P.E.I. police training standards announced

Municipal police in Prince Edward Island are now required to take regular retraining, the province says.

Municipal police in Prince Edward Island are now required to take regular retraining to make sure their skills are up to date, the province announced Tuesday.

Eric Fiander, the deputy director at the Atlantic Police Academy, said that while police cadets get intensive training at the academy, some are not regularly using their skills.

"Courses such as handcuffing, use of force, takedowns, the range Taser, those sorts of things, they're perishable skills," he told CBC News.

"If you don't use it, you lose it."

Fiander said at work, officers don't have time to think about such moves and they must come automatically.

"Even if you don't really use your gun on a weekly or monthly basis, when you need it, you need to have accuracy and you need to have safety."

The new requirements for municipal police officers include mandatory training for firearms, domestic violence intervention, use of force and motor vehicle pursuits. Officers will also receive refresher courses in first aid, emergency vehicle operation and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Each of the mandatory areas of training also includes how often the training must be refreshed or repeated. Firearms and use of force techniques will require annual training, while law and process training must be completed every three years.

"It's like any other field — teachers have personal development days and it's kind of the same thing for officers," said Const. Tim Keizer, a member of the Police Association of P.E.I.

"We get so used to doing things in a certain fashion but it's ever-changing and it's always evolving — the legal system — and it's very, very important for us to stay current."

The new standards were developed by a committee that included police chiefs, officials from the Atlantic Police Academy and labour representatives.

"The work is becoming more demanding, more challenging, the levels and issues that officers are dealing with are more complex than they were," said Justice and Public Safety Minister Doug Currie.

"It's certainly imperative that we do everything we can to make sure that they have the updated training."