New approaches to HR management in Canadian policing

by R.A. Sandy Sweet, President – Canadian Police Knowledge Network

Vancouver Police - ©Jay Siggers

There’s a new buzz within Canadian police HR circles these days.  Competency-based management (CBM) represents an entirely new approach to HR operations for many police services. It also represents significant opportunity for the community at large. CBM will equip officers with the skills and knowledge necessary to make policing more efficient.

The Canadian Police Sector Council began laying the groundwork for CBM with its Competency Framework Project in 2008.  Though recognized as a massive undertaking, it was clear that adopting a common range of proficiencies for the policing industry could be a major factor in overcoming many of the challenges associated with recruitment, succession, and leadership.  Ensuring that officers at every rank, regardless of region, are equipped with equivalent skills and knowledge would not only strengthen the quality of policing in Canada, but also enhance the capacity of police services to fulfill the needs of the communities they serve.   

A nationally relevant system for defining skills and knowledge requirements is an incredible opportunity to further advance the role of e-learning within the sector.

CBM is not a ‘build it and they will come’ kind of endeavour.  Making it work requires active participation from the sector – something it has not failed to provide.   Over three years, CPSC and the Human Resource Systems Group, a consulting agency engaged for the project, worked with police services across the country to identify and define the competency requirements associated with general policing duties for all ranks. At its conclusion, the project produced a comprehensive framework of competencies and job related information, as well as a variety of guidelines and tools to help services implement CBM into their operations. 

CPSC is now expanding on that initial effort by working with academies to assess existing cadet training curriculums against identified competencies for constables.  It has also collaborated with a committee of sector stakeholders to develop competency profiles, leadership development requirements, and succession management plans for senior ranking members. This model will now be mapped against existing leadership courses and programs to identify appropriate training resources.  Once completed, these components will help individual agencies align with nationally recognized best practices.

Police fire tear gas at FTAA protesters, Quebec City, CanadaThe Canadian Police Knowledge Network’s interest in this new approach to HR management is by no means idle.  A nationally relevant system for defining skills and knowledge requirements is an incredible opportunity to further advance the role of e-learning within the sector.  It will also reinforce the partnership between CPKN and CPSC and our collective effort to progress technology-supported training for police.  In the coming year, CPKN and CPSC will begin to work with the police community to develop training pieces that incorporate established competencies for online delivery.  This will put CPSC’s research into practice and further support police training needs -- it will also play a significant role in helping the sector to effectively integrate CBM into HR operations in the years to come.

So these are indeed exciting times. CBM is not only a new way to enhance operations within organizations, but also demonstrates a wholly new level of collaboration across the sector.  While no one expects that implementing a CBM approach will be easy, it is certainly recognized as a worthwhile venture.  And it’s something that we look forward to being a part of.



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