Police officers "serve and protect" in many ways: patrolling, handling dogs, doing community outreach and investigating.
“To serve and protect” could be the motto of every police force in Quebec. Police officers are very important to society. These are some of the things they do:
- protect the public and prevent crimes
- arrest people who commit crimes
- gather evidence to use in court against people accused of crimes
Police officers must respect people’s rights, especially the rights of people they arrest.
Police officers work in different kinds of police forces: municipal police departments, the Sûreté du Québec (provincial police) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
There are many different jobs in a police department. Most police officers start as patrol officers. Later, they can become community officers, firearms instructors, dog handlers or investigators. Investigators can specialize in accidents, murders, technological crimes, etc.
Patrol officers are often involved in dangerous situations. They must be able to handle stress and make good decisions quickly.They must also be firm so that people will obey the law.
Investigators have a talent for finding and analyzing information. They must also be perseverant, that is be patient and not give up easily. An investigation in real life takes a lot longer than in a 60-minute television show!
- respond to emergencies, such as when people call the police or 911 to report a crime or when they’re in danger
- write tickets and arrest suspects
- write reports, for example,after giving someone a ticket or arresting a suspect. Police officers must be able to justify their actions if anyone challenges them.
- be visible to the community, for example, patrolling by car
- raise public awareness of why it’s important to obey the law
- build ties with the community, in schools, with seniors and in cultural communities
Investigators gather the evidence needed to convict suspects of crimes. These are some of their duties:
- question witnesses and suspects at the police station or elsewhere
- examine the scene of a crime or accident
- build a file that can be used in court
Investigators also try to predict crimes before they happen by using their knowledge of criminal activity.
Patrol officers spend most of their time outside the police station, in contact with the public. Investigators spend a lot of time at the station. They often work outside the office as well.
These are the usual requirements for becoming a police officer in Quebec:
- CEGEP diploma in police technology, and
- training at the École nationale de police (Quebec police academy)
You can also become a police officer with a university degree or a vocational CEGEP diploma in another field, such as criminology or computer science. If you haven’t studied police technology, you must get a job offer from a police department and then complete the following training:
- a 30-week Attestation of College Studies (ACS) in police technology, and
- training at the École nationale de police.
Another option is to work first for the RCMP and then apply for a job in a Quebec police department.
The RCMP has different requirements:
- high school diploma
- six-month training program at the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan
Graduates must be willing to work anywhere in Canada.
Police officers’ salaries are usually set in their union contract. Almost all police officers are union members. Their salary increases as they gain seniority and responsibility.
You can check out the salaries and other work conditions of these police forces:
The Sûreté du Québec (provincial police) website (French only) provides hiring information. It also has an online test to see if you have the right skills for becoming a provincial police officer.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has dedicated an entire section of its website to career options in the RCMP.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has published a guide for police officers around the world (PDF). It explains the role of police officers in protecting human rights.