Canadian cops recruiting at Seattle job fair
The police department from Edmonton, Alberta, is in Seattle recruiting for new officers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
If you're interested
Edmonton Police recruiting:www.joineps.ca
Information session: 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Courtyard Marriott, 925 Westlake Ave. N., Seattle
Written police exam: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Courtyard Marriott, Lake Union (preregistration required).
There were the inevitable questions when two constables from Canada came to Seattle this week to a job fair, recruiting for the Edmonton Police Service.
With jobs scarce in the northwestern United States, and with Edmonton paying officers a starting salary of $50,000 (Canadian) a year (about $48,800 U.S.), reaching $75,000 (Canadian) after five years, there was natural interest.
One of the frequently asked questions for the constables at Jobbernaut, held Wednesday at a meeting room at Qwest Field:
Where is Edmonton?
"I thought it was somewhere near Edmonds," said one of the prospective applicants, Robert Niles-Clewis, 21. "When they told me it was located in Canada, it caught me by surprise."
Edmonton police were in Seattle in July for a job fair, and people kept getting their city mixed up with Edmonds, the suburb north of Seattle.
This time around, their booth displayed a large photo mural showing two Edmonton constables prominently wearing Canadian maple-leaf flag insignia.
"I tell them it's just north of Montana," said Constable Keane Block, "constable" being what cops are called in Canada, what with the British influence.
That helped a lot. Washington, Idaho, Montana ... oh, right.
"And I tell them it has the world's largest shopping mall, West Edmonton Mall," added Block.
That helps, too. Somewhere in the recesses of our consumer minds, we've heard of that megamall.
(Though it's not the world's largest shopping mall, but North America's largest, covering the equivalent of 48 city blocks with over 800 stores. The largest in the world, according to forbes.com, is the South China Mall in Dongguan, China.)
Here is another question:
Doesn't it, you know, get really cold in Edmonton?
In nine of the 12 months of the year, according to Intellicast, Edmonton has measurable snow. In September, it's only three-quarters of an inch. But isn't September still technically part of summer? By the time November rolls around, and through to February, the average high temperature is never above freezing.
One man at the job fair, when thinking about these weather matters, simply returned the color brochures with headlines such as: "Up Where You Belong."
Constable Block didn't deny the weather reports.
"But it's also very sunny. We get over 2,000 hours of sunlight a year," he said.
Here is another question:
Is Edmonton really that short of cops?
It's the economy, stupid.
Edmonton, with a metro population of a million people, is thriving because of an oil-and-gas boom in its province (that would be Alberta), and, unlike cash-strapped cities like Seattle, it actually can afford to add city services. It has around 1,400 constables and plans to add 170 more each year for the next few years.
The boom also means there are plenty of other jobs available.
"The Alberta economy is so big that right now, people can make money doing carpentry and working in the oil industry. A starting electrician makes more money than a starting police officer," Staff Sgt. Gary Godziuk, of the Human Resources Division, said by phone from Edmonton.
It's not uncommon for police departments to do out-of-town, even out-of-state, recruiting.
In April 2008, the Seattle Police Department got plenty of publicity when it went to New York City to recruit, leasing a billboard, posting fliers at bus stops across Manhattan and even taking out an ad in the New York Post.
Three hundred candidates showed up to take a written exam.
Seattle Police Recruiting Officer Monique Avery said 65 to 70 percent of those taking the written exam failed it — "the largest failure rate we've seen." One reason, she said, was that for a number of those taking the test, English was their second language.
Of those passing the written exam, she said, another 30 to 40 percent failed the physical-ability test, which includes sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. Ultimately the recruitment effort netted around 10 new officers.
With jobs scarce here, she said, Seattle Police now don't travel much farther than Pullman to recruit.
Avery said she didn't mind Edmonton coming here to recruit police, and she doesn't consider it poaching, even if the most sought-after recruits are those with previous police experience or currently working as cops.
"I firmly believe our department is a premier department," said Avery.
Cleveland is next
Edmonton Police will be in Seattle the rest of the week.
Those passing the written test, to be given Saturday, will have to make their way to Edmonton to take a physical test. If they pass that, and if the agency decides they'll make good constables, Edmonton Police will help speed along the process for the candidate to become a permanent Canadian resident.
Seattle is the first U.S. city where Edmonton has come looking for candidates. After this, it'll be Cleveland and then New York City. They're not recruiting in Southern states.
"I think the Northern states have a climate a little more like Canada," explained Block.
The weather forecast for the next few days in Edmonton shows a graphic with a big cloud and a bunch of snowflakes.
Lows at night, of course, will be well below freezing.
Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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