Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Recruits practice drills at the Ecole nationale de police du Quebec in Nicolet, Que.

Christinne Muschi

The aspiring police officers can pass their physicals and answer the ABCs of taking down a criminal suspect - but can they demonstrate they're not sexists or bullies?

In a bid to meet the demands for a kinder, more professional police officer, Quebec's police academy has introduced a psychological test designed to weed out problem candidates before they get a badge and gun.

The test is intended not just to catch "wackos" itching to be in uniform, as one expert said; it's meant to suss out anyone with the potential for unseemly conduct.

Story continues below advertisement

"We want to detect behaviour that's unprofessional, candidates who might use excessive force, those who show sexist or racist attitudes," said Pierre Saint-Antoine, a spokesman for the École nationale de police in Nicolet, Que.

All major Canadian police forces use some kind of psychological screening for cadets. In Quebec, where would-be officers attend training school before they can get hired, the new testing goes further by statistically predicting the likelihood of trouble down the road, according to the police academy.









This year, applicants to the academy sat down to respond to 455 statements: The public shouldn't know too much about a police officer's private life. It's wrong to lie to a suspect, even when it doesn't violate any rules. I never drive over the speed limit.

Their answers were designed to predict the likelihood of anything from poor interpersonal skills to the potential for excessive force. Another test, also introduced this year, evaluated their judgment under stress. All told, about 40 candidates flunked, out of 870 applicants, and were rejected.

The police academy brought in the evaluations after complaints from Quebec police forces that, even after 15 weeks in the academy and three years of college-level police technology courses that are mandatory in Quebec, some young graduates had troublesome traits that no amount of training would change.





The tests reflect a challenge for law-enforcement agencies as they look for ways to evaluate recruits on more than brawn and good grades, experts say.

"You can have a very bright wacko who can run 8k in nothing flat - but there's no assessment of his suitability [to become an officer]" said Jim Anderson, a former police officer and chairman of the police technology program at John Abbott College near Montreal. "So this is a really good step, and it's high time."

Story continues below advertisement

The psychological test at Nicolet, known as M-Pulse, is being used by 800 police forces in the United States and tested by several police departments in Canada. The Ontario Provincial Police are evaluating it.

It comes as Canadian police forces face growing pressure to respond to ethnic diversity, and adopt a less brass-knuckles approach to policing.

"We're not just looking for people with high IQs, but people with a capacity for emotional intelligence, which is the heavy tendency nowadays in police services," said Jean-Guy Gagnon, deputy chief of the Montreal police. (A new chief, Marc Parent, was sworn in on Monday.)

Dorothy Cotton, a correctional psychologist in Kingston, Ont. and expert on police psychology, says the test reflects shifts in police work in Canada.

"When you look at traditional policing, it's very much an almost paramilitary kind of culture. Police pretty well only spoke to other police, they didn't really interact with the public," she said. "The world has changed. Policing and public safety now is much more a community activity."

The stakes for good psychological evaluations are high, she said, "because at the end of the day, these are guys who carry guns."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies