Special Constable Program celebrates 20th anniversary

Rick Percival, the fire prevention officer in Facilities Management and Planning, and Michael Warner, special constable with the Department of University Safety, were among the first graduates of Carleton University’s special constable program 20 years ago. (Kristy Strauss Photo)

Twenty years ago, Rick Percival and Michael Warner became two of Carleton’s first special constables – and they are still dedicated to keeping the university campus safe.

“This place is more than a job,” says Warner, who still serves on Carleton’s special constable team. “It’s more like my second home.”

The Department of University Safety will mark the program’s 20th anniversary in a celebration held at Robertson Hall on Oct. 15.

The special constable designation means that the Police Services Board has approved the applicant be granted peace officer powers – which allows the special constables to make arrests, conduct investigations, and charge someone under certain provincial laws. Special constables do not lay criminal charges but work with the Ottawa Police Service in cases where criminal charges would be appropriate.

When Warner and Percival graduated from the program 20 years ago, they were sent to the Ontario Police College and went through the same testing and training as police offers. In October 1993, they were officially sworn in during a ceremony held at Ottawa police headquarters.

Today, those in training are put through use of force instruction and testing, and must complete written tests on topics such as federal and provincial laws, case law and use of force.

Percival – who’s now the fire prevention officer in Facilities Management and Planning – worked as the university’s community relations officer in the summer of 1992. He remembers when the university started considering the special constable program.

“The university decided to move towards community-based policing,” says Percival. “They recognized we had to start with a program that had very similar training to what police officers would take, and evolve out of that.”

Warner, who has been with Carleton’s safety department since 1982, adds that the special constable program also meant that Ottawa police officers could focus their resources on the city.

“It frees up police officers to do other calls, while we can deal with the university community,” Warner says.

Allan Burns, director of University Safety, says that it’s not too common for universities in Eastern Ontario to have the special constable status.

Outside of the Ottawa Police, the only other agency in the city that has special constables is OC Transpo.

“It’s quite an honour to have this status in the City of Ottawa,” Burns says. “It’s a higher level of service that we can provide to Carleton.”

Burns believes people feel safer on campus because there are special constables on site.

“This status gives us the ability to be first responders and handle things in the best interests of our students because of our knowledge of the university,” he says.

After 20 years, Percival and Warner still have a passion for Carleton and feel proud that they were among the first graduates in the special constable program.

“It’s a beautiful campus,” says Percival. “Where else would you see such diversity?”

Warner adds that he feels it’s a privilege making Carleton a safer place, and he couldn’t imagine working anywhere else.

“I feel I’d be letting down the university if I left here and went somewhere else,” he says. “I like Carleton. I’m attached.”


This entry was written by Kristy Strauss and posted in the issue. Bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media: http://carletonnow.carleton.ca/?p=11292

Kristy Strauss

By Kristy Strauss

Kristy Strauss graduated from Carleton's journalism program in 2009. She is a regular contributor to Carleton Now. She has worked as a reporter for the Kemptville Advance. She currently reports for EMC Ottawa South.

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