Oxford County Ontario Provincial Police has welcomed four new recruits.
Constables Scott Elsdon, Remi Wasilewski, Tom Samko and Mark Suffoletta began their first day on the job in Tillsonburg last Tuesday.
“I welcome the new recruits to Oxford County,” said Oxford OPP Inspector Tim Clark. “It’s good to see fresh faces and new faces out in the community. I look forward to their contribution to our organization.”
All four recruits entered the Ontario Provincial Police force from auxiliary policing programs in Oxford, Elgin and Lambton Counties.
Throughout their 18-month probationary period, the fourth class constables will be paired up with first class constables in the OPP who are trained as coach officers with varied backgrounds and years of experience, to learn about being a police officer in Oxford County.
“All of the recruits will be assigned to general law enforcement duties throughout their probation – that includes traffic initiatives, traffic stops, investigation of any and all crimes that come forward, working with the crime unit and assisting at any type of scene that comes up,” said Constable Stacey Culbert. “With their coach officer in the initial stages of that, and then there’s a gradual process for them to work on their own in a platoon setting, and then working with supervision from their shift sergeant.”
Two of the new officers will be based in Tillsonburg, one in Ingersoll and one in Norwich, however, they will be rotating throughout Oxford County during their probationary period.
“It’s a crucial period for us to evaluate their growth and to make sure that they are in the right position,” added Culbert.
“After joining the auxiliary program it just confirmed my ambitions, as something I wanted to do,” said Constable Wasilewski. “I would like to get on the highway enforcement team. A big part of that is drug interdiction – where you try to stop specific or identified individuals and try to determine if they’re in possession of drugs.”
All four constables have studied either Law and Security or Police Foundations at the college level and spent 13 weeks at the Ontario Police College in Aylmer and an additional five weeks at the Provincial Police Academy in Orillia, where they underwent both in class and practical training, such as scenario-based training, to ready themselves for their new careers.
“I used the auxiliary program as a pathway to get on the force,” said Constable Samko. “When you’re applying, you want to make yourself competitive, only one in 10 people receive an interview and I wanted to make sure I put my best foot forward.”
Being a police officer today takes a variety of skills, combined with experience and education, said Culbert.
“We also need officers with life skills, second languages and it also helps bridge the gap between our communication with the community and maintaining public safety. You have to remove that hat, as a police officer, and become a person that can understand what the needs are with that situation. There’s a lot of different roles that have to be played within policing.”
All four new OPP recruits had prior careers before they were hired as police officers, and each one brings their own life and work experience to their new job.
“We can interact with each other and discuss things that we’ve learned and how it pertains to how it’s going to be when we get on the road, as well as some of the experiences that we’ve had,” said constable Elsdon.
“I know that the OPP is very community oriented and I want to be involved in the community,” said Constable Suffoletta. “We are encouraged to park the car and walk the street -that’s something I’m looking forward to doing because it shows we’re involved in the community, it shows we have a good police presence and it shows we care.”