Toronto , Canada

Looking Ahead: the TPS Recruiting and Hiring Strategy

Toronto Police Service

December 21, 2012

Delivering police services in partnership with the city’s diverse communities keeps Toronto safe

For an organization to be progressive and competitive, it has to be able to attract the brightest and most creative minds. In the policing world, being the best also means being relevant in communities increasingly represented by people from different countries, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences.

Recognizing the benefits of diversity is an emerging global trend which public and private institutions are beginning to realize. A growing number of police services recognize the importance of diversity in their own ranks, and in their human resource management. When people bring an array of experience with them to a position, progressive change is never far behind.

Breaking New Ground

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) is the largest municipal police service in Canada and the country’s second largest police force (after the iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Toronto police serve a highly diverse population. Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken in Canada’s largest city and in a population of 2.5 million (5.5 million in the GTA), 49% of Toronto residents belong to a visible minority.

In 2005, when newly appointed Chief Bill Blair took office, the Toronto Police Service did not reflect Toronto’s growing diversity. Blair took decisive action by appointing the city’s first black deputy chief, Keith Forde, and putting him in charge of the organization’s transformation. “Not because it was morally the right thing to do,” explains Blair, “but because it was the smart thing to do. It was good business practice and it was going to make us more competent, smarter and better able to serve the communities we are mandated to serve and protect.”

Today TPS actively recruits in its diverse communities, emphasizing the importance of language skills, cultural competencies and diversity of perspectives. Recognizing it’s not enough to hire a diverse workforce, new recruits are encouraged to gain the experience and skills needed to move up into leadership positions. Since 2005 the proportion of visible minorities has increased by 86 per cent and aboriginals by 38 per cent.

“We hire, train and promote employees for the people of the city we are policing,” Deputy Chief Keith Forde said.


In 2009, newly minted Constable Trisha Barbero became one of the first three Filipino women hired to join TPS that year, breaking new ground for minority women.

It’s overwhelming,” said Barbero, a graduate school student when she applied. “I was quite surprised we are the first – you don’t expect to be a part of history like this.”

Barbero’s recruit class was made up of 16% women, 33% visible minorities, and 18% with previous policing or military experience. A total of 60% spoke a language other than English, with 22% speaking two languages or more, including American Sign Language, Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, French, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, to name just a few.

To recruit the best in the face of increased competition, and maintain its leadership in the policing field, the TPS Employment Unit is guided by a new “Recruiting, Hiring, and Customer Relations” strategy. The strategy includes an Ambassador Program, a Media & Communications Plan, a Blended Interview, and an Enhanced Mentoring & Recruiting plan.

Looking ahead, TPS Employment Unit priorities include programming to increase the number of culturally competent candidates applying to the police and maintaining its goals to provide first-class policing for the city through effective leadership, a dynamic work environment and sustainable funding.

Making it Work for You:

  • If you want to diversify your workforce, start with a strategy.
  • Define hiring targets and measure outcomes.
  • Support for your diversity strategy needs to come from the top and be funded appropriately.

For this Good Idea contact:

Peter Sloly, Toronto Police Service
40 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
M5G 2J3

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