The Civilianization of Police in Canada

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By John Kiedrowski, Ronald-Frans Melchers, Rick Ruddell, and Michael Petrunik


This report examines the purported benefits and challenges of employing civilians instead of sworn police officers to do different types of police work in Canadian police services. The key research question is what, if any, are the economic benefits (in terms of actual net savings achieved) and non-economic benefits of civilianization of employees working in administration, special uniformed services, investigative services, and specialized technical areas. The report’s main focus is a practical one: to provide information useful to police executives, police boards and municipal governments in developing policy with regard to how civilian employees can be most cost-effectively and efficiently deployed to achieve major policing objectives. The research was carried out through a comprehensive literature review of civilianization in Canada, the United States (U.S.), and Great Britain. Twenty one police services responded to the survey while ten participated in follow-up interviews. Civilians were most likely to be employed in administration and specialized support and least likely in uniformed services and investigative services. While the lower salaries and benefits paid to civilians compared to sworn officers do offer some cost savings, the lower pay and lower status of civilians in police organizations is associated with problems in morale and employee turnover. A key finding of both the literature review and empirical research is that the overall costs of policing may not be reduced as the number of sworn officers does not necessarily decline with increased hiring of civilian employees. Indeed, the overall number of police personnel (both sworn and civilian) continues to rise and with it increased costs. A barrier to civilianization is the continued reluctance, for a variety of reasons, on the part of police executives and police associations as well as police boards and other governance bodies to reduce the numbers of uniformed sworn police officers, even with increased civilian staff hiring. The literature also suggests that when employee cuts have been made the preference is to cut civilian employees and not sworn officers.

Author’s Note

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Public Safety Canada. Correspondence concerning this report should be addressed to:

Research Division, Public Safety Canada
340 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P8


Compliance Strategy Group thanks the police executives and other personnel who took part in the survey and those who participated in follow up interviews. Their time and commitment to this research project are much appreciated. The researchers at Public Safety Canada are also thanked for their contributions to the initial design of the project and their comments throughout.

List of Acronyms

Automated Fingerprint Identification System Technician
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Community Service Officers
Criminal Investigation Department
Deoxyribonucleic Acid
Full time
Full time equivalent
Large Size Police Services
Medium Size Police Services
National Policing Improvement Agency
Ontario Provincial Police
Part time
Police Community Support Officer
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Small Size Police Services
United Kingdom
United States
Winnipeg Police Services


Civilianization,Footnote1 or the use of civilians in policing, goes back to the inception of modern policing in the United Kingdom (UK) under Robert Peel in 1829 (Robinson, 2006). The primary impetus for civilianization is claimed to be a concern for greater cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the face of fiscal constraints (Forst, 2000; Ruddell and Jones, 2014). King (2009) observes that civilians have traditionally been used in two roles: one relatively semi-skilled (record keeping, clerical duties); the other skilled and “behind the scenes” (crime mapping, data storage, data analysis). More recently, civilians have been employed in new emerging areas of police work or in areas where they were formerly excluded. These duties include community liaison, specialized support for criminal investigations, investigation of economic and computer crimes, and intelligence gathering and analysis (Council of Canadian Academics, 2014). The functions civilians carry out in police organizations can be classified in terms of four major operational categories: administration, special uniformed services, investigative support, and areas involving highly specialized knowledge often of a technical nature (Doucette, 2012). These operational categories, it should be noted, may not correspond to the ways different police services view work functions.

The effects of civilianization on the structure of police services and on the experience of both sworn and civilian employees in these organizations needs to be better understood in a Canadian context in terms of not only financial indicators, but also in terms of measures of success in preventing and solving crimes and public order problems; organizational cohesion; employee productivity; labour relations and collective agreements; job satisfaction; and morale.


The objectives of this study are to empirically assess and discuss:

Limitations of the Study

In attempting to answer the central research question of this study, several limitations need to be recognized. These involve such issues as how the police themselves categorize the functions carried out by sworn officers and civilian personnel, what kinds of data with regard to these functions are available in police record systems, and how police executives and other key policing actors (police associations, police governance bodies) balance the idea of potential savings that might be incurred through civilianization of certain functions with their concern to protect the values, interests, and jobs  of sworn police officers. The limitations and concerns outlined here may have implications for both the kinds of data police services actually collect and what they make available.

First, within the four organizational categories identified as major areas for varying degrees of civilianization, there is a range of required knowledge, skills and expertise. For example, the category of “administration” is a broad one that includes everything from low-paying entry level positions such as administrative support employees responsible for the agency’s mail to high-paying, high status positions such as chief financial officer. In this category, and very likely others, there are no standard definitions across police services covering different categories of work civilians as opposed to sworn officers might carry out. To adequately understand the nature and impact of the required expertise or specialization with regard to the four identified areas, each police service would need to provide complete job descriptions with detailed information about specific duties, full or part-time work status, salaries, and benefits.

Second, with specific regard to the survey research conducted, while respondents were provided with sample examples of the four identified categories, it was evident that police executives in different police services had different interpretations and used different terminology. For example, research and planning activities might be classified under “administration” in some police services while other police services placed such activities under other categories because of bureaucratic reporting requirements distinctive to their particular organization. Given the lack of consistency across police services when police services were asked to insert their civilian functions into one of the four categories provided, the information made available by police executives was taken at face value without any attempt to re-categorize it in some standardized form.

Third, respondents were unable to address, in specific detail, intangible costs and benefits, such as the ability of civilian personnel to identify solutions to agency problems because they used a different perspective than the sworn officers. Consequently, the implications of these less concrete impacts can only be described in general terms rather than in terms of direct benefits or amounts saved pertaining to the four organizational categories.

Fourth, in many cases the operational budgets of the police service of respondents did not distinguish between positions occupied by civilians and those occupied by sworn police personnel. Thus, it was very difficult, for example, for the police to provide training budgets specifically for civilian related positions.

Fifth, while the various police services contacted were asked to provide supporting documentation to show any economic benefits or saving from hiring civilians in these four categories, few police executives actually provided detailed, useful information. In some cases, information requested was either not available at all or not available for public release. In other situations, there was no documentation or analysis per se to support decisions to civilianize certain positions. As one police executive noted, “people on the outside think rational decision making in policing is based on reports and studies. While such decision making could and perhaps should be made from reports and studies, in many cases this does not happen because of the belief that there are not enough resources or time to do so. In some instances, the basis for any analysis underlying police executive decisions is provided in memos that may include various facts and figures.”

Sixth, a challenge in attempting to quantify economic benefits was a lack of clarity with regard to whether police services were replacing sworn police officers with civilians or simply hiring additional civilians without actually cutting sworn officer positions. Neither was it always clear over what time periods were any supposed changes actually taking place. Seldom was detailed budget information provided to understand possible distinctions characterized by terminology such as “departmental savings” or “net savings on the overall police budget.” Again, a lack of clarity and standardization of terminology necessitated that information be taken at face value.

Lastly, the sample of police jurisdictions who participated in this study was a purposive one, meaning that generalizations cannot be made for Canada overall. The police jurisdictions were chosen to better represent the Canadian regions as well as different sizes of police forces. Still, the sample is not of random and representative nature; therefore, the findings of this project should not be generalizable to the state of civilianization of police across Canada.

Literature Review

Cross-National Trends in Civilianization


In Canada, the police officer to civilian ratio in 1962, the first year in which such information was collected, was 4.6 sworn police officers for every civilian personnel member. This fell to 2.8 by 1982 and remained at that level until 2003, before further falling to 2.4 by 2014. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, “in May 2014 there were 28,409 civilians (29% of total personnelFootnote3) employed by police services in Canada” (Hutchins, 2015:12) up from 26 percent a decade earlier. Since 2003, the number of civilian employees has grown twice (42%) as quickly as that of sworn officers (21%). Women occupy over half (57%) of civilian positions.

To further understand trends in police civilianization, data from Statistics Canada’s annual Police Administration Survey are reported in Figures 1 and 2.Footnote4 Figure 1a shows the rate per 100,000 population of police officers and of civilians and other personnel for the years 1986 to 2014. Differences in scale of rates per population between sworn and civilian personnel make it difficult to visualize comparisons from this figure. Therefore, Figure 1b is provided, showing trends according to period averages for each series. Figure 1b shows that, after tracking each other closely in relative terms, growth in the rate per population of civilian and other employees began to exceed the rate of growth of sworn officers beginning in 2001, just as the overall rate of total police personnel began to increase after having fallen over the previous decade. Notwithstanding, financial restraint after 2010 has impacted civilians more severely.

Figure 1a: Police Officers and Civilian and other personnel per 100,000 Population, Canada 1986–2014

Figure 1a: Police Officers and Civilian and other personnel per 100,000 Population, Canada 1986-2014

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015)

Figure 1b: Police officers and Civilian and other personnel: Canada 1986–2014 Index value (average rate per 100,000 1986-2014 = 100)

Figure 1b: Police officers and Civilian and other personnel: Canada 1986 – 2014 Index value (average rate per 100,000 1986 - 2014 = 100)

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015)

Figure 2 shows the trends in police-civilian ratios and police per capita costs (dollars) for the years 1986 to 2014. Since 2001 there has been a decreasing police/civilian ratio as relative rates of growth in civilian hiring exceeded that of sworn police personnel. However, contrary to the expectation that this might reduce costs of policing, this change has been accompanied by a continuing increase in per capita policing costs.

Figure 2: Police-Civilian Ratio and Per Capita Cost for Policing, Canada 1986-2014

Figure 2: Police-Civilian Ratio and Per Capita Cost for Policing, Canada 1986-2014

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015)

Figure 3 presents four standardized trend lines (each standardized at period average equals 100), permitting their comparison of trends over time. The figure examines trends in the total number of police officers, total number of civilians and other personnel, total expenditures on policing and police-reported Criminal Code incidents per police officer. The increase in numbers of civilian employees has been accompanied by a parallel increase in the number of police officers, a decline in Criminal Code incidents per police officer and a steep increase in policing costs. There is no evidence of abatement in the growth of the number of police officers or in the rate of growth in cost accompanying the increase in numbers of civilian employees.

Figure 3: Relative Trends in the Total Number of Police Officers, Civilians/Other Personnel, Total Expenditures for Policing and Criminal Code Incidents per Police Officer, Canada 1986–2014

Figure 3: Relative Trends in the Total Number of Police Officers, Civilians/Other Personnel, Total Expenditures for Policing and Criminal Code Incidents per Police Officer, Canada 1986-2014

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015)

Table 1, shows that the proportion of the civilian complement is correlated with the total number of police service employees. Of 606 reporting municipal and First Nations police services and RCMP or Provincial Police detachments, 248 reported no civilian employees. These were the smallest services and detachments with on average 16 employees in total. The 180 services and detachments with between 20 percent and 39 percent civilian complements were also the largest, averaging as a group 258 employees in total. Police services with more than a 50 percent civilian complement were predominantly small First Nations police organizations.

Large civilian complements are characteristic of large police services. Fifty percent of municipal and First Nations police services and detachments, as shown in Table 2, have less than 9 percent of civilian employee complements, and at least a quarter have no civilian employees. A quarter have at least 26 percent and one tenth have more than 35 percent. Although the average proportion of civilian employees across all services and detachments is only 14 percent, the larger proportions among large municipal police services means that overall 26 percent of all police employees are civilians.

Table 1: Civilians as a Percentage of Total Personnel, Number of Municipal and First Nations Police Services/Detachments and Average Total Number of Personnel, Canada 2002-2011
Civilians as Percentage of Total Personnel Number of Police Services Average Total Number of Personnel
More than 50 11 18
40-49 20 25
30-39 76 248
20-29 104 265
10-19 84 60
1-9 63 28
0 248 16

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015) includes Municipal and First Nations Police Services and RCMP, OPP and QPP detachments.

Table 2: Distribution of Municipal and First Nations Police Services/Detachments by Proportion of Civilian Employees
Measures Percentage of Civilian employees
10th percentile 0
25th percentile 0
median 9
75th percentile 26
90th percentile 35
mean 14
standard deviation 16

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015) includes Municipal and First Nations Police Services and RCMP, OPP and QPP detachments.

Table 3 shows that the national average for the percentage of civilians and other personnel in provinces and territories for 2011 was 28 percent, including RCMP Headquarters and Training Academy. There is little geographical variation, the notable exception being that territories and provinces with many remote detachments have fewer civilian personnel.

Table 3: Average Percent of Civilian and Other Non-Sworn Personnel, Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2011
Geography Average Percentage of Civilian and Other Non-sworn Personnel
for the years 2011
Canada 28
Newfoundland and Labrador 26
Prince Edward Island 26
Nova Scotia 29
New Brunswick 22
Quebec 24
Ontario 28
Manitoba 24
Saskatchewan 26
Alberta 25
British Columbia 20
Yukon 28
Northwest Territories 23
Nunavut 15

Source: Statistics Canada, Police Administration Survey, CANSIM table series 254-0001 through 0006, downloaded August 8, 2015, complemented by more recent years data from PRIC, 2014 (Hutchins, 2015) includes RCMP HQ and Training Academy.

Data are not available to identify the number of sworn police officers working in non-operational duties. However, the 1988 “Police Administration Survey” indicated that 11 percent of sworn police officers were dedicated to administrative (non-operational) duties (Statistics Canada, 1988Footnote5). This is likely an underestimate based on a narrow description of duties, essentially senior officer ranks. Another report by Gill et al., (2008) on First Nations policing found that 36 percent of the police officers were working in administrative duties, community relations/liaison, management/supervisory and other positions. The office of the Auditor General of Ontario (2012) in their audit of the OPP found that 44 percent of the total detachment workforce comprising of 1,600 police officers were not delivering front line policing services.

The United Kingdom and Ireland

The first recorded use of civilians working alongside police officers occurred in London’s (UK) Metropolitan Police of London in 1829. To help administer what was then a new organization (Robinson, 2006) four civilian clerical jobs were created: two each in the Commissioner’s and Receiver’s offices (Winsor, 2012: Vol. 2, 411). Although in 1829 “The pay of police officers was for many years set at a rate comparable to that of an unskilled agricultural labourer … a deliberate policy [was] to recruit men who had not the rank, habits or station of a gentleman” (Winsor, 2012 Vol. 2:325), increasing police pay soon made them unsuited for many of the tasks for which they had originally been hired.

By the early 1920s, the civilianization of police roles in the area of administrative support was commonplace in the UK. Schwartz et al. (1975) noted that with greater demands on police resources and limited budgets following World War II, there were pressures to hire civilians to handle administrative and clerical tasks in order to free more officers to carry out policing duties in the community.

In 1922, the Committee on National Expenditures reviewed police spending and after noting that 260 uniformed police were assigned to clerical duties, the Committee suggested that increased deployment of citizens in the place of regular police staff could create a “substantial saving” and further observed that:

“… the 51 Police used as motor car and dispatch car drivers, and the 12 Police used as messengers, the 19 used as grooms and the 22 used as Divisional storekeepers should be substituted by civilians, with a consequent substantial saving.”
(Committee on National Expenditures, 1922: 46)

Jones and Newburg (2002), Jones et al. (1994), Jones and Van Sluis (2009), and Loveday (2006, 2007) outline the various funding incentives beginning in the 1980’s through which the Home Office encouraged police services to recruit civilian staffFootnote6 for positions not directly requiring police powers, special training, or prior experience (Home Office, 1988).Footnote7 These incentives were part of a government-wide drive to achieve better value for money spent in the public sector (Loveday, 2006, 2007). They were possible in the UK because the Home Office, while not directly making personnel decisions, does have considerable control over spending. The number and roles of civilian staff employed by a particular police service, however, is a decision of the police or local authority.

The original rationale for recruiting civilians was to use them to complement “non-core” policing tasks, such as human resources, financial management and administrative support functions, in order to reduce costs and release police officers to operational duties. Jones et al., (1994: 172, table 1: 168) however pointed out that, as the number of civilians increased in police organizations, so also did the demand for more sworn police officers and accompanying resources in the form of equipment and training. Jones et al. (1994:177-178) further point out that no evidence indicated that sworn officers released due to civilianization of their posts were actually released to operational duties. Developments in new technologies and policing methods also created new functions within police services that resulted in a number of new civilian leadership roles in these organizations, roles never having been previously filled by police officers (Jones et al., 1994: 166).

In 2002, officials in England and Wales further authorized a new community based “quasi-police” position called Police Community Support Officer (PCSO). These unsworn officers are uniformed police personnel who carry out many duties that had previously been assigned to sworn officers such as responding to “antisocial behaviour” under special public order legislation. Special legislation was introduced to give PCSOs the authority to issue fixed penalty notices for certain public order offences and to confiscate alcohol under specified conditions. Although they have fewer police powers than their sworn counterparts PCSOs were introduced with an aim to enhance neighbourhood social control by increasing police visibility and to reduce policing costs (Ruddell & Jones, 2014). The challenges this endeavour raised are discussed further in this report.

The 2012 Winsor Report, “Independent Review of Police Officer and Staff Remuneration and Conditions,” commissioned by the UK Home Secretary offered further support for “‘civilianising’ posts that can be undertaken more efficiently, effectively and cheaply by police staff, all whilst providing greater value for money to the taxpayer” (Vol. 1:19). Winsor pointed to the Metropolitan Police Service which in the 1990s was restructured in part through” the recruitment of middle-management grade civilian staff to undertake business planning and management, and take over personnel and training responsibilities that had previously been carried by uniformed officers” (Vol 1:58), including cases where civilians can direct operational policing (Vol 1:143). From 2001 to 2009 the number of civilian staff had grown by 73 percent (Vol 1:242). However, for reason of financial restraint from 2009, reductions in police staff have reversed the civilianisation of roles. Winsor explained that “this has been the only option available to Chief Constables, but it represents poor value for money for the taxpayer, who face paying higher salaries to police officers to do jobs which could – and should – be done at lower cost by more able and experienced police staff” (Vol 1:21).

In Ireland, increased civilianization has been recommended in several internal and external reports. However, Mulligan (2008) pointed out that progress towards hiring civilians, which only began in 1971, has been slow. In 2008 the police to civilian ratio stood at 7:1. That same year it stood at 2.6:1 in Canada, 3:1 in the UK and 4:1 in most of continental Europe. The number of civilian staff increased between December 2006 and October, 2008 from 1,281 to 2,053 full-time equivalent staff, an increase of 772 (60%) full-time equivalent staff, with another 496 planned to be in place by 2021, categorized into three streams, administrative staff, professional/technical staff and industrial staff. These include civilian staff transferred from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, 120 civilian Finance Officers, 296 administrative posts and some 200 specialist posts (telecommunications, mapping, photography, etc.). Yet, in 2008, two-thirds of civilian staff were Clerical Officers. Mulligan notes that obstacles to hiring civilians include the integration of working practices, cultures and codes, agreement on integrated reporting structures (sworn police reporting to civilians and vice-versa), funding for civilian members (e.g., civilian staff coming under the aegis of the public service), the deployment of civilian members to shift work and the growing desire of the public for high visibility policing.

