Add: Constable Shawn Currie has served as a police officer for 28 years. For 23 of those years he's worked with the Halifax Regional Police, spending much of his service as a Community Response Officer. Const. Currie recently transferred to Traffic Division.
What personality traits are best suited to your job?
Patience is number one. You have to have big shoulders, get used to having a lot thrown at you, and have the patience to sort through the details and know what to focus on and what you can ignore. And you have to have the ability to decipher what’s in front of you at a moment’s notice and act accordingly.
You need to be attentive to detail. You have to stay on top of case law, and know the Acts. I’m always learning and doing research.
How does your career create value in your life?
Doing this work makes me more aware of community issues. I get to see and know how people are living, and I see both the good and the bad. I think the world is a good place, and it just has some bad people. That’s something that my job teaches me. And it makes me value my family and friends, and cherish my time with them because of what I see every day.
What is the biggest motivator for you?
I thoroughly enjoy my job. I want to ensure that people are safe. And it’s not all about the big things. Sometimes dealing with the small stuff keeps the bigger things from happening. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them for a few minutes, or help them get a hot meal. Those small things can make a big difference in someone’s life that day. And maybe that can prevent a crime from happening. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people very well over the years, and I’ve kept in touch with many of them. And they know they can call me if they need help.
Describe your best day on the job.
Some of my best days are the days when I’m not arresting people. Things that might seem insignificant, like going into a food bank and talking to people, are the things that make me go home with a smile on my face.
A few years ago, I took a picture of a three-year-old down on the waterfront, parking his plastic motorcycle where lots of real motorcycles are parked illegally. I pretended to give him a ticket, and that photo went viral with over 40 million views. And then last year, another photo of me sitting on the ground with a busker went viral. So I ended up being called “HaliCop” because of that.
What was your hardest day on the job?
In this work, we can go from helping someone who’s broken down on the side of the road to arresting someone to doing CPR on someone – our days can be like a yoyo. One day that stands out for me, I had a news crew as a ride along and I went to a fatality and had to do CPR on a person. Later, at the hospital, I learned that he wasn’t going to make it. Those are the days when I take things home with me. I’m lucky to have good support at home and we have a good Employee Assistance Program. This is a profession where we are taught to suck it up and be strong for everyone else, but it will come out and at the times when you least expect it.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned by doing this work?
Over the 28 years I’ve been a police officer, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to deal with people — how to listen to them, how to communicate with them, and how to appreciate them as human beings. And always treating people with respect, even if you’re not getting it back.
What is the proudest moment of your career?
My proudest moment was when I graduated from police college with Metro Toronto Police. My older brother, now a retired police officer, surprised me and came up and presented my diploma. He’s been a big influence in my life. Since I was four years old, he’s been a police officer and I’ve looked up to him.
Do your co-workers have a nickname for you? How did you earn it?
Not my co-workers, but the community gave me a nickname. A few years ago, I took a picture of a three-year-old down on the waterfront, parking his plastic motorcycle where lots of real motorcycles are parked illegally. I pretended to give him a ticket, and that photo went viral with over 40 million views. And then last year, another photo of me sitting on the ground with a busker went viral. So I ended up being called “HaliCop” because of that.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this job?
Learn to laugh on the job, you can’t be serious all the time. Smile and find the joy. If you don’t, you can get eaten up by this job. Enjoy what you can and, when you can have fun, have some fun. And realize that it’s okay to walk away from a situation if you’re not sure of something. Defuse the situation. You can deal with it later.
Who is/was your biggest inspiration in life?
My brother is a great person to talk to. Because he’s a former police officer, he understands what I’m going through. And he’s gone through things I hope never to experience. He’s a good resource for me.
My kids and my wife are my biggest inspirations. They keep me grounded, they keep me going, and they keep me laughing. Without them, I think I’d have a very boring life.
What’s your favourite book or movie and why?
My favourite movie series is the Harry Potter series. I like getting away from reality and into the make-believe. I see enough reality in my job.