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1992 Report of the Auditor General of Canada

Chapter 23—Royal Canadian Mounted Police—Human Resource Management

Main Points

Introduction

The RCMP is a large diverse organization

The Human Resource Management Challenge

Audit Objective and Scope

Human Resource Planning

The Human Resource Management Strategic Action Plan

Management Information

Civilianization

Recruit Selection

The screening process for recruits is key to the success of the RCMP

The Recruit Selection Test could be improved

The process for interviewing potential recruits needs to be improved

A weak selection process has real consequences

Recruitment data analysis is limited

Training

Training Program Management

Control over standards for training programs is important

Basic Recruit Training and Recruit Field Training Programs

Effective basic recruit training and recruit field training are essential to preparing new recruits for active duty
Opportunities exist to enhance the effectiveness of basic recruit training
The relevance of basic recruit training content is being reviewed
Recruit field training is important
The release of unsuitable recruits is difficult

Official Languages Training for Recruits

Official languages training is a major RCMP focus
Anglophones do not retain their level of proficiency in French

Refresher Training

Members do not receive enough refresher training in some basic policing skills

Member Orientation

The Force provides orientation programs for new recruits and other members

Career Management

Performance Evaluation

There are difficulties with the new performance evaluation system

Promotion

The promotion system does not focus on requirements of future jobs
Promotions are not well supported

Career Information

Employees need more information for "mapping" their careers

Physical and Psychological Health

Physical Abilities

The RCMP has developed a job-related physical ability test that is administered to recruits

Psychological Wellness

The RCMP does not have enough information to assess the overall success of its psychological wellness program

Assistant Auditor General: David Rattray
Responsible Auditor: David Brittain

Main Points

23.1 The management of human resources is the single most important factor in determining overall RCMP effectiveness. Knowledgeable, skilled and motivated individuals of high integrity are essential to effectively serving the Canadian public. These resources account for approximately 80 percent of the RCMP's $1.8 billion operating budget.

23.2 The RCMP operates in an evolving environment that increasingly demands re-examination of the way it conducts its operations and provides its services. The Force has recognized the need for change and has undertaken a series of major initiatives. A critical component of these initiatives has been the fundamental renewal of its human resource management systems and practices. Projects are under way in such key areas as recruitment, training, career management and member health.

23.3 During our audit we identified a number of areas for improvement: human resource planning, recruit selection, recruit training, refresher training and member career management. As stated above, the RCMP was in the process of addressing many of these areas. Given these initiatives and the importance of their success, we will be monitoring the Force's progress in these areas.

Introduction

The RCMP is a large diverse organization
23.4 The RCMP is Canada's largest police force with a total workforce of about 21,000 employees. Some 16,000 uniformed members and 5,000 civilian members and public servants perform a wide variety of law enforcement functions across Canada. Its responsibilities can be grouped into five broad areas: ( see photograph )

  • municipal and provincial police services in 8 provinces, 2 territories and 191 municipalities;
  • the enforcement of federal statutes across Canada in such areas as drugs and commercial crime;
  • protective services in airports and for Canadian and foreign diplomats;
  • specialized services for the Canadian law enforcement community in such areas as criminal records, forensic laboratories, fingerprint identification and police training; and
  • corporate management and administration .
23.5 Approximately 80 percent of the RCMP's $1.8 billion budget is related to human resources. These resources are geographically dispersed across Canada, with a national headquarters and 13 operational divisions - one in each province and territory and one in the National Capital Region. The management of those human resources is the single most important factor in determining overall RCMP effectiveness.

The Human Resource Management Challenge

23.6 Millions of Canadians judge the RCMP by the qualities and conduct of its uniformed members. Knowledgeable, skilled and motivated people of high integrity are essential to effectively serving the Canadian public. For that reason, the way the RCMP selects, trains, deploys, supervises and evaluates its uniformed members is critical to its overall success.

23.7 The Commissioner recognized that the people in the ranks are of critical importance to the Force when he said, "Human resources have always been, and continue to be, the most vital asset of organizations. This is certainly true of the RCMP, which exists only by virtue of the many men and women who deliver the services for which the organization is famous."

23.8 RCMP officers have served Canada well in the past and continue to do so today. However, the Force faces a wide range of human resource challenges and pressures that will affect the overall performance of its duties. Budget restraint, rising public expectations, human rights legislation, increased public scrutiny and changes in the composition and culture of those they serve directly affect all public sector organizations across Canada.

