BY KELLY ROCHE
Trey Senior is thinking about joining the tactical unit with Peel Police one day. “I’m not scared,” said Senior, 19, of Brampton.
Policing is an attractive career choice due to “the ability to not be stuck in one area,” plus, “you get to talk to people, socialize, you know, drive around if you have the cruiser,” Senior said.
His dad, Lyndon Senior, was on board.
“It’s good experiences, it has a good pension,” he said.
“There’s nothing negative about being a police officer. It’s a good career.”
A relative in Jamaica was a cop who was killed in the line of duty about 35 years ago, said Lyndon Senior.
The Seniors were two of many turned away at the Central Library Tuesday evening during the black community recruitment forum. At least 300 people showed up, and there was only room for 250.
Police Chief Jennifer Evans said she was concerned “that the community would misunderstand the importance and the value of the information that’s obtained to solving crime, and to preventing crime” when street checks and carding issues arose earlier this year.
Based on the turnout, “people in the community still want to join Peel Police,” Evans said.
“Our officers are out there doing really good work … it’s a tough job,” said Evans. Fifty-nine per cent of Peel residents are ‘racialized persons,’ according to the 2011 National Household Survey. In 2014, 21 out of 89 new hires were visible minorities, the PRP equal opportunity plan reported, and 72 were men. Police “recognize we need to represent our community,” said Evans. Recruiting forums began last year specifically targeting Asian and South Asian communities.
Police “not only just have to recruit the individual, it is actually about recruiting the family, because everyone’s got different ideas of what policing is about,” Evans said.
By assembling large groups, “we can educate the family as well as the recruit.”
The Seniors have joined a waiting list for the next session. Courtney Silvera, 25, of Etobicoke, also missed out but her friend scored a seat. Silvera said she’s interested in “helping the community, helping other people.”
Const. Lloyd Dixon has been doing that for 13 years. Dixon lived in Brampton before becoming an officer; he chose the scenic route, leaving a banking career at the age of 31.
He works in the recruitment unit and said people from academic backgrounds as varied as kinesiology to psychology can apply.
“There’s huge interest,” from the black community, Dixon said of the turnout.
“It’s obviously a positive.” But enthusiasm doesn’t equal recruitment — there’s the matter of “how many of them actually pass their ATS testing and actually want to move forward into policing,” said Dixon.
More than 1,000 applications are received annually, Dixon said.
The next recruiting session is in the works.