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Police Officer Talk with Sgt. Kendall Booth
Kendall Booth is currently a sergeant in the Young People Support Branch of the Edmonton Police Service. He has 13 years of policing experience in different areas of the EPS and was a teacher for 15 years prior to that.
Police officers protect the public, detect and prevent crime and perform other activities directed at maintaining law and order. They are employed by municipal and federal governments and some provincial and regional governments.
The employment outlook will be good for Police officers.
Completion of secondary school is required.
Completion of a college program or university degree in law and security or in the social sciences is usually required.
A three- to six-month police training program is provided.
Physical agility, strength, fitness and vision requirements must be met, and psychological or other tests may also be required.
Experience as a constable and the completion of specialized courses are required for detectives and sergeants.
$50.18/hour – Median wage in Edmonton Region
(Visit the jobbank.gc.ca Canadian Website For Most Recent Numbers)
Full Length Episode:
Complete Episode Transcript
Today’s guest is Kendall Booth.
Here’s our Job Talk with a Police Officer.
Welcome to the Job Talk Podcast.
Where we talk to people who love their jobs.
Our guests open up about their challenges surprises and secrets to success in their industries.
Through conversation we explore their careers past work experiences and the education that got them to where they are now.
What I like to do in these podcasts.
I like to take you back to when you were a high school student.
What kind of student were you in high school, Kendall? Oh, it’s been a while.
To be honest, in high school I went to more of a private high school.
So for me, I would go to school like subjects usually about half of day, and then I’d work the other half to to pay for student bills. So to be honest, I was probably an average student in most subjects.
Of course, I preferred some to others, like social studies and English were my preferred subjects.
I struggled to be honest a little bit with mathematics and some of those other ones.
And of course, I very much enjoy physical education because sports and so like I said, is it was a great experience Taught me to grow up a little bit, living a little bit more on my own, working while I was going to school, paying some bills and doing things like that.
So it was definitely a good life experience.
What was your first post-secondary experience when you graduated from high school? So after graduating from high school, I actually went to it was on the same campus, so it wasn’t as much of a transition as it would be for for some people.
I lived in student housing on campus on my own.
So again, it was a little bit of a transition.
A lot of the friends that I had in high school went to the same college.
I think the big things for me going into college were just it was a struggle to know what I was going to do, what I wanted to study.
My first year was pretty much just general studies from there.
Went into elementary education and just like any other, you know, suppose I really did enjoy some of the subjects that I did.
Other ones that I found were more general or not really applicable to what I wanted to do.
Not so much, but for me, a couple of things I enjoyed as electives were psychology and sociology classes just to study about people.
And that was a four year degree, I’m assuming, for education.
Or is it five years? No, correct. It was a four year degree program.
I took some summer courses just to speed up a few things.
So again, a bit of compressed study schedule I guess, on summer, but it was definitely a great experience.
So I think, you know, just living there on campus for high school and college taught me to grow up in a few ways. And it was education.
So was it elementary or high school that you were leaning towards? It was elementary.
I’ve always enjoyed working with young people, and to be honest, I didn’t want to specialize in one subject area.
I wanted to to generalize a little bit more.
So I think a lot of education students probably find that in your courses you learn a lot and it’s a lot of subject material.
But the true learning comes when you do your practicum, when you’re actually out in the classroom, interacting with the students, with the the teachers who will teach you a lot of the really useful knowledge.
What was your first professional experience after graduating with your education degree? So actually, my first professional experience was substitute taught in a few classrooms right after I graduated, which was a great experience.
Every classroom was very different, and you really don’t know what to expect coming into it.
But my first full time position is classmate of mine and her husband had gone over to South Korea to teach for a couple of years so after she came back, I spoke with her for a while, learned some things.
She put me in contact with someone over in South Korea who was writing an institute and through that I got a job over in Korea.
So try to cram as much knowledge as I could about the culture and the language before I went, which wasn’t a lot.
But it was a really a really interesting way to get into studying overseas.
How many years did you live in South Korea? So that’s a it was funny because when I first went to Korea, my plan was for a year or two just to get the experience and pay off the huge student loans, have a chance to travel.
