By Canadian Security
Each year, the Toronto chapter of ASIS International holds a student essay writing competition for prospective law enforcement and security professionals as part of its awards and scholarship program. This year was won by Chelsey Squire based on her observations on what it takes to join the RCMP. Below the essay is published in its entirety. Congratulations to Chesley on her accomplishment.
By Canadian Security
Thoughts on Becoming a Member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
by Chelsey D. Squire
I always knew that I wanted to be part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As Canada’s national police service, the RCMP, “preserve the peace, uphold the law, and provide quality service in partnership with our communities” (RCMP, 2006). It was a community outreach program that led to my early interest in police work. My earliest memory of wanting to be a constable goes back to elementary school. In grade three, the school liaison officer in Whitehorse, Yukon, would come to our class to speak to us about safety. I still have memorabilia that they gave to me during those classes, which I have kept all these years. Today, as I reminisce about my journey to become an officer I smile at my own youthful infatuation. I have come a long way since then and now find myself waiting to hear when I will make troop and leave to train at DEPOT in Regina, Saskatchewan. This has been a challenging journey with many twists and turns along the way, but today I know the person I am and who I want to be.
I was 21 years old the first time I wrote the entrance exam for the RCMP, which fortunately I failed. While devastating at the time, I was not mentally or physically ready and today I look at this failure very positively–it was a turning point in my life. This failure made me re-think my priorities and the path I was on and challenged me to explore volunteer work and community outreach to support my personal development. It would be two years before I attempted to write the entrance exam again, which I failed for a second time. I never thought it would be easy to become an officer, but this setback made me realize just how far behind I was emotionally and academically. This second failure would set the standard to which I needed to rise, rather than relying on some naïve belief that the stars would align in my favor. In my heart, I knew that I could make a difference and wanted to serve the community in my chosen field. In working toward that goal, I continued to seek out volunteer experiences with various community-based programs run by the RCMP in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The major challenge was to obtain the general knowledge and academic skills required to successfully pass the entrance exam.
It is one thing to recognize what must be done, it is another matter entirely to acknowledge your own shortcomings and do something about it. In 2012, I found myself waitressing at a restaurant in Ontario and was miserable. I hated my job and realized that I had to make a life changing decision. It was my mom, who would encourage me to apply for a loan and go back to school. As a result, I entered the 911 Emergency and Call Centre Communications Program. My past school record was not stellar and entering the program was intimidating, but I had no other options. I would either step up and face my own fears or walk away and accept that I was not good enough. I chose to face my fears and entered the program in January 2013. From the first day of class, I worked as hard as I could and did nothing but focus on my schoolwork. I became increasingly confident and a few months later, I decided to revisit the idea of writing the aptitude test for the RCMP one more time. I spent a great deal of time preparing for this test, reading material related to current events, logic problems, memory work, and situational problems.
I received the results in spring 2013 and as I slowly opened the letter, the first word I read was, “Congratulations.” I had never seen those words before and my heart pounded with excitement. There are no words to express how I felt in that moment. With this success, I felt that much closer to fulfilling my dream–becoming a future officer. School changed my life. In contrast to high school, it was a highly positive experience and I became increasingly goal oriented. I received almost perfect marks and came to understand my own strengths and abilities, but more importantly, I grew on an emotional level. I had started to believe in myself.
Interestingly, failing has become central to my success. With every failure, I have renewed my dedication to excel at the challenges I set for myself. I continue to struggle with self-doubt, physical fitness, procrastination, and finding life balance. Society often views failure negatively, yet I have come to view failure in light of the opportunities presented; rather than allowing this to shut me down emotionally and physically. One has to be able to change as opposed to stagnating within the dictates of “failure.” When I set my own standards and challenges, there is no such thing as failure. Since passing the entrance exam, I have slowly moved through the process of becoming an officer. I have completed endless forms, prepared extensively for interviews, continued to develop my physical fitness, and waited endlessly for results. My file is currently with Departmental Security for review and if approved I will be issued top security clearance and offered an opportunity to train in Saskatchewan. For now, this means yet more waiting and exercising of patience.
What does all this have to do with security? I believe that at its core, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is about supporting community. In addition to the job, officers must have a profound understanding of their role within the community. I believe that I am a reflection of my community, meaning that each of us must choose the type of person and the type of contribution we want to make to society as a whole. My experience of failure and learning to look past that to the opportunities presented has given me a greater understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. I will make an amazing police officer one day. I have a great work ethic, a big heart, respect for people, and the drive to be the very best me possible.
Once I get my call for troop, I will be heading to DEPOT to begin my formal training. I have been dreaming of this since I was a little girl and cannot wait for this experience. I am under no delusion that the training or challenges to come will be easy: they will push me to my limits and have me fail repeatedly. Yet, I am prepared for this and no matter what comes my way I am a fighter and will come out on top.