Nova Scotia

Halifax Regional Police to train its own new officers

The force will launch its new registered career college in January. The executive director of Holland College's Atlantic Police Academy in P.E.I. says his program has already taken a hit as a result.

'The priority of the class was to be reflective of our community,' says Insp. Reid McCoombs

Halifax Regional Police will train 24 new recruits in its new program starting in January. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Halifax Regional Police will offer its own police science program and train 24 recruits when it opens a new private career college in January. 

"It was just a good opportunity for us to get to some of the diverse communities and groups within HRM and the province that don't have the opportunity to go away from their families and go to Holland College [in P.E.I.] for that period of time," said Insp. Reid McCoombs.

"The priority of the class was to be reflective of our community."

Halifax Regional Police Insp. Reid McCoombs says the force wanted to attract recruits who, for a variety of reasons, may not be able to attend the Atlantic Police Academy in P.E.I. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

More than 1,000 people applied for spots in the 38-week program, which will be housed in the Northbrook Training Centre in Dartmouth. Cadets will shell out $10,000 for tuition.

By comparison, the 35-week police science program at Holland College's Atlantic Police Academy in Summerside costs $31,539, including $18,910 for tuition, $8,441 for accommodations and meals, plus other fees. Cadets at Holland College live on campus.

While policing is similar across the country, said McCoombs, the Halifax Regional Police program "can tailor some things that are specific for HRP, where Holland College is training police officers for all of the Atlantic region."

However, he added, the department still plans on hiring graduates from Holland College. In fact, it recently hired 10 graduates from the school.

Forrest Spencer is executive director of the Atlantic Police Academy at Holland College in P.E.I. He says enrolment has already dropped since the Halifax Regional Police announced its own training program. (Submitted by Holland College)

Forrest Spencer, executive director of the Atlantic Police Academy, said the new Halifax program has already had a direct impact on his program, with enrolment down slightly.

"Last year, we started with a class of 60 people, this year I expect … our class will be about 46 people, so we dropped a little bit," said Spencer.

"And that's concerning, obviously, because we do supply police officers to all of Maritime Canada and beyond."

Spencer said the academy and Halifax Regional Police have traditionally been "great partners," and he's in discussions with the force to determine what impact the new program will have on Holland College. 

Last year, Halifax did on-the-job training with 24 of Holland College's police cadets.

"In all likelihood, they're not going to be able to take that many numbers, they're going to have their own class," said Spencer.

He said the school is looking at its fees and delivery model "with the goal of still providing the best training it can provide."

Meanwhile, McCoombs said he does not yet know the full cost of running the new Halifax program, but it's hoped tuition fees will cover the expenses.

Halifax Regional Police cadets use this simulator for part of their physical test in training. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

The application and selection process for the Halifax Regional Police program involves 12 stages, include cognitive and physical ability tests, a polygraph test, a medical exam, a background check and psychological testing.

Annual salaries for Halifax Regional Police constables range from $59,155 to $98,592, based on years of service.

About the Author

Sherri Borden Colley has been a reporter for more than 20 years. Many of the stories she writes are about social justice, race and culture, human rights and the courts. To get in touch with Sherri email sherri.borden.colley@cbc.ca