Policing a dream career for Shavine Johnson

Category: Mature learners

Category: Student Profiles

Graduate Spotlight – Shavine Johnson

Shavine Johnson has always wanted to serve her community.

From a young age, she believed that a career in policing would be the best way to do that. While she was unable to pursue it in her native Jamaica, relocating to Canada in 2017 gave her another chance to follow her passion.

“I gave up on a dream back then. But when I came here, I realized I could actually act upon my dream.”

That realization brought her to Durham College, where she entered the Police Foundations program in January 2022. Four semesters later, she is ready to cross the stage at convocation and find the job she’s been dreaming about since childhood.

The learning and skills acquired through the diploma program are invaluable stepping stones for anyone considering a career in the field, according to program co-coordinator Mark Armstrong.

“It is an excellent foundation and students gain the life skills that are measured during the hiring process,” he said. “Students get realistic insight into policing through faculty experience, which gives realism to the program and a recipe for success.”

The program emphasizes the importance of physical fitness to prepare students for the demanding career ahead of them. It includes valuable certifications like Mental Health First Aid and Situational Awareness Specialist.

By constantly evolving and responding to community needs, DC has earned a stellar reputation among police organizations, according to Yvonne Armstrong, coordinator of the Advanced Law Enforcement and Investigations program and a professor in Police Foundations.

“Recruiters come to us now with job openings asking for our graduates. Our team has worked hard to improve and raise the bar so that we truly do lead the way,” she said.

It’s no secret that policing is a high-profile (and highly scrutinized) job. In the media as well as pop culture, the dangerous elements get most of the attention. But there’s a lot more to the life of a police officer than danger.

“You have the crime aspect; that’s a big part of it. But you also get to help others. A lot of people neglect the part where you serve the community,” said Johnson. “The reality is a lot of people see police in a bad light, but I wanted to look at the bright side of just serving my community and serving others.”

Though police officers must always strive for a peaceful resolution, they will inevitably deal with people who endanger themselves and others. But even enforcing the law can ultimately be of service to the person breaking it.

The ticket you give someone for not wearing a seatbelt may someday save their life or someone close to them. The individual you arrest for domestic violence may change their course and provide safety for future generations,” said Mark Armstrong. “You must realize that you make a difference that is important.”

While the dangers of policing can’t be denied, Johnson is determined not to let fear stand in her way. There are no safety guarantees in life, so rather than worrying about what might happen, she is already venturing into her community to make a difference. Volunteering at a local food bank allows her to meet the very people she hopes to one day serve and protect.

“We’re all human beings. We’re all capable of love and we all deserve it, and so I treat people with respect and I’m kind to them at all times,” she said.

That compassion, combined with everything she’s learned at DC, will make her the kind of police officer we’d all hope to meet when we’re in need.