It’s not every day that a student gets to test drive the Use of Force program with the Hamilton Police Service. However, it seemed like a natural environment for Melissa Bezemer, Hamilton District Christian High (HDCH) Grade 12 student, to experiment with a career in Law Enforcement.
After taking Law at HDCH, Melissa realized that this field is exactly where she wanted her career path to go, and she thought that a co-op placement might help her to build confidence as she explored her chosen profession. Richard VanEgmond, HDCH Director of Co-op and Venture, helped Melissa to narrow down some possibilities in the Hamilton region and set up the interview process for this highly competitive program. Once Melissa was accepted, she began to form relationships with the officers as she started her formal training.
“There was so much to love about this placement,” beams Melissa. “The thing that I enjoyed most was definitely the interactions that I had on a daily basis with Hamilton Police Officers. Whether I was chatting with one of the Use of Force Instructors on our down time, getting advice from the sworn officers who come in for training, or simply following orders, I have already been able to learn so much about what it means to be a Police Officer from the conversations I have had.”
The Use of Force program with the Hamilton Police Service usually has two students each semester; one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Selected students get a unique look at the internal workings of Training Officers and Policing in general. They must have integrity, an excellent work ethic and the ability to work independently.
“The Hamilton Police Service benefits from the contributions that students make in maintaining the program by assisting with either the setup and teardown of training materials or participating in the training itself,” says Sergeant Scott Galbraith, Melissa’s supervisor. “I believe the community benefits by having members gain a more global perspective of the city they live in.”
Aside from general daily duties, Melissa could see firsthand the concepts and principles that are enforced by the Officers. There is a wide range of scenarios and drills that are run by the instructors, which Melissa set up prior to the officers running through them.
“After everything was set up, I was able to observe as officers completed a variety of scenarios that were related to situations that have happened on the streets,” says Melissa. “Without going into too much detail, I was able to see how officers are supposed to deal with the issues that face them through the scenarios that pan out. I was also able to learn a great deal about the use of firearms by watching the officers as they shot on the range. There was always something new to learn through the wide variety of duties that I was asked to participate in.”
According to the Police Service, the Use of Force program would not be sustainable without the contributions of their co-op students. The students are very much members of the team and are treated as such.
“Melissa, in particular, has surpassed the expectations of all the members of the Use of Force Instructor cadre,” says Sergeant Galbraith. “She has demonstrated an attention to detail that is very much appreciated in a student, as it is an attribute we look for in the character of the individual selected for the Instructor program itself. Overall, I have been surprised by Melissa’s personality. I believe she is the most genuine, courteous and generally nice person I have ever met. This semester she worked in an environment where the language and humour among friends are ‘unique.’ Having Melissa in the workplace with us has made all of the members consider their words more carefully and ultimately become more courteous towards each other. She has been a great influence on us.”
Over the summer, Melissa learned that to apply for policing, she would need to pass a strict vision test. Since she has poor vision, Melissa would have to undergo Lasik surgery to pass the vision screening process. However, conversations at her placement have helped to encourage Melissa’s career pursuits. She learned that there are many other types of jobs available, and plans to pursue a diploma in Community and Justice Services after graduation.
Co-op placements are a valuable and rewarding experience for both the student and the employer. Co-op placements provide an excellent opportunity for students to reach “further out” into our community and build relationships with reputable employers. In return, businesses invest in the future by mentoring a students’ professional development.
Please contact Richard VanEgmond (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in hosting a co-op student at your business. We are always looking for new community partners!
HDCH is a registered private school with the Ontario Ministry of Education. Located in Ancaster, Ont., the high school’s mission statement is “Cultivating character through learning for a life of service to God.” Learn more about the school at hdch.org.
This article is sponsored by HDCH.