I actually ended up staying for just over 13 years, so it was for quite a while.
And the reason why I stayed for that long, honestly, was I really enjoyed the experience.
I enjoyed the work that was doing and it was had a chance to save a bit of money, but also to do a lot of traveling.
I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to a lot of different areas in Asia, Europe, Australia and some other areas like that.
And just to learn so much about the culture the people are very welcoming in that great culture and where I lived.
So overall fantastic experience.
How long did it take you to gain an understanding and to be able to speak Korean, do you think? I suppose one person told me that you haven’t really truly learned to speak the language until you dream in that language.
So for me I, I think it’s really important for anybody who travels to really engross himself in the culture because I found that a lot of my colleagues there would just hang out with other foreigners, they would go to expat bars.
They didn’t really learn as much as they could.
So a good friend of mine and I really spent a lot of time with our friends, our Korean friends.
So whether that be students or friends outside of the school involved in sports, they’re involved in some different clubs and activities.
And also after being there for about a year and a half, I transferred to work at a university which is quite a large university, and my friend and I started taking our master’s program at the university.
But to do so, we had to pass a Korean language equivalency test, which I honestly failed the first time.
Yeah, it was pretty tough.
So I had to take a lot of formal Korean classes the majority of it was language, but some of it was culture as well.
And that’s when I probably learned a little bit more of the formal history of the language and things like that, not just the daily conversations.
So it did take me some time.
It’s a very different language than in English structurally with the grammatical structure and the characters and so on.
But I think it was a great experience to to learn some of the things and very beneficial in what I do now too, for sure.
And we’ll get right into that.
So you spent 13 years working and living in South Korea.
What made you decide to come back to Canada? And where did you end up when you returned to Canada? So I think there were a few things.
One of the biggest reason why I stayed as long as they did is I met someone in Korea and they got married there.
So the difference between one of the bigger differences for youth between Korea and Canada is just the amount of time they put into their studies.
So our oldest son, when we started considering leaving Korea at the time, he was just entering into kindergarten.
And even at such a young age, all of his friends and classmates, they would typically go to school during the day and then they would go to usually anywhere between three to six private institutes after school finished.
So for most of those young people, there wasn’t much of a social life or like being a kid To be honest, it was a lot of time spent in studies, and they would usually get home anywhere between eight and ten, even at that five, six year old group.
So we looked at something a little bit different coming home to Canada just for my son, for my family.
And then also just I’ve been away from family for quite some time.
So it was a consideration to come back, to move back to Canada, just to be closer to my family.
So we started looking and we definitely started saving hard housing prices.
Like we started looking in 2006 housing prices were at a certain level, but by the time we were actually moving back in, 2008 prices had almost doubled, which was a bit of a shock but I was fortunate someone connect me to the college at Grand Prairie and they were looking for an instructor at Grande Prairie College It was it was really funny because we came back in February and we can’t hardly even to the airport, it was about -35 degrees and my wife never experienced anything like that before.
So we came out of the airport.
If those revolving doors came outside, she just gasped, said nope and turned around, went right back to the airport.
So it was a shock to a lot of ways.
Moving from Seoul, which is a huge city with a huge population and very dense to ending up in in Grande Prairie.
And your wife settled into the Canadian culture well.
And she enjoys it now, I’m assuming.
Oh, yeah, very much.
She’s a very strong person in a lot of ways.
Um, and thankfully for that that she’s, she’s with me, but she, she really engrossed herself in a lot.
You know, Canadian culture is not easy.
But then you’re looking at northern Alberta and that’s a different type of culture there, too, right? So she really did engross herself in the culture in a lot of ways.
We were there.
We did make some really good friends up in Grand Prairie that we just had to leave when we, when we did move.
But yeah, it was an adjustment for sure.
And even for me, the reverse culture shock after having lived in Korea for 13 years, to acclimatize myself back to the culture here in a lot of ways, and of course, things that changed over the 13 years that I had gone to.
So for sure.
