From defending the turf to patrolling city streets: former CFL players Elie Ngoyi and Yannick Carter are two of Edmonton’s newest police officers.
The two former Battle of Alberta opponents joined the same ranks Friday, when they were among 22 new recruits to the Edmonton Police Service.
The duo has three Grey Cup rings between them: Carter with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2007 and Calgary Stampeders of 2014, and Ngoyi with the Edmonton Eskimos in 2015.
Ngoyi, 30, was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and moved to Canada when he was 10 — and was promptly arrested after getting in a fight with a classmate over a racist comment.
“I kind of shoved him, defending myself. As you can see, because of my size I guess, the police officers saw me and then arrested me,” Ngoyi said, adding at the time police weren’t well-regarded in the African immigrant community.
“I decided, at that moment, ‘I’m going to be that voice of the community, going to join police to make a difference.'”
Ngoyi started playing football in Grade 9 and continued on to the college level at Bishop’s University in Quebec, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, criminology and social policy.
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Ngoyi was drafted by the Eskimos in 2013, playing as a defensive end with the team for four years. The 6′ 2″ Ngoyi worked as a corrections officer at the Edmonton Remand Centre after leaving the CFL.
So how does a football career benefit becoming a police officer? Ngoyi said there are similarities between the two professions.
“I learned very, very quick that you need to have that mentality to win, you need to have that mentality to make a difference and work as a team.”
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But the training process to become a police officer is much longer and more rigorous.
“When you go into a [football] training camp, it’s going to be like, 14 days to a month of like really, really hard work. And in police training, it’s six months where every day there’s a test,” Ngoyi said, adding it was physical, mental and emotional.
After completing an eight-stage application process that includes written tests, physical, psychological and behavioural evaluations, a three-hour personal disclosure interview, a polygraph test and background investigation, recruits then spent about half a year at the training academy learning every aspect of policing.
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Ngoyi was part of the Recruiting Training Class 145. Graduates will now hit the streets paired with experienced patrol teams, and will begin working independently next spring.
The 22 rookies join the ranks of over 2,600 sworn and civilian EPS employees.
Staff Sgt. Mitchell Flaman, a recruiter with Edmonton police, said this group of 22 people, including nine women, come from all walks of life: while many have law enforcement or first responder backgrounds, others have trades or professional experience in areas such as engineering, child care and diamond mining.
“We have officers from Africa, from the U.K., from (South) Korea, from India. I think it attracts all different types of people,” Flaman said.
“It’s a very diverse group and I think it’s important to say — although Elie’s class is exceptional because of the diversity — the last number of classes with the EPS have been very, very similar,” Flaman said, adding they all want to make a difference and be empathetic.
The Edmonton Police Service hopes to hire 75 officers this year.
“Elie’s was the first class. We have a class starting in August and another one starting in November, and in addition to that, we’re looking to hire 10 experienced officers that would start training in September and those are officers coming from different agencies across Canada,” Flaman said.
One officer from the Lacombe Police Service also trained with EPS and was part of Friday’s ceremony.
If you’re interested in applying to be an Edmonton police officer you can find out more information at joineps.ca.