Calgary police's cattle-call-style recruitment isn't working, says criminologist

A Mount Royal University criminologist says the Calgary police service needs to update its recruiting style if it wants transform its police force and "right the ship" with respect to the implementation of its HR reforms.

Calgary police agrees it must do a better job of targeting efforts

Doug King is a criminologist at Mount Royal University in Calgary. (Francois Joly/Radio-Canada)

The Calgary Police Service needs to update its recruiting style if it wants to transform its police force and "right the ship" with respect to the implementation of its HR reforms, says a Mount Royal University criminologist.

The service wants to hire 150 new recruits in 2019 to help ease the workload among front-line officers. It's launched ads on radio, social media and in publications, urging people to apply.

And in order to get enough qualified applicants, it said it will need to weed through at least 1,500 applications.

But one criminologist said cattle-call-style recruitment is not an effective way to attract diverse candidates.

"It used to be 'we'll see who walks in the door,' that model. And now its kind of, 'well, we'll let everyone in the world know we're hiring,' and so a good successful recruiting process is to have this incredibly large pool of people so that they can filter out the people they don't want to hire," said Doug King, criminologist at Mount Royal University.

"No big business in the world does it that way."

King said it's better to spend money on smaller, targeted campaigns with groups of people more likely to have the type of candidates you are seeking.

'We need to go to them'

CPS agrees. A spokesperson with the service said it's tried to approach more diverse community groups in the past to encourage them to apply, with some success, but the service knows it needs to do better.

"We need to go to them. We need to do outreach, what we call outreach, we need to go find these candidates, we need to find these employees," said Supt. Mike Worden.

"If we just say, 'hey, come apply,' we won't meet the expectations. The community has expectations, organizationally we have expectations to meet our diversity needs."

Worden said the service is putting some money aside from its budget to build a focused diversity hiring campaign, and it will be using a marketing firm to help reach its goals.

CPS hasn't determined the cost of the new marketing strategy just yet.

"Whether it be through Facebook conversations or Instagram, they all use these different types of social media platforms that we're trying to get to today's employees."

King suggests setting up recruitment booths at post-secondary institutions in Alberta as one example. He said he's been preaching this for 30 years.

"You would get the kinds of applicants that are going to transform policing. You are going to get more women, more people of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, gay, lesbian and transgender people … and so on."

King said the service is trying to overcome issues around bullying and harassment, low morale and a lack of diversity, and he said those kinds of changes start with the people being recruited.

Women are just 19% of CPS

Currently, women make up roughly 19 per cent of the service. 

But Worden said he's pleased to see this year's recruitment classes have been comprised of anywhere from 25 to 45 per cent women, but he said it will take a long time to see that translated to the service at large.

He said the service holds women in policing conferences and information sessions, but he said CPS is looking beyond that.

"I mean gender, ethnic diversity, visual diversity and then just diversity of experience … we're focusing on all of that," said Worden.


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