If you see a Toronto Police on the street or in your community, approach them and say ‘hello’, Chief Mark Saunders told Nelson Park Public School students at the launch of Police Week on May 13 at Regent Park Community Centre.
A celebration of the partnership between the police and the community, the observance runs from May 12-18 this year.
Members of the public are encouraged to visit police stations during the week-long celebration.
“In addition to you asking us questions, it is an opportunity for us to ask you questions so we can learn about each other,” said Saunders. “We know that when we learn about each other, we all become smarter and when that happens, all of our neighborhoods become that much safer.”
The Chief reminded the young students that police work is more than just responding to calls and arresting people who break the law.
“One of the most important things we try to do is create relationships,” he added. “When you see our police officers, most of the time they are just there to talk to you. They want to ask you if everything is OK and if there are things you would like them to do. I am so glad that you are here today because I know you are going to be our future leaders.”
The theme this year is Proudly Supporting Our Police.
Saunders threw down the gauntlet to Ontarians to consider policing as a career, adding that it is one that’s rewarding and fulfilling.
“I welcome members of our community, especially those that are interested in a law enforcement career, to visit a police station, speak to members of our Service and get to know what the Toronto Police Service has to offer,” he added.
Toronto Police Services Board member Ken Jeffers said Police Week is a very important tradition for police and community members.
“I am so pleased that this year we are hosting this event at this centre which is a vibrant hub in a revitalized and extremely important part of this city,” he said.
Jeffers noted that this year’s theme honours the respect members of the community have for uniformed and civilian members who work diligently daily to keep neighbourhoods safe.
“While our Board believes that as a community, it is important to regularly express our gratitude for the outstanding police services we receive in Toronto, this week provides concrete opportunities to demonstrate our deep appreciation for the officers who serve and protect us every day,” he said.
“Police Week is also a time for all of us to come together and think about our expectations for community safety and to talk about what we all believe our police services should look like. It is critical that both police and the community acknowledge the vital principle that policing today must be comprehensive and multi-dimensional and must include community mobilization and public engagement as core components to building safe and healthy communities, cornerstones of ‘The Way Forward’ which is our blueprint for modernization.”
Police working in partnership with community members and organizations in the city is prevalent.
That is particularly evident in the Regent Park community where the Muslim Welfare Centre (MWC) and 51 Division Neighbourhood officers collaborate on a ‘Meals and Wheels’ program and other initiatives.
The officers also deliver meals to seniors, many of whom have disabilities, provide backpacks for school children returning to the classroom in September, collect and distribute clothing for needy residents, mentor challenged youth and facilitate a fitness program for vulnerable seniors.
Firaz Azeez, the MWC manager, said that proudly supporting police is, in reality, a call to action for everyone that believes in safe, prosperous and vibrant communities.
“Community is at the heart of the work of the Muslim Welfare Centre that we have been engaged in for the last 26 years,” he said. “As a grassroots organization funded by two seniors visiting Toronto in 1993, this multi-service organization has had a keen interest in supporting families, particularly in the areas of homelessness, food and security and ensuring good health.”
A total of 51 police services across the province are hosting celebrations to mark Police Week that provides an opportunity for police services across the province to showcase positive partnerships with community members, agencies and businesses.
“You are all part of this big community effort to not only support our police, but to say thank you to the community,” said Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police Director Joe Couto. “We could not work without people like you in this room. I want to say thank you for supporting our police officers.”
Supt. Dave Rydzik was the Master of Ceremony while Nelson Mandela Park Public School students sang the national anthem.