Meet Jennifer Clarke: Police Constable with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary - Keeping Canada Safe - CBC-TV
Meet Jennifer Clarke: Police Constable with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary
Meet Jennifer Clarke: Police Constable with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

Following a 15-week intensive training period, Constable Jennifer Clarke was accepted into the mounted unit of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in 2014. Const. Clarke earned a Silver Horse Shoe award for graduating at the top of her class.

What personality traits are best suited to your job?

I am very understanding. It helps me appreciate the situations that a lot of our clients get themselves into, and therefore makes it easier to work through the situation. I am also very empathetic. When you can see things through someone else’s eyes, and feel things through someone else’s heart, then you can relate to anyone. And policing becomes a whole lot easier when you can relate to just about anyone!

How does your career create value in your life? (besides a paycheque!)
It’s helped me not to sweat the small stuff. When I feel like my day is going bad, I can quickly bring myself around when I consider the real struggles that other people are facing. It makes my spilt milk not seem so ghastly. It becomes easy for me to hit the “reset” button.

"When you can see things through someone else’s eyes, and feel things through someone else’s heart, then you can relate to anyone. And policing becomes a whole lot easier when you can relate to just about anyone!"

What is the biggest motivator for you?
My family. My partner and my parents. My brother.

I was lucky to grow up in a small town, with a great family. My Dad worked with the Coast Guard on a 28-day rotation, and I saw how hard it was for him to leave us. He and my Mom did everything for their kids. I want to make them proud.

Describe your best day on the job.
The best days are the positive ones. And being on the Mounted Unit, every day is a positive one! I really enjoy being able to speak to members of my community and let them ask questions, take photos, and share their stories with me. It helps to humanize the uniform, something I think is very important. It’s also why I enjoy being apart of the DARE program in the elementary schools. Any day that I can help break down the barrier between the uniform and our young people is a great day!

What was your hardest day on the job?
One suicide call in particular has stuck with me because I always felt that if I got there 10 seconds earlier, maybe I could have stopped him. I’ve carried that with me a long time now.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned by doing this work?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that we really are all in this together. We can figure it out the hard way or we can figure it out the easy way. But at the end of the day, we will figure it out together.

I’ve learned to always have patience.

And I’ve learned that one person can have a large impact, both in their professional life and in their personal life.

What is the proudest moment of your career?
Like most police officers, I think the proudest day is when you are presented your badge. So my graduation day was my proudest day. Two of my grandparents were able to be there to watch. They have always let me know how proud they are of me and the career I chose. I am pretty proud of them too!

I never really thought about being a police officer. I studied journalism at university, but then I took some criminology courses and worked in a youth corrections facility — that’s when I knew that I wanted to be a police officer.

Do your co-workers have a nickname for you? How did you earn it?
Most people get called by their last name with either “er” or “ie” added to it. So I got called “Clarkie” a lot when I worked Patrol Division.

At the Mounted Unit I got the name “Dumper,” but I’m not telling why!

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this job?
I always tell young people to get involved in their community. Get involved with the people around them. Volunteer. Create awareness about the issues they see. Don’t be afraid to use their voice.

Our police department tends not to recruit people if they don’t have volunteer experience in their communities. So put yourselves out there!

"Asking the question, 'How did you get to this place where it felt like robbing a bank was your best option?' helps you to understand where a person is at when you encounter them."

Who is/was your biggest inspiration in life?
I have been lucky to have a number of strong women and men in my life, and they’ve all inspired me in different ways.

Dawne Clarke (no relation) is a professor at St. Thomas University where I earned my degree. She taught me to always ask “how” instead of “why,” and that is something I always keep in the back of my mind — in my policing career, but also in life. It’s a way of making me think outside the box. For example, if you ask somebody why they just robbed a bank, they’ll tell you they needed money. But asking the question, “How did you get to this place where it felt like robbing a bank was your best option?” helps you to understand where a person is at when you encounter them.

Dawne also taught me that it’s okay to be myself and to follow my heart, no matter how much humble pie I may eat at the end of the day! I’m not afraid to put things out there about myself, to let people see my personal side. We’re all human beings.

Just for fun: What’s your favourite book or movie? Why?
My favorite novel is The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. It’s about a 5-year-old boy and his struggle with racial hatred and how he overcomes obstacles. It’s about the power that one person can have and the impact that one small person can have.

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