The Canadian Review of Policing Research (2004)

ISSN: 1710 6915


Ted Herbert, Associate Editor

In Canada and around the world, police organizations are dealing with increasingly complex issues and environments. The need for learning and development strategies that keep pace with ever-changing conditions has never been as great as it is today. As the responsibilities of law-enforcement personnel expand, learning and development have in many cases been placed lower and lower on the list of things to be accomplished. Organizations need to elevate the review and development of new learning systems in order to respond to the new demands being placed on police officers and justice systems. Finding efficient and effective ways to deliver education to the policing community has become a priority.

The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, stated at a recent news conference:

“To achieve our potential as a province, we need to have North America’s most educated and highly skilled workforce and, to do that, we need to invest in our people. That’s why we’re working hard to rework government, so it works for people.”1

Excellent education and skills development for police officers will provide the foundation for progressive and capable police services in the future.

Traditional means of providing education to police officers need to be augmented by alternative delivery systems so that organizations can maximize their investment in human resource development. Means of evaluating the impact of training and development interventions need to be initiated so that organizations can justify such spending on their personnel. Police departments need to be able to focus resources strategically, allowing them to develop all staff members using methods that take the requirements of the organization and requirements of the individual learner into consideration.

The reviews selected for this section deal with learning and development issues that concern modern police organizations. Even though some of the research projects summarized here did not use police personnel or police programs as subjects, the findings and conclusions are relevant to policing and police learning and development.

In my review of learning and development issues in policing for this edition, I noticed three common themes were consistently cited as necessary to the future of police service in Canada. The themes are:

  1. Leadership development: how can we ensure leadership continuity into the future? What are the succession strategies that will allow Canadian police organizations to meet future demands? Are current leadership-development programs meeting the expanding demands of leaders and potential leaders?
  2. Measurement and management of learning: how can we assess the effectiveness of learning strategies in producing needed policing results?
  3. Use of technology to improve learning delivery: what are the pros and cons of various forms of educational delivery methods, including on-line and computer- based education?

The research summarized in this section addressed these themes. I hope that after reading the summaries in this section, you will obtain the full text of those that pique your curiosity. I invite you to consider the value of this kind of research review, and submit suggestions for future editions of the Canadian Review of Police Research. Suggestions for future research include:

  • Inventory of learning styles from assessments of police officers across the country (currently being investigated)
  • Use of e-learning systems in police populations
  • Comparative assessment of simulation systems for police learning
  • Competency assessments for incoming recruit candidates
  • Common learning objectives across all Canadian police education programs

These and other research reviews will be solicited for future editions of this publication.


1. Canada NewsWire, January 13, 2004