REGINA – The Mounties are defending their hiring practices this week after newly released numbers showed there are less than 400 cadets enrolled at the Depot training division in Regina this year.
That’s the lowest that number has been in at least a decade and a far cry from the nearly 1,800 enrolled just four years ago.
But chief superintendent Garry Jay says it isn’t an accident.
He says every year the senior executives of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police crunch a series of numbers to determine exactly how many new officers will be needed.
The factors considered include the variety of clients the RCMP provides officers for, such as the municipal and provincial policing contracts as well as national policing responsibilities.
Jay says how many officers retire in a given year also plays a part, as do budget levels provided by the federal government.
“It’s always a balance,” he told radio station CJME in an interview Thursday. “We have to function in a political reality, but we try to carry on business in that environment.
He said there have been budgetary issues as a result of budget cuts from provincial and municipal partners, as well as the service’s contribution as a government department to the federal deficit reduction plan.
“So as a result of that we had to re-evaluate how many cadets we needed for this current year,” he said.
“That evaluation also took into account the fact that we’ve done some structural reorganization, a reorganization of our federal policing programs, and we’ve also looked at whether we need to have regular member police officers in administrative positions or whether those individuals would be better situated in front-line police functions.”
But he also said the trend is reversing and a surge in demand for officers from municipal and provincial partners means they’ll be looking to have about a thousand cadets in the next group.
“That’s a general average (over the last 10 years). There have been some highs and lows.”
Jay said that in order to find 1,000 viable candidates, the RCMP will have to interview roughly 10,000 applicants.