When did you start to consider police service work? So about, I say, six months to nine months into working at Grande Prairie College, I realized that long term for my family, that wasn’t the greatest position to be in just because of the pay scale that they had there, the benefits and so on.
So I started looking at alternative career paths, I guess, and I looked at a few things.
I looked at the oil fields which, you know, could be extremely lucrative and to do some things there.
But the family life balance wasn’t the greatest in that type of career.
And the type of work I’d be doing.
There is a recruitment advertising that actually saw when I was looking through different job opportunities for them, complete service.
They’re going to really coming to Grande Prairie.
So I, I sent them a message.
They replied that they’d be coming at a certain date and to start with an application package, Let’s talk about the the training that you did to become a police officer.
Let’s talk about the things that you enjoyed, maybe what some of the challenges were through through training.
What was that whole process like? You know, everyone comes into the process with some expectation, I guess of things that they think the reality might be.
And I think, you know, being in education for 15 years prior to coming in probably served me well in this study, fortunately, at the Scholastics and learning new material and just different ways to study and take tests and prepare and things like that.
So that portion for me coming in wasn’t too bad.
Of course, at that time I was 36 years old, so I was one of the older students in the class.
It was more for me that the physical portion of it, to be honest.
We had just moved from Grand Prairie.
We had a three month old son or younger son at the time to so that kind of the grind that you go through your class, the physical and mental fatigue every day that you experience and try to balance up with you know, family and life as well.
It’s not easy.
It is very difficult.
There are certain experiences that you go through during recruit class that can be very mentally taxing or physically or a combination of both.
There are certain days that they put you through certain experiences just to stress you on both physical and mental side.
So there I never thought about quitting.
That never really entered my mind.
But I know for some people it was extremely difficult within the first few weeks.
There are people who come to the realization that this may not be the career for them.
So I think of any class that starts either due to people making that choice or sometimes through an injury that happens, the class doesn’t finish return, turn, classes finish.
So it is one of those things.
I think the more you can prepare going into that type of experience, the better you are.
When you’re talking about being physically fit, knowing some what some of those expectations might be going to class to be able to prepare for those, and then also just to talk to police members, people who have gone through talking to the recruiting staff, and they’re very open and really welcoming the questions that come through because that will give you a better candidate and maybe people who truly are there for the right reasons and are willing to put in the work.
Yeah, that’s that’s extremely important.
Is 36 years old as I considered older to you to be going through the training course.
Yeah, it’s a little bit on the older side.
Like there were people older than that.
But, you know, for me, like I talked about the physical part of it, you know, we had someone in our class that was WHL hockey player and was 21 years old coming to class in excellent physical condition.
So when you’re looking at competing with, you know, someone who’s 15 years younger and, you know, made a living in sports and was around that type of environment all the time, that physical part of it, it was a challenge.
So that’s one of those things is I think, you know, they’re not looking for you to be the same or in the same level.
They’re just looking to see if you’re willing to push yourself and to challenge yourself to, to do the best that you can.
What was, what was enjoyable during your training? A you must look at a few things that you were doing and maybe it was fun.
Were there any moments where you were actually enjoying some of the physical activities that you were doing? Yeah, it is funny, you know, coming into class, they say, you know, there’ll be memories that you always have and some really enjoyable things.
And I think if you focus on some of those positive things, it really does help because some things are difficult.
I think a lot of it is the friendships that you form because you go through that same experience with the other people in that class.
So again, learning some of those people you can depend on when you’re in a stressful situation and just looking at the reaction and the strengths of different people in your class, that knowing later on when you’re in the same career together, maybe you can rely on some of those strengths that other people have when you’re going through a certain experience or need someone that has that skill set strength.
And then also the training staff, really good training staff.
And some of the people that were in training, I still will call to ask for advice or just, you know, connection to different things that I might need for different parts of my career.
So those are some really positive experiences that I had.
Yeah, for sure.
How long is the training period? So this is something I was trying to remember the other day and of course I think my memory isn’t always correct when you start training.
Back in some days seemed like an eternity, and then some things seemed to go pretty quick.
