||Understanding a community is key to delivering the services it requires. This is not always easy for officers who have not been exposed to the Northern way of life, culture, traditions and languages. In 2011, ‘G’ Division developed a community orientation and cultural awareness initiative. The program provides formal community and cultural orientation for new RCMP members joining the division. The orientation has been structured to ensure that each new officer:
- meets the Mayor and the Chief and Council of the community and discusses the council’s policing expectations for the community;
- attends cultural awareness training (either a community feast or a more formal cultural camp);
- learns about the various programs and activities provided by local groups and organizations (e.g., special needs, sports and community groups);
- attends an inter-agency meeting to learn about the various agencies’ roles and how they partner with the RCMP;
- becomes familiar with the detachment’s Annual Performance Plan, Unit Supplements, protocols, processes, crime statistics and list of contacts (including their roles); and
- patrols the community to identify key locations, including crime hot spots, locations of “police haters” and local hangouts.
||The objective of the Community Orientation and Cultural Awareness Initiative is to familiarize new officers with the community they will be policing, giving them a sense of the local cultural makeup, languages, sensitivities, resources and expectations.
||To date, every new member has completed the orientation. Although there has been no formal evaluation, informal assessment shows that officers are better oriented to the North. They understand the diverse communities and the challenges of this post’s geographic remoteness and isolation. Knowledge of local traditions and culturally sensitivities has helped officers engage more fully with the community on arrival. Contact with Elders has improved public and officer confidence during serious incident investigations. The orientation program has also better prepared RCMP members for survival on the land when responding to incidents or conducting search and rescue operations.
||This initiative does not have any financial cost; it only requires the officer’s time for orientation.
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