Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It’s not a decision or career move, it’s a calling.

Once in your life you may feel a great sense of responsibility. Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel called this duty. “the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century -- solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community.” Marcus Aurelius, last of the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome and, a brilliant philosopher, did not regard this as duty but love. The meek will quote Frederick Buechner “a calling is the place where your deepest gladness meets the world's deepest need.” The truth about a calling is that you don’t do it because you have to, someone asks it of you, you do it because you truly want to. The motivation to become a police constable is of you.

Great; I now know what I want to do, where do I sign? Unlike military recruitment efforts, joining a police service is precursor with standardized testing. In Ontario you must first provide an Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) certificate of results (COR) before you can even apply. Once you have your OACP COR and apply, you will have to complete one or two competency interviews (ECI and/or DCI) in addition to a local focus interview. If you’re successful with all of the above you will have a written psychological interview and then an interview. This entire process is known as the Constable Selection System, it is standardized and implemented in all of Ontario since February of 1998 (with a few exceptions, including Peel Regional Police). The interesting thing about the Constable Selection System is that you can obtain your Certificate of Results from either the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) or Applicant Testing Services (ATS) www.applicanttesting.com. Keep in mind the testing is no different with either and they will both charge you the same fee.

So, who do I recommend you test with? Whoever has the most convenient test date and closest date location to you! I know guys who tested with ATS and applied to the OPP and were hired, it really doesn’t matter who you test with. What does matter though is the attention you pay to when you take your tests. Of course you want to be prepared to write your tests and feel confident in knowing the material but the most important thing about submitting your police application is timing. What I mean by timing is it’s wise for you to submit your application within a specific window of time to coincide with the hiring waves. As once you are hired you will be sent to Aylmer, Ontario home of the Ontario Police College (OPC) where you will undergo basic constable training. If you want to try and be hired for a September semester at OPC you absolutely must have your application package submitted for early June. For a January start at OPC have your application in by September. Finally, for a semester start of May you need to have your application in early January. Three months does seem like a lot of lead time but keep in mind you must wait for your resume/application to be processed, you must have a competency interview, a local focus interview, be subject to a psychological written test and one on one meeting in addition to having a medical and background clearance. As if all this wasn’t enough there is one time line you have to keep in the back of your head, your OACP COR. Each test you took expires and you must retest completely in order to update your certificate. This will not cause a problem for most people as the average expiration time is three years except for the Physical Readiness Evaluation for Police (PREP) which expires every six months. Every portion including your PREP must be fully maintained and up to do date from the day you apply to the day you go to OPC. So, be mindful of when you take your tests, you need to start the testing process at least two months before you plan on applying, if you have recently had laser eye surgery or plan on having laser eye surgery you need to start the testing process three months before you plan on applying as a small amount of paperwork spaced by a mandatory 28 day and 30 day waiting period must be filled out. No, there is no chance of this paperwork being filled out faster. Don’t worry, I tried myself and to my dismay it withheld my own COR delaying my application submission timeline.

I know some, if not all of these seem like great hurdles to overcome but there are many resources out there to help you and ultimately what it comes down to is applying yourself, putting the man hours into studying, exercising and simply having the passion to pull yourself through this process. In saying that, I highly recommend the services of John Belisle. He is a former Peel Regional Police member who now teaches at the Brantford Campus of Mohawk College. You will meet him on the training day that Test Ready Pro offers. At this event he has an in depth analysis of the competencies and interviewing. John offers his service as a private tutor/mentor to students. Try using John as a tutor for one of your areas that you’re having difficulty, in my case it was the WCT. (the WCT material on testreadypro.com is John’s formula that I followed for a pass on my WCT!) You will be receiving guidance from a person who really knows how to motivate his students to success. I started this blog off with motivational quotes from great people, I want to finish this weeks blog by saying I know this isn’t an easy process, the only thing easy about it is getting discouraged. If you’re pursuing this career because of a calling, don’t give up, whether you fail a test or tests, you can re-test, you have the resources before you, challenge yourself every day whether it be some math questions/problems you figure out on your lunch break, a jog every night before dinner, read a chapter from a novel before bed to improve your communication skills. Whatever it is that will help your weak areas or fine tune your good areas, do it. Don’t stop that momentum, moving towards your dream.

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