23.9 Some of the pressures the RCMP faces flow from its unique national role. The Force has traditionally placed great value on hierarchy and centralized control. This orientation reflects its central role in Canadian history as a nation-building institution, as well as a need and desire to maintain a national approach to a national police force. At the same time, geographic dispersal, varying roles in different parts of the country and other factors have placed a premium on recognizing local needs. Creating the right balance between meeting regional needs and maintaining national standards and policies has always been an important and delicate task.

23.10 This balance is likely to become more difficult to maintain in the future as Canadian society becomes increasingly diverse. Moreover, the role and make-up of the Force are evolving and diversifying as well. Community-based policing - which involves integrating the police officer into the community to a greater extent and emphasizing crime prevention - is an RCMP priority. So too is the need to create a police force that represents Canadian society in race, gender, and language.

23.11 The RCMP also faces a number of other internal challenges. Its workforce is aging, which has implications for areas such as officer health and turnover. A number of uniformed members' careers are plateauing because of fiscal restraint resulting in fewer promotional opportunities. Restraint and increased demands on policing require that the Force consider further the use of civilians in some uniformed officer positions. Finally, the increased emphasis on employee rights has had an impact on discipline, discharges and grievances.

23.12 Yet another factor that affects human resource management is the Force's long-standing philosophy of moving its personnel to meet its operational needs and develop its members. This institutionalized mobility poses a challenge for the RCMP and the individual police officer alike. The RCMP faces the formidable and expensive task of moving thousands of officers annually, while police officers must quickly adapt to new environments and responsibilities.

23.13 Historically, the RCMP has preferred to hire its uniformed members at the recruit level and develop them within the organization. Virtually everyone - from constable to Commissioner - starts at the bottom and works through the system, beginning with general policing and then sometimes specializing in a wide variety of RCMP activities depending on their aptitudes and interests. Such practices reinforce the critical nature of effective recruit selection and training, and of filling jobs with the right incumbents.

23.14 In response to these internal and external challenges, the RCMP has embarked on the renewal of human resource management. In May 1991 it introduced a Human Resource Strategic Action Plan with the objective of implementing, by 1993, a creative and effective human resource management system that will be responsive to the needs of the RCMP. As a result, a number of specific objectives were defined and tasks were initiated. These are outlined in Exhibit 23.1 .

Audit Objective and Scope

23.15 The objective of the audit was to determine whether the RCMP's management systems and practices with respect to its uniformed members:

  • enable it to maintain a workforce that can meet its mandate and priorities; and
  • reflect due regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
  • We did not audit human resource management as it relates to civilian members and public servants employed by the RCMP.
23.16 Given the challenges now facing the RCMP, we focussed on several key aspects of human resource management that relate to police officer performance. These included recruit selection, recruit training, post-recruit training, career management and member health. We examined each area in terms of generally accepted "best" practices within police and other organizations, and due regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

23.17 Because the Force had major human resource management initiatives under way, it was essential that the audit take into account their probable impact and any weaknesses identified.

Human Resource Planning

23.18 Effective human resource management occurs only through a systematic, planned approach to dealing with people management problems rather than through ad hoc responses to such problems. An ability to visualize the future and develop strategies to meet that vision and the will to see plans to completion are essential. Given the scope and complexity of the challenges facing the RCMP in human resource management, it is critical that its strategies be relevant, co-ordinated, realistic and well managed.

The Human Resource Management Strategic Action Plan

23.19 As mentioned earlier, the RCMP is re-examining several major aspects of its human resource management. It has recognized the need for comprehensive, responsive and forward-looking strategic planning. In May 1991 the Force initiated its first Human Resource Management (HRM) Strategic Action Plan, to systematically support the Commissioner's Force-wide long-term strategy, first put forward in 1989.

23.20 By May 1992, the Force had issued an updated HRM Strategic Action Plan. This update addressed a number of the concerns we had with the earlier approved version. It shows:

  • more progress toward the completion of several projects;
  • enhanced description of project content and adjusted project completion dates;
  • a high priority placed on the completion of the Task Analysis project (see paragraphs 23.21 - 23.22); and
  • more linkage and integration of projects.
23.21 Critical to the overall success of many of the components of the Strategic Action Plan is the completion of a major task analysis project. Task analysis defines and verifies the tasks, skills and other qualifications required to perform job duties. It is widely recognized as the foundation of several key areas of personnel practice. The lack of verifiable information on job requirements compromises the effectiveness of recruitment and training. Without a clear definition of what an employee is expected to know and do in his or her job, it is also difficult to evaluate on-the-job performance and to promote or rotate employees based on their suitability for particular jobs.

