Sports Helped Shape New Constables
The Sarnia police constables have a lot more in common than first meets the eye.
Although the four have taken different paths to get to where they are, they all gained valuable experience growing up playing team sports at a high level.
Take Dani Girard for instance, who played hockey for Queen’s University while she majored in Biology. She says although she had policing in the back of her mind, she was looking at persuing a career in healthcare.
“I figured with taking biology it would open a lot of doors for me, but going through some job shadowing through university I realized although I liked it, something just wasn’t clicking and I couldn’t see myself doing it long term,” says Girard. “That’s when I started to look into policing more seriously and it seemed to be a good fit and I got really excited by the idea of it.”
The St. Christopher graduate was a recipient of the Sarnia Sports Hall of Fame’s Ralph “Pappy Burr” Award in 2011. She grew up playing with the Lambton Lady Sting, and now that she is back in the area is looking forward to giving back to the program.
A little different path to policing for Steven Farlow, who comes from a background in law enforcement. It’s something he’s wanted to do for as long as he can remember.
“Being around that atmosphere at a young age, I’ve always wanted to help out the community I grew up in, I love Sarnia and I really want to help make a difference here,” says Farlow. “My first couple years of high school was when it set in that it was something I really wanted to do.”
Like Girard, Farlow played hockey competitively, four seasons with the Sarnia Legionnaires and even getting a cup of coffee with the Sarnia Sting. He currently suits up with several other former Legionnaires with the Petrolia Squires.
Chris Beauchamp is the only member of the class not from the area, but he’s more than familiar with Sarnia, having played for the Sting during the 2008-2009 season.
Similar to Farlow, he’s always had an eye on law enforcement,
“It’s sort of funny how things work out, I loved my time here in Sarnia, I went to Northern and I really enjoyed the people and fans here,” says Beauchamp. “Now eight years later I’m starting my policing career.”
Beachamp says he prepared for his policing career the same way he did during his playing days.
“The interview process can be long and stressful, it sort of reminded me of a lot of training camps I was involved in,” he says. “The competition for policing is very competitive, just like hockey, so I know it was something I had to fully commit to realize my goal.”
Cody Simpson is the final member of the class, and says although he played hockey growing up, his experience as a referee and linesman has helped him gain some valuable perspective.
“Sometimes you get some coaches who are all over you, and you need to have confidence in yourself and have thick skin, and I think that will really translate really well into policing,” says Simpson. “You have to be come and keep a level head when dealing with people like that.”
Last season was Simpson’s first as a linesmen in the GOJHL.
Sarnia Police Constable Shawn Osborne has been in charge of the training branch since 2004, and says it’s not by chance that these high level athletes also make good police officers.
“It could be any competitive organization, it could be hockey, dance, soccer, or anything. They have an element of discipline with playing and competing at that high level,” says Osborne. “Whether it’s self discipline, the acknowledgement of that coach-player relationship, all of this helps them in the recruiting process.
“They truly understand the idea of a team, and that’s huge for us. Trusting your fellow officers. We get in some very dynamic situations were officers’ lives might be on the line, and that’s when you need to rely on your team to help you get through those types of situation.”
He says recruits need to be dedicated if they are going to be successful, another quality that is very common among athletes.
“You can’t just knock on the door of the police station and say I want to be a police officer today, it’s a lengthy process just to get through the application stage, let alone the recruiting stage,” says Osborne. “If someone wants to be a successful hockey player they are committed to that at an early age, and that level of commitment is needed to become a police officer.”
Osborne says the process can take well over a year, sometimes two. That would be from the original application to when an officer finishes police college, which is very high demand both academically and physically.
He says that’s a good thing.
“Very tough process and a very tough program, but we want that, as a police service, we want the best of our officers, and the best for the people in the community we serve,” says Osborne.
The four were officially sworn in as Constables of the Sarnia Police Service on August 8.