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Better Together: Collaboration in Police Training Development


CPKN is a long-time advocate for enhancing collaboration to address common training needs within the Canadian police community. The newly released Methamphetamine and the Precursor Control Regulation course is a compelling example for why the community needs to double down on collaborative approaches for developing training that supports an exceptionally complex policing environment.

“We know that one size does not fit all in Canadian policing,” says Sandy Sweet, President of CPKN. “But we also know communities across the country are struggling with many of the same issues. There are numerous intersections where police services are relying on the same information so members can perform their work safely and effectively.”

Methamphetamine is one of those issues of common concern. In 2017-2018, the Canada Border Services Agency reported a 333% increase in methamphetamine seizures. And despite the proverbial wrench that COVID-19 has thrown into the global drug trade, producers and traffickers are still hard at work: in December 2020, Alberta CBSA officers diverted a record-breaking 2.28 million doses of methamphetamine from hitting Canadian streets. Notwithstanding law enforcement’s successes, methamphetamine is pervasive.

“Methamphetamine is one of the most significant commodities within organized crime. It’s cheap, it’s abundant, and it’s gaining ground in communities throughout Canada,” says Superintendent Bryan MacKillop, a Director of OPP’s Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau and a member of the Canadian Integrated Response to Organized Crime (CIROC). “The more informed officers and other frontline personnel are about the indicators that characterize meth operations, the better our chance to disrupt the supply chain.”

The one-hour Methamphetamine course was produced in partnership with CIROC and in consultation with CACP’s Drug Advisory Committee. Designed for frontline officers and other enforcement personnel, it addresses indicators of methamphetamine production, production methods, precursor chemicals, and investigative strategies. The course will play a supporting role in CIROC’s national strategy to disrupt the supply of methamphetamine in Canada.

“Producing more learning resources that can be used by any police or enforcement agency in the country is a win-win on so many levels,” says Sweet. “The efficiency, economy, and long-term sustainability of a collaborative model cannot be overstated.”

A collaborative approach to producing training like the Methamphetamine course generates critical value in key areas:

Access to Expertise

Ensuring police have access to reliable, up-to-date training to deal with increasingly diverse and changing issues is a challenge for every police service. In some cases in-house expertise may be available, but training programs are often developed in between other assignments and responsibilities. In other cases, police services will not have ready access to the level of expertise required. In partnering with CIROC, CPKN tapped into a national network of expertise from which all police services will benefit.

The Economy of Collaboration

Producing and maintaining in-house training is a significant drain on training budgets, and not all police services—particularly smaller services—have the resources to maintain a training curriculum that can keep pace with continually evolving crime and policing trends. Collaborative training development not only expands access to expertise but reduces the financial load on individual police services—in fact CPKN courses are developed and maintained at no cost to police services.

Training to a Common Standard

There’s growing consensus within the Canadian police sector that role-based competencies and training to a consistent standard—regardless of service, province, or region—is critical to sustainable policing. For issues like methamphetamine production, ensuring all officers are working from a consistent knowledge base—that can be built upon or adapted according to service-specific needs— adds value at all levels, from individual officers to the communities they serve.

Leveling the Learning Field

A recent survey of police services, which examined training related to how police officers engage citizens and the communities they serve[1], revealed a fundamental problem in the distribution of training across the policing sector. In some cases, there was significant overlap in available training, with minimal sharing between police agencies and significant duplication of effort in producing training on the same issues. In other cases, access to training was disproportionate—some agencies reported no or sub-optimal training on issues that other agencies had ‘exemplary’ programming. Putting greater focus on producing nationally-relevant training like the Methamphetamine course will increase access to high quality learning resources across the board and enable individual services to invest their efforts on producing supplementary resources to support local operations.

Canadian policing is in the midst of unprecedented times. The continually evolving criminal landscape, BLM, Defund the Police, and the economic fallout of the pandemic are all driving substantial changes not only in what police are doing, but how they are doing it.

“Greater collaboration will play a significant role how the police community navigates the road ahead,” says Sweet. “We can’t always predict what’s coming down the line, but we can be sure that we’ll be all the more prepared if we’re working together.”




[1] This 2020 project of the Canadian Association of Chiefs’ Police Human Resource and Learning Committee and CPKN surveyed police services across Canada to inventory existing training related to how police officers engage citizens and the communities they serve. Motivated by the Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police movements, as well as the operational challenges and inevitable economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a need to obtain better information about existing training resources, to identify gaps in training, and to create the means for greater collaboration, efficiency, and consistency in training development across the sector.