23.22 As early as 1975, the RCMP had examined the feasibility of conducting a task analysis of its jobs. It was not until 1987 that the concept of such an initiative was accepted. Subsequently, Task Analysis became a project within the Human Resource Management Strategic Action Plan. Completion of this project is considered essential to the success of several other strategic initiatives within the Plan.

23.23 The revised Human Resource Strategic Action Plan has now been communicated to all members across the Force. In addition, project monitoring has been enhanced.

23.24 Since the RCMP is addressing many of the deficiencies identified earlier in its Strategic Action Plan, we will review the implementation and impact of the Plan during our follow-up.

RCMP response: Agree.

Management Information

23.25 In any organization, information is the raw material for not only planning but all decisions and activities. It is integral to an organization's ability to assess performance, meet goals and adjust its behaviour. Organizations need to collect and analyze data in a form that management can use.

23.26 Currently, RCMP human resource information systems have some significant inadequacies. For example, the PARADE system, which provides much of the basic human resource data required, does not meet the needs of the Force. System technology is out-of-date and it is difficult to get information out of PARADE. In addition, there is a need to co-ordinate PARADE data analysis. For example, those analyzing PARADE data have provided different answers to the same management information questions.

23.27 Our review of RCMP human resource information and analysis requirements in several areas indicated a need for improvement. In some areas, key data did not exist. In others, information and analysis were inadequate. The following are some examples.

  • More data and analysis in such areas as recruit hiring and recruit attrition are needed to better assess the effectiveness of recruitment practices.
  • There is insufficient information on file to support promotion decisions and overall human resource planning.
  • Although management controls exist for relocation of members where a financial cost is incurred, there is insufficient information and analysis on the extent of and reasons for other member position changes.
  • The collection of health information needs to be automated in such areas as use of sick leave, injuries to members and health program performance.
23.28 Manuals, guidelines and directives are another source of management information. In such areas as recruitment and promotion, these essential tools were often either non-existent or unclear. Therefore, divisions (and sometimes individuals) have had to develop their own, which has led to inconsistent application of policies and practices.

23.29 As part of its current Strategic Action Plan, the RCMP has undertaken a project to improve its human resource information. Its goal is twofold:

  • to develop a new unit in Personnel to control human resource information; and
  • to review and update or replace the current PARADE system.
23.30 Given that the RCMP is currently addressing concerns about information for human resource management, we will review progress in the availability of such information and in the level of human resource data analysis during our follow-up.

RCMP response: Agree.

Civilianization

23.31 Another major RCMP human resource planning initiative under way is the "civilianization" project. Among other things, this entails determining the extent to which uniformed member positions can reasonably be filled by civilians at both national and divisional headquarters.

23.32 Historically, police forces have filled a minimum number of positions with civilians for the following reasons:

  • They want to keep positions open for uniformed members who are temporarily or permanently unable to carry out the full range of operational policing duties.
  • These positions provide an avenue for career development for uniformed members aspiring to management positions.
  • Uniformed members in these positions are available for policing duty in an emergency.
  • They perceive that uniformed officers will do a better job because they understand operational policing.
23.33 The Force has always had civilians; they are most prevalent in clerical and administrative support positions. The Force has also used civilians in many line positions in areas such as forensic laboratories, identification and dispatchers in communication centres. Recently, the Force has appointed a civilian as head of forensic laboratories.

23.34 Our survey of police departments in Canada indicates that approximately one quarter of their workforces have been civilianized. Like the RCMP, most of their civilian positions are in administrative and operational support. However, there is a current trend among police departments to use civilians in several other areas: administration and technical management; finance and personnel; and additional operational support areas such as records management, crime statistics analysis, information systems as well as court and victim services. The main reasons for this trend are lower personnel costs, the availability of trained, job-ready employees in the civilian population and the need for new skills.

23.35 There would appear to be potential, therefore, for the RCMP to further use civilians in uniformed member positions in such areas as Finance, Services and Supply, and Staffing and Personnel. This is something the RCMP has been examining.

23.36 In 1988 the RCMP conducted an internal study of the use of uniformed members in non-police functions (see Exhibit 23.2 ). This study focussed on 1,303 positions mainly at national and divisional headquarters.

