The Possibilities of A Career in Policing
May 27th, 2021 / By Eastern College
Policing has always been an exciting and popular field. Many people dream of becoming an officer in childhood and it is possible, but it will take some hard work and patience. Barbara Hammond, a former Police Officer, and current Police Foundations instructor gives us a detailed look into her experience with the field. Barbara has over 20 years of experience and has been teaching for over 10 years. With experience across the Policing field such as the Mounted Unit, Sex Crimes Unit, working as a Private Investigator, and more, Barbara provides a realistic look at careers across the industry. Now retired from duties as an active Officer, she shares key advice for new aspiring officers.
1. How did you get your start in the Policing field?
I joined Toronto Police Service as a cadet at the age of 18 years old. I spent 26 years with Toronto before I decided to take an early retirement and start a new adventure as a private investigator. Deciding to work in law enforcement is a lot different now. There are many opportunities available to women now, that didn’t exist when I was younger. The sky is the limit for women now, such as Emergency Task force, Homicide, Hold up Squad, Canine unit etc.
The availability and opportunities are wonderful but it’s also made becoming an Officer more competitive as well. Post-secondary education is now a definite requirement for all applicants. A Police Foundations course is definitely one of the best ways to obtain that education and prepare the applicant.
2. Was policing always your goal?
Originally I wanted to become a criminal lawyer. I didn’t have the money to attend University, so my next dream was to become a Police Officer. When I applied, I realized that I could start off in the Cadet program and work for Toronto Police until I became 21 years old and then attend the Ontario Police College. Anyone interested in policing now, has more resources available to them, such as OSAP, grants, etc.
I wish I had the opportunity to take a Police Foundations or law and security course. I believe it would have been beneficial and prepared me more than the Cadet program.
3. What made you decide to become an Instructor?
After retiring from the Police Service, I was in the process of setting up my own PI agency and I observed an ad in the local paper for an Instructor that could teach a new program of Police Foundations that was going to be offered at a privately run school. I used to lecture large groups during my time at the Sex Crimes Unit (called Sexual Assault Squad then). I believed I could contribute and would enjoy instructing and I was right. It’s been a wonderful journey. I now facilitate the online Security course and focus on the Police Foundations curriculum as Faculty head.
4. What’s your favorite part about teaching students?
Making a difference in student’s lives. That is by far, my most favourite part. When a student is motivated and works hard, I and all the Instructors will go to the ends of the earth for a student. All students are important, but the ones that work and push themselves a little harder than the rest, really make teaching very rewarding.
5. Is it easy to break into the field once someone graduates from a Policing and/or Security program?
No. It’s very competitive out there. Not going to sugarcoat anything. Taking the course is an important step in achieving your law enforcement dream. It also opens your eyes to all the possibilities that are out there, such as Canadian Border Services, Corrections, University Policing, Game Warden etc.
Anyone taking this course will benefit. They will get an understanding about our judicial system and what it takes to be a law enforcement officer.
6. What are some special skills or certifications that you’ve obtained over the years?
I am wiser as a result of policing. I learned to become a good writer, a better communicator, whether it be written or verbal. I learned to ride a horse! Loved my time on the Mounted unit where I rode very large horses during parades, demonstrations, and riots. Riding every day contributed to my physical health as well. During my time with the Sex Crimes Unit, I learned how to run a case independently, from the time I met with the victim, arrested the offender, prepared the case for prosecution, and really understood how the judicial system really worked. You learn so many important qualities and meet so many different people along the way. I wouldn’t give up a moment of it.
7. What is the most rewarding part of this field?
All of it was rewarding in its own way. I would say the Mounted unit was the most fun. But I learned the most doing Detective work, investigating crimes, and making a difference in a victim’s life.
8. What’s the most challenging part of this field?
For me, it was being a woman in a male-orientated field. Once others trusted and believed in me, it made it easier. The longer you are in the field, the better. Life and work are full of challenges, that’s what makes it part of the learning curve and makes us wiser with experience.
9. What’s some of the best career advice that you’ve received?
I don’t remember any specific advice. I learned the ropes along the way. If anything, I remember my mother always telling me, do your best, treat others the way you would want to be treated and smile. I try and do that every day.
Learn more about the Police Foundations program at Eastern College here: Police Foundations Program