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Summerside police try a new recruiting strategy: $10K in tuition

Jason Blacquiere, Summerside's deputy police chief, says it's become more difficult to fill vacancies in the past few years. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Jason Blacquiere, Summerside's deputy police chief, says it's become more difficult to fill vacancies in the past few years. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

Kenny Gillis wasn't sure he wanted to be a police officer, but when he saw that Summerside Police Services would pay $10,000 of his tuition, it made the decision easier.

"It's a huge relief to know that when I graduate here in August from the police academy, that the door is open," he said.

Deputy Chief Jason Blacquiere said the idea is to recruit the students before they begin training.

The money will help pay for them to attend the Atlantic Police Academy, if they agree to work in Summerside for five years.

A few years ago, Summerside police would receive dozens of applications for a single job posting. That doesn't happen these days, Blacquiere said.

"There is a need now. We can't really rely on the academy to turn out recruits that aren't already spoken for, like we used to in the past. And most of the cadets now that show up at the academy… already have sort of a process in place with their home agency.

"And so that's the path that we've chosen now as well."

Tuition at the police academy would normally cost about $32,000. It's one reason Prabhjot Kaur Uppal, another cadet, jumped at the chance to join the sponsorship program.

"It's just right there as soon as you graduate, your job is right there. It takes away the financial stress, financial burden, and looking for a job after."

Applications until Feb. 9

Summerside has a few vacancies to fill after some recent retirements, Blacquiere said.

Gillis, a volunteer firefighter in Miscouche, said he's happy to fill one of those vacancies while staying so close to home.

"I am a homebody and I do like Prince Edward Island," he said.

Uppal, who was born in India, is excited to bring some diversity to the force and the community.

"I always had that in my mind, that I wanted to be a police officer, and then looking up to the community when you see police officers helping out in the community, that convinced me to be a police officer too."

Summerside Police Services is accepting applications for the sponsorship program until Feb. 9.