23.37 The study team initially determined that almost 500 positions did not require police-related qualifications. Of these, RCMP management reduced to 64 the number of positions recommended for civilianization. The study also concluded that staffing a sample of 281 positions with civilians would save the RCMP $2.3 million, or 16.7 percent of the cost of these positions. In addition, the RCMP is currently re-assessing the criteria for establishing categories of employees used in this study. In our opinion, given the trends in other police forces and the possible benefits of civilianizing, the RCMP needs to reassess this area.

23.38 Given that the RCMP is currently studying the potential for further civilianization, we will review this area as part of our follow-up.

RCMP response: Agree.

Recruit Selection

The screening process for recruits is key to the success of the RCMP
23.39 Selecting the most qualified and capable people to serve as police officers is a crucial first step to effective policing. Effective recruit screening means choosing people at the outset who have the "right" personality and aptitudes for police work, and screening out the others. However, as indicated in paragraphs 23.21 and 23.22, the Force is in the process of determining the skills, knowledge, aptitudes and other qualities associated with particular jobs. This information is especially critical to recruit people who can fill a variety of positions among the more than 1,000 jobs that RCMP members may be called on to do. ( see photograph )

23.40 Substantial salary and other costs can result from hiring and training unsuitable recruits who may leave the Force during the training or probationary period. As well, hiring people who are unsuitable as police officers leads to inferior police work, public complaints and incidents that could damage the Force's image. A rigorous, effective process for screening recruits can play a large part in avoiding these financial and non-financial costs.

23.41 The RCMP selection process consists of nine steps (summarized in Exhibit 23.3 ). Of these, the selection test and interview are perhaps the most important in screening out unsuitable applicants. Our audit found deficiencies in these key elements. The RCMP is re-examining many aspects of recruit selection, including many of our concerns.

The Recruit Selection Test could be improved
23.42 The current Recruit Selection Test introduced in 1991 was intended to correct weaknesses (such as gender bias) in the earlier test. It is designed to measure several abilities and characteristics: observation, perseverance, computation (arithmetic), basic composition, logic, memory, and judgment. Although this new test is an improvement over the previous one, we found certain weaknesses:

  • It does not measure some of the skills or attributes it is designed to measure (memory, observation and perseverance).
  • Candidates can easily guess the answers to certain questions.
  • There are indications that the test has some linguistic bias.
The process for interviewing potential recruits needs to be improved
23.43 The other key step (in addition to the test) in screening recruits is a single interview by one individual. Our survey of other major police forces indicated that the screening process normally involves multiple interviews by a team of interviewers, and a final review by a selection committee.

23.44 RCMP interviewers have guidelines and a scoring system for structuring and standardizing interviews. However, the process is often subjective and inconsistent. For example, some interviewers do not use the guide. Those who do often use it differently. Some recruiters have developed their own guides and questions. Yet another problem is the way the recruiters rank applicants. Some use the scoring system, while others rank applicants according to how long they have been on the waiting list. Other police forces not only use a more structured interview process but also have introduced multiple tests (job-specific knowledge and personality tests and psychological assessments), some of which are administered through assessment centres.

23.45 The RCMP knows that it has problems in the interview process and is addressing them.

A weak selection process has real consequences
23.46 We found that weaknesses in the RCMP's selection process can be costly. For example, we estimate that training and salary costs were almost $2 million for members who left the Force during 1989 and 1990 for reasons such as poor interpersonal skills, immaturity, lack of assertiveness and low learning ability. More effective screening could have identified many of these members during recruitment and resulted in lower costs to the Force. Further, supervisors also complain about recruit shortcomings (for example, in personality, attitude, assertiveness and plain common sense) that could have been detected with more effective recruit selection. A recent study conducted by the Canadian Police College has indicated that effective screening, which could identify unsuitable candidates at the outset, can translate into substantial savings.

23.47 The RCMP should improve its recruit selection process by:

  • redesigning the Recruit Selection Test to improve its ability to select the best candidates for the job; and
  • using a more structured interview process consisting of varied and rigorous screening methods and conducted by qualified interviewers.
RCMP response: Agree.

Recruitment data analysis is limited
23.48 The RCMP collects certain information on its members, both during the recruiting process and throughout their tenure. However, the Force does not routinely analyze the data to draw a link between its recruiting and screening practices and the success (or lack of it) of particular members. For example, the RCMP does minimal interviewing of members who resign, to find out why they have chosen to do so. Because it does not collect and analyze this type of information, the RCMP cannot measure the effectiveness of the recruiting process by the long-term, on-the-job performance of its members. We noted that the Force does "track" the success of members who belong to minority groups such as women, natives and others. However, more needs to be done to develop similar information on other recruits who have been through the screening process.