United States

The U.S. Department of Justice defines civilian police employees as personnel who do not swear an oath and are not empowered to make arrests (Davis et al. 2009:3). Increased civilianization had been encouraged in the U.S. by various criminal justice commissions including the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (1967) and the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals (1973). Yet, it was not until recent decades that civilian employment in police organisations has increased significantly in the U.S. During the 1980s, police services began to examine civilianization in order to better understand the growth in the number and range of specialist tasks and roles within police organizations and their effect on policing costs (Pohl, 1987).

The President’s Commission (1967) had argued that tasks such as communications, planning, and laboratory work, although traditionally performed by sworn police personnel, could often be performed better by civilians with specialized training than by sworn police officers. Wilson and McLaren (1972) pointed out that “assigning police to record tasks, clerical duties, reception desks, keypunch operations and so on is unsound from the point of view of both economy and efficiency” (1972:249). Guyot (1979:263) referred to the hiring of civilians as the “biggest change in police structure in the past 30 years.” Schwartz et al. (1975) contended that the move by police departments during the 1960s and 1970s toward the greater use of civilians resulted from four factors: 1) the need to control costs yet improve services to the public; 2) expert opinion supporting the use of civilians for both low-skilled, “routine” duties and specialized tasks; 3) federal and state encouragement of civilianization; and 4) specific programs aimed at increasing the use of civilians.

Maguire and Uchida (2002) and Maguire et al. (2003) argued, on the other hand, that civilianization was associated with budget growth, organizational downsizing, regional amalgamations of rural or small town services with larger urban police services, and, to a lesser extent, reductions in crime. Forst (2000) argued that by the 1990s civilians had proved themselves to be more than competent in the positions for which they were recruited. For example, the critical task of dispatching patrol officers in response to calls for services, carried out almost exclusively by sworn police officers in the 1960s was done almost entirely by civilians by 1990 (Forst, 2000).

From 1995 to 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice funded the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) civilian grant program known as MORE (Making Officer Redeployment Effective), providing $618.6 million for costs of technology, equipment, or civilian salaries for one year in order to increase the number of current law enforcement officers deployed into community policing (Davis et al., 2013:3.  U.S. Department of Justice). Davis et al. (2013:3) report on the consequence of this from 2003 data of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics:

From 1987 to 2003, civilian hires increased by 42 percent in municipal and county police departments and by 158 percent in sheriffs’ offices (Hickman and Reaves, 2006a; 2006b); by 2003, local law enforcement agencies employed 285,035 full-time civilians (Hickman & Reaves, 2006a: 3; 2006b:3). Civilians now account for nearly a third of full-time employees in police agencies, up from 7.5 percent in the 1950s (Kostelac, 2006).

However, during the 2008 recession, many law enforcement agencies faced pressure to lay off civilians, despite the cost saving benefits they provided, leading to a ten percent dropFootnote8 in the number of civilians employed in law enforcement: “…police agencies facing budgetary problems are inclined to cut civilian positions before sworn ones. A series of PERF surveys following the economic crisis of 2008 found extremely strong support among police executives for the view that sworn officer positions should be the last thing cut in the budget.” (Davis et al., 2013:1). The Citizens Budget Commission of New York had already noted a decade earlier that while calls for civilianization are often loudest during times of financial distress, political leaders are more concerned with hiring sworn officers in publicly visible “crime-fighting” roles (2002:vii).

To encourage police departments to retain and hire civilians in a time of fiscal crisis, the 2009 Byrne Civilian Hiring grant program sponsored by the National Institute of Justice provided financial grants to law enforcement agencies to retain civilian staff members or hire new civilians in order to free uniformed officers to concentrate on call response and investigating crimes (Davis, et al., 2013: iv). This program is also used to hire civilians to work in newly established positions in the areas of intelligence, data gathering and analysis. Davis et al. (2013:74) found that law enforcement administrators surveyed believed that the civilians freed up the time of uniformed staff to spend more time on investigations and patrol; that the activities of the civilians helped to solve and prevent crimes; and that the work of civilians resulted in significant cost savings to their departments.

Reaves (2015:2) for the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics shows in Table 4 the proportion of civilian employees in full time equivalent (FTE) roles in 15,388 local police, sheriff’s offices and state law enforcement agencies in 2013.

Table 4: Proportion of Sworn and Civilian Employees in U.S. State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies
Agency Type Number Total FTE Sworn Civilian Proportion Civilian
Local police 12,326 604,959 477,317 127,642 21.1%
Sheriff’s offices 3,012 351,904 188,952 162,952 46.3%
Primary state 50 88,497 58,421 30,076 34.0%
Total 15,388 1,045,360 724,690 320,670 30.7%
Proportion   100% 69.3% 30.7%  

Source: Reaves (2015)

Overall, the proportion of civilians, nationally, in U.S. law enforcement agencies (30.7 percent in 2013) is similar to that in Canada (29 percent in 2014). Sheriff’s offices had a much higher proportion of civilian employees, as a function of their role in jail operations (as jails operated by sheriffs hold most U.S. detainees). In describing the total number of part-time employees working in these U.S. law enforcement agencies, Reaves (2015) reported that of the 83,499 part-time personnel, 44,398 (53.2%) were civilians. The report provides a further analysis of civilian employees in terms of organizational size for local police departments (n=12,326). Figure 4 is adapted from that analysis (see Reaves, 2015:3). This figure shows that local police organizations with the greatest numbers of sworn officers (over 1,000 officers) had the highest proportion of civilian employees (36 percent). This is also true for Canada (see Table 1).

Figure 4: Proportion of Civilian Employees in U.S. Local Law Enforcement Agencies by Agency Size for the Year 2013

Figure 4: Proportion of Civilian Employees in U.S. Local Law Enforcement Agencies by Agency Size for the Year 2013

Source: Reaves (2015)

Challenges of Civilianization

Even in a time of fiscal constraints police executives determine which existing services will be maintained, what if any new services are needed, and what roles if any may be altered or eliminated. Policing services seek first and foremost to maintain sufficient sworn staff to respond to crime and public order problems and also to provide visibility to assure public confidence. Some key roles and functions have been civilianized and many new positions have been filled by civilians. Yet, problems arise, for example in integration and in maintenance of a cohesive organizational structure. These have been aggravated at times by differences in the symbolic value of the work of sworn police officers and civilian staff. There may be higher turnover among civilians than paid sworn police officers resulting from lower salary and benefits and skilled civilian workers seeking better paid opportunities in the private sector. Promotion is also limited as the current promotion structure in police services tends to advantage sworn officers (Council of Canadian Academics, 2014). Such problems and differences pose challenges for police organizations and municipal governments in implementing civilianization.

The integration of civilians into police organizations also presents a variety of more cultural challenges to policing organizations. Bentley’s (2013) doctoral research in sociology at Arizona State University sought to understand the relationship between civilian employees and sworn police officers with a particular focus on how civilians are differently “objectified” vis-a-vis sworn police officers. The latter wear patches, badges, pins, and other items on their uniforms to transmit significant information (e.g. rank, tenure, and speciality). By contrast, civilian garb lacks such signifiers with the occasional exception of more neutral signifiers such as name and affiliation tags or some type of general dress code. Bentley argues that the symbolic significance of uniforms and insignia such as badges promotes different discourses of values in police organizations, resulting in caste-like distinctions between sworn officers and civilians that erode the morale of the latter and hinder overall organizational cohesion. Police uniforms and insignia display one’s seniority and rank in the police hierarchy and higher status relative to civilians while civilian garb (with the exception perhaps of non-uniformed detectives and undercover officers) suggests merely the status of an employee with access to the physical space that a police facility occupies. Bentley further examined the impact that budget reductions had on civilians noting that loss of jobs, increased workloads, and altered work schedules more often affected civilian staff than sworn police officers.

Organizational differences can be attributed to several factors including limitations posed by collective agreements, reluctance by police management or police boards to using civilians to carry out traditional sworn police functions, and the presence or absence of an organizational culture or philosophy accepting civilians in positions usually occupied by sworn police officers (Frazier, 2003; Griffiths et al, 2006; Griffiths & Pollard, 2013; Kostelac, 2008).

Role confusion has been reported as a challenge facing non-sworn uniformed officers. Hearnden (2004) observed that when civilian community support officers in Surrey, UK, first arrived at the police station, the sworn police officers appeared not to have been briefed with regard to how new personnel would be integrated into daily operational activities, how would they be supervised and what specific activities they would undertake. As one police officer put it, there were “lots of questions, but not really any answers” (Hearnden, 2004:27). The researcher also found that a supervising sworn police officer managing civilians could give them the same directions as those given to sworn police officers. There was, however, a lack of clarity sometimes with regard to the roles and responsibilities of these civilian members.

Civilian Staff in Traditional Policing Roles

Civilians have generally played a few key roles in policing services: administration, investigative support, specialized areas and uniform services. The employment of civilians as administrative staff members working on routine tasks such as clerical duties, record keeping and maintenance, although often performed by sworn officers, has received little or no opposition from sworn officers. While the largest number (35%) of civilian personnel are employed in these support roles (Hutchins, 2015), civilians are also employed in crime analysis, dispatch/communications, crime prevention, information technology, forensic analysis, human resources, and media relations. Civilians have further assumed supporting roles in more specialized types of operations such as dispatch and desk officer. Yet, even using civilians in these types of jobs has been opposed by sworn police officers (Guyot, 1986; Winsor, 2012).

There is a common sense appeal to hiring civilian personnel to carry out low-risk tasks that are not core policing duties. As Merritt and Dingwall (2010:390) observe “there are obvious financial benefits: overqualified staff should not perform tasks which could be delegated to those earning less.” Yet, these authors also warn that “there is the danger that under-qualified staff are being asked to undertake tasks that are too onerous.” Our knowledge of the cost-effectiveness of employing civilians to work in such non-core roles, however, is limited by a lack of research or evaluations.

Huggins, Wright and Murphy (2014), in a report written for Public Safety Canada identified the need to properly define and examine the issue of core policing. When asked to define their core duties Canadian police officers reported that law enforcement, responding to emergencies, and ensuring public safety were their most important core functions. Lesser importance was placed on carrying out criminal investigations and keeping the peace (Caputo and Vallee, 2010).

Examples of non-core policing functions have been provided by the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires (2013:1), listed below:

  • Detention services
  • Arrest/releasing processing
  • Summons and subpoena services
  • Prisoner monitoring/escort transportation
  • Inventory and front desk management
  • Non-criminal fingerprinting and police clearances
  • Traffic control
  • By-law enforcement
  • Photo radar operation
  • Crime scene security
  • Vehicle safety checks
  • Personnel screening
  • Evidence custodian
  • Special constable duties
  • Victim administration

Many of the non-core duties listed by the Commissionaires were previously – or still are – carried out by sworn police officers.

The shift toward the use of civilians in emerging specialized fields such as information technologies occurs as the knowledge, skills and higher education requirements needed are often difficult for sworn police officers to acquire. The more recent use of civilians in crime analysis, computer programming, budget analysis and legal work has required police services to set aside specialist positions outside the rank structure with higher educational requirements, an expanded pay scale, financial and other inducements to recruitment. It has also, in some jurisdictions, led to the creation of specialized sworn career paths for which recruit training is not a prerequisite (Barrett, 2014). This matter received considerable attention in the U.K. in the Winsor Report (2012;102-195).

Civilians are taking on an increasing number of specialized roles at various levels within the organization that had been traditionally handled by sworn officers. The following section focuses on six areas where civilians are involved in traditional policing roles.

  1. Investigation
  2. Intelligence
  3. Specialized Policing
  4. Uniform Civilian Police Support
  5. Uniform Civilian Personnel
  6. Supervision

Illustrative of King’s findings about the role of civilians in police organizations, the Knoxville Police Department’s annual report (2012) describes the number of civilians working in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID): “three civilians working as electronic evidence collection specialists, six as evidence technicians, and one working as a firearms examiner” (2012:30).

According to Knoxville Chief of Police David Rausch, ‘forensic techs,’ who are non-sworn personnel, are used to process all their crime scenes. These personnel, once hired, are sent to the National Forensics Academy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to receive 10 weeks of training on various aspects of crime scene processing with an emphasis on evidence identification, collection and preservation.Footnote9 Sworn officers arriving at a crime scene secure the location for crime forensic technicians and investigators who work closely together. The forensic technicians take videos or still photographs of crime scenes and collect physical evidence while the investigators collect information from witnesses. Afterwards, the investigator and forensic technicians work together to review the evidence. Chief Rausch pointed out that the use of non-sworn personnel to do crime lab analysis or forensics is a common practice in most mid- to large-sized U.S. police services.Footnote10

Griffiths et al. (2006), as part of their international review of best practices of civilianization, pointed out that police departments in the U.S. and UK use specially-trained civilians in crime scene investigations and forensic units. They added that civilians employed in crime scene investigations or forensics in the Vancouver Police Department in British Columbia were not required to have peace officer status. Griffiths et al., (2014: 5) identified three key questions that police leaders should ask themselves when trying to determine whether any particular position should be civilianized: 1) Does the position require law enforcement powers (i.e. powers of arrest, use of force, statutory requirement, and carrying a firearm)?; 2) Are the skills, training, experience, or credibility of a sworn police officer required to fulfill the duties of the position?; and 3) Can a specially trained civilian fulfill the requirements of the position? These questions guided the review of civilianization in the Vancouver Police Department.

In 2004, the Surrey, UK Police moved from a traditional CID model to a mixed team approach in which investigative activities are aligned with specialist skills and powers (Hearnden, 2004). The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) (2010) reported that, between the implementation and completion of their evaluation report, this mixed team approach increased the efficiency of CID teams by 42 percent and reduced the time to investigate undetected crimes from 47 to 36 days. In addition, the NPIA found that response within target time rates to Grade 1 incidents (e.g., emergency incidents) rose from 76 to 81 percent.

But these initiatives have not been well-received by sworn officers. Chatterton’s (2008) report for the Police Federation of England and Wales criticized the mixed team approach. He argued that the NPIA failed to contextualize the impressions of the CID detectives and did not take into account the types of cases being investigated (2010:101). Chatterton further contended that the use of specialized civilians alongside the police may lead to a dysfunctional investigation process (Chatterton, 2010:102). Van Mechelen (2010:102), also writing for the Police Federation, suggested that a decline in the ratio of officers to staff could adversely affect crime detection rates.

Several influential reports in the UK have advocated greater use of civilian staff for economic crime investigations. The Home Office (2001) proposed as part of their “blueprint for reform” that civilian investigators be hired to increase capacity in specialized areas of investigation. To accomplish this goal, the Home Office recommended the establishment of a new Police Leadership Development Board to govern training for both civilian staff and sworn police officers. The Fraud Advisory Panel (2006) argued that while civilians working in ‘fraud squads’ in the UK could be 10 to 15 percent cheaper than employing police officers, they should only be used to supplement police investigators, and not to replace them.

More recently, Button et al. (2014) sought to identify the resources dedicated by the police to fraud and economic crime, which are resource intensive crimes to investigate, but ones which many police officers regard as a low priority. Their examination found evidence of a growing number, in some cases significant growth, of civilian investigators. The ratio of officers to civilians in 41 services with a specialist unit was 1.1:1, including 11 agencies with a ratio of less than 1.0:1 (i.e., they have more civilians than police officers), 14 with a ratio of 1.0:1 to 4.99:1, 7 with a ratio of 5.0:1 to 9.99:1, and 2 with a ratio greater than 10:1 (Button et al., 2014).


James (2011) examined the national intelligence model in the UK and the use of civilians in that environment. He found that analysts working in intelligence roles reported that they were often seen by sworn police officers simply as people who could provide information, technology support or act as note takers. These civilians complained that their judgments were often mistrusted and their reports routinely ignored by the sworn police officers. James also noted that sworn police officers were sometimes posted to local intelligence units not for particular skills they could bring to the unit but because they were unable to do front line work as a result of being injured or were under investigation (2011: 269).

Cope (2003) noted that there was little career mobility for civilians to move either vertically or laterally within the organization. There was also a limited emphasis on training and development. When training was available, it often involved topics related to supporting basic job functions rather than to expanding knowledge of subject areas that could enhance analysts’ ability to understand and solve problems. Cope (2003:357) argued that the introduction of civilian analysts as problem solvers was not universally welcomed and resistance often led to the “misuse and exclusion” of analysis from operational responses. In a similar vein, Ratcliffe (2005) and Atkinson (2015) found that civilian intelligence analysts in Scotland faced opposition and even disdain from those officers adhering strongly to “cop culture.” Atkinson states: “Intelligence analysts were frequently considered by police officers as child-like; as dependent, ignorant, immature, powerless, and un-knowing. Treated as such, their … influence was severely inhibited” (2015:18).

Specialized Policing

Some police services have incorporated civilians into specialized law enforcement programs. A growing number of police force-based programs, for example, employ mental health professionals as civilian officers and assign them to calls involving people with mental disturbances where there is no report of violence (Kiedrowski et al., 2011). This approach allows the team to resolve incidents on-site and reduces the likelihood of arrest and the risk of further harm to those present. Steadman et al. (2000) found that when civilians were partnered with police officers, the likelihood of persons with mental illnesses being arrested was reduced. The authors noted that the challenge in using civilians in such situations is getting them dispatched as first responders to incidents believed to involve a person with a mental illness. Los Angeles has one of the largest of such programs with 61 sworn officers paired with 28 mental health workers who together attempt to divert cases from the formal justice system (O’Neill, 2015).

Uniformed Civilian Police Support

As noted in Section 1.0, The Police Reform Act 2002 (c.30) in the UK introduced the non-ranked patrol position of PCSO, uniformed civilian police support personnel with limited legal powers who carry out certain policing functions (e.g., public order policing) usually performed by sworn police officers (McKenna, 2014). However, budget constraints disproportionately affected PCSOs as compared with sworn officers. According to Ruddell and Jones (2014), 1,921 PCSO positions were eliminated throughout the UK in 2014. Data from the Home Office (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, 2015) show that 39.9 percent of the police staff in the UK are civilians. Table 5 shows that between 2010 and 2014, the overall FTE police workforce including officers, police staff (civilians) and PCSOs decreased from 238,405 to 218,107 (8.5% decrease) largely due to government austerity programs. Of the three categories of police employees, the PCSOs had the largest overall decrease over those five years (‑12%) compared to police officers (-6.9%) and police staff (-11.2%). During the five-year period between 2010 and 2014, the ratio of officers to PCSOs increased from 8.53 to 9.03.

