Police aim to expand diversity through mentor programme
Police are taking training into their own hands under a new mentorship programme aimed at boosting diversity in their ranks.
The programme’s goals include getting more female police officers into leadership and drawing more Bermudians into the ranks of firearms officers – a category in which the island’s force often has to recruit from the UK.
But Assistant Commissioner of Police Martin Weekes said skills-building under the programme was a two-way street, with mentors learning from their mentees.
“It’s not just about rank,” Mr Weekes told The Royal Gazette. “While some mentors are of a senior rank, this is about skills and abilities as opposed to what someone’s rank is.”
The programme started up late last year as a collaboration between police and the Bermuda Clarity Institute, a leadership and management coaching firm.
Mr Weekes said the idea struck him about five years ago as he set his own sights on climbing the ranks as an officer.
“The Bermuda Police Service had coaching and informal training-up, but there was nothing in place to develop those relationships,” he said. “One thing the BPS never had in place was a proper mentoring programme.”
After spotting news reports of the institute’s launch last year, Mr Weekes pitched the idea to BCI, who “jumped at the chance to be involved in both mentoring and BPS”.
The firm has a charitable foundation which proved “ideal” in getting police mentorship off the ground, with the BPS and the foundation splitting the cost of the programme 50-50.
Mr Weekes credited businessman and philanthropist Sean McNulty with backing the programme. “His dad was a policeman here many years ago – he wanted to give back,” he said.
“I approached BCI and they designed a bespoke programme for the BPS.
“The aims are to provide mentors and train them to give mentorship to people throughout the service.
“It’s not just people who wanted to be promoted. It’s for anybody wanting to be a better police officer and a better person.”
Mr Weekes said the need for diversity in the senior levels of the BPS “often gets brought up”, including the need for more women.
Four mentors were selected last September for one-on-one mentoring.
“I asked them nicely,” Mr Weekes said. “No one hesitated.”
Chief Inspector Arthur Glasford was among those who signed on as a mentor, going through training and getting paired with another officer.
Mentees were asked to step forward – and gradually did.
Mr Glasford said: “It was exciting and first of all humbling to be selected.
“It was a very diverse group with several years’ service across the board and in different areas of policing. Everybody brought different values to the table.”
Mutual respect was key, he said: “At the end of the day, the mentor does not supersede the mentee.
“I learnt from my mentee rather than being the one teaching – it’s a two-way street.”
Mr Glasford added that ego was never a factor.
“I found it ran very smoothly,” he said.
Mr Weekes said a second cohort was now being recruited for the programme.
“We’re very keen to make sure that we’re a diverse service, and represent the community of Bermuda,” he said.