23.49 The RCMP should compile and analyze appropriate data to determine the effectiveness of its recruiting and screening processes.

RCMP response: Agree. Recruitment data will be gathered during the development of the new human resource management information system.

Training

Training Program Management

23.50 As can be seen from Exhibit 23.4 , the RCMP internal training program consists of a host of courses designed to meet the needs of many different jobs. Our rough estimate of expenditures for training is $70 million to $100 million annually.

23.51 Given the range and complexity of the RCMP training program, we focussed on the process for monitoring and controlling courses. We looked specifically at training for recruits such as basic, field and language training as well as post-recruit training courses, including orientation and refresher training offered to all officers.

Control over standards for training programs is important
23.52 Training in the RCMP is a costly and critical activity. Therefore, it must meet standards to ensure that courses are relevant and current, and that they are properly delivered in a consistent way. The RCMP uses course training standards to centrally control the design, delivery and evaluation of courses. It also ensures that course updates are properly approved.

23.53 During our audit, we noted there was a backlog of course updates awaiting approval in national headquarters. We also found that the RCMP was behind in course validations, which assist in establishing the currency and usefulness of training content.

23.54 The volume of course training standard updates and course validations that must be handled by RCMP headquarters has contributed to these deficiencies. The RCMP is taking steps to improve its approach to course training standard development, program design and course and program evaluation.

23.55 Since the RCMP is in the process of addressing these areas, we will review its progress during our follow-up.

RCMP response: Agree.

Basic Recruit Training and Recruit Field Training Programs

Effective basic recruit training and recruit field training are essential to preparing new recruits for active duty
23.56 The RCMP has been training recruits since 1885. Its basic recruit training program provides new recruits with the basic skills and knowledge required to carry out their duties successfully. The course is approximately 26 weeks long and is offered at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. During 1990-91, 778 recruits went through the program.

23.57 The second and equally important step in the development of new recruits is recruit field training, which equips the new recruit with the necessary operational knowledge and skills to function effectively as a police officer. Recruit field training involves posting recruits, after their basic recruit training, to operational units for six months of on-the-job training.

Opportunities exist to enhance the effectiveness of basic recruit training
23.58 Recruits at the Academy take academics (law, human relations, communications training and training in identification operations) and other courses in basic skills such as driving, physical training, firearms training and drill exercises. The average cost for basic recruit training is about $40,000 per recruit. ( see photograph )

23.59 The time and money spent on basic recruit training is related primarily to the number of courses taught. In some areas, if recruits were required to have experience and qualifications in certain areas as prerequisites to basic recruit training, it would be possible to enhance the curriculum. Subjects such as first aid, swimming, CPR and computer skills are possible prerequisites to consider. Such training is readily available at educational institutions in communities across the country.

23.60 Other police forces and training academies have established these subjects as prerequisites. Some examples are shown in Exhibit 23.5 .

23.61 We estimate that approximately $450,000 could be saved annually by designating first aid, typing and swimming skills as prerequisites to entering basic recruit training. It may be possible to realize more savings by also requiring recruits to have taken basic courses in areas such as psychology, law and sociology, which are available at community colleges and universities. If the RCMP were to follow this route, however, it might want to have some input into the design and content of the courses. Our rough estimate indicated potential annual savings of up to $1 million if completion of these courses were required before admission to the Academy.

The relevance of basic recruit training content is being reviewed
23.62 The basic recruit training program has not been evaluated since 1976, but is currently under fundamental review. In 1976 recruits were questioning the relevance of some of their courses. We found the same issues and concerns being raised today. A major focus of the current review is assessing the extent to which the basic recruit training reflects new policy directions for the Force, such as community-based policing.

Recruit field training is important
23.63 The 1976 evaluation of recruit training indicated that the recruit field training course standard was out-of-date and, as a result, some RCMP units had developed their own training programs. Although a certain degree of flexibility is needed, field training should be standardized. The RCMP intends to evaluate and update its recruit field training program after it completes a study of its basic recruit training program.

23.64 We believe that the RCMP should assign a high priority to the basic recruit training and recruit field training programs, given their role in developing qualified police officers. Accordingly, we will be following up on the Force's review of these programs to determine whether the review has examined:

  • the benefits of requiring recruits to have certain knowledge and skills before they begin basic recruit training;
  • the relevance of current basic recruit training courses to contemporary police work in general, and to community-based policing in particular; and
  • the course training standards for recruit field training to ensure they are up-to-date.
RCMP response: Agree.

