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Calgary Police recruits benefit from online course at Mount Royal University

A long time partnership between Mount Royal University’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension and the Department of Justice Studies along with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) has finally come to fruition.

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Associate Professor Doug King says that a pilot project that Mount Royal has started with the Calgary Police Service since September of this year has been the result many years of discussion.

“Mount Royal and Calgary Police Service have been in a very, very long conversation going back 15 years to try and find some form of partnership related to academic programs and training,” King says.

About a year ago, King was approached by one of the top administrators at CPS in charge of recruit training to assess whether MRU could find academic courses that would align with CPS’ efforts to add social diversity into their training.

When King spoke with CPS he determined that social diversity wasn’t really quite what they were after.

“It turned out they really didn’t want what we considered to be diversity, what they really wanted was something a little more basic to introduce recruits to the organization and structure of the criminal justice system,” says King.

He notes that the CPS found recruits had little to no educational background in criminal justice so they didn't understand what policing is.

MRU courses enhance CPS' recruitment training

King recognized that MRU could sufficiently fill this gap.

“We offer through Continuing Education, six online courses in what’s called the Police Studies Certificate program,” says King.

After granting CPS access to those courses, they determined that the introductory Canadian Criminal Justice Systems course that MRU offers was exactly what they were seeking.

“So we tweaked it a bit and modified the assignments that recruits do,” King says.

The current recruit class has been taking the online course since September.

Instead of the usual semester to complete the course however, the CPS recruits have the luxury of spreading this course out over six months.

King says that the course has always been divided into three modules and it works really well with the CPS training schedule.

“Throughout the six months of police training, they do in class then they go out and do field work and then they go back and do in class. The modules reinforce each of those segments,” says King. “It’s a really, really perfect fit.”

An ongoing initiative

This pilot project doesn’t just end with the current recruiting class of 24 which commenced in September. King says that there is some overlap with recruits and that this project is slated for the next class which will begin in December.

There are plans to continue to the project next year and beyond, depending on funding, continued success and demand.

King spoke with members of the current recruit class about three weeks ago.

The feedback from students was, “We’re learning things that we didn’t know,” says King. He says that basic concepts such as the Rule of Law are better understood by the new recruits through the supplemental courses at MRU.

“I know of no other partnership like this in Canada,” King says.

He is actively able to provide support and feedback to the recruits through the technology used to deliver the course.

Another benefit of the program is that recruits can transfer the courses towards Mount Royal’s degree program in Justice Studies.

While it has been a long time coming, King says that success for the current pilot is a result of persistence.

King believes, “It’s the product of not giving up on the promise of the project."

— Fred Cheney, Nov. 29, 2012