Armed with a human resources management degree, Constable Alex Li held a secure job in marketing.
Something, however, was missing.
“I had my own office and it was a great job, but I just felt like I needed more,” he said. “I wanted to be in front of people and giving back to the community.”
Policing is a career that provides the opportunity to do both of the things Li was looking for.
“I love public speaking and I think this is a great career for me,” said the 53 Division Crime Prevention Officer who, with Constable Tim Somers, were the recipients of Community Service Volunteer Awards presented by Premier Kathleen Wynne on April 19.
Li, who has been assigned to the mid-town Division since joining the Service in 2005, humbly accepted the award.
“I am not only accepting it for myself, but I feel I am doing so for all the police officers who are wearing this uniform,” he noted.
Born in Hong Kong and migrating in 1986 with his family, the R.H King Academy graduate, who is fluent in Cantonese, is using social media to humanize the Service and share information promptly.
“We are able to send out the message that we control and allow our voices to be heard,” he said.
Designated to the Crime Prevention five years ago has so far been the highlight of Li’s career.
“I just love it because I am constantly involved and immersed in the community in our Division,” he said. “By getting to know the stakeholders and key players that have a vested interest in their community, you develop a relationship with them, you build a bridge and you break down barriers. They see you more as a human being and element behind the badge.”
Somers, who joined the division a year before Li arrived, is proud to be part of a team that is considered the divisional leaders in social media.
“When I send out a message, it targets community concerns and what they want to see the police helping them with,” he said. “I create a message that shows we are aware of their concerns and are trying to do something to fix them. I try to stay away from generic messages that people get bored with.”
Joining the Service 16 years ago, Somers, who spent four years at 41 Division, said he always wanted to be a cop.
“I love to help people and work with them and policing offers that opportunity daily,” he added.
Inspector Sonia Thomas, who attended the event with Staff Sergeant Matt Moyer, said the recognition is most deserving.
“They use social media to bring the community together,” she said. “We are extremely proud of the work they are doing and elated they are getting this honour.”
Li and Somers have used social media to reach audiences in Canada and the rest of the world.
“They have excelled by using social media to expand our outreach in the community,” Moyer said. “They have taken ownership of that on behalf of the Service. They started by reaching out to members of our community and they now have a social media following all over the world. There are people out there who are interested in what is happening in our Service. The fact that they are able to have that impact and keep people informed is tremendous.
“Locally, they have a huge following with respect to crime prevention concepts, ideas and strategies. Residents reach out to them asking for tips to safeguard their homes. They also ask questions like, ‘What should we do about bullying that is affecting our child or internet safety’?”