The release of unsuitable recruits is difficult
23.65 Police officers are the public face of the force. The day-to-day contact of individual officers with the public is, in reality, what constitutes the successful delivery of police services. Screening out unsuitable candidates at the outset is essential to ensuring that the best people are hired (see paragraph 23.39.) After selection, the release of unsuitable individuals during recruit training and probation is equally important.

23.66 People who might have been screened out under a different selection process are proceeding to basic recruit training and recruit field training. We found that about half of the recruits who had problems in basic recruit training had the same problems later in recruit field training.

23.67 Our audit found that it is difficult for the RCMP to release unsuitable recruits during basic recruit training and recruit field training. Specifically, we noted the following:

  • The discharge process is weak; in general, recruits must leave voluntarily, if they leave at all. We noted that, since 1988, only one recruit had been discharged within the two-year probation period.
  • Further, our discussions with staff at the Academy and in the field revealed the same problems.
23.68 The RCMP should improve its process for the release of unsuitable recruits.

RCMP response: Agree. The discharge process from the Academy has been addressed.

Official Languages Training for Recruits

Official languages training is a major RCMP focus
23.69 The RCMP has made official languages training a priority. It offers all new recruits the opportunity to participate in official languages training. A six-month program was established in 1988 and is voluntary. The program is designed to equip participants with "B" level language proficiency, as defined by the Public Service Commission. Language training is provided in Montreal before the recruit proceeds to basic recruit training. Our estimate of the cost of the language training program ranges from $5 million to $7 million in 1990-91 (or $30,000 to $40,000 per recruit). Between 1988 and 1991, 453 recruits participated in the six-month program. This number represents 20.7 percent of the 2,082 recruits engaged during that period.

23.70 This year, the RCMP began to evaluate the program, to assess the extent to which recruits retained the second official language and used it during subsequent training. Building on that initiative, and working with the RCMP, we carried out a survey to examine those issues.

Anglophones do not retain their level of proficiency in French
23.71 The recruit official languages training program meets the spirit and intent of the Official Languages Act. However, the current program may not work well for Anglophones.

23.72 Most Anglophone graduates reported that their French language proficiency had deteriorated during basic recruit training, although bilingual instructors and courses are available in French at the Training Academy. As for Francophones, the majority of whom take their basic recruit training in English, there was concern that "B" level proficiency in English may not be adequate to allow them to work easily as police officers in largely English-speaking detachments. The same issue was raised by Anglophones surveyed about the adequacy of "B" level proficiency in French.

23.73 The main problem for Anglophones is that, when they graduate from the Academy, more than half are posted to detachments where they have no opportunity to speak and retain their French. Resolving the problem is difficult for the Force because it has a limited number of bilingual locations to place graduates who have completed the language training program. Nevertheless, given the cost and time expended to date on the program, it is essential that the investment in language skills be protected. Graduates must assume a degree of responsibility for maintaining their level of language proficiency. Furthermore, the Force must ensure that its limited number of bilingual positions are used to the best advantage in retaining that capability.

23.74 In its current review of the recruit official language training program the RCMP should address the initial posting of Anglophones and the adequacy of the current level of language proficiency requirements.

RCMP response: Agree.

Refresher Training

Members do not receive enough refresher training in some basic policing skills
23.75 Police forces across Canada are showing more interest in ongoing refresher training in areas essential to day-to-day police work. Training in areas such as first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and self-defense is seen as interrelated and complementary in protecting police officers and serving the public effectively. Police forces we surveyed have recently embarked on mandatory survival or self-defense refresher training for officers. Instruction includes areas such as controlling the use of force, "verbal judo" (techniques for avoiding physical conflict) and the use of the police baton. ( see photograph )

23.76 The RCMP has produced short videotapes that are made available to all members, and that deal with subjects such as self-defense and use of force. It has policies for regular recertification in firearms and first aid/CPR. Divisional policies require members to recertify annually in firearms and every three years in first aid/CPR. Our survey of three divisions (which collectively account for almost half of the RCMP's uniformed workforce) indicated that from 17 to 32 percent of the operational members had not received refresher training in the use of firearms. In first aid and CPR, less than half had requalified within the required three year period. Furthermore, despite a strong perceived need for it in the field, the RCMP does not provide refresher training in self-defense including areas such as conflict avoidance and verbal judo. The Force has indicated that it is taking steps to address these deficiencies.

