Ecotonos Integrated Into Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cadet Training Program

Dr. Frum Himelfarb & Sergeant Mike Gaudet, RCMP Training Directorate

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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has found Ecotonos to be an effective tool in sensitizing cadets in its basic training program to the potential benefits and challenges of problem solving in diverse groups. In addition, Ecotonos provides cadets with the skills needed to address any challenges in arriving at quality solutions and effective police service.

Cadets in the RCMP are representative of the diverse groups in Canada. While in training, they learn team building, conflict resolution, negotiation, and mediation techniques. These skills are essential to the many team problem-solving sessions they participate in as part of their training. These techniques are also essential to productive problem-solving initiatives on policing-related issues in the communities they will serve.

The RCMP made substantial changes to its basic training program in 1995. The program, now called the RCMP Cadet Training Program, was designed to be consistent with the RCMP mission:

Community policing is a partnership between the police and the community, sharing in the delivery of police services. With this valuable community cooperation, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police pledges to:

  • uphold the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
  • provide a professional standard of service;
  • ensure all policing services are provided courteously and impartially;
  • work with the community and other agencies to prevent or resolve problems that affect the community's safety and quality of life;
  • act with the Canadian justice system to address community problems; and
  • promote a creative and responsive environment to allow all RCMP members to deliver community policing services.

The approach used in the Training Program is guided by the principles of community policing and adult learning. It emphasizes the philosophy and principles of community policing; problem-solving approaches; service and client orientation; development and maintenance of partnerships and alliances in the context of diversity; and continuous learning and improvement.

To that end, various training methodologies are used in the Cadet Training Program, including scenario-based training (problem-solving exercises), role plays, lectures, panel discussions, research, presentations, and community interaction. The training scenarios address answering calls for assistance from individuals and communities; calls to incidents in progress; investigations of incidents after a crime has been committed; appropriate interactions with suspects and prisoners; and expected performance when giving testimony in court. In each case, expectations and demands of the diverse clients served are explored with a view to providing client-centered service. Throughout this process, cadets learn approaches and techniques for providing effective protection, prevention, enforcement, and service.

The Cadet Training Program uses a variety of training aids, such as Ecotonos, to demonstrate that diversity issues are integral to effective policing. The emphasis in the Ecotonos exercise is on making decisions based on listening to and respecting diverse views. Cadets are cautioned that productive problem solving requires a focus on arriving at acceptable and workable solutions to problems, not accommodating diverse views for the sake of achieving consensus. The exercise is followed by a session in which cadets attend town hall and consultative group meetings to analyze, on the basis of criteria provided, how effective the sessions were and how they might have been improved. Cadets then participate in a role play of a community consultative group meeting, where they practice techniques learned in diverse group problem solving. Later, cadets form a consultative group with appropriate experts from the community; together, they problem solve a bias-motivated crime situation.

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