Three Youth In Policing Initiative (YIPI) students, who spent the summer working at 31 Division, saw their perceptions of police change drastically.
My perception of the police hasn’t been the greatest. I always believed that the police where not very friendly people and they were always out catching bad guys and fighting crime. I applied for the YIPI program to better understand what the police do and I think this experience did a very good job of showing what they really do.
At my first day at 31 division I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought that I would be in a room all day, stuck filing and not doing much, I also thought the officers at 31 wouldn’t be as friendly and I was kind of scared to go work at a Division. But I’m happy to say that I was wrong.
Over the course of these two months my perspective has really changed, it has been such a pleasant experience to work at 31 division. All the police officers and civilians that work at 31 Division are extremely nice and very friendly and they have made me feel like one of them. While working here I have learned what it really means to be a police officer, they are very honest and reliable and they value teamwork very much.
I have also learned that police officers do a lot of community work, which really surprised me, they attend a lot of community events and connect with the public really well, but overall I really respect police officers and what they do because sometimes what they do isn’t easy.
I am so grateful that I was able to receive this great opportunity and I will be sure to let people in my community know of the positive experience, that I have witness at 31 Division and at the Toronto Police Service. Also I would like to thank all the officers and civilians at thirty-one for having me at their Division.
Growing up in Jane and Finch, I’ve always had a preconceived notion towards the Service, of police officers walking around the neighbourhood, arresting my peers and people who lived in my building. Almost everyone around me had something terrible to say about police officers, saying how as a young black male, I would always be profiled and would always be stopped as looking ‘suspicious.'
When I told my friends I’d be applying for this job, they thought I was crazy. When I told them I got the job, they felt betrayed, saying I’d be 'working with the feds.' But I didn’t let them ruin my experience. I made this an opportunity for me to change my perspective on the Service.
Over the last two months I’ve had the opportunity to meet tons of officers who, for the most part, have been open to share their experiences and have interacted with us YIPIs. Spending most of my time in the (CRU) Community Response Unit office, I’ve had the chance to talk to many of the officers who I see riding their bikes out in the neighbourhood and the officers who I see in the cruisers. What I’ve realized now is that they’re human beings just like me, who are just doing their job. But arresting people isn’t the only component of being a police officer.
During the placement I have had the opportunity to do a lot of community work with police officers. Officers are out there making positive connections with the public, getting to know the people who they are responsible to serve and protect.
I am grateful for this opportunity. I believe this is one of the most effective ways the TPS has used to address the needs of youth and establish stronger connections with youth from priority areas.
In this program I have learned that officers aren’t mean and they have a heart. I learned that they don’t only arrest people, they write and type so much paper work. Before I came here I was thinking it was going to be so boring in a room filing papers. But we went out and I have seen new places in the neighborhood where we really don’t like cops. But the people in my area when I tell them my experience think I'm crazy but when I show them the pictures that I took with officers they start to believe. Some of my friends that applied for it didn’t get it. They say I'm so lucky because after I'm finished this job I can put on my resume that I worked for Toronto Police that will make me sound so classy.
The last two months have been the greatest summer ever. If I had to choose which summer has been the best I would say this one because I got the chance to get to know officers and see what they deal with. They are no different from us. The only difference from us is they deal with people that hate them. In the neighbourhood I'm from they hate cops and no one gets along with them. Before I started this job when officers say 'hey' to me I would look at them in a really rude way but now when they say 'hey' I will smile and say 'hey' back. If I had the chance to do this job again I would but sadly I can’t but I tell my friends and my brother that’s turning 16 soon to apply for it. He will soon.
I'm happy that 31 Division gave us the biggest welcome. I honestly will miss it.
Editor's Note: Radwan Yare left the program early as his family relocated to another city and was valued member of the 31 Division YIPI team.