23.77 The RCMP should review its refresher training and recertification practices to:

  • ensure compliance with existing policies in first aid, CPR and firearms training; and
  • improve training in self-defense.
RCMP response: Agree.

Member Orientation

The Force provides orientation programs for new recruits and other members
23.78 The RCMP's "back to the people" agenda, particularly community-based policing, requires that officers know and understand the language, culture, and particular characteristics of the communities they police. This knowledge and understanding are especially important for officers working in native communities. A knowledge of subjects such as local aboriginal cultures, traditions and spiritual matters provide an important introduction to the special needs of these communities.

23.79 The RCMP has a Force-wide orientation training policy that focusses primarily on familiarizing the officer with the infrastructure of the detachment and with the job. This national policy provides general guidelines to the divisions. Less emphasis is placed on the officer's orientation to the unique cultural and social characteristics of a particular community.

23.80 In the three divisions we surveyed, we found that orientation packages in non-native communities varied widely in the depth and quality of orientation provided. While some detachments simply complied with the Force-wide orientation training policy, others complemented these national guidelines to better reflect the community being served. We also found that the RCMP had begun to work on improving its orientation program for detachments policing native communities. This work was in its preliminary stages. Although a certain degree of flexibility is needed in the design and implementation of specific orientation programs at the divisional level, national standards may also be required.

23.81 The RCMP should re-examine its national policy for unit orientation training to build on current initiatives and to better meet the principles of its "back to the people" agenda.

RCMP response: Agree.

Career Management

Performance Evaluation

There are difficulties with the new performance evaluation system
23.82 The RCMP has recently introduced a new system for evaluating the job performance of its members. Evaluations are done annually, and they play a large role in deciding who gets promoted and transferred.

23.83 One of the key weaknesses of the system is that it evaluates all employees against seventeen performance standards (for example, supervisory skills, attentiveness to duty and organizational awareness) regardless of the job the employee is doing. All standards are given equal weight in assessing an employee. This practice makes little sense because, for example, supervisory skills may not be particularly important to a constable in contract policing but very important to a contract policing staff sergeant commanding a detachment. Other police forces that do not have the wide range of responsibilities of the RCMP have tailored their evaluations to specific jobs.

23.84 A second weakness is that supervisors often lack the training and guidelines they need to apply the performance standards consistently when evaluating their employees.

23.85 T he RCMP should improve its performance evaluation system by developing performance standards and weighting systems that are more job-specific, and by ensuring that all supervisors are given appropriate performance evaluation training and guidelines.

RCMP response: Agree.

Promotion

23.86 The five main steps in promoting uniformed, non-commissioned members (corporals, sergeants, staff sergeants) are shown in Exhibit 23.6 .

The promotion system does not focus on requirements of future jobs
23.87 The RCMP's current system for assessing promotability focusses almost entirely on seniority and on how well one has performed in his or her current job, or at a given level. It does not sufficiently take into account how well an individual would perform at the next level.

23.88 As can be seen in Exhibit 23.6, the second step assigns a 35 percent value to seniority in ranking a candidate on the "long list". Other police forces emphasize seniority to a lesser extent; some use seniority only as a prerequisite to (rather than a basis for) ranking. They use objective standards, interviews, examinations and other methods to evaluate a person's ability to perform at a higher level.

23.89 It might be possible for the Force to save a substantial amount of money if it were to use a more rigorous system for managing promotions. For example, a recent study conducted by the Canadian Police College has indicated that if the RCMP were to replace its current promotion practices with a highly structured, forward-looking interview process when promoting to the inspector level, it could realize productivity gains of about $15 million annually.

Promotions are not well supported
23.90 Inconsistency and subjectivity exist in establishing the medium and short lists for promotions. The qualifications considered desirable for a particular job vary among staff members and among divisions, as does the weighting given to certain qualifications. Very little information is retained on file to justify selection decisions.

23.91 The standards used by the Board to assess and compare short-list candidates for promotion are unclear. Our review of promotion practices and files did not provide evidence of a systematic comparative assessment of candidates. At times, the Board applied criteria that were not listed for the job in question.

23.92 Deficiencies in the promotion process have produced grievances. Close to half of the 794 grievances filed in 1990-91 related directly to promotions. Approximately 30 percent of such grievances have been upheld due to the excessively subjective nature of the promotion process. The reasons for upholding grievances often include inappropriate or inconsistent application of selection criteria; selection criteria listed in the qualification schedules that were too broad; failure to note a skill; and insufficient reason for not choosing a candidate.

