The Evolution of the CSSBy Letizia TrovatoAs many great ventures originate from a decision to create positive change, the same can be said about the genesis of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police’s (OACP) pre-certification process. On January 1, 2020, the new OACP Constable Selection System (CSS) was introduced by the OACP for police applicant testing in the Province of Ontario. This change in OACP CSS pre-employment testing was undertaken at the discretion of police leaders to ensure consistent hiring practices across the province.To prepare for these changes, the OACP consulted with the OACP’s Board of Directors, the Constable Selection System committee, Indigenous groups, advisory groups, human resources groups and medical psychological advisory groups to ensure any pre-screening tools used in the new OACP-CSS process were effective, cost-efficient and served the needs of police services. Most importantly, these changes were designed to help eliminate historical barriers in the form of language, accessibility, accommodation, diversity needs not being met, negative impact on females and being an impediment to Indigenous people seeking careers in law enforcement. Since 2020, the OACP has been administering police pre-applicant testing that is fair, equitable and inclusive across Ontario.This new venture was launched in partnership with TNT Justice Consultants and SIGMA Assessment Systems who provide the tests for the pre-certification process. Our company, TNT Justice Consultants, consists of a group of distinguished professionals who bring an array of experience from a multitude of sectors, positioning TNT to provide support in the areas of equity and inclusion, justice, social services and education as a commitment to improving workplace relations. A notable part of our professional existence is the proud partnership we have formed with the OACP to bring the pre-certification process to fruition. As a team, we also extended our platform to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a pilot project for 18 months, which resulted in many successful applicants being processed through the pre-certification process. We were able to assist the administrative recruitment staff by saving them processing time and becoming the epicentre of customer service for all applicant requests.The original tests provided by SIGMA included a personality assessment and a general cognitive ability test to assist police services in the initial screening of applicants. One of the most important pieces of the OACP certification process is the absence of a pass or fail at the onset. Rather, the overarching theme is inclusion and fair opportunity to take the tests at the forefront and to receive a certificate of completion, rather than a hard pass or fail.The discretion to choose the most appropriate applicant beyond the certification process falls on the police services. Both the OACP and TNT support the CSS recruitment process through our presence on the committee in order to gain continuous insight into the needs of all services across Ontario. Our aim is to provide impeccable service, support and resources for both applicants and services as they navigate their professional journey to becoming police officers.ADVANCEMENTS AND GROWTH SIGMA Assessments A critical component of our efforts to adapt the personality portion of the OACP Certificate testing process has been gathering data to identify which personality traits are most relevant to effective policing. This has included a multi-stage effort to collect data from Ontario Police College (OPC) students, OACP Certificate applicants and subject matter experts. The collection of data from these groups was the primary focus for 2022, and in 2023, we are looking to leverage this information to generate a custom personality assessment.In the fall of 2022, senior police leaders, CSS Committee members and police recruiters from around Ontario were invited to participate in a series of focus groups conducted by our partners at SIGMA to share insights on the qualities they felt were important to effective performance among constables. A wholesome representation of police services of varying sizes and geographic locations across Ontario participated in these focus groups.In addition, we recently completed a large-scale data collection effort with OACP Certificate applicants. Over 500 applicants participated in this study. Data collected from this group will serve as the normative sample against which future applicants will be scored.The OACP and TNT have created a study package for applicants to utilize as they prepare to write the SIGMA tests. The package includes explanations and various examples from each section of the tests, in addition to online resources on where to find additional practice examples. We have created a succinct Study Tips resource which can be found on both the TNT Instagram handle and the OACP Certificate online platform. All information, relevant updates, study materials and test changes are clearly communicated to all applicants and police services on the OACP Certificate website. It is our commitment to remain proactive and aligned with the needs of services as they hire the best applicants to represent their organization.Physical Fitness The OACP and TNT are jointly working on the Police Fitness Appraiser Course. The Ontario Police College (OPC) have extended their support through their Chief Fitness Instructor who will be available to encourage the development and facilitation of this upcoming course. This course is designed to teach police recruiters the fundamentals of basic, maximal fitness testing for police recruits by using common best practices while limiting legal risk. Police recruiters will be able to facilitate the shuttle run in-house for recruits in a safe and effective manner. The goal of this course is to align police services’ processes to ensure they use a proper, bonafide occupational screening test that negates a false negative pass and ensures success at OPC during BCT. TNT is working with OPC to finalize course curriculum, which should be ready for a fall 2023 launch.Events The OACP and TNT collaborate to attend community events to demonstrate our continued efforts and commitment to the pre-certification process. For example, we presented at the OACP’s Fall 2022 Police CEOs Day, which included Chiefs of Police and senior leaders. Our goal was to share awareness of the system, how the pre-certification process complements recruitment practices and to provide support to police services. Additionally, TNT and the OACP have continued to be present within the community by attending the annual Blueline Expo that highlights career opportunities within the realm of security, police and fire to discuss the pre-certification process, questions about the tests, study guides and the process in general. Additionally, representatives from TNT have virtually presented to students and professors at colleges and universities since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are happy to share that presentations are now delivered in person, allowing for a fulsome experience with the students to discuss the pre-certification process in greater detail. We believe that it is important to communicate the intricacies of the pre-certification process at the academic level because it will assist students to shape their course load in alignment with their career choice.Implicit Bias Testing TNT Justice Consultants hosts the Implicit Bias Testing (IBT) platform, which emphasizes health care as a vehicle to improve workplace relations, mitigate biases within the workplace and assist with policy development. We are currently working with several ministries in Ontario, police services and educational institutions, in addition to prominent hospitals in the U.S. and Ontario. Most notably, we are the only distributors of the IBT platform, Implicity©, in all of North America.Our testing platform indicates to staff members their individual biases in a sensitive and meaningful way.Leading organizations are transitioning from diverse and adequate to inclusive and effective with IBT. IBT combined with Anti-Bias Coaching (ABC) safely responds to the natural human tendency to interact with people based on preferences that advantage some, while discriminating against others. TNT is committed to achieving diversity with a difference.Overall, as valued partners with the OACP, we continue to strive to provide the best service for all police organizations and applicants. Our commitment to improving the pre-certification process, adapting to changes and participating in various committees are the most significant steps we’ve taken to maintain a strong presence within the policing community. It is our commitment to receive feedback from police services and deliver high-quality outcomes. We are grateful for the support and partnership of the OACP and look forward to building a lasting foundation.TNT AND THE OACP HAVE CONTINUED TO BE PRESENT WITHIN THE COMMUNITY BY ATTENDING THE ANNUAL BLUELINE EXPO THAT HIGHLIGHTS CAREER OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THE REALM OF SECURITY, POLICE AND FIRE TO DISCUSS THE PRE-CERTIFICATION PROCESS, QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TESTS, STUDY GUIDES AND THE PROCESS IN GENERAL.Letizia Trovato is Vice President of TNT Justice Consultants. She can be reached at vicepresident@tntconsulting.ca. For more information on the CSS, visit oacpcertificate.ca, @tnt_justice and @oacpcertificate on Twitter.
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