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Knowledge is power: Unleashing the potential of youth in policing


After four action-packed days, 40 youth recruits graduated from the 9th annual Youth Recruit Academy.

After four action-packed days immersed in the world of a recruit constable, 40 youth recruits graduated from the Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS’s) Youth Recruit Academy (YRA) 2023 on Friday.

Marking its ninth event, the School Resource Officer-run (SRO) program works to cultivate a transformative experience that immerses young minds in the dynamic world of policing.

“By acquainting our youth with the intricacies of law enforcement, we are equipping them not only with the knowledge of what goes into policing but providing them with a better understanding of the challenges faced by our communities,” said YRA Coordinator and EPS SRO Constable Amanda Hinks.

“This opportunity not only prepares them for a future in law enforcement but also nurtures their sense of civic responsibility.”

Youth recruits conduct a fingerprinting activity with IDENT.

The YRA gives youths in Grades 10, 11 or 12 interested in pursuing a career in policing or learning more about law enforcement a small look into what it takes to fill the boots of an EPS recruit constable.

Youth recruits (YRs) were exposed to various Units within EPS this year, from the Tactical Unit, where they witnessed demonstrations of their equipment, to the Disaster and Emergency Operations Planning Section (DEOPS) and Public Safety Unit, where they learned the art of community protections, to the Crime Scene Investigation Unit (IDENT), where they took a deep dive into the world of forensics, and finally, to the Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership (HELP) team, where they discovered the true essence of building trust and fostering positive relationships with those our members serve.

YRA participants try to master their movements wearing the Impaired Driving Unit’s impairment goggles.

For YRA participant Khush Singh, who emigrated from Dubai several years ago, the experience has only fueled his desire to pursue a career in policing.

“I think I could bring so much to this role,” said Singh. “The Dubai Police are so helpful and so willing. They do everything they can to help a person, no matter how big or small it might seem. They treat you like family. Your problem is their problem. I want to help my community in that way. No problem is too small to help.”

It’s hands-on learning at its finest. Through interactive exercises, engaging simulations, and mentorship from sworn and civilian members, the youth recruits gained invaluable insights into the multifaceted aspects of law enforcement and the dedication it takes to keep the community safe.

“It was brilliant!” said Ritchie Higgins, Senior Adult Volunteer with the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) group in Dundee, Scotland. “It was great to see all the different varieties of departments coming in. We get that back home, but it’s not as advanced.”

Ritchie Higgins, a Senior Adult Volunteer with the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV) group in Dundee, Scotland, spent the four-day week shadowing the YRA.

Higgins, who resided and worked in Canada from 2017 to 2019 on a working travel permit with International Experience Canada, helps run Scotland’s PSYV Dundee chapter, a program established in 2014 for young people aged between 13 and 17 that connect youth to community service and engagement opportunities. There are over 50 PSYV groups scattered across Scotland. With 24-25 youths placed in each.

“Before I went home in 2019, I saw the EPS Cadet Program here, and I wanted to see what it was like,” explained Higgins, who took time from his return trip to Canada to shadow YRA for the week. 

“I understand the cadet program hopes to get back up and running again soon. But then I saw this Academy, the Youth Recruit Academy, so I wanted to see what that was like, to see if there was anything they did differently that we could take back home.”

Every moment was infused with fun and excitement, ensuring an unforgettable adventure for the YRs, from team-building challenges to problem-solving activities; the SROs work to create an environment where learning becomes an exhilarating journey and provides intimate insight into what a career in policing can offer.

“Try it,” said YRA graduate Yerom Wodajo. “Even if you don’t want to go into policing, it’s worth seeing and learning what policing is about. You take away so much and meet so many new people.”