23.93 The RCMP has begun to comprehensively review its current promotion system. It has established a "best practices" committee in order to identify possible improvements.

23.94 We will review the progress in this area when we do our follow-up audit and reassess how the RCMP uses performance evaluation results in promotion decisions.

RCMP response: Agree.

Career Information

Employees need more information for "mapping" their careers
23.95 Within the RCMP there are about 1,000 different jobs that members perform - from flying airplanes to programming computers to investigating commercial crimes. To prepare for promotion or transfer, employees need comprehensive information on the skills, aptitudes, education, training and other qualifications associated with specific jobs. The RCMP has recognized the benefits to employees of enabling them to plan their own career paths to a greater extent, and has distributed a career management manual to assist them. However, some of the information is lacking because the Force has not analyzed most jobs to determine the skills and aptitudes necessary. As a result, individual employees have trouble planning their own career paths - that is, making decisions that would enable them to do what is necessary to train or otherwise qualify for another job. As indicated in paragraphs 23.21-23.22, the Force has begun to analyze a number of positions to determine the tasks, qualifications and prerequisites associated with each.

23.96 When the task analysis is complete, the Force should be able to provide members with the information they need to "manage" their careers more proactively.

Physical and Psychological Health

23.97 Physical fitness and psychological health directly relate to a police force's operational effectiveness. Police departments across North America have recognized this fact and are starting to put programs in place to cover these areas.

Physical Abilities

The RCMP has developed a job-related physical ability test that is administered to recruits
23.98 In 1989 the RCMP developed the Physical Ability Requirement Evaluation (PARE) test to measure the physical ability of its uniformed members. Most of the tests done so far have been on recruits hired after 1 January 1991. The test is also administered to uniformed members in tactical troops and bomb squads.

23.99 At present, the RCMP has not used the test to determine the physical abilities of most of its regular uniformed members. The Force does not know what proportion of all current uniformed members could pass the PARE test.

23.100 While the RCMP is among the leading police forces in Canada in the development of a valid physical ability test, some other police departments are more advanced in introducing programs to actually improve their members' lifestyle and physical fitness. The RCMP has chosen to proceed carefully in developing a similar program for 1993-94, which would apply to all its members.

23.101 Because the Force is aging (average age increased from 32 to 37 years between 1980 and 1991) and because the current PARE test has been applied mainly to new recruits, it is important that the Force move as quickly as possible to assess the physical abilities of the majority of its members.

23.102 Because physical ability and fitness are key aspects of a member's ability to perform operational duties, we will review the implementation of PARE testing again during our follow-up.

RCMP response: Agree.

Psychological Wellness

The RCMP does not have enough information to assess the overall success of its psychological wellness program
23.103 Our survey of police departments and related literature have allowed us to define a comprehensive psychological wellness program as one that includes job-related guidelines or standards for psychological wellness; reactive programs to assist officers in need; preventive programs to reduce future problems; and management information to monitor success. ( see photograph )

23.104 The RCMP has comprehensive psychological wellness programs that provide reactive and preventive assistance in such areas as post-critical incidents, suicide prevention and medical support for undercover operations, as well as examinations for members involved in high-risk duties. The RCMP also has a Member Assistance Program, which complements all health service activities.

23.105 The RCMP has some broad guidelines for psychological health that do not clearly specify job-related psychological traits. Although it is difficult to identify the psychological traits characteristic of a good police officer, it is possible to determine traits that are not. The results of the current RCMP Task Analysis project will assist in identifying specific job-related psychological traits.

23.106 The RCMP has had some difficulty assessing the success of its psychological wellness programs for members. Specifically, it does not know how successful its Member Assistance Program has been across the Force, in terms of its usefulness and the extent to which it is actually used.

23.107 Our interviews indicated that many programs were operating with varying success across RCMP divisions. Some of the divisional Member Assistance Programs were functioning well and others were not. Also, the psychological examinations relating to the Force's High Risk Duties policy were administered differently in different divisions. The Force has stated that it recognizes this problem and is in the process of addressing it.

23.108 The RCMP should improve its ability to assess the effectiveness of its psychological wellness program for members.

RCMP response: Agree. The RCMP is currently enhancing its data collection system to gather more comprehensive information on the frequency, results and follow-up of their psychological wellness program.