“We’ve had to reinvent policing continually” says new RRC Cop Instructor
By Sarah Jane Martin
Technology has changed the way police operate. To keep up with the changing industry, RRC has hired an instructor to teach a brand-new course on policing in today’s society – who better to do that than a cop.
Staff Sgt. Bob Chrismas served in the Winnipeg Police Service’s first Internet Child Exploitation Unit, investigating cases of online sexual abuse, and studying social psychology of predatory behavior. Their advanced unit served as a model for emerging I.C.E. Units across Canada.
Now, he is preparing to teach a course for the first time at Red River College (RRC), called Policing in the 21st Century. The course, which is part of RRC’s Justice and Public Safety Program, will explore the history, evolution, and future of policing in Canada.
“We’ve had to reinvent policing continually,” says Chrismas.
Dierdre Shore, the Program Manager for RRC Community Services, says the department wanted someone with real-world experience to share with students. Chrismas, 56, was an ideal candidate to teach the class. For starters, he wrote the textbook, Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes.
“He’s so approachable and community-minded,” says Shore. “Looking at his book, it’s just so full of information that you need to have if this is the area that you’re wanting to pursue.”
The book’s cover shows an iPhone with an old manual typewriter displayed on its screen, the kind Chrismas used when he first learned to type reports in recruit class in 1989.
It represents the shifting landscape of policing since he began. At a time where nearly everyone has access to a recording device and can instantly upload videos online, police officers and emergency responders are scrutinized more than ever.
“You can count on whatever you do in the street playing out on social media, or even mainstream media, before you get back to your office to write a report,” says Chrismas.
As videos of police forcefully apprehending civilians continually get shared online, often without full context of the situation, anti-police sentiments and calls for body cameras for all officers have emerged Chrismas observed, but he says nobody wants body cameras for all officers more than the officers themselves.
“They want people to see the truth, rather than the partial story.”
After three decades working with at-risk youth and victims of sex crimes, Chrismas is second-in-command in the Winnipeg Police Service’s Community Support Unit and has earned his PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies.
He is proud to share the fact that he dropped out of school at age 16, in hopes that it will inspire at-risk youth to carry on with their studies.
“I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to continue my education. I want to give back to the community. What better place than a community college.”