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Compassion and Communication is key to policing

'I wanted to bring what I learned, especially with the mental health aspect, and bring that side and use it as an asset to my everyday role here'

“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.  

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This past July, the North Bay Police Service welcomed 10 of their newest recruits to their ranks in a formal ceremony.

One of those being recognized was Constable Tonisha Maisonneuve, a North Bay native who had actually joined the North Bay Police Service in August of 2021, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she and a couple of other officers had to wait for their induction ceremony.

“Getting to be a part of that ceremony was kind of like the closing of that chapter of my life to reflect on all the hard work I put in to get to where I was,” says Maisonneuve. 

“Not that the hard work stops, but to be able to showcase what led up to that in front of my family and the community, it was nice to have that moment. Other than graduating from the Ontario Police College we all got to say to ourselves that we made it, we’ve done a good job, now let's keep that going.”

Maisonneuve has lived in North Bay her whole life outside of a short stint in the GTA after graduating from Nipissing University with a Bachelor's Degree in social work.

She says it was the placements she took while earning that degree that turned her onto the path of policing.

“I did an eight-month placement with the Ontario Provincial Police as my last placement at Nipissing, and I got to meet a lot of awesome people, did some networking, and saw both the social work piece, and the policing piece, and saw how they meshed together,” she says.

“I found myself more drawn to policing and the roles and responsibilities on that side. I wanted to bring what I learned, especially with the mental health aspect, and bring that side and use it as an asset to my everyday role here.”

Maisonneuve says, “When you go into a field where you want to help people, the biggest question you ask is, ‘how do I do that?’ and there really are so many ways to do that. When I found the policing side, it really was this perfect mesh and I just had that moment of knowing that I could take everything that I had learned in social work and mold myself into an officer. My personality fits in with it too, I enjoy talking to people and so that really helps, but the knowledge that I have and the courses that I have taken have been extremely helpful.”

Maisonneuve says a lot of policing comes down to communication.

“We go to these calls and we are not only dealing with mental health but we’re having to use so many different communication styles and trying to figure out how to resolve the situation with someone and sometimes that means saving their life,” she says.

“We’re trying to navigate through tough situations, and I find that my social skills were very developed through the program I took and I find that it is helping me extraordinarily every single day.”

She adds it is very beneficial to be from North Bay and work as a police officer here.

“There are still things I learn about the city every day, however, running into people that I know has been very good for me so far,” says Maisonneuve.

“I haven’t come across someone I know where the outcome has been negative. Someone who is going through a really bad day and dealing with a crisis situation can be helped immensely when they see a familiar face show up and help them with that situation. That’s been a really rewarding part of what I’m doing. To come to work every day and help make the city a better city and protect the city and minimize crime as much as we possibly can is rewarding.”

Maisonneuve says being part of a smaller police service has its challenges on the staffing side, but also its advantages in the camaraderie. “It is a tight-knit group and I can’t compare it to any other service, but the relationships that we have are so tight and I think that we police in a different way. Everyone supports each other. You’re never alone here and the groups that we have here are awesome.”

Learning on the fly and being able to adapt is a key part of the job according to Maisonneuve.

“Things change every single day and every single minute. You could be going to one call, and then you get reverted to another call, and on the way, you have to figure out who it is you are going to see and what kind of situation you might be dealing with. You have to think on your feet,” she says.

“At the beginning of the shift, we get told what car we are driving and what zone we are going to cover, however that changes rapidly all the time. The officer in one zone can get tied up with something and then you get a domestic call come in and I would then have to cover that, even if it’s not in my zone. So we share the workload in that sense where it doesn’t necessarily matter what zone you’re in, you have to have that adaptability to take over in any given situation.”

Maisonneuve says for those looking to go into the police force, one thing to note is that it can be a lengthy process.

“The hard work and the dedication really do show and I think that you have to have many different morals and values and work ethic when it comes to the job itself and so they put that into the training purposefully, to see if we can handle it,” she says.

“I had a lot of good mentors and I’m very thankful for that. I had some connections in different cities who were able to mentor me and go over my application with me, prior to submitting it and going over different scenarios where they could see me utilizing my background and just chatting about the job itself. It’s a lot of work to just apply and it was a huge bonus to know what I was getting into, and whether or not it would be a good fit for me. You also have to make sure that you’re fit, both mentally and physically. There are so many components that have to be completed to eventually get to be a police officer.”

Maisonneuve says volunteering is something that is looked at very favourably by those who are in charge of the hiring process. 

“They want you to be involved in the community, even after you’re hired on. A lot of the officers here are still heavily involved in doing things around the community because the organization wants you to really know your community. I would highly recommend you get that on your resume if you’re going to apply for a job in policing,” she says.

And if you’re looking to see if it could be a line of work you would be interested in, Maisonneuve says you can reach out to be a part of a ride-along.

“A ride-along allows you to see what it is really like and you get an understanding of all the work that we have to do every day,” she says.

“Sometimes it is not glamorous, sometimes you’re at the station doing paperwork for long periods of time, and a lot of people don’t see that part of it. Most people think that you’re just on calls all the time and you’re driving fast every second of your shift, but it is not like that at all. I think it’s important for people to experience that first, before deciding if policing would be a good fit.”

 If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at m.sookram@outlook.com  


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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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