Table 5: Police Workforce Changes in England and Wales for 2010 to 2014
Year PCSO Officers Police Staff Total Police Workforce
2010 16,405.8 140,067.7 81,932 238,405.5
2011 16,363.3 139,956.5 83,992.8 240,312.6
2012 15,837.3 137,142.4 79,096.3 232,076
2013 15,613.8 134,482.3 74,942 225,038.1
2014 14,442.2 130,441.1 72,736.5 218,107.1
Percentage Change -11.96 -6.87 -11.24 -8.51

Source: Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

When confronted with shrinking budgets, police leaders feel they must or choose to protect sworn officer positions at the expense of PCSOs and civilian members (Bell, 2015).

Ensuring the acceptance of PCSO in the communities they served is also a challenge. A review of newspaper articlesFootnote11 questioned the effectiveness and cost savings of PCSOs referring to them as “David Blunkett’s Plastic Police Officers.”Footnote12 According to the Cambridge News (2014), the public would rather see more sworn constables with wider powers on the street. The public’s preference for sworn personnel, regardless of effectiveness and cost savings, can be an impediment to the broader acceptance of civilians. Given this, a conclusion could be drawn that police services need to educate the public about the benefits of these new policing arrangements.

While not a direct example of civilianization, police services in England and Wales have implemented a direct entry program for civilians with specialized skills (such as managerial experience) and leadership qualities to become sworn police superintendents. Individuals selected for these positions undergo an 18‑month orientation and training program offered by the UK College of Policing before assuming a sworn leadership role as sworn officers. This practice has been opposed by the federation representing police officers (Barrett, 2014).

In Scotland, a number of sworn police posts have been civilianized with the intent of releasing sworn officers for street duty (Donnelly and Scott, 2011:146). For example, the Scottish Government awarded a contract to the prisoner escort company Reliance in 2004 that would release about 200 sworn police officers for street duty. To enable civilians to participate in criminal investigations, legislation was passed to allow civilian personnel to take fingerprints or DNA samples from prisoners. Similar to what is occurring in Canada, the UK and the U.S., Donnelly and Scott (2011) conclude that the major barrier to civilianization in Scotland is sworn police officers defending the status quo.

Uniformed Civilian Personnel

There is a long history of placing unsworn uniformed officials in order maintenance roles such as bylaw enforcement officers. A growing number of Canadian police services are expanding the roles of these officials to increase police visibility. The decision to place these personnel in quasi-policing roles—with less authority than their sworn counterparts—is based on the notion of “core” and “non-core” policing functions.

A number of provincial and municipal police services have introduced uniformed but unsworn officials, often termed “auxiliary constables,” special constables” or “police cadets,” with the latter viewed essentially as temporary “trampoline” positions into a sworn career. The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS), for example, created the position of auxiliary cadet, who are hired as special constables and given seven weeks of training, in order to reduce policing costs and increase police visibility (Chrismas, 2013). As Brown (2013:1) explains: “they enforce certain bylaws, conduct neighbourhood patrols, guard crime scenes, direct traffic, assist in ground searches, guard non-violent mental health patients and refer citizens to assisting agencies.” Cadets aspiring to careers as sworn police officers often see these jobs as a pathway to becoming an officer while police services get an opportunity to evaluate the cadet’s skills and abilities prior to their entry into a training academy. With regard to the cost of using auxiliary cadets, a review of the WPS website (2015) revealed the salaries of a first-year (starting) cadet compared with a first-year sworn officer (4th class constable) and a police officer with five years of experience (1st class constable) (see Table 6).

Table 6: Salaries of Cadets and Constables, Winnipeg Police Services, 2015
Role Annual salary
Auxiliary cadet $32,802
Fourth class constable $51,716
First class constable $94,029

Given the lower costs of deploying cadets, the WPS can place three first-year cadets “on the streets” at approximately the same cost as one first class constable. Moreover, cadets require less initial training (7 weeks) than sworn officers (20 weeks) and require less mandatory ongoing training for skills, such as firearms recertification, that need to be regularly updated.

In 2014, the Province of Saskatchewan introduced a six-week program to train Community Safety Officers (CSOs), who like their counterparts in Winnipeg, work in a uniformed role intended to improve visibility, enforce traffic regulations, and respond to antisocial behaviour. Writing about the Saskatchewan CSO’s, the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (2015) observes that they “will have peace officer status that will allow them to take on a number of duties including traffic, liquor, and bylaw enforcement and serve as crime prevention liaisons within their communities. This will give RCMP and municipal police services more time to focus on higher impact issues.” CSOs receive training in the areas of legislation governing peace officers, defensive tactics, police ethics, collecting evidence, increasing awareness of Aboriginal issues, communication skills (including crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics), and working with persons with mental illnesses (Saskatchewan Polytechnic, 2015).

There are also a growing number of non-police officials working on First Nations lands, a practice going back to the 1960s when band constables were introduced to carry out non-core policing tasks. Aboriginal police services are expanding the role of these officials, sometimes known as Peacekeepers, in their crime reduction plans. Some aspiring Peacekeepers receive college training to prepare them for their role. The growth in the number of these officials in Canada is consistent with what is occurring in other common‑law nations (Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S.) with sizeable Indigenous populations (Jones et al., 2014; Kiedrowski, 2013).

McKenna (2014: 4-5) calls the mix of sworn police officers and uniformed civilian employees “tiered policing,” the central notion of which is the appropriate mixing of personnel is more cost-effective. He makes the following assertions: 1) the increasing cost of policing needs to be contained without reducing the quality of services; 2) salaries of sworn officers account for most (approximately 85%) policing costs; 3) some functions currently carried out by sworn officers could be conducted by non-sworn officials; and 4) policing can be delivered by a mix of sworn officers carrying out core functions and uniformed civilian personnel engaged in non-core policing roles. Figure 5 illustrates how this model can be applied.

Figure 5: Deployment of Sworn and Non-Sworn Officers in a Tiered Policing Model

Figure 5: Deployment of Sworn and Non-Sworn Officers in a Tiered Policing Model

Source: McKenna (2014)

The tiered model, as opposed to the conventional one, would reduce in principle the proportion of sworn officers from 85 to 60 percent, while expanding the number of personnel with limited police powers (labeled as PCSOs in the figure) to about one-fifth of the agency’s workforce, civilian police employees (who provide operational and organizational support, but play no role in order maintenance), and an equal mix of private security (such as Commissionaires), and auxiliary and special constables, who are uniformed officials who provide support to the sworn officers (e.g., at special events).

Provincial governments are also deploying a greater number of non-sworn uniformed personnel to carry out duties previously done by police officers, such as court security officers. This practice has emerged as municipalities in some provinces have shifted the responsibility for these positions to the provincial governments. In Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, for example, sheriffs and court officers now provide court security and in Newfoundland and Labrador such officials also transport prisoners. There are variations in the roles of court officers. Alberta, for example, has expanded the role of uniformed, armed sheriffs to carry out a number of non-investigative duties (e.g., traffic law enforcement, fugitive apprehension, and the protection of government property and personnel) formerly done by the police (Henton, 2012). Because their police powers are limited, the salaries of these sheriffs are less than those of regular police officers. Their current role of crime prevention activities and support for general duty officers is similar to that of a RCMP special constable. Although a similar RCMP position known as a community constable was initiated after 2010, as of April 1, 2014 the RCMP was not accepting applications for that position, and a review of their organizational chart revealed that they employed only 68 special constables on September 1, 2014.


King’s (2009) review of 12 police services in the U.S. found that in some instances civilians were employed in command or supervisory staff positions or assigned leadership roles in areas of the organization such as training academies. King further found that some departments were relying on civilians to fill front-line positions such as taking reports and staffing neighbourhood sub-stations that had traditionally been staffed by sworn police officers. For example, the head of administrative services for the Lowell Massachusetts Police Department was a civilian. Another two full-time civilians who reported directly to the police superintendent served in community liaison roles with the city’s various ethnic populations. These positions addressed language and cultural barriers affecting both citizen compliance with the criminal code and police enforcement of it and sought to build bridges with ethno-cultural communities to increase their trust and confidence in the police and assist in crime prevention.

The Knoxville, Tennessee Police Department employed a team of 28 civilians acting as public information staff working in liaison with the media and the public. The team responded to incidents 24 hours a day and the team leader, who reported directly to the police chief and worked from an office in the police chief’s suite, was considered a member of the command staff. About 50 percent of all Knoxville crime-scene investigators were civilians, a percentage the department said it planned to increase (Knoxville Police Department, 2012).

Challenges of Filling Civilian Positions with Sworn Police Officers

Variations in the extent to which different U.S. police services use civilians are sometimes related to the accommodation needs of police officers or those who are older, sick, injured or on temporary suspension of front line duties. According to Davis et al. (2013), open civilian positions are often treated as a form of health insurance policy. The Citizens Budget Commission in New York (2002: vii) pointed out that “efforts at civilianization often have failed” because “police leaders want to keep a substantial number of assignments with limited risk available to officers as a type of reward or as a temporary assignment when an officer is under unusual stress or disciplinary review” (2002:14).

Boyd et al. (2011) noted in the UK that when police officers are transferred into roles which could otherwise be done more cost effectively by non-sworn personnel, they continue to receive the higher wages and pension accruals of sworn police officers. They argued that police officers on restricted duties and working alongside a civilian staff member and performing the same duties, “receiving significantly better pay and pension arrangements is unfair and not conducive to a harmonised police workforce” (Boyd et al. 2011: 75). The authors concluded that when civilianization stalled (notwithstanding the directive issued by Home OfficeFootnote13) and these reforms never happened, police services in England and Wales wasted an estimated £588 million over four years, enough to pay for 2,714 extra officers in each of those years (Boyd et al. 2011: 85).

The 2012 Winsor Report, a review of compensation and working conditions of police personnel that was commissioned by the UK Home Secretary, examined inter alia how police organizations in England and Wales manage police officers with health problems. Police officers are typically placed on recuperative duty until their medical condition improves enough so that they can return to their regular duties. Officers are also placed on restricted duty if they are determined to have a medical condition that appears unlikely to improve within a reasonably foreseeable time. The review also described how police officers on restricted duty might function in a civilian position. Winsor also highlighted the legal and regulatory policing issues than are expressed in the UK Equality Act 2010Footnote14 as well as the broader issues related to injured police officers (e.g., salaries, pensions and benefits).

Winsor’s review of submissions from police services and authorities on compensation and working conditions led the author to conclude that the restricted duty regime needs to be reformed so that an officer on restricted duty doing a job not requiring sworn status could be civilianized and the terms and conditions for non-sworn status applied. One constabulary argued in its submission that police officers who are receiving higher pay because of their sworn status should have their salaries reduced if they were working in a civilian position that did not require the exercise of full police powers. Another submission made on behalf of Police Superintendents argued that police organizations should not be doing “job creation” to accommodate police officers on restricted duty nor officers doing jobs that could be done by civilian staff (Winsor, 2012: 252).

After reviewing submissions, Winsor concluded that it is inappropriate for police officers on restricted duty to occupy a civilian position for the remainder of their careers while receiving full pay commensurate to sworn officer status. He noted that having police officers spend long periods doing civilian work because they cannot do work requiring police powers and expertise had led to resentment among civilian staff who are usually paid considerably less than a police officer. Noting that the current system is unfair to civilians and taxpayers, the review stated that it “is unsustainable and it should stop” (2012: 257). He argued that, generally, officers who after a time continue to work on restrictive duties should be given the opportunity to resign and immediately take up a civilian job at a civilian rate of pay. If a police officer displaces a civilian, then the latter should be entitled to make a claim for unfair dismissal or unfair selection for redundancy.

Challenges Related to Cost and Savings

While some police executives have been reluctant to transfer all of their support functions to civilians, there is some evidence that civilians tend to perform centralized specialized roles more effectively than sworn police officers who have been hired and trained as generalists and then rotated from one assignment to the next (Council of Canadian Academics, 2014; Office of Inspector General, 2013).

A comprehensive study of the Vancouver Police Department conducted by Griffiths et al. (2006) had as its main objective to assess every position other than sworn patrol officer and clerical support roles using best practice criteria to classify these positions as requiring a sworn police officer or a specially-trained civilian (2006: 7). As a result of the study, 19 sworn officer positions were converted to civilian positions, which resulted in potential estimated savings in salaries and benefits for those positions of $600,000 per year, which was 0.3 percent of operating expenditures for the department (Griffiths et al., 2006).Footnote15

An operational review of the Winnipeg Police Service recommended civilianization of a number of sworn positions in the organization (Matrix Consulting Company, 2013). In their analysis of this review, Griffiths and Pollard (2013) and Griffiths et al. (2014) examined the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery in the areas of staffing, deployment, response to calls for service, and the activities of investigative units. Griffiths and Pollard (2013) concluded there was no need for 30 sworn officers but a need for 85 additional civilian staff, for a hypothetical net staffing increase of 55 positions were the sworn complement to be commensurately reduced. They estimated that, once the projected optimal civilianization was reached, the overall cost for salaries would be about $2.1 million and the net estimated budget reduced to around 0.2 percent of the 2013 police budget ($593,683) including taking overtime costs of around $1.5 million into account (2013: xi).

Robertson (2012: 358) observed as to what is often done with sworn officers replaced by civilian positions that “deployment of police to frontline positions, putting more ‘boots on the streets,’ is expensive and often not the most effective use of police resources.” He contended that the police and “the public might be better served by using the same funding to employ two records clerks in order to improve police response to Crown disclosure requests, rather than adding a single patrol officer or Internet child pornography investigator” (2012: 358). Civilianization thus could provide an opportunity for a more cost‑effective allocation of resources that allows for the strategic use of police officers and civilians.

The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario has recommended that the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) should use civilian employees for court and community service duties now performed by sworn first class officers (2012: 241). The Auditor General noted that in 2012, a first class officer earned a salary of $83,000 a year, while a civilian community officer earned $57,250 (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2012: 241). The Auditor General pointed out that if all these community service duties were transferred to civilians the overall savings on these positions would be about $2.6 million a year. Similarly, transferring all court duties from 110 officers to 23 civilians would hypothetically reduce the costs of these duties by another $2.8 million annually (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2012).

In response to the Auditor General’s report (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2012:242), the OPP argued that they were

…limited by the parameters of the collective agreement in relation to the establishment of and changes to job descriptions and classifications. Some roles currently being performed by uniformed officers that could potentially be civilianized (e.g., Community Service Officers) do not have specific job descriptions associated with them because they are not distinct positions. In addition, … there are many operational benefits of police performing Community Service Officer and Court Services Officer roles: they are able to respond to other calls for service, they have powers of arrest, and they generally have more influence over students and the public.

The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario also raised concerns with regard to sworn officers who do not perform front line duties. The Auditor General estimated that the OPP could have a cost saving of $5.4 million if all detachments were updated to the current 2010 costing formula (Auditor General of Ontario, 2012: 248).Footnote16 The Auditor General noted “the force lacks a model or method to ensure that 44 percent of the total detachment workforce, comprising of 1,600 police officers who do not perform front line duties and 640 civilian staff are efficiently and effectively deployed” (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2012: 232).

The Auditor General (2012: 232) also recommended that the OPP assign a larger share of corporate services duties and other non-police work to lower paid civilian staff in order to return officers to policing roles and “to save money.” Two years later, the Auditor General raised further concerns with regard to the OPP’s failure to hire civilians to replace police officers when the opportunity to do so existed (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2014). The Auditor General noted that the OPP should reassign officers who are in civilian positions back to front-line policing where possible. Currently, these positions reduce the number of civilian positions available and the potential savings on salaries (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2014:513). The OPP replied, however, that it is difficult for them to increase the number of civilians as they do not have the ability operationally or within their collective agreement to have civilians fill specific positions held by sworn police officers (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2014:513).

In their examination of the use of civilians in policing in England and Wales, Boyd et al. (2011: 14) argued that there are too many officers in roles where their warrant powers are not being used. They also contended that the civilianization of some policing functions is increasing, albeit with great variation between police forces. For instance, North Wales had a 56 percent civilianization rate in control rooms, compared to 72 percent for the London Metropolitan Police. The 648 police officers working in London Metropolitan Police control rooms were an increase from 195 officers in 2003 (2011: 14), which the authors suggested resulted from more police “officers being “parked” in a civilian position without a clear operational need” (2011: 14). The authors calculated there were at least 7,280 police officers filling roles that could be done by civilians at a significantly lower cost (2011: 15).

However, the “elephant in the room” with regard to the potential and often entirely hypothetical savings of civilianizing work currently done by higher paid sworn officers is the issue of displacement. “Savings” are often expressed in terms of the specific line items of functions within organizational budgets. However, if sworn officers displaced by civilianization of specific functions or positions are simply moved to other functions in the organization, then civilianization is simply an added cost to the organization as a whole, not a saving. If sworn personnel displaced by civilianization of their positions are assigned to operational duties, there may indeed be additional costs involved in preparing and supporting them in those new operational duties. If there is insufficient opportunity for assignment of displaced officers to operational duties in a parallel context of ever increasing sworn complements and officers are reassigned to other non-operational or non-core policing work, then any efficiencies remain hypothetical and cost reductions will not occur.

Challenges Associated with Civilian Job Satisfaction and Morale

One of the earliest studies of civilians in policing was by Chess (1960), a former civilian employee of the New York Police Department at a time when 4.6 percent of employees were civilians. Chess noted opposition from some police officers who “feel that a civilian employee is depriving a member of the force of a desirable detail or assignment” (594). Chess further suggested that under the actions of “the general public, the press and certain public groups … the climate of harassment under which a police officer must perform his duties sometimes causes an unreasonable resentment against civilians” (594). Chess goes on to suggest that an exclusionary, even caste-like, “feeling of fraternalism seems to be developing to the exclusion of civilians who are outside this social circle” (1960: 595). Chess also observed “a managerial preoccupation with the line function” to the exclusion of administrative personnel so that “civilians find that they must wait for the same improvements, and the delay is sometimes appreciable due to the press of "emergency" matters” (595).

The challenges of ensuring job satisfaction (e.g., job security, absenteeism, career, salary, and working conditions) for civilian members are linked more to management practices and organizational issues than to the specific characteristics of the employees. Previous studies have examined the attributes of individual police officers in order to predict the level of job satisfaction (Dantzker, 1994; Griffin et al., 1978; Ingram et al., 2015). However, Alderden and Skogan (2011) noted that there has been very little research on the role of civilians in police work, despite their growing presence in police services.

Since 1998, the Vancouver Police Department has conducted biannual employee satisfaction surveys. In their 2009 survey, the Department (2010) found that sworn police officers had higher job satisfaction than did civilian staff. The civilian members’ reasons for lower job satisfaction included lack of opportunity for advancement, lack of recognition, and unsatisfactory relationships with co-workers who were sworn police officers.

