If you are thinking of becoming a police officer, or are already in the Canadian police service, you may be wondering how a Bachelor of Arts degree in policing would contribute to your career. Your career, after all, has many aspects: your ability to serve the public, ensure and defend public order and safety, influence your fellow officers, and progress up the ranks.
Leadership Skills in a Complex Environment
Leadership skills in Canadian policing have never been more needed. They also have never been more complicated. Leadership skills cover a wide spectrum. They may include working with the many groups within Canada — a nation with extraordinary and growing ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. They may include taking charge of a situation on the front lines, and knowing how to communicate effectively. They may include assessing and devising a plan of action on the front lines. When is it appropriate to de-escalate a situation? When might a better tactic be escalating? How do you lead your colleagues? What is the best strategy to win public trust and cooperation?
In addition, of course, if leadership skills are a stepping stone to police service management, you will need not only to display those skills to the public and your colleagues, but to upper and middle police service managers. One of the most complicated sets of leadership skills is the interface between police service personnel working directly in public settings and the management that reviews, plans, and sets the standards for their work.
Finally, all this is happening against a background of increased scrutiny of police actions, and challenges of them.
Training as an Essential Component of Leadership
When police are asked about leadership, they speak loud and clear. Leadership skills in the police service often lead to management positions. A survey in Blue Line indicated that while more than 80 percent of officers felt good management was important in fulfilling their daily responsibilities, just slightly more than one-third actually felt that police managers were well-trained to manage.
Their focus on training went further than that. Asked to name the most important qualities for police leadership and management, police officers named 1) front line experience, 2) ability to motivate others; and 3) appropriate training.
The BA program in policing at Wilfrid Laurier University online provides grounding in aspects of leadership training. First, you will be studying areas that law enforcement leaders have pegged as crucial for police service officers. Second, you will be studying online with other officers, so you will obtain a broad perspective. Third, you will hear first-hand stories of police life on the streets of Canada, an even wider perspective.
You will receive training in coursework on crime, strategy, critical thinking, psychology, communications, diversity, cybercrime, crisis situations, and civil unrest.
The BA in policing also includes a specific course on leadership. PD202, Leadership and Career Development in Law Enforcement, offers a survey of leadership approaches, the relationship between leadership and followership, and motivating service members. In the course, leadership skill development and assessment is provided so that each class member has insight into their specific leadership style. From there, the course builds on the of that style and ways to strengthen and deepen it.
The Advantages of Online Courses
Police schedules rotate frequently. You may be working at night, early morning, or a schedule that changes often. In addition, they are demanding schedules: public safety and the security of other police service officers depends on you. These schedules can make learning in a traditional classroom, where students must meet at a particular time on specific days, unfeasible.
An online program can be completed at any time that is convenient and accessible for you. It fits into a police service officer’s schedule.
The convenience and flexibility apply to admissions as well as individual classes. Courses begin six times a year. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development recognizes crime and justice as areas of institutional strength for Laurier.