The Ontario Provincial Police are hiring. With more than 500 police officers set to retire by the end of 2017, recruiters are scrambling to find strong candidates. At the Hawkesbury detachment, nearly a dozen police officers were hired this year, with another two expected to arrive in the New Year.

Hawkesbury OPP detachment spokesperson Constable Mario Gratton told The Review that recruitment is active and ongoing. On March 18, the OPP will be participating in the 6th edition of the Employment Services Centre Job Fair, in Rockland. It’s part of an ongoing effort to attract candidates living in eastern Ontario and western Quebec. Gratton said that bilingualism is of particular importance in this region.

“We hire between four and six new people each year, mostly due to movement between the detachments. Some officers are looking to move closer to where they live,” said Gratton.

Bryan MacKillop is the director of the OPP recruitment unit and he is the former detachment commander for Hawkesbury. MacKillop says that the more diverse the candidates are, the better.

“We need diversity. We require a range of candidates with different cultural, social and academic backgrounds. We’re looking for people who will bring a wide range of skill sets. It’s important to have a balanced portfolio and to show commitment to your community,” said MacKillop.

In order to qualify to become a police constable you need to be a Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age. You must be a high school graduate, but preference may be given to candidates with a post-secondary education, or equivalent experience.

MacKillop said that recruiters aren’t necessarily looking for candidates with degrees in criminology or law. Rather they are looking for people who picked a program and consistently excelled.

“We are looking for a level of leadership and engagement within the community. It’s also important that they have solid driving abilities. We need people who are able to respond in the worst conditions,” said MacKillop.

After applying to the OPP, candidates are required to pass medical, psychological, security and financial assessments. Candidates should be physically fit and capable of attending the OPP police college. They also need to be willing to serve at any of the OPP’s posting locations in the province.

Selection is competitive. Ontario’s police force employs around 5,300 uniformed officers within an organization that is nearly 10,000 strong.

With hundreds of senior officers set to retire within the next year, MacKillop said it’s important to begin gradually hiring new candidates who can learn from the retiring constables.

“Now is the best time in our history to encourage someone to apply. There are so many careers within this one career. More than 75 per cent of our force remain constables, but there is so much opportunity. Virtually any career you will find in the civil service, you will find here. This includes tactics, crime, forensic identification, communications, photography, aviation, canine divisions and computer-based skill sets,” said MacKillop.

Cyber crime is a growing problem in society and MacKillop said it has created a particular demand for more officers capable of not only finding cyber criminals, but developing ways to stay ahead of them.

The OPP has turned to social media in an effort to attract more future officers and to better showcase the various job opportunities that are available.

“We have a totally virtual campaign. Our Facebook recruitment page has 35,000 followers. It enables us to host virtual events and ride-alongs. Its breaking barriers down for us and letting candidates better understand what we’re all about,” said MacKillop.

To learn more about careers in the OPP, visit