McCarty and Skogan (2012), in an examination of job-related burnout among civilians and sworn police personnel, found no difference in burnout rates between civilians and sworn police officers. Similar burnout factors affected both groups. Alderden and Skogan (2014) examined the correlates of job satisfaction among civilian employees of law enforcement agencies to assess how features of the policing workplace influence employee morale. They found that while civilians do not have to deal with the stresses of street level work they do have stressors in the form of continually “putting out fires or … responding to one crisis after another” (2014: 278). Using data from 19 police departments in the U.S., they identified four main features of the policing workplace that affect civilian satisfaction: 1) personnel policies; 2) work-related stress; 3) equality and diversity issues; and 4) a perceived lack of acceptance of civilians by sworn officers. Alderden and Skogan (2014) further reported that civilian crime analysts felt particularly unappreciated and marginalized because sworn police officers did not think crime analysis had much value and consequently made little use of it. Crime analysts may feel particularly undervalued if they see their work as addressing a core mission of policing: preventing and solving crime (Alderden and Skogan, 2014:277).

Dick and Metcalfe (2001) compared the organizational commitment of civilian staff and sworn officers in a large police English force and examined whether managerial factors affecting organizational commitment differed between the two groups. The researchers found that the two groups held similar levels of organizational commitment, although managerial level (officer rank) was positively associated with organizational commitment for uniform staff, but not for civilian staff.

Finally, Boyd et al. (2011) examined absenteeism among civilian staff. They found that the annual average number of sick days for civilians is 13 days compared to 11 for sworn police officers.Footnote17 The researchers emphasized the need for further research on why civilians have a higher number of sick days and recommended that police services adopt best practices from the private sector to address this issue.


A survey instrument was developed based on the statement of work and augmented by a review of the literature on civilians in policing. The survey instrument and interview guide intended to identify potential costs and benefits of using civilian staff, and to identify the challenges and obstacles associated with civilianization in police organizations of different sizes. The survey instrument was distributed to a non-probability sample of police services of varying sizes across Canada. Since a purposive approach to survey sampling was used in gathering the required information it is not possible to generalize from the study sample to all police organizations in Canada.

Sampling was stratified according to the number of police personnel in police services: (1) large municipal or regional services, (2) medium-sized municipalities, and (3) small municipalities including rural and First Nations police services. A total of 42 letters were sent to police services selected from all regions of Canada inviting them to participate in the study, with 21 accepting the invitation. These 21 police services received a copy of the survey and a voluntary consent form to authorize in writing their participation in the survey and interviews. Of the 21 agencies, 20 completed their voluntary consent form and 18 (seven small, five medium, and six large) actually participated. Of the 18 respondents, follow-up interviews were conducted with ten police executives.

The Survey Instrument

A copy of the survey questionnaire/interview guide and consent form can be found in Appendix B. Police executives were asked to respond with regard to the experience of civilianization within their respective jurisdictions.

The first section of the survey instrument pertains to the provision of basic background and contact information.

The second section pertains to general information on civilian staff or the non-sworn complement and the positions they occupy within their police service. More specifically, police executives were asked to provide a breakdown of staff according to the four major civilianization categories identified, plus a fifth category to cover any personnel not readily fitting the first four:

The third section of the survey solicited responses about effectiveness of civilianization - the extent to which police services meet operational goals, and efficiency - expenditures and processing resources to meet organizational goals.

The fourth section of the survey instrument collected information about costs and benefits associated with the employment of civilians in the policing service. Many of the questions focused on identifying cost savings and establishing how these were determined.

The fifth section asked respondents to identify the challenges of incorporating civilians into a police service and its occupational culture. Included in this section are issues related to labour relations, collective agreements, job satisfaction, organizational cohesion, and morale.

The sixth section consists of a series of questions intended to solicit the respondents’ insights on remaining issues pertaining to civilianization that had not been addressed.

On completion of the survey, follow-up interviews were carried out with ten police executives to solicit more information about the authorized numbers of full-time employees in the areas of administration, uniform services, investigative services, specialized functions and other areas where non-sworn and civilians were employed in the jurisdiction. Police executives were also asked to confirm numbers of sworn and non-sworn employees. In some cases, there were inconsistencies noted in the numbers reported, which could be due to differences in the definitions of personnel roles. Some respondents, for example, referred to special constables as “sworn” while respondents from other police services within the same province referred to them as “civilian.”

While the police operational categories noted above represent the main field operations or functions of a police organization, not all the police services that responded to the survey staffed their positions according to these categories. In some instances, police executives were asked to recalculate their organizational staffing numbers to fit the four categories outlined earlier to distinguish between sworn and non-sworn positions. Distinctions between functions within police organizations can be interpreted differently by police executives in different organizations and any comparisons must be done with caution. A copy of the survey can be found in Appendix B.


The surveys were sent to 21 Canadian police services. The 18 police services returned a survey: seven small, which were agencies of less than 115 sworn officers, five medium-sized, which ranged in size from 173 to 446 sworn officers, and six large police services with more than 600 sworn officers.

Number of Civilians/Sworn Police Officers and their Duties

Together the 18 police services surveyed reported employing a total of 12,836 sworn and non-sworn personnel. Each responding police service was asked to identify how many non-sworn and sworn police positions there were in the following areas of operations: administration, uniform services (including detention/cell block/prisoner transportation and community service officers), investigative services, specialized areas, and any other remaining areas where non-sworn and civilians are employed. Overall, 28 percent of these were non-sworn employees with little or no variation between small (29%), medium (28%) and large (27%) police services. The distributions by duties of sworn and non-sworn personnel are illustrated in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Distribution of Duties of Sworn and Non-Sworn Personnel by Category

Figure 6: Distribution of Duties of Sworn and Non-Sworn Personnel by Category

Three quarters of sworn officers are assigned to uniformed or community service duties. Two thirds of non-sworn employees are assigned to administrative or specialized support services. These are the only two areas of duties for which non-sworn employees comprise a majority. Sworn and non-sworn personnel are equally present in detention, cell block security and prisoner escort services. Investigative assistance occupies equal shares of the respective sworn and non-sworn employee contingents, though the ratio of sworn officers to non-sworn personnel for investigative assistance yet stands at 3:1. However, there are great variations in distributions of sworn and non-sworn personnel by function across police services surveyed by size group and individually. Tables 7 and 8 show the extent of this diversity across police services grouped by size.

Differences between size groups are heavily influenced by individual outliers among individual responding services. This high level of diversity seems the case for all police services in Canada as illustrated above in Tables 1 and 2. Much of this variation between services may also be an artefact of differences in local usage of terms describing work functions. Interviews confirmed that there is often little consensus in how types of police and other work are categorized and labelled. Indeed, it was at times difficult to reconcile information among different sections of the survey questionnaire and to match that information in turn to the interview results. Individual responding police services are presented in detail in Appendix A.

Table 7: Number of Non-Sworn and Sworn Personnel by Operational Category
Organizational Categories Total Small Police Services Medium Police Services Large Police Services
Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S
Administration 1,711 1,383 328 65 44 21 496 409 87 1,150 930 220
Uniformed Services 5,151 120 5,031 200 9 191 1,073 21 1,052 3,878 90 3,788
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 371 185 186 36 31 5 53 29 24 282 125 157
Community Service Officers 2,090 126 1,964 92 14 78 229 1 228 1,769 111 1,658
Investigative Assistance 1,473 372 1,101 111 7 104 377 32 345 985 333 652
Specialized Support 1,282 999 283 78 62 16 169 155 14 1,035 782 253
Other Areas 764 368 396 13 3 10 21 21 0 730 344 386
Total 12,836 3,535 9,301 595 170 425 2,418 668 1,750 9,823 2,697 7,126
Table 8: Percentage of Non-Sworn Personnel by Operational Category
Organizational Categories Total Small Police Services Medium Police Services Large Police Services
Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S
Administration 13% 39% 4% 11% 26% 5% 21% 61% 5% 12% 34% 3%
Uniformed Services 40% 3% 54% 34% 5% 45% 44% 3% 60% 39% 3% 53%
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 3% 5% 2% 6% 18% 1% 2% 4% 1% 3% 5% 2%
Community Service Officers 16% 4% 21% 15% 8% 18% 9% 0% 13% 18% 4% 23%
Investigative Assistance 11% 11% 12% 19% 4% 24% 16% 5% 20% 10% 12% 9%
Specialized Support 10% 28% 3% 13% 36% 4% 7% 23% 1% 11% 29% 4%
Other Areas 6% 10% 4% 2% 2% 2% 1% 3% 0% 7% 13% 5%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Table 9: Percentages of Operational Category by Non-Sworn and Sworn Personnel
Organizational Categories Total Small Police Services Medium Police Services Large Police Services
Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S Total NS S
Administration 100% 81% 19% 100% 68% 32% 100% 82% 18% 100% 81% 19%
Uniformed Services 100% 2% 98% 100% 5% 96% 100% 2% 98% 100% 2% 98%
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 100% 50% 50% 100% 86% 14% 100% 55% 45% 100% 44% 56%
Community Service Officers 100% 6% 94% 100% 15% 85% 100% 0% 100% 100% 6% 94%
Investigative Assistance 100% 25% 75% 100% 6% 94% 100% 8% 92% 100% 34% 66%
Specialized Support 100% 78% 22% 100% 79% 21% 100% 92% 8% 100% 76% 24%
Other Areas 100% 48% 52% 100% 23% 77% 100% 100% 0% 100% 47% 53%
Total 100% 28% 72% 100% 29% 71% 100% 28% 72% 100% 27% 73%

Figure 7: Number of Sworn and Non-Sworn Personnel by Function Category: All Respondents

Figure 7: Number of Sworn and Non-Sworn Personnel by Function Category: All Respondents

Appendix A provides detailed responses from each participating police service, grouped by small-, medium- and large-sized service. Size of the police service does not matter much in terms of how police organizations move towards civilianization.

Under the category of administration, three small police services had more positions held by non-sworn employees than sworn police officers, while another had an equal number of sworn and civilian personnel. The other three small police services had more sworn police officers than civilians carrying out this function. Few civilians are employed as first responders or uniformed patrol and community service officers.

Under the category of uniformed services, non-sworn police positions are used most often in the areas of detention/cellblock security/prisoner escort. Two of the small police services use Commissionaires for parking enforcement. One used civilians for cell block surveillance. The data gathered through the survey showed a high use of non-sworn staff in the area of specialized support for one small police service. Included were the following: a training coordinator; a crime analyst; legal services; occupational health and safety; civilian managers responsible for personnel; information technology and data processing personnel; training and fitness/equipment coordinator; and a photo radar specialist.

Three of the small police services have hired individuals under contract to carry out some policing functions and two use part time or casual positions as part of their civilian workforce. One of the small police services has 25 civilians working part time, which comprise 15 percent of its total workforce. The use of Commissionaires and other personnel reflect the priorities of the chiefs of police (e.g., contracting these services out rather than delivering them “in house”) and contracting services may be advantageous in small agencies where there is no 24/7 need for some personnel, for example no need to supervise detention cells.

With the exception of one police service, civilians are part of a labour association with a collective agreement. In some police services, civilian employees belong to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) while others are covered by specific agreements for civilians in police association agreements. With the exception of several positions “out of the scope” of the bargaining unit, full time civilian employees belong to an association. Positions covered include executive assistance; some clerical and management positions; human resources; information technology; communication centre; public information; legal counsel; administrative support; and some coordinator positions (e.g., health and safety, training). Civilians working in management positions, part time or in “out of scope” positions are not covered by collective agreements. Civilians working in large police services vary in terms of their representation in collective agreements. In one large police service, for example, civilians are covered by four different unions while in another they are covered under a separate collective agreement other than which governs sworn members. In two other large police services, civilians working in management positions are covered by the municipal city management association. Civilians working under contract are not covered by collective agreements.

Although several police services provided copies of their collective agreements, it was difficult to make a meaningful comparison of salaries and benefits between civilians and sworn police officers. Even if the respondent indicated which positions were held by civilians, no further information was provided on the classification of those positions. Follow up interviews at this level of detail would be cumbersome as each position and its accompanying job description would need to be reviewed and perhaps discussed with human resources personnel. Useful information, however, could be obtained by doing so. For example, a cursory look at pay scales indicates that civilian salaries and benefits are on average substantially lower than those of sworn police officers. A question for further analysis is whether civilians receive comparable pay if their qualifications and experience are comparable to or higher than those of a sworn officer.

All five police services classified as medium size have a similar percentage of civilian employees. Three of the medium-sized police services have a large contingent of sworn police officers working in administration. In one, 36 percent of administration personnel are sworn police officers. Under the detention/cell block/prison escort category, only one of the medium-sized police services has no sworn police officers working in these functions.

In one of the medium-sized police services, dispatch/communications services are provided by a jointly funded tri-service Public Safety Communication Centre serving police, fire, and ambulance. In another case, two traffic clerks have been hired for a two-year term to process tickets generated through a photo radar pilot project. This was done through provincial regulations that require a sworn officer to process traffic tickets. Since it was expected that the pilot project would substantially increase the number of tickets to process, special permission was granted by the province to use civilian personnel in this role.

Civilians make up between 20 to 37 percent of all employees of large police services. Over 95 percent of the administrative staff in two large police services is civilian. One large police service has 100 percent of community service officer duty performed by civilians. This is exceptional given that the majority of individuals working in this area in other services are sworn police officers. Uniformed services are dominated by sworn police personnel with civilians consisting of less than five percent of that workforce.

Three large police service executives also indicated that they use other classes of personnel within their organization, such as police cadets hired under contract or Commissionaires, to carry out particular work functions. One large police service indicated that it had hired highly specialized individuals to introduce and monitor new technologies such as security systems. A number of specialized civilians work in information technology, analysis, planning, human resources, or forensics. One large police service provided more detail on the civilians who are employed in specialized investigative areas. These included:

Data collected from the websites of the Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Toronto Police Service revealed that these very large police organizations have among the highest proportions of civilian personnel: the Ontario Provincial Police (31%); the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (36%) and Toronto Police Service (30%). But there is considerable diversity among large municipal police services. Looking at the average numbers of total sworn and non-sworn employees in the decade of 2002-2012, from the Police Administration Survey for Canada’s ten largest municipal police services, this variability comes clear (see Table 10).

Efficiency and Effectiveness of CivilianizationFootnote18

Of the seven small police services that responded to the survey, five indicated they have conducted some type of operational review that identifies civilians in positions currently performing work that was formerly done by sworn police personnel. The sworn police officer positions which became civilianized include the following:

Table 10: Sworn and Non-Sworn staff (2002-2012 average), Ten Largest Municipal Police Services
Municipal Services 2002 – 2012 averages
Sworn Officers Civilian and Other Total Percent Civilian
Toronto 5,452 2,620 8,071 32%
Montréal 4,304 1,329 5,633 24%
Peel Regional 1,663 728 2,392 30%
Calgary 1,615 662 2,277 29%
Edmonton 1,371 439 1,810 24%
Ottawa 1,182 520 1,702 31%
Winnipeg 1,273 367 1,640 22%
York Regional 1,207 432 1,639 26%
Vancouver 1,295 299 1,594 19%
Durham Regional 811 291 1,102 26%

The arguments put forward to civilianize these positions were cost savings in terms of salaries, benefits and training, and flexibility in deployment. One respondent noted that the ability of their service to hire civilians on a part time basis gave them greater flexibility and savings by tying workloads to demand. The cost-effectiveness of this measure was due in good part to not having to pay benefits for these personnel. Another police executive noted that given “there was no appetite by [City] Council to increase the number of police officers … we redeployed the constable to operational duties and hired a civilian at a lower rate of pay.” Another noted that their cost-benefit analysis also included reduced training costs given the skill sets civilians already have. Police officers often require an initial orientation plus ongoing training which increases costs. Furthermore, their effectiveness may be limited in their first months in these positions as they learn the various aspects of their new roles.

One small police service respondent also noted that civilians are not employed in any specialized investigative roles because the agency lacks resources to hire civilians with specialized training. The salary and benefits of a highly skilled person with special expertise, could, at least in principle if not always in practice, be comparable to those for sworn police officers. A police executive from another small police service noted that the service has an agreement with another police service to provide specialized policing services. Many of these individuals, such as forensic chartered accountants or specialists in cyber-crimes, are civilians. When a police executive from one small police service was asked in a follow up interview if civilians can be hired in specialized or investigative duties, he stated that this would be a real “cultural shock” to the organization as some police officers express the view that only sworn officers can do that type of work because only they have the training to do so. This respondent further indicated support for the use of civilians in a criminal investigation capacity, but felt it would be a challenge to convince the police governance body that this would be feasible. The same individual was of the opinion that civilianization of policing may not necessarily result in a net cost savings because sworn positions are reassigned and not reduced as civilian positions are added.

One respondent from a small police service noted that while the service may save on a particular function, any savings accrued tend to be spent on other areas of policing. This means that, while the overall police budget will not change, police executives will have more spending flexibility. This view was also shared by two other small police services interviewed.

With regard to the specific costs of training of civilians in small-sized police services, respondents were unable to provide such information as their budgets did not break out these costs. However, one respondent noted that they send their civilian crime analyst to conferences or on courses for additional training. Another respondent noted that civilian administration staff may receive upgraded training in computer use (e.g., how to use new versions of specific software packages).

Four medium-sized police services reported having conducted some type of operational review to identify where civilians can replace sworn police officers. In one, the respondent pointed out that the following civilian positions were all once occupied by sworn police officers:

Similarly, another medium-sized police service indicated that it had conducted a comprehensive operational review. This included converting the following positions to civilians: an Automated Fingerprint Identification System technician; four detention corporals working in cell blocks; an inspector working as a training officer; an Inspector working as the human resource manager; a Staff Sergeant working in Strategic Services; and a constable working in a Tactical Crime Unit. Converting these positions to civilians resulted in the savings of $341,600, which represents the differences in salaries between the sworn and civilian position. However, upon reviewing the police expenditures for that particular year, the overall policing budget was not reduced by that amount. Consequently, it is plausible that these savings were spent elsewhere within the organization. Another outcome of that review was that civilians replaced sworn police officers in five divisions.

Yet another medium-sized police service completed a re-deployment exercise in which superintendents, inspectors and directors were tasked with analyzing whether or not positions in their divisions could be civilianized. After these results were reviewed, the police service and police association agreed to convert a crime analyst position from a constable rank to a special constable rank. In addition, some positions were earmarked for light duty assignments for ill or injured personnel. For example, one position in the recruiting unit was re-deployed to patrol and the work delegated to a member requiring sedentary work. The conversion of these positions in this medium-sized police service are in addition to the changes already made that included replacing senior ranking police staff with civilians in areas such as public affairs, asset management and central records, human resources, finance, and information technology. This police service has also hired its own in-house legal counsel in addition to the police board’s separate legal counsel.

