Not waiting for resumés, Cape Breton police look to recruit

·2 min read
Chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police, Robert Walsh, says the department will be taking a proactive approach to recruitment. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
Chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police, Robert Walsh, says the department will be taking a proactive approach to recruitment. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

The Cape Breton Regional Police Service is seeing fewer people applying for jobs and that's creating a problem in filling staff shortages.

But rather than wait for resumés to appear, police Chief Robert Walsh says the department is taking action.

"One of the things that we are looking forward to doing in the very near future is a proactive recruitment," Walsh said following a police commission meeting Monday.

"[We'll] actually go out into the communities and try to identify people who may be interested in policing and encourage them and help them to get into the police academy."

The force is prioritizing the recruitment of women and members of Nova Scotia's Indigenous and Black communities. Walsh said that's because those groups are underrepresented and the municipal force wants to better reflect the communities it serves.

Fewer applicants

Walsh said over the last year and a half, people have been turning away from policing as a profession in Canada.

"We're not seeing the same number of applicants as in previous years," he said.

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

"It's largely because it is an inherently dangerous job. There is a lot of public scrutiny and liability, and people are now taking other career opportunities."

In the last four years, roughly three dozen new police officers were hired in the CBRM.

Walsh said the department typically hosts 200 officers, but has struggled with staff absenteeism.

Returning to work

Walsh said the number of workers off on medical leave has been dropping. That began after the municipality's human resources department started working with employees to get them back on the job faster.

In 2019, up to 43 of the force's officers were off the job due to illness or injury.

However, Walsh said that number now hovers around 25 to 30 officers being off the job at any given time.

"We're looking at the nature of the duties that people can perform," he said. "For example, they have an injury, but they can still take calls or can assist with things like complaints we potentially could receive through online reporting. "

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