So I honestly can’t give an exact date.
Basically the phases of it though, like we were in the actual recruiting center of the recruit class.
I can’t remember if it’s like four, five months or something like that that we are in that environment.
And then we go to it’s called Lock 2, to which you go out on the street with their training officer and you’re actually taking calls for service as an officer on the street.
And you go through that phase and you’re evaluated continually throughout that phase So there’s definitely some checks and balances there.
And then at that time there was our graduation, but then we had a probation period that went through for a certain amount of time.
And then we came back for a final two weeks just to tie everything up.
I think the process has changed now where I don’t think they go back to that third block, but I think, you know, through time, just like any other organization, they found some things that they could definitely change.
And to make better over time.
So that’s something that in talking to recruits, I go to train recruits on some of the things that I do now.
And it seems like just a better process than what it was when I went through.
When you graduate into becoming a full fledged police officer, Is it called patrol? Is that where you go to first or what is the first experience being a police officer? Yeah, so they actually when I went out, what they did is for two weeks, you basically come out and you’re shown around the division where you can be working, which is a patrol division.
So you’re showing around some of the community resources that we had, some of the different officers within our patrol division station, some of the different areas of the area that we were going to be working in.
So an area, for example, we spent one day with our beats officers on foot walking into an area that’s, you know, has a little bit more of that disorder within the community and just learning how to talk to people on the street, because that was, you know, a very difficult thing.
You can go through as many scenarios as you want, as much training as you want.
But the actual getting out, talking to real people in real situations, that is a very steep learning curve as well for sure.
And being a part of the community, you are a part of the community.
Could you talk a little bit? I want to get into the position that you’re in now and your day to day work with that.
But can you give our listeners an idea of what a typical day looked like when you were on patrol? Yeah.
So coming out on patrol, I mean, the start of your day was pretty much the same where you go in, you’d have your work out before shift began.
You get your equipment ready, you get dressed, you make sure you have a car ready for the day because you shared cars all the time.
So you have to make sure that your car has gas, that your car is cleaned out.
There’s nothing in the car that shouldn’t be nothing remaining from that evening or whatever else it is, just to make sure everything’s ready to go.
So for me, typically I’d go in early because I like to to make sure everything’s ready to go.
And I have any outstanding reports or any other word from that either the set before the day before was finished.
So then I was clear and the date was open for me to take whatever came up.
Then what we do is the beginning of shift.
We would go in with our squad and our sergeant would lead what we call a parade.
And in that parade they give us information around what’s happening, uh, current events or outstanding things that might be happening things to be aware of.
And then also they’d let us know who we’d be working with if we had a partner for the day and then what area of our division we’d be working in.
So kind of just a sign that that work partnership and that workload that you’d be doing as well.
But beyond that, there is no typical day when you come into the station and go to your car and you just let our dispatcher know whatever is out there, send me to the first call.
So that could be anything from someone complaining.
I’ve been to call where a neighbor complained that their neighbor cut a swath in their grass, which is fairly low key.
It’s just a neighbor dispute anything to that or I’ve come on to someone being shot as they logged on and you’re going straight to that.
So again, um, the typical day is a typical where you could be faced with, with anything at all.
What position are you in now? And can we talk a little bit about what your day to day is with with the job that you’re doing right now? Sure.
So I was promoted to a supervisor position of a sergeant about five years ago.
And I started in a patrol division and it was a sergeant there for a few years after that went to downtown beats, which is that foot and a bike typically during the day.
And then it came to where and presently which is in the young people or young person branch.
So basically I am in charge of a unit called Diversion First.
And what our unit does is for frontline officers when they respond to a call and a youth has committed a criminal offense, they investigate and they can make that determination if that offense is a nonviolent offense, which includes just a simple assault or some other types of offenses that meet our mandate is that instead of laying a criminal charge, that they can refer that youth to our program.
And once we receive that referral we gather some information that we might have about that youth or the situation, and then we’ll do a call with their caregiver whether that be a parent or group, home provider or grandparent or whoever it is, we’ll do something called an intake with them, and we’ll go through a structured conversation with them to find out more about that youth and the situation there in and again, we’re looking to provide not only support for that youth, but also who’s around them.
