It's not easy to be a police officer. Long and irregular hours, frequent high stress encounters, and the demands of maintaining a personal life outside of work can keep a lot of officers from exploring opportunities to upgrade their education, and their earning potential. Entry-level requirements vary across police organizations, but candidates with post-secondary education increase the likelihood that they will be successful in the recruitment process.
For serving police officers, post-secondary education provides opportunities for lateral movement, and promotion as most police organizations encourage life-long learning, consistent with the philosophy of learning organizations. Post-secondary education will also open up opportunities for transferring between police organization, and second careers in consulting.
Wilfrid Laurier University's fully-online Honours BA in Policing program allows current and former officers with at least one year of on-the-job experience to earn a degree at their own pace, opening up an array of opportunities.
There's no substitute for on-the-job experience, and the instincts a police officer develops working their beat, which is why online programs like Laurier's are becoming such a popular method. Rather than taking several years off to earn a degree, officers can double the value of each year, leaving their program with three to four years of experience to go along with their degree.
Modern police officers need to be flexible, adaptive thinkers, familiar not only with how to make arrests and handle evidence, but the higher concepts learned in a classroom. Some of the concepts covered in post-secondary programs include: community policing strategies for Canada's diverse populations; criminological and psychological theory; and the role of technology in crime and policing.
These are the fundamentals of strategic thinking in policing. As an example of this bigger-picture thinking, there is a strong need for a better understanding of how unconscious bias impacts the way officers respond to different groups, as increasing misunderstandings between law enforcement and minorities in both Canada and the United States have demonstrated.
Public attention is focused on these issues, and there is a demand for officers who are open to changing the status quo—and education is a component of changing the status quo.
These are also the tools that seasoned officers require if they choose to make a transition into private sector consulting, where a former officer with personnel management experience should have an easier time in their second career. With the right combination of education and exemplary performance as an officer, earnings as a consultant can be quite a lucrative move.
As one of Canada's most recognized schools for crime and policing education, Laurier worked with law enforcement officials to build a program tailored to working and retired police officers.
With classes officers can complete whenever and wherever their schedule permits, Laurier's online program is helping to build a more educated Canadian police force, which is good for the force and the public good.