Doug Ford wants to boost police ranks by lowering the education requirements for officers

Ontario is lowering the bar for becoming a cop.

In an effort to attract people into policing amid a shortage of officers, Ontario wants to drop the requirement that potential constables have a post-secondary education, Premier Doug Ford says.

The controversial plan comes just weeks after the inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting that claimed 22 lives in Nova Scotia recommended the Royal Canadian Mounted Police create a three-year, degree-based model of police education.

“Police forces are telling us recruitment can be challenging,” Ford told a news conference Tuesday at the Toronto police college in Etobicoke, where he also announced free tuition and an increase in the number of recruits for the Ontario Police College in Aylmer.

The timing of the announcement is “strange” given the Nova Scotia inquiry recommendations and trends in the increasingly complex field of policing, but it’s unlikely Ontario will see a flood of constables fresh out of high school, said a police reform expert at the University of Toronto.

Research suggests police officers with university or college degrees have greater communication, problem-solving and social skills and are less likely to use force or get into disciplinary trouble, assistant professor Julius Haag said.

That makes it likely such candidates will be the preferred candidates for policing jobs at a time when police conduct is under intense scrutiny.

“I don’t see this dramatically changing how police are hiring,” said Haag.


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