Calgary police recruiting in Red Deer

Kyle Johnston has a secure, enjoyable job but a desire to become a policeman has been with him for some time.

Paul Merchant

Kyle Johnston has a secure, enjoyable job but a desire to become a policeman has been with him for some time.

Johnston, 21, of Red Deer was one of scores of young men and women who showed up Saturday for the first-ever City of Calgary Police Service recruitment in Red Deer.

“It’s always been something that’s been at the back of my mind,” said Johnston while viewing a display at the Westerner Park building.

“I’ve had family and friends who have pursued that career and it’s always been interesting to me,” he said, clutching an application form.

Staff Sgt. Craig Skelton, of the department’s recruiting staff, said the service hopes to hire 200 officers this year and between 100 to 150 in 2010.

The force has about 1,800 members but the city’s rapid growth requires more officers to police the sprawling city.

Johnston, who is in the telecommunications industry, said the exposure of police and their various jobs on television is attractive.

“There’s also that adrenalin rush,” he laughed.

Johnston said he’s not so worried about policing in a large city as he is about uprooting from Red Deer and moving to the big city.

“I have a pretty good career going right now but it’s tough to make a decision to move or not. But I guess you have to take the risk. I really love my job now and that’s what makes it a difficult decision.”

Johnston agrees that there’s a need to follow a dream when you’re young but still have something to fall back on.

He said working with and helping people is already part of his working life.

Skelton said he didn’t know what to expect by holding the department’s first full blown drive in Red Deer.

“We’ve had a lot of people come through already and a lot are expressing very serious interest,” said the 20-year veteran of the force.

“In my 20 years of policing, I’ve never seen this much demand for recruiting,” he added.

Skelton said the force seeks recruits who are at least 18 years of age, no criminal record, good character and physically fit.

“We like some experience whether it’s through formal education and employment that allows you to develop some skills and competencies in areas like stress management and decision making.”

Skelton said in the uncertain economy, policing offers people competitive wages, good benefits, a 25-year pension plan and paid training.

Officers earn between $52,021 to $75,392 in the first five years.

He said an increasing number of women enter the force. The recruit classes are now 30 to 40 per cent women.

However, interest seems to waning for people seeking to make policing a career. Skelton said the most recent survey indicates a policing career had fallen to ninth on a popularity scale. It had been fifth a few years ago, he said.

He said it takes about 105 days before a potential recruit learns of their status, followed by 21 weeks of training before being assigned to various units for field training.

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