LAC LA BICHE - The first-ever Community Peace Officer Induction Program (CPOIP) class offered at Lac La Biche's Portage College celebrated their course completion a little over a week ago. The nine-week program is approved by Alberta’s Peace Officer Program and the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General's Training Academy.
The new, intensive program is based at the college’s Lac La Biche campus and is a collaboration between Portage and Lac La Biche County. Although training courses have been offered through the province’s Solicitor General’s office since 2007, the Portage program is unique in that it offers in-class and situational training for existing officers and new candidates.
This year’s grad class, made up of eight students, is the 32nd class of Level 1 Community Peace Officers in Alberta, but the first class to graduate from the induction program. This year’s Portage grads are made up of entry-level candidates and officers already working in communities across the province.
The ability to host the course is a pretty impressive accomplishment for the college and community, says Chris Clark, the manager of Enforcement Services in Lac La Biche County. He says the results of the program will also benefit communities across Alberta.
"The peace officer world is a very small world of people who are occupying and filling positions, so by offering this training…It will be a huge step forward for getting people in the door, and being able to fill vacant peace officer positions around the province. It will also increase the amount of peace officers that we have in Alberta,” said Clark, who was an instructor of the program, working along with other training officers.
Pepper spray, driving and combat tests
The students’ rigorous training included real-life scenarios that pushed them to their limits daily, says Clark.
“It’s a huge amount of skill sets they’ve gone through, everything from control tactics to being exposed to pepper spray, ground fighting with instructors, role-playing where they were actually in a patrol vehicle and doing traffic stops … it was very intensive training.”
Utilizing the college's campus for tactical training was crucial to the success of the program, says Clark.
“By partnering with our local college it gave us the ability to have the facility as well as to work on different sites and also to access their instructors, exam, theory and product development, then, the county hired instructors and purchased the equipment and now this is set forth for us to be able to do this program,” says Clark.
Kaitlyn Schneider, the valedictorian for the graduating class, joined the program with no experience in law enforcement.
During her speech at the course's convocation ceremony, she was teary-eyed as she commended her fellow graduates and instructors for all the support, challenges and friendships experienced during the program.
Schneider admitted with a laugh that her previous career path — the operator of a day home for children in Camrose — is a jump away from law enforcement path she's now on.
“I wasn’t akin to this profession at all. The biggest drive for me to join law enforcement is to make a difference,” she said.
The training has allowed her to grow, and she finally feels ready to apply her knowledge and serve her community back home in her new career choice.
A need for local community peace officer training opportunities is a conversation that municipal officials and emergency services have been having for a significant time, said Omer Moghrabi, who attended the convocation ceremony that was held on his last official day in office.
Expanding the brand new CPOIP course, says Clark, will hopefully be an opportunity other municipalities will introduce into their communities.
More information on registration for the next induction class will be available on Lac La Biche County’s website.