Harry Dhillon’s path into law enforcement was a circuitous one.
Since high school, he had always wanted to get into that line of work and, knowing there are many avenues out there, always made a point to keep his options open.
“I just wanted to be a positive role model in the community. I like problem-solving and helping people.”
At 18, Harry walked into an armed forces recruitment centre.
“Before I knew it, I was recruited with the army reserves with the military police. My very first uniform.”
He trained with them for seven years, the part-time gig providing the opportunity to travel around Canada and the U.S. In between stints with the reserves he studied criminology in university.
“The army really helped build my character, it kind of introduced discipline into my life.”
At 22, he became an auxiliary constable with Surrey RCMP, a volunteer position which gave him a taste for local law enforcement and gave him experience interacting with the public at community events.
Then, at 24, he joined the BC Public Service as a corrections officer.
The training has actually been fairly intense. The instructors really know how to push us to our limits
"That’s where I had the chance to really build on my communication skills,” he said. “Your leadership and communication skills really play a key role in controlling and de-escalating situations.”
It was while with BC Corrections that he worked alongside and interacted with members of BC Sheriff Services.
“I noticed a lot of teamwork and professionalism amongst the sheriffs. And sheriffs really have a good reputation among the law enforcement community.”
Harry did his research, liked the different career paths available within the Sheriff Service, and liked the idea of working regular hours – Monday to Friday, with evenings, weekends and holidays off, essentially the operating hours of local courthouses.
After he was hired He applied for a deputy sheriff position, was hired then sent to the Sheriff Academy at Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) for 16 weeks of Sheriff Recruit Training. After three months at the New Westminster campus, Harry was looking forward to a month out at several courthouses working alongside a field trainer before returning to JIBC for his last week and then, graduation.
“The training has actually been fairly intense,” said Harry. “The instructors really know how to push us to our limits. They have a great deal of knowledge and experience to offer. A lot of stories they told us have been an eye opener of what to expect, what to keep an eye out for.”
The training included driver training, which exceeded his expectations, physical fitness, firearms, and force options. Some lessons, such as crisis negotiation skills, will also provide day-to-day benefits. “I’m sure it’ll help in relationships,” he said with a laugh.
“Lots of people out there don’t know too much about what sheriffs really do unless they go to court for a situation,” he said. “Coming in here, I kept my mind open. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I really like it. I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to come here to JIBC. I have lots to learn still but I can speak for the rest of my class: we’re all excited to get out there now.”
For more information on how to become a sheriff and the Sheriff Recruit Training program, visit the Sheriff Academy program page.