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Why the four pillars of public safety matter

Most people go about their daily lives without giving much thought to the four pillars of public safety, unless it somehow impacts them directly. However, these pillars keep Canada functioning and protect the majority of its citizens against the few who seek to cause harm.

If you are considering working in one of the many roles available in public safety, you will be responsible for upholding these pillars. Therefore, it is essential to know exactly what they are and how they impact society. It’s a great career path to follow because, between several agencies, such as The Parole Board of Canada, The Canadian Border Service Agencies and many others, more than 66,000 people work in these roles. Qualified professionals are often in demand.

If you want to understand what constitutes the four pillars, how they impact society and how to choose a career where you will focus on upholding them, here’s what you need to know.

National security

National security relies on a range of people, from those working as security analysts to emergency service professionals such as ambulance drivers, police and those in the fire service. There is also an element of building trust and public cooperation, such as reporting anything that seems suspicious and helping the police or other professionals when the need arises.

If you wish to be a part of this, why not pursue one of the many roles available? You can significantly increase your chances of gaining one of the many public safety Canada jobs by studying with institutions that deliver courses in a flexible online format, making it easy to gain your qualification while respecting any pre-existing commitments you have.

The online Master of Public Safety degree and the graduate diploma are both qualifications offered in Canada that are aligned with the four pillars of public safety. These help prepare you for the career of your choice where national security is a major underlying factor. The options include becoming a firefighter or a law enforcement officer.

Depending on the role you choose, working in national security can have a range of impacts on society. In some higher roles, you could be involved in making or enforcing decisions and policies intended to make Canada safer. However, these can be challenging because there is often a fine line between trying to deter or prevent national security breaches and infringing on people’s basic human rights. There can be a lot of pressure on people in these roles to make the right decision or enforce an unpopular policy in an attempt to protect the majority of Canada’s citizens. However, these roles are also rewarding when threats are dealt with and prevented.

Society rarely sees the work that goes on behind the scenes because so few of these potential threats end up coming to light. Likewise, the debates and discussions surrounding protecting citizens are rarely made public. Often, the public will only find out about new policies when they are announced or in the late planning stages, and they will be told about tangible threats when they are publicly prevented.

It may seem like working in this sector could be a thankless job, but it allows society to function normally. People can go about their daily lives, working, socializing, and studying without ever knowing the details of individuals or organized groups who want to cause harm to them or those around them.

With the rise of technological advancements, a lot of work goes into tasks such as cybersecurity. Businesses rely heavily on technology to keep functioning. A cyber attack on any of these businesses could cause the most basic functions of daily life that we all take for granted to come to a standstill.

These are the types of scenarios where prevention is better than trying to fix the problems afterward. The impact is rarely felt by the public because the groups behind these cyber attacks are prevented from causing major problems. The rewards come from knowing everything is running as it should be or minimizing the impact when it’s not.

Border strategies

Border strategies are about more than just preventing certain individuals from entering Canada. Although that does play a role, there are often good reasons behind it. In extreme cases, it prevents a threat to Canada and its citizens. Those working in border strategies work closely with professionals in national security. Some of these professionals will have overlapping responsibilities.

Again, the major impact is only felt by society when something goes wrong, such as when a large amount of illegal substances are smuggled into the country and the drug problem worsens as a result. The larger impact on society can be an inconvenience when they might have to wait longer going through customs, if they are asked extra questions or if their luggage is randomly searched. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for them to see the bigger picture when they might be in a rush to catch a flight or just want to get home. Therefore, you might need a strong personality and resilience to work in border control, but ensuring nothing is smuggled into the country keeps everyone safer.

Of course, border strategies deal with enforcing immigration rules, too, and this can be a complex issue with so many individuals having their own reasons for wanting to enter the country. The policies around immigration can be broad, and it’s impossible to cover everyone’s individual circumstances. For those working in this field, it can be an unpopular job at times. However, the rewarding aspects of the job are talked about much less, and people in these roles ensure that anyone with permission to enter the country is able to do so.

