The daughter of a retired Niagara Regional Police officer, Ryerson University criminology student Lauren Ingram has had many interactions with police officers but never had the opportunity to talk shop with this city’s cops.
She was among dozens of third-year criminology students who spent some quality time with TPS officers on October 28 in the Service’s auditorium.
The annual “Coffee with Cops” event is a platform for students to interact with officers from various units, Divisions and ranks.
“I know there are a lot of biases against police officers and they are sometimes not favourably portrayed in the media,” said Ingram. “This opportunity allows me to talk to them and get a true perspective of who they are and what they do.”
Ingram’s father was a cop for 35 years.
“You could say I grew up around policing and I know the officers are committed to doing their jobs and keeping their communities safe,” she added. “Toronto has the biggest police service and for us to be able to come here and ask some serious questions while getting a feel for what they are doing is awesome.”
Abdi Nasir welcomed the opportunity to spend a few hours with city cops at their workplace.
“It’s nice to be able to talk to them on a one-on-one basis and get a sense of what they do,” he said. “It also gives me an opportunity to ask them questions.”
Chief Mark Saunders greeted the students on behalf of the Service.
“I wish, prior to joining the Service, I had an opportunity of having candid conversations with some of the finest police officers that you will come across in this country,” he told them. “I say that because I understand the level of training that the officers have at Toronto Police. It’s second to none. What you will be learning today is coming from some of the finest in their craft. This is an opportunity for you to candidly ask questions. Policing has changed significantly in the last couple of years. The perception of policing and the relationship we are trying to develop right now are being challenged for a multitude of reasons and today gives you a chance to cut right through the fiction and get to the facts.”
Saunders used the opportunity to make a sales pitch to the undergraduates.
“We are looking for future leaders in policing,” he said. “We are looking for people who could take the torch and make it brighter.”
Sherene Jattan, of the Divisional Policing Support Unit, has organized the event to spur conversations between the public and police.
Deputy Chief Mike Federico said there has been a lot of success in reaching the public through a simple chat over coffee.
“Some of our LBGT community members and police officers thought it would be a great way to build, at a personal level, a relationship with the police and the community,” he said, of the initial Coffee With the Cops events on Church St. “Out of that initiative, where they met in coffee shops, they started to realize that people were really eager on meeting with us face-to-face and having a personal conversation on what it’s like to be a police officer.”