When the medium-sized police service executives were asked if any civilians had been recently hired to occupy new positions that could potentially have been occupied by sworn police officers, one respondent noted it had hired a social media officer and a technician for their technical crime unit and another official noted they had hired a coordinator for the management of staff and skills. The rationale provided by both respondents included relevant experience and expertise of the civilians hired, as well as the cost savings in hiring a civilian. One police executive pointed out that hiring a civilian coordinator for the management of staff and skills made it possible to combine several administrative activities that had been carried out by different police officers into a single position.

Respondents were also asked whether civilians are employed in specialized areas such as cybercrime, proceeds of crime, fraud or economic crimes. None of the medium-sized police services indicated that there were any civilians working in such specialized roles, but all reported that they employed civilian administrative staff to support those functions.

Finally, executives were asked about specific costs involved in deploying civilians. One individual indicated that some civilians in professional roles require memberships be paid to maintain their professional standing such as Certified Management Accountants, persons belonging to Law Societies, or Human Resource Professionals’ Association. With regard to training, civilians typically arrive with a minimum of an undergraduate degree and only require yearly conferences or seminars in order to stay current in their field. In one case, the Director of Human Resources attended a conference in Toronto on Strategic Human Resource Management that cost about $3,000. A conference such as this would usually be approved every few years.

Four large police service respondents reported having conducted some type of organizational review to examine the potential benefits of replacing sworn police personnel with civilians. Three of them indicated that they had recently hired civilians to replace sworn police officers responsible for human resources; crime analysis; innovation and training; communications; audits of operations; policy development; firearm use examinations; a DNA coordinator; and crime prevention specialist. One large police service had conducted a study of positions to determine whether these required a sworn police officer or a specially trained civilian. In this particular review, 19 sworn police officer positions were considered for reclassification as civilian positions including the following:

Such changes in personnel could potentially result in an estimated annual savings of approximately $578,396 for those functions. Several years after the review, two superintendents responsible for managing the facility and the fleet were replaced by a civilian, and several civilians were hired for investigative assistant positions to support the major case management model and assist in court disclosure processes (e.g., creating electronic disclosure packages for court preparation).

Police service respondents were also asked to provide rationales for replacing sworn police officers with civilians. These included: lower cost; more specialized skills and experience in the relevant field; more continuity, as civilians do not routinely rotate out of their positions for other positions in the organization; and subject matter experts offering long-term sustainability to their respective work areas. The following comment was provided by one of the respondents:

The primary rationale for hiring civilians or sworn officers is this: is the job position policing-based or non-policing based? A position will be evaluated for whether a police officer is required based on the following criteria: legislative/legal needs; specialized police powers; use of force; workplace safety; special knowledge; credibility of a police response; better performance by a police officer; and community expectation that a police officer performs the function.

In terms of the specific costs associated with civilians, two executives indicated that civilians working in the area of 911 and communications, as well as those civilians working in management positions, both require substantial training. Another respondent indicated that the training costs for civilians are approximately 35 percent of their training budget or $900,000 per year. However, yet another respondent mentioned that little training is required for the majority of civilian staff who they have staffed in administrative roles.

Costs and Benefits of Employing Civilians

Appendix A provides an overview of the executives’ detailed comments. Several major themes emerged from the analysis:


Such themes fleshed out by police executives focus on civilians as a valuable resource to the police service that can carry out a variety of roles and responsibilities in a cost-effective manner. Several respondents noted, however, that specific savings associated with civilianisation of specific positions most often accompany reassignment of sworn personnel to other duties within the organization and thus offer no overall savings, perhaps even increased costs, as new civilian employees are added. Several of the respondents emphasized that civilians have less personnel turnover, more specific skill sets, and a stronger relationship with external professional communities than the sworn officers.

A comment provided by a police executive on the benefits of civilianization is typical of the views of other executives:

…the salaries and benefits for sworn members are typically higher than civilian members. For example, a sergeant in charge of Planning would have earned $113,312.88 per annum and our current Planning Manager’s pay scale is from $84,788 to $99,625 per annum. The sergeant would have fewer working hours and would have someone replace him or her when he is away. The civilian manager does not get a paid lunch hour or receive clothing allowance or any of the other benefits provided under the sworn member’s Collective Agreement.

Moreover, a sergeant would receive a uniform allowance and would require annual police-related training (e.g., use of force). One noteworthy issue that emerged from the analysis of the qualitative data was that respondents focused more upon the defined specialization and expertise of civilians.

Large police service respondents cited the following as benefits of civilianization: cost savings; civilians already possessing required expertise; reduced training costs; the ability to return sworn officers to patrol or other core police functions; and the hiring of civilians for specific positions with no expectation of them taking on other functions. Hiring civilians to redirect sworn police officers back onto their primary function of front line police work was a less frequent response than hiring civilians due to their specialized or technical skills.

Challenges in Incorporating Civilians into Policing Services

Appendix A provides the detailed comments of respondents regarding the challenges of incorporating civilians into their agencies. Many of the comments made by the respondents are strongly supported by the literature (Guyot, 1979; Loveday, 2007; Bentley, 2013). Commonalities in responses can be grouped as follows:

In some of the follow up interviews, police executives pointed out challenges for their agencies to recruit highly educated or skilled individuals. One reason given is that while the salaries and benefits may be attractive, there is limited mobility or potential for job enrichment for these people within the police organization. It is also a challenge for civilians working in police organizations to gain the respect of the sworn police officers. One police executive noted that these individuals usually leave after a few years because they are either recruited by another police service at a higher position or they leave to work outside policing. Executives further mentioned other challenges of incorporating civilians: the culture of policing; opposition from police associations to positions being civilianized; and civilians being perceived as not fully understanding the “intricacies” of the police function.

Other comments included limited opportunities for advancement or retention for civilians and the need to deal with mentoring and coaching issues when the direct supervisor is a sworn member. One respondent suggested that the recruiting process does not make adjustments for the hiring of civilians, especially for those with highly-sought skill sets. Another stated that police unions are not open to the hiring of civilians on the basis that it reduces job opportunities for sworn members.

One respondent identified the issue of “civilian union creep.” In these situations, police services have identified new civilian positions that are similar, if not identical, to the work conducted by sworn police officers. Once the position has been established, the union representing the civilians can file a grievance and argue that all existing sworn positions which are similar or identical should be civilianized as well. The union can further argue that the creation of civilian specific roles can help make the case that other roles which share the same job function or responsibilities should be civilianized.

Sworn Police Officers Occupying Civilian Positions

Detailed responses to a follow up question in which police executives were asked to identify the challenges associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers are provided in Appendix A. Generally, respondents indicated the need to accommodate sworn police officers as the main reason for placing these officers in civilian positions. It was nonetheless pointed out in follow up interviews that while police services have a duty to accommodate a sworn police officer, in many cases collective agreements prohibit the movement of a sworn police officer into a civilian position. However, several respondents pointed out that sworn police officers may be assigned to civilian tasks to make accommodations for officers with disabilities, including those with stress-related conditions, or medical restrictions preventing them from undertaking full duties. The assignment of a sworn police officer into a position that can be viewed as a civilian job is to be temporary until the officer can return to duty.Footnote19 In smaller police organizations this becomes a significant challenge. In most cases, police officers are reassigned into areas of light or modified duties (e.g., conducting a file review), which are not typically defined as civilian positions.

The interviews further showed that associations or unions representing civilians can raise concerns about this practice. One police executive indicated that a special exception was made in an instance where an injured police officer was allowed, with the agreement of the police union and the police service board, to remain in a civilian position. Sworn police officers may also be reassigned to civilian duties if they are suspended or under investigation. In follow up interviews, some police executives stated that they did not agree with this policy, but that it was entrenched in their police association agreement. One respondent observed that the use of sworn police officers working in a civilian capacity can affect the morale of civilians in that sworn police officers may feel less engaged and motivated in performing job-related tasks in the civilian role.

One senior police executive pointed out in a follow up interview that the issue of sworn police officer being accommodated by working in a civilian position has been addressed in the case of Hamilton Police Association v. Hamilton Police Services Board, 2005.Footnote20 This case was an application for judicial review in which an arbitrator dismissed the police association’s grievance. The issue was whether the arbitrator acted incorrectly or unreasonably in concluding that the Hamilton Police Services Board could accommodate uniformed officers who were disabled by placing them in jobs in the communications branch, which were covered by the civilian collective agreement. The presiding judges overturned the arbitrator’s decision and ruled that the Hamilton Police Service Board had to return the police officers back to their uniformed positions. Based on this decision, police services assign sworn police officers who are infirm or unfit for their front line duties to special projects or modified duties rather than transferring then into civilian positions.

In sum, with respect to problems associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers, police executives provided some interesting insights: police unions are likely to challenge the situation; sworn police officers may not have the requisite experience; there is a shortage of police officers able to work on a continued basis in a particular position; and there are morale issues for all the parties involved.

General Comments from the Survey

Police executives were asked if they have plans to increase the proportion of civilian personnel. Of the small police service leaders, four suggested that they have no future plans, while one  appears to have an ongoing review and two others suggested they are considering such a review.

Some police executives in medium-sized police services suggested that civilians would continue to perform similar work functions as sworn police officers. One police executive observed that it would not be possible to increase the number of civilians because sworn positions are protected under their collective agreement.

Among large police service leaders who provided a response, one indicated that they were not considering adding civilian positions while two executives suggested they were planning to increase the number of civilians. One respondent indicated that in their proposed 2016-2018 business plan they are requesting 191 new sworn positions and 120.5 new non-sworn positions.

Police executives were also asked to provide some concluding remarks. A comment provided by a respondent from a medium-sized police service was that the government should provide incentives to hire civilian personnel, especially during times of austerity, as it is usually civilian personnel that are the first to be cut – practices that have been observed in the UK and U.S. Another police executive contended that court security should be a provincial responsibility and not a function carried out by municipal police services. As such, the province can determine whether they want a civilian or sworn officer working in the courts.

Several police executives expressed the view that civilianization does not necessarily reduce policing costs. While a civilian position salary and benefits cost less in most cases, a highly educated or skilled civilian may cost more to retain over a long time period. These respondents also observed that civilianization does not necessarily provide overall budget savings because any potential cost reductions from hiring civilians may simply be allocated to other areas at greater cost (e.g., new equipment). One police executive summed up the issues as follows: “The cost of hiring a sworn member is sometimes the cheaper alternative depending on the position. For example, the comparative salary cost of hiring an analyst is higher than a sworn member.” Another pointed out that a police chief who achieves a budget reduction by hiring civilians may be forced to work with reduced budgets in future years. And a comment from yet another respondent related to the idea that police boards do not really understand the role of civilianization. In some cases, for example, they see the number of sworn police officers as a necessity, perceiving that the community wants more officers visible on the street.


Quantitative Benefits of Civilianization of Policing

In the area of administration, the review of the literature and analysis of the survey results suggest that at least hypothetical savings can result if civilians are replacing sworn officers in some organizational roles. However, the cost savings will vary considerably within this organizational category. The review of the literature, as well as the results from the surveys and follow up interviews reveal that most civilian personnel occupy traditional administrative support positions. These jobs are entry-level positions that typically require limited training and little specialized knowledge. If these civilian employees require additional knowledge or their specialized skills need to be upgraded, the police services usually provide that training. These civilians are covered by a collective agreement that has lower pay scales than those  covering sworn police officers (e.g., a first class constable earns a salary of $83,000 compared to a civilian community officer who earns $57,250 in one service surveyed).

The literature reviewed and information collected from the survey illustrated that converting sworn police officer positions in these administrative support roles to civilian personnel results in potential costs savings. One police service operational review revealed that there was a $27,900 saving when a sworn police officer’s job was converted to a civilian position. The sworn police officer’s salary and benefits amount to $103,000, compared to a civilian’s salary and benefits of $75,100, which represented a saving of $27,900. Griffiths and Pollard (2013) further demonstrated that the Winnipeg Police Service would save around $1,543,500 per year by converting 55 sworn officer positions and hiring civilians. But if the sworn complement remains identical or is increased as has been most often the case, hypothetical savings do not materialize as civilian positions are simply added on.

However, for those civilians working “out of scope”Footnote21 the pay scales may exceed those of sworn officers working in these roles. In many cases, such individuals have expertise or specialization (e.g., finance, human resources, or information technology) that requires wages that are competitive with the private sector. Civilians working in senior administration positions fill specialized and technical management positions that may also be afforded higher pay, better benefits and higher status within the organization than traditional administrative civilian positions. Thus, converting these jobs from officer to civilian positions may not result in any direct costs savings. However, once civilians are hired, they generally stay in the same positions and are seldom promoted or transferred, thus reducing human resources costs and efficiency declines associated with “churning.”

In the area of uniform services and investigative support, both the literature reviewed and the information collected in the surveys and interviews show that civilianization may not have reached its full potential in many organizations. The data collected and analyzed in this study reveal that some civilian personnel are being used to carry out specific functions such as community relations/liaison and assisting in criminal investigations. However, the bulk of such work, especially community services, is still conducted by sworn personnel. It appears that there may be potential savings employing civilians in these areas.

Civilians are hired to fulfill two distinct organizational needs: 1) to support the sworn police officers by enabling them to devote as much time as possible to their core functions such as responding to emergencies and criminal investigations; and 2) to provide new skill sets or knowledge not readily available within the sworn police ranks. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to hire civilians to fill these roles. For instance, the survey results provided an example where a sergeant in charge of planning earned $113,312.88 per annum while the agency’s planning manager’s annual pay is from $84,788 to $99,625. A sergeant would not only be paid more, but would also have fewer working hours and require replacement staff when away. Furthermore, the civilian manager neither gets a paid lunch hour nor receives a clothing allowance or any of the other benefits provided under the sworn member’s collective agreement. Given that this is a very broad category of employment positions (e.g., from 911 dispatch to the legal counsel for the entire agency) some civilian positions may have less compensation and others may not. Suffice it to say that the literature and the information from the survey indicates that whether there are any potential savings for the police service depends on the skill set and expertise required and what if any changes may result in the size of the sworn officer complement.

Altogether, compensation differs in police agencies representing different levels of governments (federal, provincial, regional and municipal), sizes (small, medium and large), locations (e.g., municipalities such as Toronto, where compensation is higher than in a small prairie city), and the relative success of the respective professional associations at negotiating contracts. Because direct costs are difficult to quantify broadly, the costs and benefits of civilianization in each jurisdiction are best analyzed separately.

Some impacts of civilianization on police services, shown in the following examples below of job descriptions from various unidentified police services, can be related to the four categories of administration, uniformed services, investigative support and specialized services. They all involve instances where police executives have converted sworn police officers’ positions to civilians with the supposed aim of obtaining economic benefits. In addition to the limitations listed earlier in the paper, note that the examples selected are based on the very limited information provided by the policing services. Also, economic benefits are police organization specific making it difficult to assess whether other police services will have comparable results.


Training Officer – In this particular police service, a Corporal is assigned to Human Resources in the role of Training Officer reporting to the Non Commission Officer in charge of Training and Development and is responsible to assist in the administration of the Service’s Training and Development Unit. The Corporal’s annual salary plus benefits is $129,400. The majority of this person’s responsibility is administrative in nature:  coordinating Canadian Police College Training; scheduling block training; making travel arrangements for employees attending training courses out of the city; and maintaining records with respect to employees and instructors. The Training Officer also assists in conducting police officer interviews resulting from the Transfer and Rotation Policy. Due to the primarily administrative nature of this position it is not necessary for it to be performed by a police officer.

The civilian position will be referred to as the training coordinator (out of scope). The salary and benefits for this job is $107,000. The savings from converting this position to a civilian is $22,400.

Manager Human Resources – In this police service, the Inspector in charge of Human Resources is responsible for Recruiting, Employees and Family Assistance Program, Occupational Health and Safety, Training and Development; Firearms/Armoury; the Wellness Program; and Polygraph. This police service had a civilian Human Resources Manager from the mid-1980’s until 2003, when the Human Resources Manager position was reclassified to that of Inspector. Two main concerns emerged from this change:  the turnover of Inspectors has been significant and has led to leadership change approximately every two years; and Inspectors do not have the specific skill set required for this role. The wage for the Inspector is $193,400. The salary for the civilian Human Resource Manager is $138,000, an annual saving of $55,400.

Uniformed Services

Community Safety Officer – This police service is proposing to hire four community safety officers at a proposed salary of $44,445 - $58,966 each (including benefit package). Other costs include: equipment - $5,952.00; capital costs for the initial purchase of two at a cost of $93,000 plus ongoing annual costs of $27,200 (i.e., maintenance, residual value on vehicles); four bicycles - $2,500; training costs - $1,700; administration costs to hire four CSO (e.g., security clearance) - $9,200; and computer equipment -$10,000 (e.g., licensing fees). It is assumed that the CSO will replace the hiring of a 4th class constable of an annual salary of $75,376. It is further assumed overtime deployment of CSOs to staff events/incidents may offset any savings in overtime that would have been used by regular police members or by contracted civilians to staff these events. It is also assumed that the CSO will be paid at the top level of $58,966, which will be a saving of the salary and wages of $16,410 when compared to not hiring a 4th class constable. The training and equipment costs will be the same. In this particular case, police executives may need to ask themselves whether the savings of $16,410 is an actual saving given they can hire police officers with peace officer status who can perform all the functions of a CSO plus carry out their job as sworn police officers. As one police executive put it, “to hire a non-sworn police officer and save less than $20,000 per individual may not be a great financial proposition as, if there are any issues or concerns, I can always send a sworn police officer.”

Detection Special Constable – In this police service, detention is resourced on each shift by a Sergeant (annual salary $137,400), four Corporals (annual salary $517,400), Special Constable (civilian) (annual salary $114,500) and Matron (casual civilian ($19.57 per hour). The salary and wages to staff the detention area is $769,300. The Special Constables are responsible for booking prisoners into Detention using the specialized computer program as well as for creating all judicial release documents and information documents for first appearance in court using specialized justice computer program. Both software systems require a significant amount of training along with continued use to maintain system proficiency. The position of Special Constable is used to supplement the recruiting process, whereby recruits not quite ready to go to Police College or needing additional time to meet all recruiting requirements are temporarily placed as Detention staff until they are ready to enter Police College. The intake to Police College is twice yearly. As a result, Detention staff are continually training and mentoring the Special Constables that rotate through Detention, only to have them leave the Detention Unit in four or eight months depending on the recruitment process.

After reviewing Detention Units in several other policing services, it was recommended to convert the four Corporal positions to a long term Special Constable (annual salaries $343,500). This conversion in personnel represents a total saving of $425,800. This allowed the policing service to re-allocate four Corporals to the front-line. The creation of a new classification of Special Constable who would not be subject to automatic entry into Police College would allow for sustainability of trained staff in the Detention Unit.

