a chance to see what it is to be a police officer,” says Weir. “There is a lot of people that may be looking at a career in law enforcement that are right on the fence and not certain if they want to get into this. I think this is a great opportunity to see first hand what they are signing up for.”

All those enrolled in Thursday’s program have some interest in joining the police force in some capacity. For attendee Jitender, he hopes to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by becoming a third-generation police officer.

He says the course was very informative and provided lots of information, including how being a uniformed officer isn’t the only way to join the force.

He applauds the force in its efforts to add more diversity to their team.

Mock traffic stops were held at the Inclusion and Diversity Recruitment Camp on May 23, 2024 in Saint John, N.B. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)“It’s really nice for the immigrants as well to have a diversified policing force so that they feel comfortable to be with the people they know and they should feel comfortable to talk to,” Jitender says. “Back in the days there’s taboo to speak with policeman. Most of the people got conscious or sometimes scared. That’s why this is a wonderful initiative by Saint John police.”

“There are some cultural differences and there are some communication gaps that one is not able to explain themselves to maybe a different person from a different ethnic group,” says fellow attendee Arjun Chauhan. “So I would always say there is a little more comfort level.”

Saint John Police Force also recognize the benefit in having a more diverse patrol group.

“The benefit of having different languages in policing and being able to speak the native language of different individuals that we come across on a day to day is a huge benefit in understanding,” Weir says. “And of course there is an understanding of the different cultural backgrounds as well that they bring to the table.”

The Saint John Newcomers Centre says the city’s police force has already been at the front of the charge when it comes to further diversifying its workforce and working with newcomers.

“I think what this camp does today is create better opportunity for us as a community to be more inclusive,” says managing director Mohamed Bagha. “It’s about creating an opportunity for everyone to succeed, and I think the Saint John Police Force gets that.”

Attendees learned how to cuff someone at the Inclusion and Diversity Recruitment Camp in Saint John, N.B., on May 23, 2024. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)Bagha echoes the sentiment issued by those taking part in the camp that having more diversity within the police force’s staff is only a positive.

“For any community to thrive people need to see themselves in the region, including into the police force,” he says. “When I see somebody who looks like me, speaks my language, I’m at ease because I think he understands me and I understand him.”

The force plans to hold more camps like this in the future, with the next one slated for August.

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