National Police Week runs from May 11 to 17 this year! Read about a cool mentoring program offered to Police Foundations students at our Owen Sound Campus.
Michael MacLachlan, a professor for the Police Foundation program at the Owen Sound Campus is always looking for ways to expand his students’ experience and help set their resumés apart after graduation.
In his Defense Tactics and Crisis Intervention course which covers a variety of topics from domestic abuse, suicide, next-of-kin calls, elder abuse and more, he held symposiums (pre-pandemic) with guest speakers. The symposiums were also open to the greater policing community as well as students.
During these symposiums he discovered they were also a great networking opportunity and students were forming good connections with some of the police officers in attendance.
When COVID hit, and the symposiums were suspended, Michael decided to expand on the connections and he introduced a formal mentoring program in his course in 2021. Each of his 17 students were assigned a research topic for five weeks and partnered with a mentor from local detachments – Owen Sound Police, Hanover Police, West-Grey Police Services, Saugeen Shores Police Services – or from one of the Ontario Provincial Police detachments from the surrounding Owen Sound area. He spread further afield this year to include Peel, United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising and Halton regional agencies.
“I wanted them to have more to put on their resumé to set them apart when they graduated,” says Michael. “The mentoring program gives them a connection with someone who could also connect them with people related to their research topic in order to improve their note-taking and questioning skills.”
Michael adds this process also helped them pull from everything they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it in real situations. “Instead of the usual research they might do in the library, this gave them investigative skills in a pandemic situation.”
“This program is a win-win on a number of levels,” says Michael. “It’s good for the community, for police services, for the program, the students and the college.”
The students and mentors set up their project priorities, expectations and times when they can connect.
Donald Murray is a second-year Police Foundations student who came back to school for a career change after being a long-haul trucker for many years. At 37, he’s one of the oldest in his class.
“As cliché as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to be a police officer, ever since I was young, and I finally decided to just go for it,” he says.
Donald chose Georgian for several reasons. He was accepted to a few other colleges but after doing some research Georgian stood out when it came to the instructors and program content. “I was living in London at the time, but Owen Sound is where I call my hometown as I was raised here and that helped me make my decision, especially since I still have family here.”
This past winter, Donald was assigned the topic of child abuse in the Defense Tactics and Crisis Intervention course and he was partnered with Sgt. Andy Evans from Saugeen Shores Police Services.
Donald says the mentoring process was simple because Sgt. Evans was very easy to talk to. “Our conversation started with an email but we quickly moved to texting and talking on the phone, just general discussions at first which turned into talking about my project. The best interviews I did were over the phone. When I was taking notes and gathering information we mainly spoke on the phone and Sgt. Evans was exceptional with giving me the information that I needed.”
Donald says the main learning takeaway for him was being open enough to ask the questions that he needed to ask. “My topic was not the easiest to research, let alone ask questions about. I had to learn how to push that aside and ask what I needed, which I hope helps me in the future with my career.”
Donald adds that the mentoring relationship has also been beneficial to his studies in other ways. “My mentor was crucial in obtaining the information that I acquired. It was helpful that I was also able to ask questions about the job as an officer – whether it had to do with protocol for the project, or was a general question. In my future I hope I can be as approachable as he was to me.”
Now that his mentoring program is over, Donald hopes to connect with Sgt. Evans in the future to pick his brain more about policing.
After graduation Donald plans to become an officer as soon as possible. “I’d like apply mid-to-end of summer and that’s all due to my fitness. Ideally, I’d like to stay in the Grey-Bruce area but if I have to leave for a position I will.”
Donald adds that the mentoring project was the best experience he’s had during his two years at Georgian. “I know officers outside of school and I’m friends with them, but doing this project I had to remain professional and ask questions on things I wanted to know for my project. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor and have nothing but great things to say about Andy.”
Sgt. Evans, who is also a Law and Security Administration graduate (class of 1992) from the Owen Sound Campus, said it was important for him to participate in the mentoring program.
“One of the ways to ensure the future of policing is to positively influence prospective candidates for the profession,” he says. “This is a legacy an officer can leave behind after they retire or leave the profession.”
There were also a few key lessons he wanted to pass along to Donald.
“Policing, or any vocation a person chooses, is a lifelong learning experience,” says Sgt. Evans. “Be malleable in experience, but strong in your core values. Develop and sharpen your communication skills. Your ability to communicate is not only judged by your co-workers, but by the people you encounter on a day-to-day basis.”
He added that he definitely got something out of the experience as well. “it was important for me to remember the excitement I felt while in the midst of the hiring process. I’m interested in a person’s story and what motivated them to choose a career in policing. It was interesting to see the end product extracted from the information I provided to the student.”