So whether that be parents, grandparents, group, home other people in their life that are important to them, we then host what’s called an agreement meeting.
So in that agreement, meeting, typically we will bring either one of our formal partners, which is the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club Big Sisters to the area and we will bring in one of their staff with us.
And in that meeting, what we do with that youth, with their caregiver, with that youth worker in with us is we will go through a few different steps.
We will look for that used to tell us what happened.
So their account of what happened on that day, what happened, why they made that decision, what was behind it.
And again, we’re just looking to see if they take ownership of what had happened there.
They were looking at how do we how do we make that right? So we use like a restorative justice approach in that we want to make sure that that youth understands what happened and then also how do we make it right, whether it be if they assaulted a student at school.
So how do we bring more of that closure for both sides on what happened and a better understanding of each other? For example, another thing might be shoplifting.
We deal with shoplifting files quite often.
So in the shoplifting files, quite often we’ll have the youth read out an apology letter.
And that’s one of the hardest things for them to do.
Just because they have to think about what happened, why that happened, and how it impacted others.
And that’s a big thing we focus on too, is who have you impacted with your decision and then kind of widen that scope of understanding, right? Because most youth, they’re kind of thinking about, you know, how does this affect me? So when you start having that conversation, I had one yesterday was who did you impact? I said, well, you know, me and the store, and that’s to start a conversation.
But then you keep that conversation going.
Your parents have to take a phone call from the police.
The police have to take this time to come and investigate in a way from maybe a violent offense. They could be investigating and again, widening that scope of understanding, which is really important, especially for young people and how their actions impact other people.
But then we also look at the driving factors behind some of these behaviors.
So if you look at a lot of the youth that we work with have either mental health or addictions or experiencing homelessness, there might be a conflict in the family, a really unsafe situation home sometimes.
So again, we look at what’s going on in their life and then what can we connect that youth and or family or support to to strengthen them going forward, to increase their resiliency So we look to work with a lot of different community organizations.
Over the past year, we’ve worked with over 93 organizations in them to City of Edmonton and Area to connect those youth to.
And we want those connections to continue on as long as needed.
So we really work with the youth typically between one to two months, sometimes a little longer if needed.
But we basically want to be that bridge to those needed supports that continue on after done with them.
So that is the second part of what we focus on.
And then third, we look at opportunity.
So for a lot of our youth as well, they may be looking for opportunity, whether that be job skill training and connection to prospective employment that might be activities So the city of Edmonton, we can use the rec centers when working with youth, we use the YMCA and their facilities quite often.
So again, working with a lot of different there.
Again, Sport Recreation, we work with different groups with art and a lot of these different things just to look for opportunities for that youth.
We have some really cool opportunities with recording music, um, and getting studio time and working with artists and things like that.
So getting these youth engaged in pro-social activities that can continue on.
Would you say that’s maybe what you love most about what you’re doing right now? Make it you’re obviously making a difference in in their lives.
What do you love about the work that you’re doing? You know, patrol is a great position to be in because you get to help people who are in immediate crisis quite often.
But the difficulty about patrol is quite often you go to a situation, you resolve it, you don’t see the long term effect or what happens after you leave.
The benefit of the position I’m in right now is I get to see that progress.
I get to see the original occurrence, what happened, and that unfortunate choice.
But then I get to see that opportunity come for this youth that used to go through a process and then at the end, what’s changed their youth and their supports, whether it be parents or family.
And we get to document that because that original report, if it was left as is, shows that youth made a bad choice.
There was a criminal occurrence, and that’s it.
Whereas now we are able to add to that report successful to show the things that they have done and where they’re at and they’re done.
So for anybody reading that report within the police down down the road can see all these positive things they’ve done in the connections they have now.
So just to give a very general example, one of the youth we worked with was addicted, homeless, um, being exploited to working with this youth.
This youth is back in school, is getting job skills and turning addictions as well.
