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Gardiner Centre helps RNC leaders build their skills

Bill Morrissey and Brian Hurley of the Gardiner Centre, with Chief Joe Brown (seated) and Inspector Ab Singleton of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, developed a program to help the RNC train its leaders.

By Meaghan Whelan

Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are often seen as leaders in their community, but when these community leaders wanted to build their organizational leadership skills, they turned to Memorial University’s Gardiner Centre.

The constabulary is an organization unlike most others. New recruits complete rigorous training on policing skills and protocol, but there is limited training in organizational leadership. When members are promoted from constable into the supervisory ranks, they need to build their expertise in, managing and adopting to change, leadership styles, and a host of other management skills.

In the past, the RNC sent supervisors to the Canadian Police College for supervisory training, but it was difficult to get timely, cost-effective training for the RNC that would also meet operational requirements. A local solution would allow current supervisors to build their skills, and would also have the capacity to train the next group of supervisors who are now in the promotional pool.

The RNC worked closely with the Gardiner Centre to develop a customized, comprehensive program. The result was 15 days of modules on topics such as conflict management and building effective teams. Sergeants, staff sergeants and inspectors complemented their in-class work with reflective learning exercises to see how the topics apply to their daily work-life.

Inspector Ab Singleton is the officer in charge of training for the RNC and he also participated in the leadership program.

“It was a positive experience for me. I have attended similar programs out-of-province and I feel that this one is on par or even better. The location gave the training a local perspective and learning with so many colleagues helped us recognize the different leadership styles within the RNC and how best to work together,” he explained.

“In particular, the group discussions were relevant and productive. Instead of talking about hypothetical problems or challenges, we could talk about actual problems and how to solve them.”

This fall, 38 members of the RNC graduated from the program and Inspector Singleton said the RNC hopes to offer the program again in the future.

“Members thought it was great. The graduation ceremony that the Gardiner Centre held was well-attended by the participants. I think that speaks to how seriously everyone took the program and the value they took from it. Members take pride that they’ve completed the training and the RNC is proud as well. Training is not an expense, it’s an investment, and we hope to work with the Gardiner Centre again.”