Investigative Support

Crime Analyst – In this instance the police service in question is planning to hire a crime analyst to replace a sergeant. The annual salary range for the crime analyst would be between $50,000 and $70,000, including benefits. The crime analyst will replace a sergeant’s position with an annual pay of $130,290, including a benefit package of $18,931. In this particular case as well as with many other small and medium size police services, civilians that work in police services are paid by the municipal government. Assuming the person is hired at the lower part of the pay scale, the first year savings can be around $60,290. It is further assumed there will be training costs of approximately $1,700 for the first year or so (e.g., Graphic information system and other computer training). Other costs would include office space, computers (e.g., licensing fees) and ongoing certification (e.g., fees for membership in professional organization). Based on the information provided, it is assumed that there are cost savings in the hiring of civilians in this specialized area. Additional cost savings may be found in not needing to provide recruit training, yearly re-qualifying in use of force, firearms or first aid, and a uniform/boot allowance. It is further assumed that this new position will provide greater efficiencies in terms of analysis of information. The crime analyst position will remain in the same position and will not be promoted or transferred to another job within the police organization. The savings, however, will not result in a net saving to the overall police budget.

The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) Technician – The AFIS Technician is a constable with salary and benefits totalling $103,000. The work currently done by the police officer is primarily administrative in nature; any work related to the ‘investigation’ component of fingerprinting will be left with the Forensic Identification personnel. This position was changed to a civilian who will be paid $75,100, including benefits. The savings from changing the position from a sworn to a civilian position is $27,900.

Special Services

Property Custodian – The specific police service in this instance undertook the hiring of “property custodians” to process property and evidence gathered by sworn police officers. Police officers were spending approximately 6,969 hours in 2009 to input information into their computer system to record property and evidence. This amounted to $262,313 in salary dollars. The cost of hiring five property custodians for the police organization is $45,170 each for a total of $225,850. These new positions will also need computer equipment, office equipment, and a vehicle costing $306,675. It is assumed that the hiring of property custodians will bring cost efficiencies to the organization. In this particular area concerns were raised regarding the continuity of evidence, reducing errors in the handling and storage of property and evidence, and minimizing the number of lawsuits for improperly handling of property and evidence.

Court Services Officer – The specific police service in this instance conducted an analysis of wages/salaries and benefits comparing civilian and sworn officer positions providing court services. Court services were provided by seven members: one sergeant at an annual salary of $132,429, two constables at annual salaries of $121,859, two special civilian constables at annual salaries $105,076, and two part‑time special constables at annual salaries of $41,046. This amounted to $400,410 in salaries and benefits. After an analysis of salaries and benefits, court security became the responsibility of one special constable at an annual salary of $53,538, and six part-time special constables at annual salaries of $123,138. This amounted to $176,676, amounting to overall savings of $223,734. In the reallocation of resources that took place, a sergeant became the supervisor at the court house, one regular constable was promoted to sergeant, and one resigned. The savings in this particular case appear to be in removing the regular constables from these functions and replacing them with special constables working full- or part‑time. Such savings however may be offset at the entire organization level by the ongoing cost of these redeployed officers in addition to new costs of hiring civilians.

In concluding this analysis of job descriptions falling under the main organizational categories being considered, one can conclude that there may be some economic benefits to hiring civilians in any of these areas for certain police services. However, upon reviewing budgetary data from the police services from which these examples were taken, there appears to be no overall net savings to the police budget. The civilian positions enacted did not appear to result in the actual elimination of any sworn police officers. Rather, what seemed to be occurring was redeployment to the front line or to other duties. While it can be argued that civilianization resulted in limiting budget increases, actual net savings were not evident. Indeed, any putative savings from civilianization may have been spent elsewhere within the police services (e.g., to upgrade computer systems). For that matter, the police budgets reviewed increased anywhere from 1.7 percent to 5.3 percent for the period where the recruitment of civilians occurred.

Qualitative Benefits of Civilianization of Policing

In the areas of administration, uniform services, investigative assistance and specialized support, the review of the literature and information gathered from the survey responses and interviews points out that the use of civilians increases efficiency, reduces costs associated with those specific functions and allows sworn police officers, at least hypothetically, to return to work in core policing roles. The literature also revealed that, when civilians with specialist skills or expertise collaborate alongside sworn police officers and detectives in criminal investigations, organizational performance can be improved. For example, a study by the NPIA (2010) reported that in one UK police service, between the implementation of this approach and the completion of their evaluation report a mixed (civilian/sworn officer) team approach increased the efficiency of CID teams by 42 percent and reduced the time to investigate undetected crimes from 47 to 36 days. In addition, the NPIA found that the target response time rates for emergency incidents rose from 76 to 81 percent. The survey results from the current study also indicate that civilians can increase cost effectiveness by enabling the police administration to schedule civilians according to workload demands.

Furthermore, technical or specialized civilian positions may increase the cost efficiency in police organizations by having employees with particular skills and knowledge requiring little training, who are unlikely to incur much in the way of additional costs as they less often transfer and move within the organization.

With respect to community engagement, an analysis of the survey results and interviews demonstrates that some police agencies, including First Nations police services, are hiring civilians in community engagement activities. Although band constables have been deployed since the 1960’s among the First Nations, subsequent generations of personnel now include Peacekeepers and community safety officers. In addition to enforcing local bylaws in First Nations, these officials provide a bridge between Aboriginal peoples and the police. Some of the respondents in the follow-up interviews revealed that police services have used community officer positions to establish relationships with ethno-cultural groups that are underrepresented among sworn personnel and may be distrustful or fearful of the police.

In some cases, community service officers are being used to enforce local bylaws and traffic regulations. In Saskatchewan, for example, the province introduced a community safety officer program in 2014 where uniformed civilian personnel, who sometimes patrol in marked vehicles, are working alongside sworn police officers. In the UK the Home Office has introduced PCSOs, uniformed police personnel with limited powers that carry out certain duties previously assigned only to sworn officers. Uniformed community service officers in many U.S. jurisdictions also carry out similar duties, including taking crime reports, enforcing municipal regulations (e.g., acting on noise complaints), and supporting sworn officers in emergencies, such as traffic collisions.

Challenges of Civilianization of Policing

The practice of having sworn police officers working in civilian positions because of a physical or psychological injury or other limitation appears to be decreasing. Police services in Canada are required under provincial legislation to accommodate a sworn police officer. This position was also confirmed in the case of Hamilton Police Association v. Hamilton Police Services BoardFootnote22 where the Ontario Court of Justice held that a police officer who was injured has to be returned to a uniformed position. In cases of accommodation, most police services assign the police officer to modified duties, or they are given special projects. Furthermore, many civilian employment collective agreements prohibit the movement of a sworn police officer into a civilian position.

With respect to whether there is a reduction in advancement opportunities for sworn officers as a result of civilianization, the review of the literature and analyses of the responses from the survey and follow-up interviews did not produce conclusive evidence on this issue. Results from the survey did point out that sworn police officers in some instances are resistant to working alongside civilians. The challenge that the literature review and survey highlights is that civilians working in police services have limited promotion opportunities as the current promotion structure in police services advantages sworn officers.

Analyses of the survey results and follow-up interviews revealed that civilians working within police organizations can sometimes be relegated to the role of “second class” employees that are not always accepted by the sworn officers. The police occupational culture can result in a lack of acceptance of personnel who are perceived as unable to “understand the intricacies” of policing. There may also be a gender-based component with regard to the acceptance of civilian employees, as approximately 79 percent of Canadian sworn officers and 43 percent of civilian employees are male; a difference of 36 percent.


Civilians have long been performing functions within police organizations such as record keeping and clerical duties that did not require police powers or specialized skills and training. More recently, however, civilians have been increasingly working in higher profile and leadership positions and carrying out tasks that were traditionally reserved to sworn police officers.

In Canada, civilians working in police organizations constitute about 29 percent of total police personnel. Over one-half (57%) are women. These individuals typically work under different employment agreements and are largely external to the occupational culture of sworn police officers.

In the U.S., a growing number of police departments are now also employing civilians in command or supervisory staff positions. In addition, there are an increasing number of specialized civilian roles, including community liaison specialists, crime-scene investigators, forensic analysts, public information officials (including social media experts) and leadership roles in training academies.

In the UK, civilianization has been part of a long-term government drive towards achieving better value for money in the public sector. The government provides a variety of funding incentives to hire civilian staff, including for some highly paid positions where police powers are not required. As part of its civilianization movement, the Home Office has introduced police community support officers (PCSO), uniformed police personnel with limited powers who carry out a range of order maintenance duties previously assigned only to sworn officers. Although there was a substantial increase in the number of PCSOs after this initiative’s implementation in 2002, a review of UK police statistics suggests that police leaders choose to (or are required to) protect sworn police officer positions at the expense of PCSOs. Police services in the UK are also directly hiring civilians with specialized skills (after they receive 18 months of police management training) into superintendent positions.

A review of the literature revealed that civilians tend to perform specialized roles more effectively than sworn police officers hired and trained as generalists and then rotated from one assignment to another. Civilians also provide potential costs savings especially in those instances where they replace police officers carrying out non-police work. Furthermore, as police officers are typically rotated out of these specialized positions their replacements also need to be trained. These costs should be tracked in any cost-benefit analysis of civilianization. Most importantly, however, any potential overall cost savings across the entire police organization will not materialize if the size of the sworn complement remains the same through reassignment or, as often happens, continues to grow. Indeed, overall policing costs may increase as the cost of civilian positions is simply added on without actual substitution occurring.

In the existing police research literature there is no comprehensive inventory of the costs and benefits of civilianization. Some studies have compared sworn police and civilians with regard to levels of job satisfaction/dissatisfaction, stress, burnout, organizational commitment, and absenteeism. These studies reveal that the rate of civilian staff suffering from physical or psychological injuries is equal to or exceeds the rate of sworn officers. Rates of burnout and job dissatisfaction amongst civilian personnel are high. There are a number of potential causes of these problems. Civilians working in police organizations often feel marginalized, in part due to their perception that many sworn police officers view civilian work as having less value than “real” police work. This sense of marginalization may be related to their wearing street clothes and not the uniforms, badges, and insignia worn by most sworn police officers (with the exception of those who work in plainclothes or undercover roles). Civilians might also express the view that they are not treated fairly when they do the same job as a sworn officer but receive considerably less salary.

Civilians experience a number of additional challenges working within police services. Most have limited promotion opportunities as the current promotion structure in police services tends to advantage sworn officers. Furthermore, there may be few opportunities for lateral movement providing job enrichment or new work experiences that are important for an individual’s career growth. This may, in turn, result in a high turnover among civilians. High turnover may also result from receiving a lower salary than that of sworn police officers, and from skilled civilians seeking better paid opportunities in the private sector. There are also a variety of issues related to labour relations and collective agreements that relate to the problems noted above.

One of the arguments put forward is that civilianization has failed in some police organizations partly due to police leaders wanting to keep a substantial number of assignments with limited risk (to the organization) available to officers as a type of reward or as a temporary assignment when an officer is under disciplinary review or is experiencing illness, injury, stress that does not require or is not covered by sick leave or for pregnant officers. In these circumstances, police officers continue to receive higher pay and benefits such as pension accruals while working alongside civilians who do not have the same compensation.

Eighteen police services responded to a survey questionnaire intended to help provide a better understanding of civilianization in a Canadian context. For comparability and reliability purposes, responses were divided into three broad organizational categories: small police services (SPS), medium police services (MPS), and large police services (LPS). The larger police services have a slightly higher concentration of civilian employees (28%) compared to their medium (25%) and smaller (22%) sized counterparts. The review of the literature demonstrates that this practice (more civilians in larger organizations) occurs in the U.S. as well. It is likely that the higher representation of civilians in larger organizations is a function of the increased administrative requirements in these agencies and greater need for specialized personnel. Civilians are most likely to be employed in the areas of administration and specialized support and least likely to be working in the areas of uniformed services and investigative assistance.

Most civilian personnel not working in management positions are represented by some type of labour association. Only one police organization (SPS) in the survey indicated that its civilian employees are not represented by a labour association. The survey further revealed that police officers who are injured or under disciplinary review are prohibited under at least some collective agreements from taking over a civilian position. In such instances a sworn police officer must be assigned to “light duties,” such as review of criminal files, that are not carried out by civilians. Another finding was the identification of some stumbling blocks such as the lack of understanding of police governance bodies of the role of civilianization in increasing the cost effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery and the challenges associated with collective bargaining. Police governance bodies and the public are furthermore often highly attached to the visible presence of uniformed, sworn police officers irrespective of whether the duties involved requires their level of qualification.

A majority of the police services participating in the survey had at some point conducted operational reviews to examine the opportunities to replace sworn police personnel with civilians. While such reviews usually result in only minor changes, in a few instances there has been major organizational restructuring with civilians replacing superintendents, inspectors and other senior police officers. The approach taken in these operational reviews generally involves comparing salaries and benefits of sworn police personnel with those who hold civilian positions. One large police service, for example, sought to compare the situation in their department with that of three other police services to determine whether any of them used civilian staff in positions it staffed with sworn officers.

All three size-based categories of police service identified essentially the same benefits of hiring civilians, including potential cost savings in terms of salaries and benefits, starting their jobs already having specialized training, greater flexibility in scheduling and deployment, and access to expertise not typically possessed by sworn officers. Regardless of their size, these 18 police services also identified similar challenges in incorporating civilians into their organizations, including: a lack of cultural or organizational acceptance of civilians carrying out functions traditionally performed by sworn police officers; the restrictions of collective agreements; and a perceived lack of understanding on the part of civilians of the “intricacies” of the police function. One police executive also identified the limitations of the human resources process to hire civilians with expertise while another noted that police boards are more willing to fund sworn police rather than civilian positions, especially when budgets are limited. Several police executives also indicated that hiring civilians may not necessarily save money. In some cases, the salaries and benefits of civilians may exceed those of sworn police officers because of their skills and expertise. Sworn officers are usually reassigned to other work with no reduction in complement or in costs to the organization overall. In some instances, any savings that do arise in hiring civilians may be used elsewhere in the police organization. These findings are in keeping with the results revealed in the research literature. In Canada the increase over the past decade in the number of civilian positions in policing has generally been associated neither with reductions in the number of sworn officers nor in any reductions in policing costs, but rather with increases in both.

Based on the results of the survey, many police services have carried out analyses to determine which organizational functions might be civilianized. The findings from the survey and literature review further suggest that police services in Canada have successfully incorporated civilians in key positions such as investigations (e.g., forensic technicians). Another area for consideration in decisions whether or not to civilianize positions is a lack of acceptance of civilians within police organizations. It might be fruitful for police leaders to develop strategies to ensure that the work civilians do is properly appreciated and recognized. Moreover, it appears as though many civilian employees are not well-integrated into police organizations. Altogether, this study shows that civilians can add value to the operations of Canadian police services, although there are significant challenges to overcome before these personnel are fully integrated into their roles.

Further Research on Civilianization

The current study found that the proportion of civilian employees working within Canadian police organizations has increased over time and the survey results and follow up interviews suggest that police services will continue to employ more civilians in non-core policing roles—although that increase is anticipated to be very gradual in the current context of financial restraint and resistance from within policing and police governance bodies. Given the findings presented in this study, examining the following topics would further enhance the knowledge of civilianization in police organizations.

1. Organizational characteristics and civilianization. Although the current study showed that there was a positive association between organizational size and civilianization, this work could be expanded to more fully investigate the correlates of civilianization in a larger sample of police organizations and include internal and external factors such as: organizational willingness to expand civilian roles; per capita policing costs; organizational structure (e.g., size and bureaucratic complexity); barriers to civilianization created by collective agreements; the proportion of sworn officers in temporary non-policing assignments (e.g., those who are injured or under investigation); sworn officers in non-front-line policing roles (e.g., working as crime analysts); and per capita policing costs. In addition, it should be noted, that previous policing research on organizational size, posits that new and very small police services, usually deploying fewer than ten officers, are more apt to fail due to their inability to maintain or meet ever-increasing policing standards or deal with crises (Lithopoulos, 2015). Future research should take this finding into account by examining the role between organizational size and the role civilianization plays in increasing police service capacity.

2. Efficacy of civilian employees in uniformed roles. In times of austerity, PCSO positions in the UK experienced the greatest decrease compared to civilian employees or sworn police officers. In addition to the possibility of structural biases in police organizations, there is also the possibility that employees in this role might not have lived up to their expectations in increasing police visibility, engaging in non-core police duties, and responding to antisocial behaviour.

Given the fact that some Canadian police services—including First Nations police services—are expanding the proportion of non-sworn personnel in their organizations, it is important to better understand the strengths and limitations of officers working in these quasi-police roles (Rigakos, 2008). Follow-up research projects could include surveys to determine police officer and public perceptions of civilian personnel and in-depth interviews with non-sworn employees to determine their views about various aspects of their work experience. This could include their perceptions with regard to the following: their roles and responsibilities (e.g., how they are perceived and treated by sworn officers; whether the organization's expectations are consistent with their training and deployment; their preparedness for their positions; their roles and career mobility within the organization; and whether or not they perceive their jobs as stepping stones to careers as sworn officers.

In addition to examining the roles of non-sworn employees, it would be useful to carry out a similar examination of “hybrid” approaches to policing such as the Alberta Sheriffs who are armed, uniformed officials carrying out a wide range of policing roles (e.g., traffic enforcement, fugitive recovery, and protecting government assets and personnel) that receive less pay than sworn police officers because they are not criminal investigators. The RCMP used special “community constables” in similar roles, but this practice fell out of favour and ended in 2014. An analysis of the costs and benefits of the use of this type of policing role, based on the Alberta and RCMP experiences, might inform future police staffing decisions about these types of positions.

3. Morale, job satisfaction, and burn out in civilian personnel. More than one-quarter of Canadian police personnel are civilians. The results from the current study suggest that they have not been fully accepted into policing and that many feel unsupported, unfairly treated (when paid less than sworn officers who are doing similar tasks), and lack career mobility (either laterally or in terms of promotions). Furthermore, although most of the current research focus on occupational stress injuries has been on sworn officers, the psychological health of civilians in stressful roles, such as dispatcher, or those exposed to traumatic situations, such as crime scene workers, cannot be overlooked. That examination should include an exploration of the role of gender in non-sworn personnel, as 57 percent of civilian personnel are women, whereas about 79 percent of sworn officers are men.

4. Collecting evidence-based “best practices” in civilianization.Footnote23 The information received from the police leaders who participated in this research suggest that some of the barriers to civilianization (such as their acceptance within their organizations) may be overcome through proactive strategies, such as educating sworn officers about the importance of these employees and some of the distinct challenges that they confront. Issues such as work-life balance, and promoting physical and psychological health and wellness may also reduce civilian turnover, increase productivity, and enhance job satisfaction. Collecting and sharing these strategies would have value for all Canadian police services.

