Women in law enforcement honoured for commitment, leadership and performance.
Superintendent Kim Yeandle was recognized for her outstanding leadership on the IRIS (Integrated Records and Information System) project with this year’s Ontario Women in Law Enforcement (OWLE) Excellence in Performance Award.
She was the project lead for the multi-million-dollar new records management system that provides Service-wide benefits and contributes to useful partnerships with community partners and law enforcement agencies.
Collaborating with members from over 30 Service units, external vendors, stakeholders and law enforcement partners, Yeandle was the project lead for the process that started in January 2010 and was implemented in November 2013.
“This project still has a long way to go,” she said. “Because it’s such a huge organizational change, it will take the Service a little while to absorb this change. It’s the largest organizational transformation in Canadian policing history.”
Yeandle dedicated the award to her team.
“It’s extremely rewarding to be recognized by my peer group for the work I have done in the last four-and-a-half years on this project,” she pointed out. “Though very special, it’s not an award for me. It’s for the awesome group of people that I work with. I have learnt so much from them.”
Other Excellence in Performance nominees were Detective Susan Gomes of Homicide and Detective Constables Lisa Belanger and Rebecca Sisk, both Sex Crimes Child Exploitation officers.
A Service member since 1990, Gomes joined Homicide five years ago and devoted countless hours, including examining 8,000 text messages and other phone record data, to a drive-by shooting that led to charges laid against four youths.
Belanger, who joined the Service 14 years ago and has been with the Sex Crimes Unit since 2009, was the lead investigator in Project Spade, a three-year Toronto Police-led child exploitation investigation that led to the rescue of 386 children and 348 arrests worldwide. Those arrested included six law enforcement officials, nine religious leaders, 40 school teachers, three foster parents, 32 children volunteers and nine doctors and nurses.
Project Spade netted 50 arrests in Ontario, 58 in the rest of Canada, 76 in the United States and 164 in other parts of the world.
Evidence obtained by Sisk in a child exploitation case led to a father pleading guilty to abusing his daughter, who became pregnant at age 14.
“Rebecca’s skill, professionalism and commitment to excellence, not to mention kindness, has contributed to the cause of law enforcement,” noted assistant crown attorney Anna Trbovich.
Parking Enforcement unit commander Kimberly Rossi was the recipient of the Civilian Award of Achievement that recognizes civilian members who demonstrate leadership, engage in job-related community service activities and mentoring and display excellence in performance.
“It’s an honour to be the recipient of this prestigious honour,” said Rossi, a member of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Parking Association. “I want to thank Director Kristine Kijewski for nominating me and mentoring me over the years and my team members at the Parking Enforcement unit for their support. Parking Enforcement is a challenging job, especially in a city the size of Toronto and the ongoing support, contributions and commitment of the members is what has made us collectively successful."
Joining the Service in July 1990 as a temporary clerk, Rossi was hired full-time seven months later and assigned to Parking Enforcement, where she became the first civilian unit commander in 2011.
Overseeing a team of 394 civilian and uniformed members and a budget of $44.6 million, Rossi has been instrumental in working with other units to identify skill development opportunities for medically accommodated members in order to prepare them for temporary placements that enables them to be eligible for re-classification or to apply for other job postings.
She was also the project lead for the hand-held electronic ticketing implementation eight years ago.
“Kim is a highly competent administrator, communicator, negotiator, organizer and planner, having acquired these abilities as a superbly self-motivated individual,” said Operational Support Services director Kristine Kijewski, who nominated her for the award. “As a leader, she’s an excellent role model, very astute at selecting key people, then allowing her team to experience, develop and take initiative with new tasks and projects to further enhance their skills.”
Also nominated in this category were Toronto Police awards coordinator Deborah Chase and acting location administrator Helena Briand.
A member of the Service since 1979, Chase was assigned to the Professional Standards Branch Awards Unit in 1999 and promoted five years later to awards coordinator.
Hired as a court officer 25 years ago, Briand manages the movement of nearly 123,000 prisoners annually, in her role as prisoner administration location manager and actively mentors new recruits.
Staff Superintendent Jane Wilcox – the Service’s highest ranked female officer – said the organization is proud of Gray, Yeandle and Rossi.
“They exemplify exceptional leadership and dedicated professionalism and each has persevered through challenging situations over many years. They continue to be highly respected role models for all TPS women, civilian and uniform.”
OWLE established a Community Service award to honour the memory of Constable Laura Ellis, who was killed in the line of duty on Feb. 18, 2002. It was her last shift before joining Durham police.
The nominees included Detective Michele Bond of the Sexual Exploitation Unit, senior analyst Karlene Millwood and Constables Tammy Barclay of 54 Division and Debbie Bland and Emergency Management respectively.
Bond, who has been with the Service since 2000, has collaborated with the Canadian Centre of Child Protection to create critical resource material dealing with the dangers of engaging strangers in cyberworld. Millwood has authored a children’s book, Barclay is an active member of the Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association and Bland, who switched to policing 12 years ago after 25 years in the insurance industry, is a member of the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation that raised over $75,000 last year for children’s camps.
Staff Sergeant Shawna Coxon, of 33 Division, was nominated in the Leadership category for her lead in Operation Reboot, a task force that employs the use of the internet and digital advancements to provide assistance at all levels of the organization during an investigation.
Coxon has a doctorate in law from Leicester University and been an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph-Humber for the past eight years, lecturing in crime and criminal justice, criminological theory, research methods, investigative techniques, gender issues, youth crime, policing and policy.
In the Team Endeavours category, Detectives Sheila Ogg and Mary Vruna were nominated for becoming the first female officers to lead a homicide investigation. In May 2013, two men were convicted of the brazen daylight murder of teenager Celise Mitchell, three years earlier.
The three-month trial included more gang evidence than ever before admitted in a Toronto courtroom, such as six YouTube videos, scores of text messages, rap lyrics, jailhouse letters, photos of graffiti and tattoos, and testimony from gang and handwriting experts.
The Service was also recognized in the Team Endeavours category for its investigation of Dr. George Doodnaught who, last November, was convicted of 21 counts of sexual assault. He’s serving a 10-year prison sentence.
Several Service members were recognized with awards for long service.
They were Susan Wood (40 years), Kathleen Bradshaw and Sylvia Richmond (35 years), retired Inspector Sandra Richardson and Constable Karen Boyd (30 years) and Elizabeth Pipia, Gloria Benavides, Sandra Briell, Judith Kidd, Susan Walker-Knapper, Supt. Kim Yeandle, Inspector Bernadette Button, D/Sgt. Pauline Gray, Detectives Kim Hancock, Sheila Ogg and Waverley Reid, Constable Anita Mancuso and Sergeant Rita Morehouse (25 years).
The Service employs nearly 1,000 female uniformed officers while over half the organization’s civilian members are women.