Nova Scotia

Cape Breton police reach out to international student population for recruits

Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Robert Walsh says a large number of newcomers has changed the makeup of the community and police need to reflect that in personnel and services.

Chief Robert Walsh says a large number of newcomers has changed CBRM's makeup and police need to reflect that

Cape Breton Regional Police
The Cape Breton Regional Police Service is looking to the growing international student body at the local university as a potential source for new officer recruits. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Cape Breton Regional Police are starting to recruit officers from the international student population on the island to better represent the changing community. 

The force recently adopted a new strategic plan that involved meetings with the public and various community groups and Chief Robert Walsh said police have noticed a shift in the makeup of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. 

"We are seeing a change in the dynamic of our community," he said. "We're seeing a lot of international students who are coming here for university and now choosing to stay on and be part of the fabric of our community, so we need to better reflect the community that we serve."

This fall, 3,982 of the 5,901 students registered are from other countries. That's 67 per cent of the student population.

Three public meetings over the summer attracted a large number of international students, Walsh said, so police listened and are taking action.

"This is part of our proactive recruitment strategy, that we are actually reaching [out] to underrepresented groups to see if they have an interest in becoming part of our police service," he said.

They are also examining the services they offer.

Chief Robert Walsh says the force needs about 15 new recruits, but it is also examining services, including interpreters to help officers better understand other cultures. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"For example, when people come from other countries and they speak other languages, we need to partner with stakeholders in the community so that we can have interpreters available and better understand their cultural norms and experiences," Walsh said.

The force has about 15 vacancies for new recruits and according to Nova Scotia's Department of Justice, police officers must be Canadian citizens or have permanent resident status.

Damanpreet Singh, president of Cape Breton University's students union, said some students are showing an interest in staying in the community after finishing their studies and some are interested in policing.

"I think it's a fantastic idea," said Singh. "Not only does it give an opportunity to students to give back to the community, but it is also a very respectable and charming career option actually for students."

Some students are also excited about the Canadian Armed Forces' recent announcement that permanent residents can apply to the military, Singh said.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 37 years. He has spent the last 19 covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at

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