5. Tiered policing. McKenna (2014) identified a tiered policing model where the ideal proportion of sworn police officers would account for 60 percent of all personnel. In Canada today, about 71 percent of all police personnel are sworn police officers. Although many of the police executives in the interviews carried out for this study expected to hire more civilian personnel, the tiered policing model represents a significant departure from contemporary police practices. If such changes are anticipated, it is important to examine the experiences of police services in jurisdictions that have adopted similar models to better understand the actual costs and benefits of these approaches.

6. Roles and effectiveness of private security in civilianization.Footnote24 Some of the respondents in interviews confirmed that private security agencies such as the Commissionaires provide non-core services, including supervision of cells, front-desk duties, security screening, as well as traffic enforcement through the use of laser radar in several provinces. There have been few empirical enquiries into the effectiveness of such private security personnel, and the nature of the relationships between police services and these organizations. For instance, how many of these personnel are employed throughout Canada and what are the costs of these services?

7. Identifying the non-quantifiable benefits of civilianization. Both the literature review and respondents in the current study identified a number of benefits of civilianization that are difficult to quantify in terms of economic costs, such as using civilian personnel to build bridges with different ethno-cultural communities, providing a “new lens” on problem solving, and expanding the diversity of the police workforce. Although these factors may be less salient than issues related to direct expenditures and value for money in policing, addressing questions related to them might help police executives make better informed decisions about the full impact of civilianization, and the role of civilians in crime control.


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Appendix A – Tables

The following information summarizes the responses to the survey instrument.

Table A: Number of Employees Working as Sworn or Non-Sworn Personnel in Small Police Services
Questions Small Police Services
What was the number of sworn police personnel authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014? 67 11 62 114 87 94 26
5 Special Constables
What was the number of civilian positions authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014? 28 (30%) 2 (15%) 14 (18%) 26 & 5 Casual
38 (30%) 39
25 part time
3 (9%)
As of December 31, 2014, were there other classes of personnel such as contract employees (e.g. Commissionaires performing work in your police service)? If yes, state what are these positions (authorized or actual) and their number as of December 31, 2014? NA NA Commissionaires used for parking enforcement Community peace officers (Bylaw enforcement) 8 under contract, 3 full time, 1 part-time. Commissionaires under contract; 11 full time and 6 part-time. NA NA 6 on call as Civilian Guards for cell block surveillance.
Table B: Number and Percentages of Non-Sworn and Sworn Personnel According to Operational Category in Small Police Services
Organizational Categories Small Police Services
Administration 1 4 0 1 3 5 4 4 29 6 5 0 2 1
Uniformed Services 0 63 0 1 0 5 NA NA 6 59 3 63 NA NA
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 9 3 0 0 NA NA 4 FT
2 PT
0 0 0 17 2 NA NA
Community Service Officers NA NA 0 1 0 0 8 58 6 11 0 5 0 3
Investigative Assistance NA NA 0 0 0 10 3 58 1 19 3 14 0 3
Specialized Support 4 0 0 1 9 3 25 6 2 3 18 3 4 0
Other Areas 1 0 0 9 2 1 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
Organizational Categories SPS 1 SPS 2 SPS 3 SPS 4 SPS 5 SPS 6 SPS 7
%NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S
Administration 20 80 0 100 37 63 50 50 82 18 100 0 66 34
Uniformed Services 0 100 0 100 0 100 NA NA 16 84 4 96 NA NA
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 75 25 0 0 NA NA 100 0 0 0 89 11 NA NA
Community Service Officers NA NA 0 100 0 0 12 88 35 65 0 100 0 100
Investigative Assistance NA NA 0 0 0 100 9 91 5 95 17 83 0 100
Specialized Support 100 0 0 100 81 19 80 20 40 60 85 15 100 0
Other Areas 100 0 0 100 66 34 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

NS – Non-sworn; S – Sworn

Table C: Number of Employees Working as Sworn or Non-Sworn Personnel in Medium Police Services
Questions Medium Police Services
What was the number of sworn police personnel authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014? 173 388 446 441 206
What was the number of civilian positions authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014? 63 (27%) 154 (28%)
23 casual civilians working full or part time
144 (24%) 141 (24%)
10 casual employees
54 (21%)
Some part time for axillary police and 911 staff
Are there other classes of personnel performing work in your police service, such as contract employees e.g. Commissionaires) on December 31, 2014?
If yes, what are these positions? What was the number of these contract positions (authorized or actual) on December 31, 2014?
Corps Commissionaires 9 – Contract with Corps Commissionaires.
1 – mentorship
1 – Youth Program.
1 Computer support
NA Commissionaires in Detention, Service Center, Property Control, CCTV Monitors, Courier, and Tech Crime Part time Axillary police and some 911 staff
Table D: Number and Percentages of Non-Sworn and Sworn Personnel According to Operational Categories in Medium Police Services
Organizational Categories Medium Police Services
Administration 53 0 155 42 60 33 112 10 29 2
Uniformed Services 3 15 5 247 4 282 9 308 0 200
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 4 0 0 8 25 5 0 11§ 0 0ᵵ
Community Service Officers 0 0 0 202 1 26 NA NA NA NA
Investigative Assistance 2 0 1 90 11 114 17 139 1 2
Specialized Support 58 0 54 4 43 0 0 7 0 3
Other Areas NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 21 0
Organizational Categories MPS 1 MPS 2 MPS 3 MPS 4 MPS 5
%NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S
Administration 100 0 78 22 64 36 91 9 93 7
Uniformed Services 16 84 2 98 1 99 2 98 0 100
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 100 0 0 100 83 17 0 100§ 0 0ᵵ
Community Service Officers 0 0 0 100 3 97 NA NA NA NA
Investigative Assistance 100 0 1 99 8 92 10 90 33 67
Specialized Support 100 0 93 7 100 0 0 100 0 100
Other Areas NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA 100 0

§ Special Constables working in Detention. These functions are provided by another policing service.

Table E: Number of Sworn and Non-Sworn Police Personnel in Large Police Services
Questions Large Police Services
What was the number of sworn police personnel (authorized or actual) on December 31, 2014? 892 601 2,045 1,668 762 1,263
What was the number of civilian positions (authorized or actual) on December 31, 2014? 332 (27%) 196ᵵ (37%) 713 (25%) 668 (28%) 319 (29%) 325 (20%)
Are there other classes of personnel performing work in your police service, such as contract employees (e.g. Commissionaires) on December 31, 2014? If yes, what are these positions? What was the number of these contract positions authorized or actual) on December 31, 2014? NA Cadets are part of authorized complement hired under contract. Commissionaires used for automated traffic enforcement, security desks, and Arrest Processing (Detention Cell Block). Auxiliary Cadets – mentorship program for young adults who have an interest in becoming police officers; supports front counter report taking functions. Employment Contracts – Chaplain, Business Continuity, Armourer Information Technology: Business analysts, Project Managers, IT Developers. These contract employees are hired exclusively for implementing new projects or systems.
  • Commissionaires:
    This covers services including managing persons in custody in our Detainee Management Unit, Security and Welfare, Physical Access Control, Security Operation Centre, maintaining EPS impound tow lot.
  • Security Management:
    contract positions cover reoccurring Security Assessment, CCTV Access Control, and Maintenance Assessment programs.

ᵵ excludes 22 cadets

Table F: Number and Percentages of Non-Sworn and Sworn Personnel According to Operational Categories in Large Police Services
Organizational Categories Large Police Services
Administration 118 48 72 19 335 17 222 123 140 5 32FT/
Uniformed Services 4 624 12♦ 424 26.5 1,285 33 1,018 6 436 8 13
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 5 12 43 7 1 25 16 12 59 23 1 51FT/
Community Service Officers 14 32 NA♦ NA♦ 56 0 33 1006 1 42 7 21FT/
Investigative Assistance 32 106 4 15 8 31 76 380 7 116 206 4 Spec Const.
Specialized Support 98 27 46 9 189 59 314 157 70 0 65 1
Other Areas 47 23 66 270 154.5 47 33 15 36 24 7 7
Organizational Categories LPS 1 LPS 2 LPS 3 LPS 4 LPS 5 LPS 6
%NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S %NS %S
Administration 71 29 79 21 95 5 64 36 96 4 80* 20
Uniformed Services 1 99 2 98 2 98 3 97 1 99 5 95
Detention/cell block security/Prison escort 29 71 86 7 36 64 57 43 71 29 1 99*
Community Service Officers 46 54 NA♦ NA♦ 100 0 3 97 2 98 25 75*
Investigative Assistance 23 7 21 79 20 80 16 84 5 95 98 2
Specialized Support 78 22 83 17 76 24 66 34 100 0 98 2
Other Areas 67 33 66 19 81 19 68 32 60 40 50 50

♦ An additional 50 auxiliary officers working as volunteers are included under uniformed services.
* Only full time personnel were counted in calculating the percentage.

Table G: The Benefits of Employing Civilians in Small Police Service
Question SPS 1 SPS 2 SPS 3 SPS 4 SPS 5 SPS 6 SPS 7

What are the benefits of employing civilians in police services?

  • cost effective - cheaper to utilize civilians than sworn officers
  • expertise in clerical, communications etc.
  • officers return to uniform role to utilize their policing expertise for policing
  • consistency in the application of the tasks by civilian personnel
  • initial training costs
  • wider pool of applicants
  • local knowledge and contacts
  • budget saving in terms of salary and benefits
  • reduced investment in some areas of training and recertification
  • at times more focused skill set development
  • slightly reduced cost
  • civilians come with advanced and specific training for the position we target and often have post graduate education.
  • civilians do not require annual re-certification in use of force, firearms and annual in-service training. They also do not need to be equipped with all necessary police uniform and duty equipment
  • any training we provide after hire is specific to their function. Officers who hold these positions are often transferred after 3 to 5 years (or sooner depending on Police Service priorities) and then the training process starts again with similar courses.
  • civilians often see problems or situations through a different lens than what a police officer will see.
  • civilians will tend to hold the position for many years or entire career building advanced knowledge and lessening the need for continual training.
  • salary savings depending on the position
  • continuity in the position.
  • Don’t have to spend training dollars on officers moving in and out of a position.
  • often education relates to a specific job, .e.g.,computer or accounting background
  • cost savings to police service and taxpayer
Table H: The Benefits of Employing Civilians in Medium Size Police Services
Questions MPS 1 MPS 2 MPS 3 MPS 4 MPS 5

What are the benefits of employing civilians in police services?

  • long term assignment to a single role low turnover
  • skill set specific to position and which may not be a core function of a police officer
  • lower overall compensation and benefits
  • less service training costs
  • civilian employees tend to have lower salaries than sworn members conducting the same work.
  • police services can recruit for specific skills, knowledge, education and experience rather than training sworn officers for primarily administrative or technical tasks.
  • positions for sworn officers tend to be limited terms due to transfers whereas civilian employees would not, thereby reducing turnover and having less need for succession planning.
  • Could be stronger linkages to the broader professional community because it is their chosen profession.


  • specialized Training and Experience
  • continuity
  • cost
  • training and specific skills needed in the organization
  • lower costs
  • less training required for the job/position
Table I: The Benefits of Employing Civilians in Large Size Police Services
Question LPS 1 LPS 2 LPS 3 LPS 4

What are the benefits of employing civilians in police services?

  • generally lower salary cost than hiring sworn officers
  • can hire people with very specialized skill sets
  • Lower training costs
  • more continuity (don’t have to rotate people on a tenure system)
  • expertise – they do not transfer as often as police and therefore have more expertise in their area of work
  • lower salary than police officer
  • subject matter expertise; hiring employees already trained in the job functions
  • sustainability and continuity of operations
  • Less turnover and longer tenure
  • reduced training time
  • lower costs in some positions
  • in some situations, hiring civilians can cost less than a sworn member.
  • hiring civilians has a positive impact on allowing the existing sworn members to maintain capacity and focus on policing activities. This is critical in our environment where meeting sworn recruiting targets is a continual challenge.
  • civilians can be hired with all required job skills present. They can be hired for any level of the corporate hierarchy, whereas generally speaking, sworn members are hired at the base of the organization’s hierarchy and require training for new roles.
  • sworn members are subject to ongoing rotation throughout the organization; sworn members generally are required to stay in a position for two years before requesting transfers, and can generally only stay in a position for five years. While this has specific advantages, it also creates issues in position-role continuity and longevity. Civilian hires are hired for a specific position and can stay in that position indefinitely if desired by them and if they are performing adequately.
Table J: Challenges in Incorporating Civilians into Small Police Services
Question SPS 1 SPS 2 SPS 3 SPS 4 SPS 5 SPS 6 SPS 7

List the challenges encountered in incorporating civilians into your police service

  • changing the mindset that civilians are capable of doing jobs that have historically been performed by officers
  • achieving acceptance by uniform division that civilians play an important role in the team effort to provide the best possible policing services to the community
  • lack of funding
  • recognition of requirement by funders
  • loss of police officer positions is seen as an either/or situation
  • issues of contracting out or doing work of the bargaining unit
  • sometimes a cultural issue. Police officers are sometimes resistant in dealing with civilians that replace police positions
  • Non-union contract positions sometimes take more attention because the collective bargaining process is not present, making each contract unique and requires individual negotiation.
  • culture shift – Members not used to seeing civilians doing jobs the police have traditionally been doing
  • Police association / bargaining unit is also having a difficult time accepting this process.
  • civilians often find it difficult to work in a Para-military style organization
  • some police members feel “their” jobs are being stolen
  • collective agreements.
  • legislation – 2 different types of discipline (part 5 of the legislation does not apply).
  • Civilianization of position that take place, Police Service Act is cumbersome to discipline and costly, but at the same time the rules are clear.
  • legislation impedes work performance.
  • association sometimes opposed
  • educating Boards and the public
  • police often prefer the status quo
Table K: Challenges in Incorporating Civilians into Medium Size Police Services
Question MPS 1 MPS 2 MPS 3 MPS 4 MPS 5

List the challenges encountered in incorporating civilians into your police service

  • culture of acceptance/change
  • opposition from police association
  • police culture tends to express skepticism toward changes to established practices
  • civilians (would typically) have less knowledge of policing


  • civilians that have not been police officers need to learn the police operation and sometimes have challenges understanding the intricacies of the role.
  • civilians do not come with the same level of acceptance as a new sworn member would.
  • the police culture is unique and in our Service it is a challenge for civilians to prove their worth.
  • the support positions in administration are sometimes seen as “overhead” and most members would like to see more sworn members in patrol rather than civilian employees in finance, information technology or human resources.
  • perception that the new person will have difficulty on occasions to enter the emergency service concept
  • feeling lost opportunity for advancement or day shift Monday to Friday for police personnel that would have an interest in the business field
  • suspicion for some versus the ability of non-police personnel to deal with highly confidential data.
  • integration (acceptance) longer to realize than if the holder was a policeman
Table L: Challenges in Incorporating Civilians into Large Police Services
Question LPS 1 LPS 2 LPS 3 LPS 4

List the challenges encountered in incorporating civilians into your police service

  • recruiting processes not optimized for hiring civilians, especially those with high-demand skill sets
  • can create a cultural rift between civilian and sworn.
  • Sworn personnel can feel threatened or disillusioned by civilians in management positions that “don’t know the job” of policing, but are responsible for policy or operations. Similarly, civilians can feel that they are not connected to police culture.


  • adjustment to the police culture (paramilitary organization)
  • limited mobility for growth within the organization
  • decision making authority may be limited
  • mentoring and coaching issues when direct supervisor is a sworn member
  • police union reluctance. The police union may sometimes perceive that creating civilian jobs reduces job opportunities for sworn members and leads unions to file more grievances.
  • civilian union creep. There have been instances where new civilian positions/classifications are created for a role similar or identical to what sworn members are currently completing. Once established, the civilian union can file grievances calling for existing sworn positions to be civilianized. As well, civilianizing a specific role can lead to civilian union pressure to civilianize other roles that share similar job functions/responsibilities.
  • retention of civilians is a challenge for two primary reasons:
    1) there are relatively few civilian management positions to be promoted to - since many of them are sworn - so civilians seeking a promotion will often have to obtain it outside the organization.
    2) civilians are represented by unions  governing all municipal  government employees, so it is easy for some of our civilian employees to secure transfers to the city government.
  • since civilians are not rotated throughout the organization as part of standard career growth, civilians can have a narrower focus on the organization’s operations and needs.
  • managing civilians and sworn members requires mastering distinct management approaches due to difference in their collective agreements. It is a challenge to provide sworn (non-sworn) managers sufficient training to properly manage non-sworn (sworn) employees.
  • civilians are hired for a union-classified position, which is very rigid in what the job duties are, and restricts asking employees to deviate from it. This creates challenges for sworn managers who are used to managing sworn employees where they have almost no restrictions in the issuance of tasks.
  • our organization has no influence/control over civilian union collective agreements. This creates risks as civilian union collective agreements are revised, as well as creates organizational risk in the event that a civilian union strike takes place.
Table M: Reasons and Challenges with regard to why Sworn Police Officers Occupy Civilian Positions in Small Police Services
Question SPS 1 SPS 2 SPS 3 SPS 4 SPS 5 SPS 6 SPS 7

What are the reasons why sworn police officers are occupying civilian positions (e.g., illness, injury, accommodations, and partial suspensions of duties)?

  • accommodation of return to work program
  • suspended with pay - temporary assignment in business office
  • illness - e.g. regulate diabetes
  • injury - e.g. broken/sprained ankle and work but not sworn duties
  • only option open to us at this time



  • accommodation position due to long term illness.
  • Not occupying civilian positions – taking on administrative duties in the short term
  • partial suspension
  • investigations
  • accommodation

What are the challenges associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers?


  • lack of funding
  • recognition of requirement by funders
  • loss of police officer positions seen as an either/or situation
  • placement would only be for short terms and subject to availability


  • uniform costs, on-going training costs such as yearly firearms, use of force, in-service etc.
  • no specific skill set for the position so training costs are very high and often leave the area when able to return to duties or get transferred within the organization so new members must be trained again.
  • police tend to focus everything on police specific topics whereas civilians tend to be more global in their outlook.


  • often leaves front line patrol short
  • cost of having officer perform duty that would likely pay less if civilian
Table N: Reasons and Challenges with regard to why Sworn Police Officers Occupy Civilian Positions in Medium Police Services
Question MPS 1 MPS 2 MPS 3 MPS 4 MPS 5

What are the reasons why sworn police officers are occupying civilian positions (e.g., illness, injury, accommodations, and partial suspensions of duties)?


