The end of the year offers an opportunity to reflect on the preceding 12 months and plan for the following year.
For S/Sgt. Larry Reeves, December 31 was a time for him to look back on his last 40 years with the Service, and prepare for some quality time he intends to spend with his family in retirement.
Reeves, who joined the organization in April 1973, was at 53 Division for the last 11 years as head of the Special Events section, established in September 2002 to create detailed plans for community events.
The unit, that includes seven planners, is responsible for preparing the police response to major events, including annual parades and street festivals and one-off events like the Dalai Lama visit to the city in October 2010.
Previously, Central Field Command arranged for the staffing, Traffic Services devised the traffic plans and the Divisions would put together the plan and roll it out.
“That created a bit of a problem because people didn’t know who to phone or where to call,” said Reeves. “That led to the creation of this office.”
Records Management Services unit commander Don Bevers, a staff sergeant with Central Field at the time, launched Special Events and Reeves took over as the administrator six months later.
“We arrange for staffing and whatever needs to be done for the Divisions,” said Reeves. “…We are a support unit.”
Special Events issue parade permits and liaise with the film industry to ensure they are complying with the conditions of the permit. The unit also assists with pay duty officers for filming in the city.
Of the annual major events, Reeves singled out Caribana as the biggest and most challenging to prepare for.
“We have to arrange for several hundred officers, along with food, water and rest centres,” he said. “We also have to put together a plan for downtown for the weekend, covering four days, and also one for the parade. Trying to find all of those officers to work on that weekend could be difficult. It means changing shifts and bringing people in on their days off.”
There are few individuals who have affected as many people in the city through his planning, yet millions of people have enjoyed these years of events without knowing the effort and effectiveness of such a man as Larry
Retired Deputy Chief Kim Derry brought Reeves to Central Field Command when he was promoted to staff sergeant.
“During his time, he oversaw the merging of Special Events and centralizing paid duties for the movie industry and was responsible for planning some of the most complex major events in the city,” Derry said. “Larry is well known to all planning employees within the City of Toronto, Toronto Tourism, councillors and a comfort to all community groups who host or plan events and celebrations from one day to week-long timeframes. He has improved planning processes and mastered the staffing of these events with reduced police resources by multiplying his effectiveness utilizing maximized involvement of other stakeholders.
“He has extensive knowledge and interpersonal skills… There are few individuals who have affected as many people in the city through his planning, yet millions of people have enjoyed these years of events without knowing the effort and effectiveness of such a man as Larry.”
S/Sgt. Michael Perreault was part of the transition when Central Field Command assumed responsibility for the development of a centralized Special Events Planning Office.
“When Larry was transferred on March 17, 2003 to lead the section to the next level, there were some challenges,” recalled Perreault, who is the Toronto Police Operations Centre project manager. “The city was reeling from the aftermath of SARS. Without question, the stakes were high, but Larry did not balk. Instead, he acted to protect the reputation of Toronto as a world-class city by supporting an increase in community events while ensuring a minimal impact on Service resources.”
Sgt. Steve Banton has replaced Reeves on an interim basis.
“I worked with Larry for four years and I found him to possess a wealth of information,” Banton said. “He was hard-working and his knowledge, skills and abilities will be missed. In addition, he was a compassionate person who was always willing to make accommodations for his staff to ensure their families were looked after.”
The city was reeling from the aftermath of SARS. Without question, the stakes were high, but Larry did not balk. Instead, he acted to protect the reputation of Toronto as a world-class city by supporting an increase in community events while ensuring a minimal impact on Service resources
Inspired to join the Service by a neighbour who was a Toronto Police sergeant., Reeves made the move to become a law enforcement officer after working as a Coca Cola sales representative for nearly four years.
“So many things have changed from the time I joined,” he pointed out. “Back in the old days, you would go to the detective office and try to find a working typewriter to do your report. Now everyone has computers on their desks and in the squad cars.”
Reeves worked out of 56 Division for six weeks before enrolling in the police college. By the time he graduated, 56 Division was amalgamated with 55, where he spent five years before transferring to #4 District Traffic Unit where his colleagues included Keith Haines who is a S/Sgt. with Traffic Enforcement.
“From the very first day I met Larry in 1981, he has never wavered from being a conscientious police officer,” Haines remarked. “He has been an integral part of many large events in the city, but my fondest memories of him will always be as a ‘traffic man.’ To this day, many of us agree that pushing an accident car was the best job in the Service.”
While at Traffic Services, Reeves also worked closely with Const. John Knight, who lost his life in the line of duty.
On Sept. 28, 1994, Knight was pursuing a vehicle when he lost control and his car struck a bridge abutment. He died as a result of his injuries at age 37, in his 18th year on the job.
“We were members of the Hit & Run Squad at the time and John was just a great guy,” recalled Reeves.
The retired officer was a member of the Chief’s Internal Operational Review committee on Special Events that included Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins.
“I had met Larry before and he seemed very set and rigid in his ways,” she said. “But I really got to know him when I headed the committee and I brought him on board. Larry is very smart, competent, loyal and he believes in what’s right. He also has a great sense of humour.”
After four decades of committed service, Reeves plans to enjoy retirement.
“I will miss the people the most because we are a people industry,” he said. “Because of this job, I met a lot of quality folks in this city. I will now spend quality time with my family, including my youngest daughter, who is physically challenged, and I will continue to serve my Legion, of which I am executive member, and go to Variety Village where I have been associated for a long time.”