Becoming a Police Constable

Policing Services

Constable Selection System Overview

Police Constable Career

A career in policing is primarily about working with people to ensure public safety through crime prevention and law enforcement. Police work requires the building of relationships in the community and sensitivity towards the needs of people from all races, cultures and backgrounds.

The Police Services Act describes key areas of responsibility for police constables:

  • Preserving the peace;
  • Preventing crimes and providing assistance to others in the prevention of crime;
  • Assisting victims of crime;
  • Apprehending and charging offenders; and
  • Executing warrants.

The Constable Selection System (CSS) is a comprehensive suite of assessment tools used to determine the suitability of police constable applicants in Ontario. Development of the CSS began in the early 1990s and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) was granted authority to sub-licence the system to individual police services in Ontario in 1998. Currently, 41 municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police use the system to assess candidates. 

The CSS was developed to address the long-standing recruitment challenges faced by police services. The ministry worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to research, design and test the system, and it was developed through the following process:

  •  Comprehensive research was conducted into what police officers do on the job, as well as, what police personnel and the public consider the core duties of a police officer to be;
  • Competencies were identified to capture the skills, abilities, knowledge and traits that applicants should demonstrate under an assessment to ensure that they are acceptable police candidates;
  • A system of instruments and practices was designed to select police constables; and
  • Throughout the development and pilot testing of the new system, the ministry incorporated contributions from representatives from various ministries, agencies, police services, policing organizations, community groups/organizations and from experts in psychology and cultural bias.

The CSS continues to be updated, based on changes in policing, research and other areas, and is continuously validated to ensure it reflects the requirements of a police constable in Ontario and is free of bias. It provides an opportunity for interested applicants to be assessed for employment by multiple police services that subscribe to the CSS, using the same selection criteria. It is also designed to prevent such problems as:

  • Multiple applications by candidates to police services across the province requiring costly and time-consuming multiple assessment of the same candidates;
  • Inconsistent assessment of candidates by police services with differing selection criteria; and
  • Potential application of arbitrary selection practices not grounded on actual job requirements.

For further information about the requirements for the CSS, including the medical requirements, please refer to Applicant Testing Services and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.