  • injury or long-term illness
  • accommodation for pregnancy
  • disciplinary reasons


  • our members requiring workplace accommodations are re-assigned to light duty positions that are in their police association but the jobs they are reassigned to meet with the restrictions and limitations outlined by their physicians.
  • there are a number of members that cannot perform the duties in patrol but can be re-assigned to planning or recruiting for example until they are fit to return to full duty.
  • we have re-assigned members that are suspended to the service center or the criminal investigations division until their issue has been resolved.


What are the challenges associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers?


  • sworn officers on light duty often feel unengaged when performing administrative duties
  • lack of available office space in administrative areas for temporary placements
  • lack of training to proficiently conduct the administrative/technical duties assigned


  • it is frustrating for civilian employees to see sworn members doing the same type of work and getting paid differently. The pay and benefits are better for sworn members. The morale of civilian members at our police service is lower than the morale of our sworn members.


Table O: Reasons and Challenges with regard to why Sworn Police Officers Occupy Civilian Positions in Large Size Police Services
Question LPS 1 LPS 2 LPS 3 LPS 4

What are the reasons why sworn police officers are occupying civilian positions (e.g., illness, injury, accommodations, and partial suspensions of duties)?

  • illness
  • injury
  • accommodate pregnant officers
  • accommodation for medical reasons. However, when they have to accommodate officers, they will sometimes assist with civilian work, but never fill a vacant civilian position.
  • illness or injury requiring temporary light duties and/or partial/full accommodation.
  • the organization has a duty to accommodate members when required.
  • occupying a “civilian-focused” position can act as a respite for officers who require it physically or mentally. The desired intent is for this to be temporary and for the member to return to front-line duties.

What are the challenges associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers?

  • less continuity in the position as sworn personnel often rotate out quickly
  • less experience in certain fields (e.g. human resources, budget, planning)
  • police association would challenge this situation.
  • instability for work area due to turnover/transfers
  • return to full duties for those on accommodations
  • motivational factors
  • sworn members’ policing skills are subject to degradation, so it can be a challenge to reintegrate sworn members back to front-line duties after serving in “civilian-focused” duties for too long.
  • some sworn members develop a preference for “civilian” positions, and it can be a challenge to motivate them back to front-line duties.

Appendix B – Interview Guide and Consent Form

Civilianization of Police in Canada: An Examination of Benefits, Costs and Challenges
Survey Questionnaire

Public Safety Canada is studying the use of civilianization by Canadian police services to better understand the benefits, costs, and challenges associated with using civilians in positions traditionally staffed by sworn officers and/or as support or contracted staff for new duties in police services. The term “civilian” refers to full-time or contract employees that are not sworn police officers. Included are individuals working in the following areas: (1) administration (e.g. clerical support); (2) uniformed services, (e.g. traffic control, detention); (3) investigative assistance or investigations (e.g. crime scene investigations); and (4) specialized support (e.g. information technology). This project is supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Association of Police Governance, and the Canadian Police Association. Results will be publicly disseminated through the Shared Forward agenda on the Economics of Policing and Community Safety website.

Project objectives are as follows:

Public Safety Canada has contracted with Compliance Strategy Group (CSG), to conduct this study. CSG has expertise in quantitative and qualitative research and an extensive publication record in the area of policing. CSG has selected your police service to seek information on civilianization and its consequences. It would be appreciated if CSG could interview individuals responsible for civilian staff. As this responsibility varies with different police services, we are relying on your expertise to identify suitable individuals for interview. Before an interview is conducted, a prospective interviewee will be asked to sign a letter of consent that includes a statement explaining the purpose of the study and how information gathered will be safeguarded.

As we encourage a collaborative approach to responding to the information in the survey, please share our survey guide with others who would be appropriate respondents. The survey attempts to address a broad range of issues and challenges pertaining to the topic of civilianization. If you are unable to answer particular questions because they are not relevant to the circumstances of your police service just move on to the next question.

CSG has the required security clearances to conduct sensitive research; any information gathered from your police service will be treated in strict confidence. Data will be analyzed in aggregate form so as not to specifically identify any individual or police service and all data and documents collected will be securely stored. Once the study is completed it will be distributed to those involved in the interviews. It will also be posted on Public Safety Canada’s website.

We look forward to your participation in this important study. Please forward any names directly to myself, President and Chief Research Officer of CSG, my email is or I can also be contacted at (613) 724-3857. If you have any questions regarding the project, you may also contact Mr. Anton Maslov, Policy Research Advisor, Research Division, Community Safety and Countering Crime Branch, Public Safety Canada at (613) 990-6117, or by email at

Sincerely yours,
John Kiedrowski, M.A., CRM.

Attachment: Survey Questionnaire


A. Interviewee Information

The first questions focus on the interview and corresponding police organisation.


a) Name of Individual Completing Interview:

b) Position:

c) Name of Police Service


c) Direct Contact Telephone Number:

(  )

e) Email address:

B. Civilianization Information

The following questions focus on general information with regard to civilian (non-sworn) staff and the positions they occupy within your police service.

  1. What was the number of sworn police personnel authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014?
  2. What was the number of civilian positions authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014?
  3. Are there other classes of personnel performing work in your police service, such as contract employees (e.g. Commissionaires) on December 31, 2014?
    1. If yes, what are these positions?
    2. What was the number of these contract positions authorized (or actual) on December 31, 2014?
  4. As of December 31, 2014, how many non-sworn and sworn police positions were there in the following areas of operations or departments?
    1. Administration (e.g., clerical and administrative support, departmental errands, financial administration, human resources, fleet management, material/corporate management)
      non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
    2. Uniformed Services (e.g., traffic control, parking enforcement, by-law enforcement, community patrol, community relations, media, crime prevention, business and residential security checks, target hardening, vandalism control, youth programming, taking calls for service, providing support at special events)
      non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
      1. Detention/Cell Block/Prisoner Transportation
        non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
      2. Community Service Officers (e.g., by law enforcement, traffic, community patrol/special constables)
        non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
    3. Investigative Assistance (e.g., forensic scientists, forensic accountants, crime scene investigators/ analysts, court and cell block security staff, staff involved in the transport of detainees)
      non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
    4. Specialized Support (e.g., dispatch, specialists in the disposal of explosives, specialized information technologists, criminal intelligence analysts, legal practitioners; research and evaluation analysts, victim support officers, social workers (e.g., those involved in child protection issues); registered nurses (e.g., those trained to make on-site assessments and other interventions for people with psychiatric problems)
      non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
    5. Other areas where non-sworn and sworn personnel are employed (Please specify)
      non-sworn: __________ sworn: ______________
  5. How are civilian jobs in the four general areas of civilianization noted above classified under current collective agreements? (Please provide a copy of your most recent collective agreement)?
  6. Are there civilian employees carrying out duties usually reserved for sworn personnel mandated by statute or regulation?
    1. If yes, what are these positions?
  7. Are there civilian employees not covered by collective agreements?
    1.  If so which ones? (e.g., management, contract positions)

C. Efficiency and Effectiveness of Civilianization

These questions attempt to understand civilianization in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

  1. Has your police service ever conducted an operational review that identifies civilian positions currently being performed by sworn members?
    1. If yes, may we please have a copy of the report?
  2. Please provide any recent examples where civilians have replaced sworn officers?
    1. List the jobs or positions where this took place.
    2. What rationales were provided to replace civilians with sworn police officers?
    3. Were cost analyses used to support this decision?
  3. Have civilians been recently hired to occupy new positions that could potentially have been occupied by sworn police officers?
    1. List these positions:
    2. What rationales were provided for hiring civilians rather than sworn police officers?
    3. Were cost analyses used to support decisions?
  4. Are civilians employed in specialized investigative areas of policing, for example, fraud, cyber-crime, and proceeds of crime or money laundering?
    1. If yes, how many?
    2. In what specific areas?
    3. Are these persons hired under contract or as full time/part time staff?
  5. Are sworn police officers employed in specialized areas of policing such as cyber-crime, proceeds of crime, fraud or economic crimes?
    1. If yes, how many sworn police officers?
    2. In what specific areas?
    3. Are these officers working under an assignment or in a regular position? Explain.
  6. Are civilian contractors employed in specialized areas of policing such as cyber-crime, proceeds of crime, fraud or economic crimes?
    1. If yes, how many contractors?
    2. In what specific areas?
  7. Please list any specific costs of deploying civilians in police services? (e.g., training costs, other organizational supports).
  8. Please provide supporting documents to help us better understand your comments. (e.g., job descriptions, training schedules for civilians or the type of training civilians receive, or training budget for civilian compared to sworn police officers).

D. Costs and Benefits Associated with Civilianization

The following questions focus on the costs and benefits of employing civilians.

  1. Has your police service calculated the costs/savings of employing civilians or non-sworn in duties potentially or previously performed by sworn personnel? (This can be measured in actual dollars or per full time equivalent)?
    1. If yes, may we have copies of these reports?
    2. If yes, please describe the approach used to conduct this assessment or review?
  2. Have there ever been assessments or reviews conducted in your police service that examined reducing police officers’ time by assigning those tasks to a civilian employee? (e.g., community engagement, media relations, or operating an automobile collision centre)?
    1. If yes, may we have copies of this report?
    2. If yes, can you describe the approach used to conduct this assessment or review?
  3. Have there ever been assessments or reviews conducted in your police service that examined reducing police officers’ time by assigning those tasks to contractors? (e.g., forensic chartered accountants)?
    1. If yes, may we have copies of this report?
    2. If yes, can you describe the approach used to conduct this assessment or review?
  4. Please provide any supporting documents to help better understand your comments on the costs and benefits of civilianization (e.g., case studies or reports, cost assessments).
  5. What are the benefits of employing civilians in police services? List these below.
  6. What are the benefits of employing contractors in police services? List these below.

E. Civilian Positions in Police Services

The following questions focus on the civilian components of policing.

  1. List below the challenges encountered in incorporating civilians into your police service?
  2. Have there been unforeseen outcomes of hiring civilian employees? (e.g., higher than anticipated costs in training or salaries)
  3. Are sworn police officers transferred into civilian positions?
    1. If yes, under what circumstances does this happen and how? (e.g., promotion, job satisfaction, reclassification of the position) Please include assignment to light duties and/or accommodation.
  4. What are the reasons why sworn police officers are occupying civilian positions (e.g., illness, injury, accommodations, and partial suspensions of duties)? List these below.
  5. What are the challenges associated with civilian positions being occupied by sworn police officers? List these below.
    1.  Does your police service have any special policies regarding these situations? If yes, may we please have a copy of these policies?

F. General Questions

The following six general questions are intended to give you an opportunity to provide further insight into civilianization in your police service.

  1. Is success in non-sworn uniformed positions a regular pathway to sworn officer positions?
  2. Is your police service planning on increasing the proportion of civilian personnel?
  3. Does your police service favour hiring employees on term contracts (e.g., from the Corps of Commissionaires) rather than hiring civilians full-time to occupy uniformed roles such as front-desk reception?
  4. Does your police service use uniformed positions to hire candidates from ethno cultural groups under-represented in sworn positions (e.g., Aboriginal, African-Canadians) in order to build bridges with the communities of which they are a part?
  5. Finally, do you have any other comments regarding police civilianization you would like to address?
  6. Please provide supporting documents to help us better understand your comments? (e.g., case studies, costing analyses, civilian agreements, job descriptions, human resource policies, collective bargaining agreements, organizational reviews that focus on civilianization of any uniformed police positions, job descriptions and internal job satisfaction surveys, annual reports).

Thank you for taking time to participate in this project. Your input is much appreciated.

Letter of Consent

I understand I have agreed to participate in the research project entitled: “Civilianization of Police in Canada: Examination of Benefits & Challenges.” I understand the purposes of this project are: to empirically assess the benefits and the challenges associated with civilianization of police in at least four police services; to quantify the economic costs and benefits of two examples from each of the four types of civilianization within police organizations in terms of actual savings achieved; to provide empirical evidence of non-economic benefits of each of the four types of civilianization within police organizations; and to discuss challenges associated with the civilianization process in various police jurisdictions.

I understand my participation will involve a telephone interview of approximately 30 minutes with a researcher working for Compliance Strategy Group (CSG). I understand that the researcher will take notes from the interview and that I may also be asked to provide supplementary documentation (reports, minutes of meetings, etc.). Any information collected will be stored in a locked cabinet; computer files will be stored on a secure computer drive. Only CSG will have access to the raw interview materials. The raw interview material and related documentation will be destroyed once the report is finalized.

There are no foreseeable risks or harms to participants in this research project. The benefits of my participation include having my personal views regarding this issue heard and reflected in a report used to contribute to the overall discussion on police performance metrics in Canada. The report will be shared with stakeholders and will be a public document.

I understand that my participation will be anonymous and any comments I make will not be attributed to me personally and will be made anonymous in the presentation of the material. The analysis of information will be at an aggregate level to further ensure anonymity of the interviewee.

I understand I may ask questions about the research before, during, and after the interview.

I understand that my participation is voluntary, that I may decline to answer any question, or ask to stop the interview at any time, and there will be no adverse consequences to me or my organization.
I have read and understood the information contained herein and, by signing, I consent to participate in the research.


Name (please print) 

Please scan the signed document and send it to or it can be faxed by first calling John Kiedrowski at 613 724 3857 (fax number is 613 724 3891).
Alternatively, you can send your consent to participate by cutting and pasting the following statement and include it in the main body of the email message.

I (type in name of person) read and understood the information contained in the letter of consent for the project entitled, “Civilianization of Police in Canada: Examination of Benefits & Challenges.” I consent to participate in the research. I reviewed the letter of consent on (type in date), 2016.

For more information regarding the project, please contact
John Kiedrowski, President and CEO
Compliance Strategy Group
Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 3l8
Tel 613 724 3857 or cell at 613 851 2056


  1. 1

    Civilianization refers to the hiring of non-sworn personnel by police services to augment or replace the corps of sworn police officers.

  2. 2

    For the purposes of this paper, economic benefit refers to the amount of net saving for policing services.

  3. 3

    Including RCMP HQ and training facility staff.

  4. 4

    Editor’s note: An updated “Police Resources in Canada” was released as this document was being prepared for publication. Trends in 2015 were similar to those in 2014, so no revisions were made to the text.

  5. 5

    The 1988 survey reported that of the 53,312 police officers in Canada, 1,564 (3%) were dedicated to drug enforcement functions – a small decrease from 1987. Other major policing functions in 1988 were patrol and general duties (58%), general criminal investigation (10%), and administrative (non-operational) duties (11%).

  6. 6

    Jones (1994: 167) reports the Home Office definition of a “police staff” member as “a person employed by a police force and who is not a police officer or a special constable...” and of “civilianisation” as “the deployment of civilians in any capacity whether or not the work was once performed by a police officer.”

  7. 7

    In 1979, the Home Office introduced Circular 75/1979, in an attempt to set levels for civilianization, but it was subsequently withdrawn (Jones et al., 1994). The Home Office plays a key role in the determination of police officer staffing levels. Police authorities submit bids annually to the Home Office for increases in police officer establishment; which can be accepted or rejected wholly or in part.

  8. 8

    Davis et al. report their source for this loss of personnel as Crime in the United States, 2008-2012. “Full-time Law Enforcement Employees by population group.” Retrieved from:

  9. 9

    Personal Correspondence, February 7, 2015. See also the National Forensic Academy,

  10. 10

    E-mail correspondence with Chief of Police David Rausch, February 7, 2015.

  11. 11

    See: Branded ‘plastic police’, Cambridgeshire PCSOs here to stay after ground breaking review - but are they worth it?, Cambridge News (March 5, 2014) [Accessed March 10, 2015] Ford Rojas, J.P., “Beat bobbies to be replaced by 'plastic police,” The Telegraph (April 13, 2012) [Accessed, March 5, 2015].
    Sansom, K., Community officers are not “plastic police” say union officials, Wisbech Standard (March 4, 2014) [Accessed March 6, 2015]

  12. 12

    David Blunkett was the Home Secretary who introduced the PCSO in 2002.

  13. 13

    The Circular emphasized the need for civilianization and attempted to illustrate what duties civilians may perform such as clerical and administrative tasks, scenes of crime work, data entry and processing, driving and physical training, vehicle maintenance, research and security of premises. For further information on the Home Office Circular 105-1988 “Civilian Staff in the Police Services,” see Boyd et al. (2015:85).

  14. 14

    Under the Equality Act 2010, police services are required to make reasonable adjustments so that disabled officers are not at a disadvantage relative to their fellow officers. This affects the options open to police managers in deciding which roles an officer on restricted duties can perform (see Boyd et al., 2011)..

  15. 15

    A follow up email from a representative of the Vancouver Police Department noted that the majority of positions identified in the Griffith and colleagues report were changed based on that individual’s understanding of the proposed changes. Source: Personal Correspondence.

  16. 16

    The costing formula for the OPP’s contracts is established by a regulation under the Police Services Act and approved by Treasury Board. Direct costs represent about 80 percent of the formula and are updated annually based on actual salaries and benefits paid to officers, including all increases negotiated as part of collective agreements. Other support and operating costs making up the rest of the formula are based on provincial average costs calculated periodically and applied based on the number of officers assigned to the municipality. The cost per officer to municipalities for both direct and other support and operating costs increased from approximately $122,200 in 2007 to $144,000 in 2011, or 18%. See Auditor General of Ontario (2012: 248).

  17. 17

    Guthrie (2010) in a review of sick leave in New South Wales noted that the sick leave rates of civilian staff were similar to those of sworn police officers.

  18. 18

    Effectiveness is the meeting of operational goals. Efficiency compares the unit costs of so doing.

  19. 19

    The Police Services Act (Ontario) Section 47 requires employers to accommodate the needs of officers who become disabled. Police officers may also receive benefits for illness (including stress-related burnout) or injuries through the employer’s group insurance benefits.

  20. 20

    Hamilton Police Association v. Hamilton Police Services Board, 2005 Can LII 20788 (ON SCDC); [2005] OJ No 2357 (QL); 200 OAC 7

  21. 21

    Out of scope employees are employees whose position is excluded from the hours of work provisions of provincial labour legislation.

  22. 22

    Hamilton Police Association v. Hamilton Police Services Board, 2005 Can LII 20788 (ON SCDC); [2005] OJ No 2357 (QL); 200 OAC 7

  23. 23

    Editor’s note: Public Safety Canada coordinates a searchable database containing innovative initiatives submitted by police services and governments from across Canada, called “The Index of Policing Initiatives.” It can be found on-line at:

  24. 24

    Editor’s note: The Public Safety Canada report “The Use of Private Security for Policing” by Ruth Montgomery and Curt Griffiths (2016) examines the intersections between private security and public policing, with an emphasis on those functions that private security are now performing that have traditionally been performed by the public police, as well as cooperative efforts between public police and private security.

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