So just to be able to see that change and the change in attitudes toward police as well, like they’ve had a lot of negative interactions with police because the lifestyle before but now that increased trust and being willing to say, you know what? We’ve had several youth who disclose things that have happened to them that they previously weren’t willing or didn’t feel safe enough to disclose that now they have.
So is there anything that, you know now after being having a career as a police officer that you wish you knew before you went into becoming a police officer? Yeah, I think there are always with any profession, I think a few things when you look back and think what would have been nice to know beforehand.
This job is not an easy job.
Um, there are things that you will see and hear that will affect you for the rest of your life.
And because of the things they see, hear, experience throughout their career, it does change people sometimes in a positive way, but sometimes it can be a little more in a negative way.
So I think just knowing who you are and being strong and who you are really does help, but also have those supports and be honest with those supports.
And ask them to to be honest with you.
Are there any myths that you’d like to dispel about police officers or a career being a police officer? Well, yeah.
The first one is we don’t all like donuts.
We don’t really Right.
And the funny part about that, though, is that before becoming a police officer, I didn’t drink coffee at all.
But because of shift work, and the grind like there are sometimes when I was in patrol where I would work from 9 p.m.
to eight in the morning and then have to attend court to testify during the day and then go back to work that night and then back in court again the next day.
So it is very difficult.
It’s very hard on you to do those things.
So, yes, Police do often drink coffee.
But the donut part…
Not so much who it’s like donuts don’t.
But I think another part of the myths is just that the police aren’t approachable.
A lot of people see the uniform or the car or whatever it is is a bit of a barrier.
And it’s it’s quite the opposite for me.
There are some cases the public were involved in a high priority or very stressful or violent call were that’s not the time.
But most of the time, most officers are very approachable and really like speaking to members of the public especially know if someone has a chance to say thank you.
And so it is amazing, at least for me, just a simple little thing, like say thank you or fist bump or how good that police officer feel because we we we are definitely not emotionless people, even though sometimes I think we’re portrayed that way.
What advice would you give somebody considering a career as a police officer? I think there’s a few things that definitely you can do is is number one.
And the most important thing is talk to people, talk to people who are in policing I really appreciate the people that I knew, either through family or for work that were police officers, either city of Edmonton or Calgary.
Or RCMP, that I had an opportunity to kind of talk to them and pick their brains about.
Some of the very things you’re asking me right now in this interview.
To basically to know what you’re getting into.
Another good step for that would to be to have a ride along, right? Is to say, you know, I’m very interested in this career but I would like to experience what that like you’re asking me for what that typical day looks like for an officer out on patrol.
As far as other things that people can do is just life experience.
I know that having a criminology degree or some other degree related to law enforcement from college or university is is beneficial in the education that you get.
But just becoming a more well-rounded person I think, is really important to get life experience, to kind of push yourself outside of your comfort zones.
Sometimes in either whether it be travel or volunteering for different groups or just meeting different people from different walks of life.
My experience in Korea benefited me in so many ways, and just being able to see things through other people’s eyes a little bit better and to be more patient and more understanding with people to talk to.
So the more you can do those types of things, I think the more benefit you’ll have coming into this type of group for sure.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you may I may have missed through through this interview, or do you think we covered everything? Well, one of the things I’d like to add, though, to is as much as I said, you know, it is a difficult career and it is it is a job I love very much.
And it’s because there’s opportunity to do so many things.
It can be a very rewarding job.
And the things, you know, the difficult things there are youth in my program that aren’t successful, unfortunately.
And it’s it’s really tough sometimes.
And you got to be okay with the fact that you did the best that you could and tried as hard as you could.
It just wasn’t the time for that person.
And you have to be okay with that because if you can’t let that stuff go, it’ll eat at you for sure.
But like I said, is this this is a great job.
And anybody looking to get into this career, I think you just need to do your research getting into and understand how good of a job it is.
And don’t let other people criticism about police from certain people or stereotyping police in a negative manner influence your decision and that is actually talk to the people who do the work.
Well, with that, Kendall, I just want to thank you for joining us.
Thank you very much for your time.
Oh, thank you.
I appreciate it.