A glimpse inside Canada’s Military Police Academy

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By Mark Giles, Borden Citizen

The almost five-month course is tough, but it’s meant to be that way. The job military police graduates will be doing once they hit the ‘street’, isn’t always an easy one – and they need to be ready.

For the Canadian Forces Military Police Academy (CFMPA), part of the CFMP Group – one of two national-level Canadian police agencies – the task involves many of the same challenges facing their civilian police counterparts, as well as some unique ones, such as its international role in providing security and policing support to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) missions in operational areas around the world.

Now in a state-of-the-art training facility, named after Col James Riley Stone – a former CF Provost Marshal and founder of the MP Fund for Blind Children, who was known for his high standards and dedicated instruction – MP training has been conducted at CFB Borden  since 1968.

“Our goal is to train military police personnel for the challenges they’ll face,” said Lt Adam Ward, officer commanding the CFMPA’s training company. “For new MP recruits, this involves an intense, comprehensive program, which – like those in civilian police academies – includes a combination of classroom and practical training aimed at preparing them for a wide range of duties and situations.”

Range of options to minimize risk

The curriculum for new MP recruits has 10 modules covering theory and frontline tactics for law enforcement duties, investigations, security, community policing, responding to emergencies, the use of force and other areas. In mid-March, the focus was on use-of-force training, which is aimed at minimizing risk to MP personnel and others during frontline encounters involving known and unknown risks.

Whether dealing with an aggressive impaired driver, a subject with an edged (knife or other sharp item) weapon, or someone otherwise physically resisting lawful arrest, using force is always the last option – although it may have to be used immediately in some situations where violence is threatened and imminent, or already in progress.

“We teach a range of approved options, which can be used when reasonable, necessary and proportionate,” said Sgt Brian Haggith, the CFMPA’s lead instructor for use-of-force tactics. “The use of force is always a last resort, and our goal is to resolve situations in other ways, but sometimes force is necessary.”

When there are no other options available and force is required, the responses may involve the use of physical control techniques, pepper spray (oleoresin capsicum), baton or firearms. Providing practical and realistic scenarios is key to supporting successful training outcomes; primary among them being well-trained MP personnel who are ready to handle a range of challenging situations, while at the same time minimizing risk to themselves and others.

Image gallery

  • New MP personnel participate in use-of-force training
  • Sgt. Brian Haggith demonstrates a defensive exercise
  • Use-of-force instructors performing a training exercise

Mental toughness

“They need to have the ability, gained through tactical training and the development of mental toughness, to carry on and not quit,” said MCpl Daniel Prest, a military policeman at CFB Gagetown currently assigned as an instructor at CFMPA.

This mental toughness was very evident in the use-of-force training observed, especially during an exercise where MP recruits are themselves exposed to pepper spray and then go through three scenarios that cover the spectrum of options available to them, employing force that is reasonable, necessary and proportionate to each situation.

The scenarios allow candidates to employ the full range of use-of-force tactics, while fighting through the effects of pepper spray – building confidence in their skills and determination and providing a first-hand understanding of what it feels like.

“This training is a very valuable tool,” said Cpl Jessica Comeau, a candidate on one of the current QL3 (basic) MP courses. “Having been through this experience, we understand the effectiveness of pepper spray and develop a full appreciation of what it feels like.”

“It hurts as much as they said it did,” said Cpl Nathaniel Dobbs, another QL3 MP candidate. “What keeps you going is adrenaline, warrior spirit and our training, which prepares us to fight through challenges when things get tough.”

Recognized within Canadian policing community

The performance of MP candidates during the use-of-force module of QL3 training at CFMPA was extremely impressive, as they brought together tactical skills and mental toughness in preparation to join other Canadian MP serving Canada and the CAF at home and abroad. Achieving this requires course content and a quality of instruction that meets the high standards the CAF and others have become accustomed to.

“Throughout the training process, we monitor the students’ progress and ensure we stay with the approved curriculum, which is designed to provide the training our candidates require,” said PO2 Phetdavone Sananikone with the CFMPA‘s standards section.

While meeting the high standards expected internally, the CFMPA also works with many external organizations – often exchanging expertise with other police agencies and academies, while building professional relationships and contributing to the latest in training, tactics and technology.

“We work closely with a number of stakeholders and outside police agencies to develop and benchmark our training,” said Lt Ward. “The high level of police training offered at the MP academy is well recognized within the Canadian policing community.”

This recognition and delivery of high standards at the CFMPA reflect the example of the former CF Provost Marshal the facility is named after. From what we know of Col Stone, he would expect nothing less.

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