There are also extreme circumstances where border strategies have to quickly step in, working with other professionals to keep society healthy or safe. One example of this was in 2020 when everything shut down and guidance had to be quickly delivered and acted upon to ensure the reduced number of people entering the country tested negative for Covid.

At the time, tens of thousands of people were getting ill all around the world. The death count was rising to staggering figures, and multiple agencies, including those working in border control, had a responsibility to limit the number of people infected. They did this by preventing more infected people from entering Canada. Testing and quarantine measures were set up and enforced.

Border service officer was just one of the roles involved in implementing this. Although we all hope to never see a pandemic on this scale again, it’s crucial in protecting the safety (and sometimes the health) of society. If you study for a Master of Public Safety degree, it’s one of the career options you might choose to pursue.

Countering crime

Crime covers a wide range of actions, and so does countering it. The broad scope of careers includes the police, which also has multiple sub-sections such as gun control and cybercrime. All of these roles are crucial for making society safer. This allows people to go about their daily lives and reduces the risk of being attacked or mugged. It also involves cracking down in areas where drug supply and use are rapidly increasing or where gun or knife crime is a problem. Again, it’s complex and few people see just how much work goes into it.

There is a lot of groundwork carried out by those working directly with the public, and also from those who are in positions where new policies are created or existing ones are adapted to match the current circumstances. One of these is cybercrime, which can be serious on an individual or wider level.

Identity theft can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, and although more advanced crimes have the potential to disrupt society on a wider level, these happen less frequently. Addressing both are considered important in countering crime. We’ve already mentioned how some of the risks of cybercrime are also national security problems. This is because the four pillars of safety often cross over, and different agencies exchange information where necessary to ensure they can effectively carry out their roles.

It might seem incredibly complex and daunting, but courses that many people study while pursuing these careers help prepare for this. For example, a Leadership and Ethics in Public Safety course covers theories of leadership and working with culturally diverse teams. Leading a team of people from all different backgrounds can enrich your team and reflect well on you if a leadership role is something you wish to pursue.

Both you and the public will benefit from the expertise and unique skills and knowledge of the individuals in your team. Because these roles involve protecting and communicating with a wide range of people, this works to your advantage. For example, having a diverse team means being able to understand specific cultures and ways of life and reduces the risk of offending innocent people. Your team can help you find a healthy balance between carrying out your job and being tactful and respectful to those who may be able to help you. An Issues in Public Safety course also covers problems or scenarios you might face and how to approach them.

Emergency management

Preparing for emergencies means that if all the correct measures are carried out by the different agencies and something happens anyway, you can help the public by having a plan or routine for them to follow. It’s understandable for people to panic when they are scared or don’t know what is happening, and that’s where emergency management can save lives.

For example, firefighters and paramedics will be on the ground helping those who most need it in the moment. The police or other emergency services will be assigned the task of preventing further incidents if this is still a risk, informing the public or finding the culprits if it isn’t a natural disaster. It’s important for people to know what has happened and what is being done so they feel safe. However, this needs to be a balance of information. Some details can jeopardize an investigation or cause the general public to panic. In extreme cases, the sooner a culprit is found or the public can see what measures are being taken, the sooner they can feel safe again.

Responding to and recovering from emergencies are two vital parts of emergency management. There will often be plans in place for most scenarios, however unlikely they may seem. This helps in the response and shortens the time it takes for society to return to a feeling of normalcy afterward.

Wherever possible, prevention will always be the best option. Sometimes, foiled terrorism plots will make it into the media, but we rarely hear about the vast amounts of work and large number of agencies involved in preventing them. Hearing about the occasional foiled attempt can make society feel safer, but hearing about large numbers of radical individuals or groups can have the opposite effect. Instead, these will be closely monitored without ever being made public.

If this sounds like the right career for you, choosing to be an intelligence analyst and studying the relevant courses could set you on the right path. Research Methods and Statistical Analysis courses cover a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods to help you succeed in upholding public safety.

The four pillars of public safety are crucial to Canadians’ daily lives.  Even though people rarely think about them, it is only because of the hard work carried out by the many agencies and professionals within them who ensure that Canada is as safe as possible for everyone. If you want to become part of that, a public safety role could be the ideal career for you.

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