Sowing Safety in Lawrence Heights

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:13 a.m. April 25, 2014

Positive thinking and teamwork created a community harvest.

A man and woman in TPS uniforms holding framed certificates
Constables Omar McDoom and Azadeh Sadeghi

Constable Omar McDoom knows this well.

Just over a year ago while out on patrol in the Lawrence Heights community, the  32 DivisionFoot Patrol Officer walked by a stretch of land filled with garbage.

With support from other officers and community members, the 100-foot unused land was transformed into a vegetable garden.

Young people between the ages of six and 16 partnered with the police to plant vegetables and nurture the garden until harvest at which point the young people and their families benefitted by using the produce within community classes.

The project – Grow Right – was recognized with a Mayor’s Community Safety Award (MCSA) at City Hall on April 23. The award recognizes the contributions of individuals and groups that work to make Toronto’s communities safer.

“This started with a simple walk through the community,” said McDoom, who has been with the Service for six years. “The young people that we mobilized were very eager and they demonstrated that they are willing to work with us to promote a safer environment.”

One woman in TPS auxiliary uniform with a woman in TPS uniform
Auxiliary officer Michelle Gerber and Constable Azadeh Sadeghi

This was one of two 32 Division projects that were honoured with MCSA awards.

A year ago, Constable Azadeh Sadeghi conceived the idea for a mentoring program for young girls in the division.

Young Women of Wisdom reflects the needs of young women in challenged communities.

“The young girls are very receptive to the program and the older ones have taken on some responsibility by mentoring the younger girls,” said Sadeghi, who joined the Service nine years ago.

The group meets once a month for about two hours at Edithvale Community Centre.

Auxiliary officer Michelle Greber assists Sadeghi with the program.

“I enjoy working with young girls and I could not turn down this opportunity,” Greber said.

Our officers are involved in many community initiatives that promote safety and community collaborations and I am proud to see that they are being recognized

Inspector Tim Crone, the second in command at 32 Division, and Sergeant Doodnath Churkoo  (@SgtChurkoo) attended the ceremony.

“What you are witnessing here is just the tip of the iceberg,” Crone said. “Our officers are involved in many community initiatives that promote safety and community collaborations and I am proud to see that they are being recognized.”

Inspector Randy Carter  (@TPS_RMCarter) represented Chief Bill Blair at the event

“The awards recognize five community safety initiatives that, although differing in scope, highlight in exemplary fashion how community-led initiatives are a viable and proven method of addressing the issues of our local neighbourhoods and helping us all to feel safe in Toronto,” he said. 

Mayor Rob Ford assisted with the presentations.

“The winning projects were created by people who were willing to step up to the plate and lead by example,” he said. “They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do what’s right to help keep Toronto safe. I call them doers, not talkers. Their projects have made a valuable contribution to community safety and they deserve to be rewarded for a job well done.”

In addition to the awards, the winning projects were presented with $1,000 by Bell Canada who has been the MCSA’s lead sponsor since 2007.

“We know that strong communities are the backbone of our community,” said Lena Demarco, Bell Canada’s regional director responsible for community affairs “We believe that the strength of the whole city depends on how well we care for these neighbourhoods and how successful we are at preserving their diversity even as we make sure that each of them is safe for everyone that lives there."

The other winning projects include Tour De Black Creek Ride that promotes a healthy living and active lifestyle for children between the ages of 12-17. Toronto Police teach children road safety and the rules of safe cycling.

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